Solar FAQ’s

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Q. What San Francisco, Bay Area locations do you serve?
From Martinez, Pleasanton, Livermore, Napa, San Jose, Brentwood, Tracy, Mantica and the Bay Area Peninsula. Essentially, the entire SF Bay Area.

Q. With solar, will I still have power when the utility power goes out?
Only if you buy a system with battery backup. Save A Lot Solar offers systems both with and without battery backup. Systems with battery backup are somewhat more expensive and less efficient, but they give you the peace of mind of never being without power.

Q. Will the utility company send me a check if I produce more power than I use?
No. However, if you produce more power than you use in any given month, the utility will bank the electricity and you can draw down the electricity credit for up to one year.

Q. Isn’t solar still really expensive?
NO! Solar is actually far more economical over the long term than buying your power from the utility. After the state rebates and tax credits, if you finance the system over a 25-year period, the monthly cost of solar can run about the same as your current electric bill. The big advantage is this cost will never increase, while the cost of electricity from the utility has increased at an average rate of 6% per year over the last 30 years. Solar is a great investment for the long term.

Q. Do I need to buy a system which will eliminate my electric bill?
No. Many people buy systems which only eliminate part of their electric bill. The utilities have adopted a rate structure which increases the cost of electricity as you use more of it. Many people choose a system which will eliminate only the most expensive electricity. This increases the return on your investment.

Q. What size system do I need?
A. A solar electric system designed by Save a lot Solar can easily produce all the electricity you need for your home. They come in many different sizes, and we have a system which is just the right size to meet your needs. We typically go back and look at your old electric bills to see how many kilowatt-hours per month you have been using. Based on your usage, we can recommend a system which meets your electric load.

Q. Will solar work on any house?
A. No, but it works in many locations. You need an unobstructed south, southeast or southwest facing roof top, with limited shade on area where the solar panels will be installed. Alternatively, you can mount the system on the ground.

Q. How much space does it take on my roof?
A. Solar electric power systems take approximately 100 sq ft of surface area (collector area) per 1 kilowatt of generating capacity. Therefore the average 4-kilowatt system we were talking about would require about 400 sq ft of area of good southern exposure.

Q. Does it have to go on my roof?
A. No. While roofs are usually good locations because they are high enough to be above any shading from tree, and many times they are facing south, there are many different mounting options for these systems. Detached structures, garages, covered patios, trellises, and ground mounts are a few other installation options.

Q. What type of incentives are available for solar?
A. Nationwide, there is a one-time Federal Tax Credit of 30% offered to anyone who installs a solar electric system. If you are a California resident, you are eligible for a cash rebate from the state which will cover approximately 10% of the installed cost of the system. Residents of other states may be eligible for rebates in their locality as well. You can find out what incentives are available in your region here: www.dsireusa.org.

Q. What kind of financing is available?
A. The best financing packages for these systems are available as secured loans, in which you take out a 2nd mortgage on your home and get fixed long term rates. We can put you in contact with a bank which can provide you with details on the financing package they offer for a solar system loan.

Q. Will I ever have to pay another electric rate increase if I buy this system?
A. If you opt to purchase a solar electric system which covers your entire electricity usage, you won’t ever have to pay for power again. Investing in a solar electric power system is like buying insurance against future rate hikes; you’ll never get another electric rate increase for the next 30 years and you become your own power company. You’ve bought the PV system, now the fuel (sunshine) is free!

Q. How do I get credit from the utility company for solar electricity I produce?
A. With a grid-tied solar electric system you still have your “line-coming-in” from the utility, just like before, only now you also have a “line-out” to send your extra electricity back to the utility grid. The Net-Metering law (in place in several States), requires the local utility company to credit you for the amount of solar electricity your system produces and feeds into the grid.

The utility meter measures the difference between the electricity you buy from the utility and the electricity you generate with your solar electric system. When you are making more electricity than you are using, like typical summer days, your extra electricity automatically gets metered back out (sold) to the utility grid. You receive credit for this power at the same rate they sell it to you. Net Metering allows you to use the electric utility grid like a bank account. You can put electricity into it which you don’t use immediately and you can withdraw the same amount later on at no net cost to you.

The Net-Metering billing system is a 12-month billing cycle. Because you make more in the summer, and less in the winter, they allow you to credit your summer months into your winter months. At no time will the utility actually write you a check. Net-metering requires the utilities to credit you for up to the amount you use. The idea is to get a system which just meets your needs and avoid paying any electric bill at all.

 

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