A. Absolutely yes!
A solar electric system is an investment that will add both immediate and long-term value to your home or business.
A recent study estimated that $1,000 a year electricity saving translates to $20,000 increase in value of a home. If you ever decide to sell your home, research shows that buyers are willing to pay a premium for a home with a solar electric system installed.
With a Solar Topps Solar Electric System, the Return On Investment ranges from 10-30% depending on the system size, building structure and available incentives.
You can dramatically reduce your utility bills from the very first day your solar electric system is installed and for years to come; you may still draw some power from the utility grid, but at a lower-priced rate. When you switch to solar power, you are hedging against rising utility rates. You can lock in low, predictable electricity costs for years into the future.
Q. Why should I go solar today when technology and pricing may change in the future?
A. Unlike other electronics, home solar technology has changed very little in recent decades. Some companies are pioneering “thin film” technology which is less expensive to produce. However, these panels are low density and most homes do not have the space to fit the additional panels required to produce the same amount of electricity. Now is really the best time to invest in a solar system with the combination of technology and cost.
Federal, state, local governments and utility companies offer incredible financial incentives to go solar. You can receive 30% of your system cost off your federal income taxes credit; these credits can carry forward. Solar Topps will identify all of the qualifying programs for your solar electric system and file the required paperwork for you. Solar Topps will even credit you for the utility rebate up front so that you do not have to wait for the utility company to send you a check.
Although the utility incentives are not set to expire at any specific time, the funding set aside for solar electric systems is being allocated at a rapid pace. Each utility offering solar power incentives, maintains their own incentive budget and program time-frames; these programs are designed to reward early adopters. Continually increasing utility rates and decreasing rebates means that homeowner’s should go solar now for the best immediate and long-term savings.
Q. How long can I reserve the utility incentive before installing the solar electric system?
A. Typical utility solar programs allow for 180 days from initial incentive reservation to solar electric system installation. This means your solar electric system needs to be up and running within 6 months of when your incentive is reserved. On a case by case basis, allowances and extensions are made for new construction projects and other situations where delays in the installation have occurred and are justified.
Q. Will a home solar system increase my property taxes?
Even though your property will increase in value, there is legislation that prevents your property taxes from increasing. In California, the specific legislation is Section 73 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code, which provides a property tax exclusion on most types of solar systems, including home solar electric systems.
Arizona’s property tax exemption was established in June 2006 (HB 2429) and applies to “solar energy devices and any other device or system designed for the production of solar energy for on-site consumption.” For property tax assessment purposes, solar electric systems are not included in the valuation of the property.
Q. Can my homeowners association (HOA) stop me from installing a solar electric system on my home?
A. Not in Arizona and California.
Arizona law protects individual homeowners’ private property rights to solar access by dissolving any local covenant, restriction or condition attached to a property deed that restricts the use of solar energy. Senate Bill 1254, enacted in July 2007, stipulates that a homeowners association may not prohibit the installation or use of solar-energy devices (panels and associated devices). An association may, however, adopt reasonable rules regarding the placement of a solar device if those rules do not prevent the installation of the device, impair the functioning of the device, restrict its use, or adversely affect the cost or efficiency of the device. The bill also grants reasonable attorney fees to any party who substantially prevails in litigation against an association’s board of directors.
In California specifically, the California Solar Rights Act says that homeowners associations, governments, and other organizations can’t stop you from installing a home solar system. However, they may ask you to modify the design and/or location for aesthetic reasons as long as the changes don’t significantly impact solar electricity production (a decrease greater than 10%) or cost more than $2000.
Solar Electric System Basics
Q. How much sun do I need to make a solar electric system worthwhile?
A. In general, the more sun your solar system gets, the better return you’ll get on your money.
The best roofs get several hours of sun each day, face south or southwest and don’t have too much shade. Solar Topps will assess if your roof gets enough sun to make solar cost-effective and a good investment. We do this by viewing satellite images and while conducting a free site evaluation.
Across most of the United States, the amount of available sunlight is surprisingly uniform, with most areas within plus/minus 20% of the sunlight level of Miami, Florida. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has sunlight data on 239 locations across the U.S. and its territories available.
Q. Will I need to adapt my home or business to run on solar power?
Solar power electric systems fit seamlessly into your building. You won’t have to buy new appliances or change your electrical outlets; everything will work just the same as it did before.
When your solar system generates more electricity than your building can immediately use, your excess power flows back to the utility grid and your meter literally spins backward! You should experience no practical changes except for one: you won’t have to pay a big electrical bill every month.
Q. How long will a solar system last?
A. Most of the parts on your solar system, such as solar panels, carry manufacturer’s warranties of 25 years for performance; other parts, such as inverters, carry 10-year warranties.
Most solar systems may far outlast their warranties; many of the first solar systems installed more than 30 years ago are still going strong.
Q. How durable is a Solar Topps Energy Solution System?
A. Solar technology has proven its reliability in some of the most brutal environments on earth – and beyond. Solar technology is used on telecommunication towers on wind-swept mountaintops, weather stations in the bitter cold of Antarctica and wells in Africa’s blazing deserts – even on satellites orbiting in space.
Q. How safe is a Solar Topps Energy Solution System?
A. Since solar systems are generally mounted in a low or no-traffic area, have no moving parts and are virtually maintenance free, they are very safe.
Solar Topps Energy Solution Systems components carry all appropriate/recommended electrical certifications, including Underwriters Laboratory (UL listed) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards. As with any electrical appliance, you should always use proper care when handling solar system components, but as an owner, you will have no cause to do so – your Solar Topps representative will take care of everything for you.
Q. Do I need a battery back-up system?
Battery systems are expensive and are not recommended. All Solar Topps solar systems are connected to the utility grid, so you always have access to a power source. You never have to worry about “running out” of power. However, for properties which are located in a remote area, placing it off the grid, battery back-up systems are available.
Q. What happens at night, or when the weather turns cloudy?
A. Since the amount of power your solar system generates is a direct result of sunlight, it will produce slightly less energy when the weather is cloudy.
Your system will not produce any energy at night. Your Solar Topps power system will be interconnected to your local utility grid, so that you can automatically begin to draw power from the grid whenever you need it. You won’t experience any power interruptions. The switch between solar system power and the utility grid happens seamlessly, with no effort on your part.
Q. What is the warranty on a Solar Topps Energy Solution System?
A. Our unmatched product reliability allows us to offer an industry-leading, 25-year limited warranty on the performance of your solar system’s modules, a 10-year limited warranty on inverter and electrical issues, and a 10-year limited warranty on roof workmanship. If a system is leased, then all warranty will extend the life of the system leased 20 to 30 year.
Q. What size solar system do I need?
A. Every home and business is different, so the size of your system will depend on your energy needs, roof space and solar goals. Residential solar systems are typically 3-10 kW, and commercial systems range from 50-500 kW for a medium sized business.
Solar Topps will custom design a solar electrical system to meet your specific needs and offset as much of your utility bill as you desire.
Q. How long will it take to get my new solar system up and running?
A. A typical residential roof installation takes about 3-5 days, and a typical commercial installation takes about 1-3 weeks from the day we begin the installation. The length of time of the actual installation depends on the complexity of your roof and the number of panels that will be installed. The estimated installation time will be included in the design proposal presented to you by Solar Topps.
Q. What kind of permits are needed to meet local building codes?
A. As part of our comprehensive service, Solar Topps will obtain all building permits and design your solar electrical system to meet local building codes in your area. Solar Topps will arrange the electrical, building and utility inspections and be on-site to make sure that everything is up to code. Solar Topps takes care of your project every step of the way.
Once Your System Is Installed
Q. What happens to the excess power I generate from my Solar Electric System?
A. Your solar electric system produces the most electricity during the day. During “peak” hours when the utility rates are at their highest, you are replacing the high cost energy with your own solar generated energy. This is to your advantage, because when your system generates more electricity then your house can use, your excess power flows back to the utility grid- your meter literally spins backward! You will sell excess electricity to the utility companies- this is referred to as net metering- and generate revenue; most utility companies will pay or credit you for this electricity. In Cap and Trade programs, each company is issued an annual limit or “cap” on the amount of pollutants that can be emitted. Companies that install solar can reduce their emissions below the cap and sell or “trade” their credits to other companies that are not in compliance.
Q. How much will I reduce my Utility Bill?
A. When you begin to generate your own solar power, your electricity bill will drop significantly. How much you can save will depend on the size of your solar system and your electricity usage. You may still draw some power from the utility grid, but at a lower-priced rate tier. Solar Topps will design a system that’s right for your home or business and determine the optimal utility rate structure for your remaining energy needs.
Q. What maintenance is required?
A. Your solar energy system requires very little maintenance, largely because it has no moving parts. All your system requires is occasional cleaning and inspection. We suggest that you keep an eye on trees that may shade your system and keep them trimmed. Our maintenance and warrantee repairs are included as part of our service to you.
If you would like, the Solar Topps service team proactively monitors your solar electric system output to ensure that your system is performing as it should. In the unlikely event that your system under performs, Solar Topps will alert you and help to remedy the situation. This is an optional service available at an additional cost.
Q. How frequently should I clean my solar panels?
A. With home solar, the solar power your panels produce will naturally vary depending mostly on the season and number of daylight hours. Weather, particularly very dark stormy days, and how clear your solar panels are, will have a smaller impact. Most dust and debris that gets on your panels won’t severely limit solar production, and average wind and rainfall will keep your solar panels producing at near optimum.
In certain situations, dust and debris can decrease your solar production by 5% to 10%. But this would most likely occur in special situations, such as a forest fire near your home. It’s best to clean your panels only if you notice a significant drop in electricity production.
Q. How should I clean my Solar Panels?
A. By using a hose, you can simply spray your panels with tap water.
Although most roofs are designed to be rain-tight, using pressurized water on the roof in an improper way, may lead to a roof leak and void your roof warranty. Always spray water on the panel, not the roof itself.
Be very careful while moving around on a wet roof, as water on your roof can cause it to become slippery, and if precautions are not taken, this could result in serious injury or death.
The content presented within Solar Topps’ Frequently Asked Questions, is meant solely for informative purposes and neither the individual contributors, developers, nor sponsors of Solar Topps, nor anyone else connected or affiliated with Solar Topps can take any responsibility for the results or consequences of any attempt to use or adopt any of the information presented.