Answers from a Qualified Solar Company in San Diego

How Do PV Cells Work?

The creation of electricity using a solar energy system starts with photovoltaic cells, otherwise known as PV cells. These cells include a positive and a negative slice of silicon placed under a thin slice of glass. Sunlight that shines onto the PV cell knocks electrons loose from the silicon. Small wires collect these electrons and, when connected in a circuit, an electric current is formed. The electricity formed here is direct current (DC) and is led through wires to an inverter. The inverter changes the current to an alternating current (AC) and is then distributed to the existing electrical circuits in your home. At this point, any excess electricity is sent back to the grid (SDG&E) or to a series of deep cycle batteries (off grid).

What Is Net Metering?

Net metering is when you use the utility company’s grid as a battery to store your system’s extra energy production. PV solar systems on the grid change sunlight to electricity and power the home. Excess electricity is routed into the grid (utilities electrical system), spinning the electric meter backwards and creating credits. When the solar system is not making energy (i.e. at night), electricity will then be pulled from the grid. During this time, the credits created earlier are used to acquire the utility’s electricity from the grid, free of charge. This process is called “Net Metering.” At this time, the PV solar systems that are connected to the grid are the only ones allowed to get the government incentives.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Battery Storage and Net Metering?

Photovoltaic solar energy systems that operate off the grid have their own advantages and disadvantages. Excess energy that is off grid is routed and stored in deep cycle batteries to be used later when the electrical needs of the home exceed the solar system’s capability.

Pros Include:

  • Homeowners who are unable to acquire electricity from a power company due to their location can create their own.
  • Homes that use off grid systems are free from rolling blackouts/ brownouts.

Cons Include:

  • Although off grid solar systems are eligible for the federal tax credit, they are not eligible for the state rebate.
  • Deep cycle batteries are expensive and do not last very long (4-8 years) before they need to be replaced.

Why a SunPower Dealer?

Solaire Energy Systems has been San Diego’s number-one residential installer for SunPower since our partnership. We install more SunPower panels – with higher customer ratings – than our competition, simply because we treat our customers right and strive for quality and excellence in our installations.

In May 2012, Solaire Energy Systems was recognized as an Elite SunPower Dealer in San Diego. We take pride in using the highest quality material when installing solar for our customers. We are proud to utilize SunPower to bring our customers an industry-leading warranty on the most aesthetically appealing, high-efficient, powerful panels on the planet.

We strive to provide our customers with the best quality solar panels available on the market. Recently, Solaire Energy Systems was congratulated on being the #1 SunPower dealer in San Diego County since partnering in 2011.

What Is the HERO Program?

HERO Program is a low-cost, fixed interest financing option that allows environmentally conscious homeowners to install, replace, or modernize a wide range of energy- and water-efficient products and renewable energy systems. The financing program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is repayable through the homeowner’s property tax bill. Solaire Energy Systems can help homeowners interested in taking advantage of the HERO Financing Program.

Who Is eligible for Financing Through the HERO Program?

  • The applicant must be the property owner of record.
  • The property must be located within a participating County Hero Program jurisdiction.
  • The property owner must be up-to-date on their property taxes for the prior 12 months, and taxes must have been paid on time.
  • The property owner must certify that the property taxes have not been paid late more than once in the past 3 years (or since purchase, if owned for less than 3 years).
  • Mortgage payments for the property must have been paid on time in the past 12 months.

What Does The HERO Financing Program Cover?

The HERO financing program provides fixed-interest financing for permanently affixed energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy products – such as Solaire’s solar panel installation, HVAC and energy-efficient windows and doors. It does not cover products that have already been installed or those that are in the process of being installed. Homeowners may apply for financing through the HERO program if they have signed a contractor’s bid or pulled a building permit, but have not yet started any work.

Solaire Energy System products eligible for HERO Program Financing:

  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV solar)
  • Space Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
  • (HVAC)
  • Water Heating
  • Windows, Skylights, and Doors
  • Air Sealing and Weatherization
  • Energy Audits
  • Indoor Water Efficiency
  • Outdoor Water Efficiency
  • Pool Equipment
  • Cool Roof and Wall Systems

What Is the Warranty on My PV Solar System?

The solar modules are covered by a 25-year warranty and the balance of the system is covered by a 10-year warranty.

What Happens if I Produce More Energy than I Use?

Excess electricity is sold back to the electrical utility company in the form of energy credits. You use these credits when your system isn’t producing enough power for your current demand.

Will My Solar System Work in Cloudy Weather or at Night?

Your solar system will work in cloudy weather. If it is mildly overcast, your system may produce about half as much as it would during bright, sunny conditions. Your solar system does require sunlight to work, so the system will not produce power at night. It’s during these hours that your electric utility company will provide electricity.

What Happens if the Power Goes Out?

During any type of power outage, your system will automatically shut down and restart once power has been restored. This shutdown is for safety and is required by law.

What About Extreme Wind and Weather?

Our modules and racking are individually tested, comply with UL-Standards and are built to withstand 100+ mph winds and 1-inch hail.

Your savings depend on the size of your system, the solar access/intensity at your location, and your electricity rates. A typical system will return about 2 to 3 times your initial investment over 25 years.

Is There Any Maintenance Required on My System?

Your solar system has no moving parts, so it requires very little maintenance. You should, however, periodically clean your solar panels. Dirty solar panels will produce 10% to 20% less power than clean ones.

What Happens if I Sell My Home?

The remaining warranty on the entire system is fully transferable to the new owner.