Frequently Asked Questions

This section is updated regularly. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.

 

What's the Difference Between On-grid Solar and Off-grid Solar?

On-grid Solar:

Most photovoltaic (PV) systems are connected to the local or regional power supply company such as PG&E or SMUD (known as “the grid”). These systems are called grid tie or grid interactive. This means that if your PV system is producing more power then you are consuming, that power gets fed back into the grid (info on feed in tariffs click here). At night, or at other times when your PV system is not producing as much power as you are consuming, power is supplied by the grid.

Off-grid Solar:

Some PV systems are completely independent of the grid. In an off-grid system the energy produced when the sun is shining is stored in batteries. These batteries then supply power when the sun isn’t shining. For those in remote locations off-grid systems can provide self-sufficient reliable power year round. In an off-grid solar powered home generators are sometimes needed as a back up to maintain battery charge during long periods without sunshine (unless either micro, hydro or wind generation is a viable supplement).

Battery Backed Solar:

In situations where you are grid connected but susceptible to frequent power outages, or must have a power back up option, a generator or battery back up system can be installed. This allows you the convenience of a grid-tie system, with the extra security of a back up system should the grid not be available.

Does solar really pay for itself?

The financial case for solar is quite clear. The exact payback on a solar installation varies, but generally solar systems tend to pay for themselves within 7-12 years. That might sound like a long time, but how soon is your current energy source going to pay for itself? Given that PV systems generally last 25 years or longer, the return on investment (ROI) for a typical system is quite impressive. A detailed financial analysis is always part of our project assessment process, so you’ll have a detailed custom analysis to advise your decision to go solar. 

What is the Best Solar Panel for Home or Business?

Information on types of solar panels will be added soon.

How much does a typical residential solar system cost?

It depends on the size of your home, your power requirements and the type of equipment you install, but most systems run between $15,000 and $50,000.

How long will it take to install my solar system?

We can usually have it done in a few weeks.  The biggest delay is the permitting process – depending on your jurisdiction, that can take up to three weeks.  The installation itself usually takes one to three days to complete, depending on the size of the system.

What equipment do you sell and install?

SunPower and Sharp are the main solar modules that we install.  We use equipment from a variety of manufacturers, but we only work with high-quality components.  We want to make sure the components are tested and the manufacturers will be around to service their warranties if necessary.

Where can I find information on the products you recommend?

Click on the icons below to see Manufacturer’s Datasheets for our most commonly installed items.  We also invite you to view the videos  in our gallery for more information.

How long will it take for my system to pay for itself?

It really depends on what the system is designed to do.  Most of the systems we design and install are intended to reduce peak energy usage from $0.36 per kilowatt/hour to about $0.11, and a system like that can pay for itself in five to seven years.  If you want to go totally Green and produce almost all your own energy, the payoff can be as long as 20 years.  Of course that’s for a system which will last 40 years or more!

Do I have to be home during the installation?

Not necessarily.  Before installation begins you will have an opportunity to review and sign-off on the system design and placement.  If all the components will be located outside your home, in areas accessible to the crew, you do not need to be home.  If access to the inside of your home, garage or locked yard is required, you would need to be home just long enough to open those doors.