Frequently Asked Questions
One thing we’ve learned, is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there where it comes to solar. We find ourselves constantly setting the record straight, so below we’ve answered some of your most common questions in order to help you decide if solar power is right for you.
We are the Solar Experts and we’ve answered a few of your frequent questions.
Who is SunPower Direct (SPD)?
In some markets SunPower offers the option to buy direct from the manufacturer through the SunPower Direct (SPD) sales team. Sometimes, they have their own installation team but they usually sub contract the installations to local dealers. ProVoltz actually used to install their more difficult projects for them. We made the choice a couple years ago not to install for them anymore, because we couldn’t meet their pricing requirements and still deliver the same quality and finish that we’re known for. For us, it’s still all about delivering you the highest value possible for your solar investment. Let us show you the difference by giving you a free design and quote.
Do I qualify for solar?
If you have an electric bill and decent sun exposure, you qualify for solar. Many, many of our customers have been told by other solar contractors that they “don’t qualify” only to find out from us, they not only qualify as good candidates, but solar energy is a fantastic investment for them. You may have some shade on your roof, a low electric bill, or a difficult type of roof to mount to, but don’t be discouraged from exploring your options until you’ve talked to ProVoltz. Our expert designers are creative and our installers are very talented. No other solar company in the Bay Area can offer the same, “can do” attitude we do. We just know how to get things done.
Should I buy my solar system or sign a lease or PPA?
You should OWN your solar system. The economics for solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPA) have recently changed as some federal grant money has run out and tax laws have expired. There’s a simple truth about solar leases and PPA’s… They all lead to ownership.
There are clauses written in that talk about taking it off the roof, but less than .001% will actually be removed at the end of the 18-20 year term. The ﬁnancing entity is far more likely to try to sell it to you or just give it to you. Generally, by that time you will have paid about twice as much for the system than if you had purchased it in the ﬁrst place.
We also hear often from our customers that they are attracted to non-ownership options because they come with “FREE MAINTENANCE”. This is just a sales tactic, because solar systems are extremely low maintenance. Nearly all of our installations have zero moving parts and the panels are guaranteed to produce power for 25 years. They don’t even needed to be washed by anything other than the rain to keep producing.
There’s many more advantages to owning your solar system instead of leasing it than there are disadvantages. We’re solar ﬁnance experts. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to explain them all.
Will solar work on my house?
Most of the time, yes. We can safely mount to just about every type of roof there is. Some roof materials are more difficult than others, so extra work can sometimes add to the cost. The most common issue we face is shade. Trees, chimneys, and telephone poles can impact a solar system’s production.
This is really where ProVoltz stands out, because we are expert designers who pride ourselves on getting every last watt out of every panel we install. We never guess. When we complete your free evaluation, we’ll explain how we came to the conclusions we did about your house, and we present your options for going solar with facts and science to back it up.
Will I get a tax credit?
Yes! The investment tax credit (ITC) is the largest incentive to make solar power affordable for your home. You will receive 30% of the total cost of the system back as a federal tax credit next time you file. There are a couple important things to know.
You can use the tax credit even if you are subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That means you can use other tax credits you’ve earned to reach the AMT and then offset your AMT using the solar tax credit! Also, if you don’t pay enough federal taxes to use the whole thing the first year, you can carry it over each year until 2016.
How much does solar cost?
It’s less expensive to make your own power than to buy it somewhere else, just like it’s cheaper to grow your own tomatoes. Every system is different, and prices range from under $10,000 to over $100,000. It all depends on how much electricity you need, and how much work it will take to install panels on your particular roof.
How long is the payback?
Most systems pay for themselves with energy savings in 5-9 years, though in order to guess what the system payback is you have to estimate future energy costs. Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we use historic data. That’s being conservative though.
In reality, electric rates will probably increase for the next 10-15 years at a greater pace than they have historically because consumption is rising every year. Our world is moving towards an all electric lifestyle because it’s clean and renewable. Electric cars are a perfect example. If this causes rates to go up faster than they have historically, your solar system will pay for itself sooner!
What are the current rebates?
The California state rebate through PG&E depleted it’s funding earlier this year. We’ve heard some recent radio ads claiming it’s not too late, but it’s simply not true. There are so many applicants on the waiting list that PG&E has stopped accepting applications.
However, there are still local rebates available from smaller utilities like Silicon Valley Power and City of Palo Alto Public Utility. If you’re a customer of a public utility company and you’re interested in solar, please contact us to learn more about the rebates available to you. The larger and more important incentive for everyone to go solar is the federal tax credit.
What if I sell my house?
Your home becomes more valuable when you purchase a solar system. The value is based on current energy cost and usually exceeds the cost of installation as soon as it’s been installed. That’s instant equity that appreciates every time your utility company raises its rates! However, if you lease a solar system or have a power purchase agreement, you now have someone else’s property installed on your home that a buyer may not see the same value in.
Generally, homeowners buy out the lease or PPA early in order to make the sale of the house easier. Of course, that will be much more expensive than buying it in the beginning. Would YOU rather buy a house that requires you to take over a lease payment and pay higher electric bills or a house that has very low energy costs that are barely affected when rates go up?