For those who are considering going solar.
When going solar, there's quite a lot to think about. We can help you find the basic information you need on solar to help with your decision.
Roof top solar is powered by sunlight. When the sun is shining the PV cells convert the sunlight into electricity, and inverters transform this energy from DC power into AC power so it can power everything in your home. Want to learn more? Here is info on the process and the equipment used.
Individual photovoltaic (PV) cells are connected to panels. These solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. An Inverter converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) for electricity in the home.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, or solar cells, take advantage of the photoelectric effect to produce electricity. PV cells are the building blocks of all PV Systems because they are the devices that convert sunlight to electricity. When light shines on a PV cell, it may be reflected, absorbed, or pass right through. But only the absorbed light generates electricity. The energy of the absorbed light is transferred to electrons in the atoms of the PV cell.
One of the most important components of any solar unit is the solar power inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) that photovoltaic solar cells produce into alternating current (AC). Types of inverters to consider:
When designing a solar system, it’s important to consider what type of inverter will be used with the modules you will instal
This question is often asked and the answer is – it depends! There is no one answer since each installation is different and each home uses energy specifically to their family’s needs. After you’ve learned more about solar, talk to at least three solar contractors and evaluate your options.
Installed costs of solar are coming down, but it is hard to say what your system will cost until you obtain quotes from contractors. Over the years the installed price per watt has reduced down from $10 per watt to typically less than $6 per watt. It is important to talk to at least three contractors to obtain a clear understanding of your installation and the potential costs. This way you can make an educated decision on the purchase of your solar system.
If you’re paying cash or obtaining a loan for your system, be aware there are a number of factors that vary from home to home and installation to installation. These factors affect the initial cost of the solar system. The initial system cost divided by the cost of the energy offset by solar will provide you with an estimated return on your investment.
When you’re leasing your system or entering into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for your system, initial costs aren’t usually a factor. With these purchase arrangements you’ll be evaluating the energy offset costs of the system. See the Purchasing Option section for more information on leases and PPAs.
The initial cost of the solar system may not be the only question to ask. Consider obtaining answers for “What is the cost of the energy (kilowatt hour) produced by the solar system proposed for my home?”, “What is my current cost of energy from the utility?” and “How do they compare?”
Once the system is designed, the contractor will run a program to estimate how much energy the system designed specifically for your home is expected to produce. The same system facing a different orientation on someone else’s home will produce a different amount of energy. Energy, or kilowatt hours (kWh), is what will offset your electric utility bill. Make sure you understand how much energy is produced by the solar system each month and how it will offset your monthly bill. Your Home Energy Analyzer report will show you how much energy you use each month when you enter your account number and run the report.
Due to the angle of the sun and weather conditions, solar systems produce less energy during the winter months than they do during the summer months, so try to understand the monthly generation. Ask your contractor to show you the California Solar Initiative Expected Performance Based Buy Down Calculation (CSI-EPBB) report for the expected performance of your solar project.
Want to learn more or dig deeper? We’ve compiled some resources for you to do just that! There is a lot of information on the internet, so consider your sources as you endeavor in your own investigation and learn more about solar. The websites below can be helpful:
The booklet introduces customers to the California Solar Initiative and the process of installing a solar electric system.
The Go Solar California website provides California consumers a "one-stop shop" for information on solar programs, rebates, tax credits, and information on installing and interconnecting solar electric and solar thermal systems.
An educational website funded by the US Department of Energy dedicated to educating homeowners about solar power options.
NREL is a national laboratory of the US Department of Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLE.
Have you heard of the Solar Rights Act? Or the Solar Shade Act? Yes, there are laws and regulations allowing consumers with rights to install solar if they choose. Here is some helpful information on that subject.
There are two helpful reports written by the Energy Policy Initiative of the University of San Diego's School of Law about the Solar Rights Act and the Solar Shade Act: