Frequently Asked Questions
1) Is installing solar really worth it?
On average Solar is 10X cheaper than paying electric bills in CA.
Our average size system is 6 kW / 6000 watts, average system cost after incentives is approximately $15,000.00. The average electric bill is $200 per month and considering utility inflation rates of 8% per year, you will pay $175,000 over 25 years. $175,000.00 divided by $16,000 = 10.93; Solar is 10.93 times cheaper than electric bills, you save $160,000.00.
On a national average solar pays back 101% of its costs upon the sale of the home. Homes sell faster and up to a 15% premium with solar. Not only do you save money but you also increase your homes value.
Let’s us prove it to you, Option One Solar offers a free financial benefit analysis, this will show you the financial benefit of solar vs. your electric company. (Get free quote button)
2) Can I install solar on my roof?
In most cases yes, Option One Solar can install on composition shingle, rolled comp, hot tar, rock, flat tile, S-tile, metal tile, wood shake, metal seam.
Spanish clay tiles or fragile lightweight tiles break easily and we must consider the cost of replacing broken tiles and or removing tiles and installing composition under the solar modules, these must be looked at case by case.
The ideal position for solar is 180 degrees due south, but any roof surface from west to east will usually work. North facing roofs are last resort, it will still produce but will require more modules or we can install tilt-up frames to elevate the modules up to face south, both options create additional costs.
Other things to consider are the age, condition, shading, etc. of the roof.
3) How do I know what size solar system I need to zero out my electric bill?
The system size required to offset your electric usage and bill will be based on your annual consumption history; we need the most recent 12 months electric bills and consumption history to determine annual kilowatt-hours, and with this information we can determine what size system is needed to offset 100% of your electric consumption.
We can also facilitate a conference call with your utility company and with you on the line they will supply us with the monthly electric consumption in kilowatt-hours.
As of Jan 2018, most utility companies have a minimum connection fee of approximately $10.00 per month.
4) How many solar modules can I get on my roof?
Option One Solar uses the most efficient and highest performing modules in the world, so a competing module maybe 280 watts and our same size module is 380 watts, so it will require fewer modules to zero out your bill.
The key here is how many modules can your roof accommodate, taking into consideration vents, skylights, chimneys, etc. Most residential codes require a 3-foot setback at the top of the roof and sides of the roof for a standard gable roof. This is required for fire department access to the roof.
On certain roofs setbacks may not be required like flat roofs, hips, valleys, or detached garages. Each jurisdiction is different and makes the final call.
5) Can I install solar modules on mobile homes?
Yes. We install solar on mobile homes as a common practice. Just like a residential property engineering is required to snow and wind loads. We have not found one that did not satisfy engineering as of yet.
6) What if I can not afford to install enough solar modules to offset my electric consumption?
In most cases even a smaller system has a high return on investment and is still far better than nothing at all. Option One Solar will work within your budget to build the right system for you.
7) What is the weight of a solar module?
A typical solar modules is about 40 lbs, high performing dual-sided modules can be 60 lbs, but this is evenly dispersed over the entire roof. Very rarely does engineering require bracing to accommodate the additional weight of the solar modules.
8) What is the size of a solar module?
Most solar modules are either 60 cells and approximately 65” x 39” or 72 cells and approximately 77” x 39” The cells are the same, the 72 cells is just 12 cells larger and is used on bigger roofs to reduce module counts and 60 cell modules are smaller and sometimes fit in small roof spaces better. For example: let’s say a solar cell in a given module is 5 watts x 60 cells, that equals 300 watts, or 5 watts x 72 cells, that equals 360 watts. Each manufacturer has different cells, more efficient and higher-performing modules utilize cells with higher watts, as a general rule, the higher wattage modules are higher performing.
9) Do I need batteries?
Battery backup prices have come down significantly in the last few years and it is much more economical if you need them for a specific purpose or just peace of mind. If you are in an area with frequent power outages or it is a medical necessity or you just want the peace of mind of backup power anytime, it is possible to connect modern battery systems much easier today.
Keep in mind, Urban areas connected to standard utility Grid are very stable and power outages are rare and or for short periods, but if you have to stand-alone solar, it will not operate in power outages, it is designed to shut off so utility workers can perform repairs without the risk of getting electrocuted.
Backup generators are also an option.
10) Will I notice when my system switches from solar power to utility power?
In most cases when you have a power outage and the system switches from utility power to back up power, it is seamless and not noticeable, depending on what you are powering, the entire house, or just critical appliances. There are no lights blinking or motor surges.
11) Will I still have an electric bill and can I make money from overproducing?
Option One designs In CA, the utility company would only pay you wholesale rates, 3-6 cents per kWh, so keeping and using your credits for your own consumption is much more valuable. Should the Solar System have produced positive credits at the end of the year, the credits will carry over to the next year.
12) What about local building permits and interconnection with utility?
Option One Solar facilitates all plans, engineering, permits and interconnection, and permission to operate with the local building departments and customer utility companies. We do everything for you.
13) Will I have a direct interface with the utility company?
Option One Solar secures permits and schedules inspections and the bi-directional meter change. The only interface
the client has with the utility is to sign the Net Metering Agreement.
14) How do you tie in my system to the utility company?
Normally a grid-tie system is tied into the utility company through the electrical service panel. Breakers are installed in the service panel that back-feed the panel with power from the solar system. Any excess solar power produced is credited to your account by the utility company.
15) Why do I need a disconnect next to my meter?
In times when the grid is down and work is required on the grid, the utility company may elect to disconnect your system from the grid while the work is being performed. This is a double safety precaution as the inverters shut down when the grid is not active.
16) Do I produce more electricity in the summer or winter?
Energy production is higher in the summer than in the winter due to the added number of sun hours. However, energy
consumption may be higher in the summer due to the use of air conditioners. So your utility bill may be higher in the summer than the winter.
17) How does the utility company give me my credits?
The utility company removes your existing meter and installs a bi-directional meter. The new meter records the power per kilowatt-hour (kWh) that you take from the utility company and also records the amount of power per kWh that you give. The difference between the two readings is the net. If you give more than you take from the utility company then you have a positive net, and you receive credits for every kWh that you produce over the amount that you received. When the sun is not shining or during the nighttime you use your credits before you start paying for power.
18) Can I transfer my credits from one bill to another?
Some credits can be transferred. Arrangements must be made before you install your system as utility policies
vary from one utility to the other.
19) When will the utility install my bi-directional meter?
Once the installation is complete and your system has passed county codes inspection, the utility will conduct its own inspection and install the bi-directional meter.
20) Where will my inverter/inverters be installed?
Option One Solar uses SolarEdge inverters whenever possible. They are the most efficient inverters and now have a 25-year warranty equaling that of the panels. Conventional and commercial inverters are usually installed in a location convenient for system operation and as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
21) Is the inverter weatherproof?
The Inverter is weatherproof and designed to operate outside.
22) Is my roof protected by the panels?
A roof is protected by the panels from direct sunlight (UV rays), direct rain, wind, and hail. The roof area beneath the panels will age at a much slower rate than the part that is not under the array.
23) How will the Solar be attached to the roof?
Depending on the type of roof there are various methods used to attach the panels. Option One Solar warrants our
panels to be on the roof as long as the roof is on the house.
24) What about leaks in my roof?
Option One Solar takes every precaution to prevent leaks and the best sealer is used for the various types of roofs.
25) What happens when I have to change my roof?
Because the part of the roof that is under the panel ages at a much slower rate than the part not protected, the roof is often changed around the array and the roof under the array not changed. Should the entire roof need to be changed Option One Solar will remove and reinstall the panels for the going solar installation rate.
26) What is the wind rating of the system?
All of our systems are installed according to the Codes wind ratings for the area. Option One Solar will also comply with client requests should they desire a higher rating.
27) What if a hurricane destroys my panels?
Should panels be destroyed or damaged due to any circumstances they will be covered by your homeowners' insurance as they are insured as part of the permanent structure.
28) Do I have power during a hurricane?
If grid power is lost during a hurricane your inverters will shut down therefore you will be without power. If you need
emergency power, Option One Solar recommends that you install a backup generator. They are now very affordable, much less expensive, and more maintenance-free than a battery system.
29) What happens if there are problems with my system?
SolarEdge and Option One Solar monitor your system over the internet and alert you should a problem arise. Option One Solar then schedules a convenient time with you to address the problem.
30) Do I have to clean the panels?
Rain normally does a satisfactory job of cleaning the panel. During extended periods of no rain heavy pollen and dust, rinsing the panels with a hose removes most of the particulates. Never use detergent on the panels.
31) What maintenance is required on the system?
There is virtually no maintenance on the system other than an occasional rinsing.
32) Are some panels better looking than others?
Panels are manufactured in various colors and some people prefer some panels over others. Option One Solar always shows their clients what is available so the client can choose.
33) How am I affected by shading?
Shading will affect the output of the panels. All shading issues are addressed and resolved prior to installation. The SolarEdge Inverters used by Option One Solar minimize all shading effects should they develop after installation.
34) What is the efficiency of the panels?
Panel efficiency varies by panel type and manufacturer. Option One Solar always gives the client the best value for the money invested.
35) What is the warranty of the panels?
The Panels have a 25-year power warranty. 90% for the first 10 years and 80% for the remainder of the 25 years and a 6-year warranty on materials and workmanship.
36) What is the warranty of the inverter?
The SolarEdge inverters have a 25-year replacement warranty.
37) What is the DC to AC Derate Factor?
When Power is converted from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) there is some power loss. The amount of the conversion loss is referred to as the Derate Factor.
38) What are the government incentives?
The State of California Incentive:
The state of La is currently out of the money allotted for solar installs, therefore, we cannot guarantee a refund will be given.
The Federal incentive is a 30% tax credit.
39) How do I file for my government incentives?
You file for your incentives when you file your income taxes. Option One Solar will provide all documentation necessary and a
list of instructions for proper filing.
40) When do I get my incentive money back from the government?
Incentive money is received in the normal income tax refund period.
41) How long will the incentives be in effect?
Federal incentives are scheduled to be in effect until the year 2020, however, laws can be changed. In the past State incentives have been renewed every 2 years and at present good through 2020.
42) Do you have financing?
Yes, we are currently partnered with several financing companies in order to bring you the best deal possible.
43) What is the payout time on the system?
Utility rates determine the payout of the system. The higher your Utility rate the quicker the payout. Rates in California vary from 6 cents to 13 cents per kWh. The payout for the system can range from 5.5 years to 8.5 years.
44) What is the return on investment?
Utility rates determine the return on investment. The higher your Utility rate the better the return on your investment. The range of your return on investment can vary from 12% to 19%.
45) Will I have to pay taxes on the power I generate?
No taxes are paid on the power that your system generates.
46) How much will I save per month and per year?
The amount that you save will be determined by the size of the system that you install. Option One Solar will present to you all of your options and you will determine the size of your system.
47) How much will my homeowners insurance go up?
Homeowners insurance generally goes up an average of $70 per year per $25,000 of solar installed.
48) What is the cost of my system?
The cost of Solar varies throughout the year. At present the average a person is spending between $20,000 and $50,000 to meet there electrical goals
49) When are payments due?
50% of the payment is due upon the signing of the contract, and the other 50% is due once the system has passed
50) When can you start?
Your system installation will be determined by the Option One Solar workload and parts availability. The normal start time from the signing of the contract is about 6 weeks. You will be given a more specific time at contract signing.
51) How long will it take to install?
A 4,000-watt system generally takes 3 days and an 8,000-watt system takes 5 days.
52) Who inspects my system before commissioning?
Installed solar systems are inspected by our Option One Solar Electricians, your Parish Codes Division, and your Utility
53) When can I start operating my system?
Your system will be commissioned after the utility installs your bi-directional meter.