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Solar Energy Systems FAQs

  • What is a Solar Home?

    In California’s New Solar Homes Partnership, a solar home is a highly energy efficient home that uses photovoltaic (or PV) modules to generate electricity from the sun. While the science to convert sunlight directly into electricity has been around for decades, in recent years both the technology and economics have improved for photovoltaic and now systems are becoming mainstream. Currently, California has tens of thousands of homeowners enjoying the benefits of solar on their homes.

    A solar home with high energy-efficiency features offers homeowners:

    • Clean, renewable energy
    • Utility bill savings
    • Predictable utility costs
    • Protection against future rising electricity costs
  • Are solar panels right for my home?

    There are a couple of factors that go into whether or not solar is a good fit for your home:

    • Does your roof get much sun exposure?
    • What is the condition of your roof? What material is it made of?
    • Is your roof shaded at all?
    • Does solar make sense for your budget?
  • How much sun do solar panels need?

    Sunlight is important for solar, but even cloudy areas are great for solar energy. It doesn’t matter as much where you live, whether it’s the Northeast or Southwest. What matters more is your roof (or property/land, if you’re thinking of a ground system). As long as your roof is free of shade and faces the South, East, or West, you’ll get plenty of sunshine for panels.

  • How much roof space do solar panels need?

    On average, for every kilowatt (kW) installed, a home solar system takes up about 100 square feet. Most residential solar systems are between 3 and 6 kW, so an average solar system takes between 300 and 600 square feet.

  • What is the best type of roof for solar panels?

    The perfect roof for solar could be described as made of composite and not too steep, with unobstructed space for the solar panels. That being said, solar works on many kinds of roofs, even on slate and clay tile roofs. Wood shake roofs, flat roofs, and concrete tiles are a little more difficult to install on, but can be done.

  • Should I install solar panels on my house?

    Going solar can be a very smart financial choice, depending on your home and how much you’re currently paying for power. If your average monthly electric bill (gas not included) is $250, then you’re paying too much. Adding solar panels can help you cut your electric bill by locking in low solar electric rates.

    If you:

    • Own your home
    • Pay too much for electricity ($250 or more)
    • Have a roof with minimal shade that faces south, east, or west

    Then we believe solar can be a really good option for you and we can help!

  • How many solar panels do I need to run my home?

    The size of your solar system depends on a number of factors:

    • How much electricity your home uses
    • Angle, pitch, and direction of your roof
    • Unobstructed roof space that is availableIn general, your solar system will not be designed to offset 100% of your electricity needs. This is because it makes more financial sense to get some of your electricity from solar energy and the rest from your utility company (i.e. in the daytime, solar electricity is bountiful but utility electric rates may be at their peak; at night, your system won’t produce any solar energy, but you can use cheaper, off-peak electricity from the utility company).A typical system size can range anywhere from between 10 to 20 panels, though systems panel quantity vary from one house to another. The easiest and most accurate way to figure out how many panels your home will need is to get a free solar consultation by calling us (818) 714-8929.
  • Should I consider a ground mounted solar system?

    If your roof isn’t optimal for solar and you have ground space, you might choose a ground mounted solar system. People commonly choose ground mounted systems if the roof doesn’t work (faces the wrong direction, made of the wrong materials, etc.) or if they have a lot of space on their property.

  • Will solar panels work if my roof isn’t new?

    In general, we recommend that your roof be less than 15 years old if you decide to go solar. Your home solar system will last for twenty years or more, so you’ll need to have at least twenty good years left on your roof. If your roof needs to be replaced or repaired, it’s best to do so before or when you get solar, so you don’t have to remove and re-install the panels later on. However, it is possible to do a roof replacement or repairs once you have solar. But it can be time consuming and your solar company won’t cover all the expenses involved. However, we will help you coordinate the removal and re-installation if you decided to do so.

    If your roof is relatively new or structurally sound, solar might be a great option for you.

  • Can my homeowners association (HOA) stop me from installing panels on my home?

    Usually HOA will not prevent the process. An HOA may try, but in many states, this is not allowed. In California specifically, the California Solar Rights Act says that homeowners associations (HOAs), governments, and other organizations can’t stop you from installing a home solar power system. However, HOAs may ask you to modify the design and/or location for aesthetic reasons as long as the changes don’t significantly impact solar electricity production (a decrease greater than 10%) or cost more than $2,000.

  • How do I get power at night with home solar?

    Although your system doesn’t produce any electricity at night, a process called net metering allows you to benefit from the day’s production. In the morning, your system is producing a little bit of electricity. It’s probably enough to power your hair dryer or make toast for breakfast. You use it as you produce it.During the day, when the sun is at the highest point in the sky, your system produces a lot of electricity, and you’re probably not using all the power being produced. The additional electricity your system produces flows back into the grid and runs your meter backwards, earning you credits.

    At night, when your system is not producing any electricity, the credit you earned during the day carries over, and you take electricity back from the grid.

  • How long will a home solar power system last?

    Most home solar power systems are predicted to last between 25 and 35 years. The inverter will need to be replaced in about ten years.

  • How frequently should I clean my panels?

    The solar electricity your panels produce will naturally vary depending mostly on the season and number of daylight hours. Most dust and debris that gets on your panels won’t significantly impact solar production, and average wind and rainfall will keep your solar panels producing at near optimum. In certain situations, dust and debris can decrease your solar production by 5% to 15%, but this would most likely occur in special situations, such as a forest fire near your home. It’s best to clean your panels if you notice a significant drop in electricity production or once a year. We also recommend having the wiring and components inspected and tightened at the same time.

  • What happens when it rains, snows, sleets or hails?

    It doesn’t have to be completely sunny for your panels to produce electricity. In bad weather, your panel production won’t be 100%, but your panels will still be producing power. On a cloudy day, your panels might produce 30% of what they normally would. The exception is a snowstorm. If it snows enough for there to be a significant accumulation on your panels, your panels will not produce electricity. However, snow slides off easily, and your panels tend to be located where your roof gets the most sun, so the snow on your panels will melt first and your panels will resume producing electricity. If you live in an area that gets snow in the winter, snow days are likely, snow days will be factored into your system’s projected production. Solar panels can handle some pretty tough weather. Most solar panels are guaranteed to withstand 3/4 inch hail balls at 120 miles per hour, and they are also built to withstand direct lightning strikes.

    It doesn’t have to be completely sunny for your panels to produce electricity. In bad weather, your panel production won’t be 100%, but your panels will still be producing power. On a cloudy day, your panels might produce 30% of what they normally would. The exception is a snowstorm. If it snows enough for there to be a significant accumulation on your panels, your panels will not produce electricity. However, snow slides off easily, and your panels tend to be located where your roof gets the most sun, so the snow on your panels will melt first and your panels will resume producing electricity. If you live in an area that gets snow in the winter, snow days are likely, snow days will be factored into your system’s projected production. Solar panels can handle some pretty tough weather. Most solar panels are guaranteed to withstand 3/4 inch hail balls at 120 miles per hour, and they are also built to withstand direct lightning strikes.

    A typical solar system connected to the grid will not produce energy when the power goes out. For safety reasons, your home solar power system will automatically shut off if the power goes out. This is to protect utility workers who might be working on power lines in an outage from being exposed to live electricity.

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