Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I go solar?
There are many reasons to install solar for your home or business. Solar will help reduce or eliminate your current electric bill, provide energy independence, and help to save the environment. With the current rebates and tax credits available to the consumer, installing solar today makes more sense than ever.
2. Why SEE Systems?
SEE Systems is a licensed electrical contractor. Our experience in the power industry goes back 25 years; even our direct competitors have hired us to install and oversee their projects. Our reputation and completed projects speak for themselves.
3. How does a photovoltaic system work?
Solar modules are installed in any area with good southern exposure to the sun. Sunlight hits the solar modules, creating DC power. This DC power is feed into an inverter, which converts it to Alternating Current, the kind you need to power your home or business. This power is feed directly through the main service panel. At any given time, if the solar is producing more electricity than the home or business requires, the excess power will run backwards through you meter, causing it to spin backwards, and be fed into the electrical utility company grid giving you credit!
4. What is Net Metering?
Net Metering is an agreement between the homeowner and your local Utility Company that allows you to spin the meter backwards. The Net Metering Agreement is good for one 12 month period at a time. You can be a net producer or net consumer during each period. At the end of each 12 month period, if your solar electric energy system has produced more power than you consumed, you have no electric bill. If the system did not produce enough power, you will need to pay the difference. It is important to remember that if your system overproduces, the local Utility Company will not pay you cash for the extra production. You simply lose it at the end of the yearly cycle and start at zero again for the next year.
5. What size system do I need?
When you install solar in any capacity for your home of business, you enter into a Net Metering Agreement with you local Utility Company. You will be put on an annual billing cycle, rather than month to month. Since this is done on an annual basis, you will need to acquire a 12 month history of your power usage in order to determine your average use in kWh/day over the course of one year. You then take this number and divide it by the number of peak insolation (sunshine hours that you are expected to get at your particular location), and factor in any efficiency losses for shading, orientation, or pitch. For Example: If your usage is 40kWh/day and you get 5 hours of peak sunshine, you divide 40/5 = 8 kW system (AC Rated). Let Solar Electric Energy Systems help you determine the system size that would eliminate you electric bill.
6. Does my system need batteries?
With Net Metering you do not need any batteries. Most of today's systems are grid-tied, which means that they are connected directly to the local Utility power lines. You would only need batteries for stand alone applications or if you wanted emergency power if there was a power outage. If emergency backup power is a concern, SEE Systems would also recommend that you examine the advantages of a battery backup system.
7. Are there any rebates or tax credits to offset the cost?
The California Energy Commission (CEC) is currently offering a rebate of $.35/watt on all residential grid-tied solar electric systems under 30 kW in total size. This rebate level is dependant upon the amount of funding that is used, changing at predetermined levels. For residential grid-tied systems, there is also a 30% Federal Tax Credit on the portion of the solar that you pay for after all rebates. This tax credit can be used for any residential system installed after 2006. If you do not qualify for the CEC rebate because you do not have utilities provided by San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, Bear Valley Electric, or Pacific Gas and Electric, your local utility will most likely have their own solar program and the rebate amounts will vary.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is in step 8 for rebates which means a rebate of $.044/watt per Kilowatt hour for a PBI, or Production Based Incentive, on all commercial grid-tied solar electric systems over 30 kW in total size. Commercial systems under 30 kW in size will be handled by the CEC, but will still qualify for all the commercial rebates and credits. All commercial systems will qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit (with no limit) and a 5.5 year Accelerated Depreciation schedule.
8. How much does solar cost?
Depending on your location and the type of installation that you are looking for, the price will vary. Contact us for a free cost analysis to determine your requirements.
9. What is the typical payback period?
Each system will have a different payback period. Typically smaller systems can have a payback period between 10 and15 years and larger systems can see payback in as little as 2.5 years. Commercial systems usually have a much shorter payback period due to the additional tax credits available.
Besides the economic payback, the system will also have an environmental payback. Along with each proposal, we will send you an environmental impact summary that shows you how your system is helping to save the environment.
10. Is there any system maintenance required?
Since there are no moving parts, the system is basically maintenance free. If it does not rain in your area that often, you may only need to wash the modules to remove dust and debris every now and then.
11. What are the warranties and life expectancy of solar?
Most of the main solar panel manufacturers offer a 25 year module warranty. Most of the inverter manufacturers offer a 5 year warranty with the option of up to 10 years at an additional cost. SEE Systems offers a five year warranty on the entire installation. The system will have an expected life span of approximately 30 to 40 years.
12. What type of roof do I need?
Most solar installations are installed on the roof of the home or business. SEE Systems can do an installation on any type of roofing: composite shingle, wood shake, flat tile, Spanish tile, or ceramic tile. If you do not want the solar installed on the roof, you can also utilize a ground mount. Most homeowners who have a lot of available unshaded acreage choose this type of installation. Besides the roof and ground, you can also install the modules on a car port, garage, patio cover, or on poles. A south facing roof or ground area without shading is ideal, but even west facing roofs or hillsides can work with minimal efficiency losses.
13. Will solar increase my property value?
Yes. According to the Appraisers Journal of 1999, every dollar of electricity that you offset through solar increases the value of your home by twenty dollars. This means that your home would increase in value immediately by about the total net value of the electricity you produce on an annual basis. And the increased value is tax exempt.
14. Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?
All solar electric systems must be permitted through the local building department. SEE Systems will handle every aspect of the installation from the filing of the rebate paperwork, to the permits, to the final inspections, and Net Metering Approval. Whether you are doing a turnkey installation with SEE Systems or an installation only project - we do it all!
Call SEE Systems at
760 403-6810 and ask for a FREE Energy Analysis of your propery.