Below are questions and answers that were posed in our Solarize Ventura County – Residential Solar and Battery Systems 101 Webinar. CEC staff and webinar panelists have endeavored to answer these questions to the best of our ability and have provided additional resources for you to dig deeper into topics discussed. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact April Price, Renewable Energy Program Senior Manager at CEC. Did you miss this webinar? Watch it here.
Who is eligible for solar panels? Does my electric bill need to be more than $100 every month?
Most homeowners with decent sun exposure and a roof that has a standard pitch can add solar panels. It is most financially advantageous when you have a larger electricity bill, but your bill does not need to be any amount.
How many months of electricity data is required to estimate what size solar system you will need?
The more data that you can provide, the better. It is ideal to have 12 months of electricity data from the home where you plan to install solar, but installers can plan for a system with less data if necessary. This data will also be used to estimate your projected utility bill savings.
Can you clarify how adding solar increases the value of your property?
Owned solar, versus a leased system or a PPA, is what adds tangible value. For a median-priced California home, Zillow claims that home value increases by 4% on average after solar is added. Solar is now required on all new construction in California, further adding to its value. Essentially, a home with good solar is like buying a car with prepaid gas for whatever the remainder of the warranty is. Solar systems through the Solarize program come with a 25 year warranty.
What is covered under the 25-year warranty?
The solar panel manufacturer warranties cover panel performance – they are guaranteed to perform at a certain percentage of original production for 25 years. Microinverters also have a performance warranty. All solar installers are required to offer a 10-year workmanship warranty, but some offer options for 25-year workmanship warranties as well.
How are electricity credits paid to homeowners?
Through Net Energy Metering, you will receive credits for the kWh that your solar system produces that you don’t use (these kWh are sent back onto the grid) at retail value minus about two cents. The retail value of the kWh will vary depending on the time of day that the energy is produced; during periods of peak pricing, the credits are more valuable. Those credits roll over day to day, and month to month. At the end of a 12 month period, if you have produced more kWh than you have consumed for the year, Edison will pay you for those electricity credits at wholesale rates (about 3 cents per kwh). Therefore, there is no financial incentive to size your system above what you need.
Is the federal tax credit based on income?
No – the federal tax credit is independent of income. If you install in 2020, the credit is 26%.
Are solar roof tiles or shingles an option?
CEC’s vetted installers do not offer solar roof tiles or shingles at this time.
Who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the solar panels?
The solar systems require very little maintenance and are monitored by both the homeowner and the contractor. We recommend washing the panels periodically and can guide you or recommend local companies that can assist with this task (they are washed like windows). CEC’s vetter solar installers offer labor warranties and equipment warranties for 25 years.
If the power goes out, is it easy to turn on the battery?
Yes – transitioning from grid electricity to stored battery energy is seamless and requires no action from the homeowner.
Is it better to have battery systems installed inside or outside – or does not matter?
Some battery systems are rated to be installed inside or outside. Other systems are only rated for indoor installation. In general, batteries exposed to extreme heat will degrade more quickly.