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Answering Your Most Pressing Solar Questions

Solar panels for home

Solar installation is more popular than ever, yet many of the most important questions about how solar works are often left unanswered.

If you’re interested in saving money, but don’t know if solar is right for you, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of the most common questions asked about solar installation, answered.

Why Should I Go Solar?

1. What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

The main financial benefits of going solar can be broken into three parts: utility savings, government rebates, and favorable financing options.

Utility savings, even in a state that provides no rebates or tax incentives, can add up in a big way, particularly in areas with high electric bills. Over the course of a few decades, the average homeowner may save tens of thousands of dollars from tax incentives and utility rebates.

Government rebates only add more reason to go solar: the LADWP alone has been known to pay homeowners over $1,000 just to install. This does not include state and federal tax credits, such as the Solar Tax Credit, which cuts 30 percent off your federal tax bill.

Finally, solar panels often qualify for favorable financing options, including zero dollars down with low interest rates. Learn more about solar financing by contacting us at Plug It In Solar.

2. What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?

Solar energy, quite simply, reduces reliance on fossil fuels for electrical power. Most electricity in the United States is produced from coal and natural gas, which each heavily contribute to pollution. Solar power, on the other hand, is an abundant, naturally-occurring resource that is environmentally-friendly and sustainable. Switching to solar energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is one way to help us move towards to a cleaner and greener future.

3. How does solar impact my property values?

According to many studies, solar panels generally increase the value of your property. This increase in property value is usually somewhere in the range of $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the location of your home and how big of a solar system was installed. (Note: this figure does not include other financial benefits to going solar, including energy savings and tax rebates.)

How Do Solar Panels Work For My Home?

4. How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels work by way of the “photovoltaic effect,” which is a fancy way of saying the absorption and conversion of sunlight into usable electric energy. Most panels generate direct current (DC) energy, which is then converted into alternating current (AC) energy, which can be used for electricity.

To learn more about this process, click here.

5. Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels can produce energy even when the sun isn’t shining. On a cloudy day, for instance, solar panels may produce anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of their normal energy output.

Solar panels work by gathering both visible light and infrared light that creates consumable energy. The panels use the energy from daylight, as opposed to sunlight, to produce electricity, therefore they don't require direct sunlight to work.

You can use the excess electricity your solar panels produce and you don't use during the day by installing a solar battery. When the sun isn't shining, solar batteries let you use the stored solar power, so you don't need to use electricity from your utility company.

6. Can I go off grid with solar panels?

It is possible to go off-grid with solar panels. Many solar manufacturers now offer solar battery solutions through certified installers that let homeowners store enough energy to entirely forgo utility companies. Plug It In Solar is a certified Tesla Powerwall, LG Chem and Sonnen home battery installer.

However, you need to know that if your property is connected to a utility company, your solar system will still be connected to the utility, and you might be charged monthly service fees.

7. Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?

Some homeowners may be able to go off-grid after solar installation, however even if you are producing all of your own electricity, your utility company will bill you for service fees, that are typically are around $10-$50.

Most homeowners will still rely some on utility companies, meaning they will still incur an electric bill at the end of the month. This occurs if you are using more electricity than what your solar panels are producing, e.g. if you use a lot of electricity at night time, when your solar panels aren't producing electricity.

This can be prevented by installing solar home batteries, that store the excess energy produced by your solar panels during the day.

The amount of your bill will also depend on a number of factors, including location, the number of panels installed, and the amount of electricity your household uses.

8. Do solar panels work in a blackout?

Your solar panels will not work during a blackout. This occurs since your solar energy system is required to be tied to the grid (your utility company). The only way to have your solar electricity working during a blackout is to install solar batteries, that store the excess energy produced by your solar panels and saves it for later use, such as blackouts and nighttime.

What Are My Solar Financing Options?

9. What solar energy rebates and incentives are available?

Solar energy rebates vary by region, but California residents are eligible to receive up to $10,000 through the California Solar Initiative. This is on top of any federal and municipal rebates and incentives.

10. Which is better – solar loans or solar leases?

Most homeowners cannot afford solar panels outright, so they opt for a solar lease or loan. Solar loans and leases both offer benefits for homeowners, but there are many factors to consider before making your final decision.

Leasing a solar system means that you rent the solar energy system from the solar company that owns it. You make payments to that company every month, so it is kind of like paying your electricity bill.

With a solar loan you own the solar system, and you pay a monthly payment and interest on your loan. Owning your solar panels comes with additional benefits, such as utility and tax rebates, but is also comes with responsibilities. Whether you should take out a loan or lease your solar system is dependent on your needs and financial goals.

buying vs leasing solar

Am I Ready for Solar?

11. Can I afford to go solar?

Going solar is a big financial commitment, but it’s one that makes absolute sense in the long-term. Beyond the various incentives and rebates mentioned earlier, it’s worth considering the cost of electricity in California. Grid users in California are charged significantly more per kilowatt-hour above a certain threshold, so it behooves you to stay below that limit.

Solar energy can help you do that. Solar installation may be cheaper than ever, but we still understand that it can be a big financial commitment. That’s why we offer many favorable financing options, and we will help you find the best option for you.

12. Is my roof suitable for solar panels?

Most roof types are suitable for solar installation, including asphalt, metal, clay tile, and EPDM rubber. Two common roof types that are often incompatible with solar installation are slate and wood.

13. Do I need to replace my roof before installing solar?

As a rule of thumb, you should consider replacing your roof when installing solar if it’s within five to ten years of needing replacement. This will save you money in the long-term, as you won’t have to go through the hassle of later removing solar panels to get a new roof.

14. What happens if I sell my solar house?

If you own your solar panels outright, good news: your property value will have likely increased. Most warranties for for solar systems are also transferable. Plug It In Solar has a 25-year warranty for Panasonic Solar panels on labor and product, which can easily be transferred to the new homeowner when selling the house.

If you sell your home with leased panels, you likely won’t see a significant hit — or gain— to your home’s property value.

If you have any further questions, or would like to discuss your solar options, don't hesitate to contact us!

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