Going solar is the most popular thing in home improvement these days. In every neighborhood you see neighbors install solar panels on their roof. As costs have come down and technology has improved installing solar panels to feed a home’s energy needs has become popular.
Solar panels will reduce or eliminate your electric bill by generating your own energy thus being able to do away with a monthly electric bill. Being energy self sufficient and taking control of your home’s energy costs with whole house fans, LED bulbs and smart thermostats will allow you to take control of your energy costs.
Most solar installations costs somewhere in the $20,000 range but varies depending on the type of home you have, size and normal energy consumption. Although you can either lease or pay for solar, it seems that buying solar is the better long term option. With a lease, it is just that, a lease. You do not own the equipment and pay an agreed monthly payment for 20-25 years. At the end you still do not own the equipment. You also miss out on all the tax incentives offered by the federal and state that add up to thousands of dollars. If you were to sell your home in those 20 years the new buyer would also need to separately qualify to take over your lease. If you do not have the money to pay the upfront costs, this may be your only option but beware of downfalls in the future.
The better option, in my opinion, is to purchase the solar equipment. Not only do you get to own your solar installation outright, you benefit from all the tax incentives the government currently offers. You also do not have an agreed payment you have to make to the solar company or their financiers.
If you use up to your maximum allotment, you eliminate your electric bill. If you use less your electric company buys the excess from you.
If you do not have enough to purchase take out a small loan. Better yet, take out a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. Your monthly payments should be low and your interest paid is tax deductible (talk to your tax adviser).
HelioPower is a solar company with over 15 years of solar installation experience with over 4,000 residential homes. What HelioPower does is custom design a system for your specific needs. They connect you to the utility grid, turn on the system, and start you generating your own clean energy. Any excess electricity your system makes is sold back to the utility, and you get the credit on your bill. HelioPower has a good rating and is a reliable company.
Skip Slack is the Local Residential Energy Consultant. Call him for more info or to setup an appointment. Be sure to tell him you found him here through the Enjoy Fullerton website. 949.233.9720
Here are common questions homeowners have about installing solar panels in their home.
- What are the major components of a solar electric system?
PV Modules: Photovoltaic modules to convert sunlight into DC electricity. Inverters: Converts DC electricity into household power.
- My neighbor has tall trees that shade my roof. Can I make my neighbor remove or trim his trees if I go solar?
You can certainly ask him to trim his trees, but he is under no legal obligation to do so UNLESS your solar power system was installed prior to the trees shading your roof. In other words, if the trees grow to a height that shades an existing solar energy system, the neighbor would be legally obligated to trim or remove the trees, foliage, hedge, or other obstruction.
- What happens to my solar system during a blackout?
During a blackout, your solar PV system powers down. This is to ensure the safety of any utility workers who may be making repairs in your area.
- I see that the PV system increases my home’s value. Won’t that also increase my property taxes?
No. In order to promote the use of renewable energy, the State has exempted PV installations from increased property taxes.
- I live in an HOA (Home Owner’s Association). Will I be able to install a PV system on my home?
Absolutely! California Civil Code 2473, otherwise known as the Solar Rights Act, restricts HOAs and local governments from interfering with solar installations except for health and safety issues.
- What is Net Metering?
See Question / Answer above.
- How does having a PV system affect my utility billing?
You enter into what is known as a “Net Metering” contract with your utility. The utility continues to read your meter monthly. However, instead of sending you a monthly bill, they send you a statement showing your credits and debits. Your bill is settled annually on your anniversary date.
- Does the system use batteries?
No, the system does not store electricity. If you are producing more power than you are using, your meter spins backwards. If you are consuming more than you are producing, your meter spins forwards. In the summer, your meter will spin backwards more often than during the winter.
- What kind of maintenance does the system need?
The PV modules should be cleaned when dirty. No other routine maintenance is required. If you suspect a problem, please call us and we will come out and perform a thorough inspection.
- How much space does the system use?
A 400kWh/month system uses less than 300 sq ft.