Below are some of the most common questions that our customers ask us. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Photon Solar Power, led by its founder Mr. Pekka Laine, is a family-owned business based in Escondido, California. Mr. Laine comes with a background of 15+ years in the “green” construction industry. Being a CA licensed General Contractor and NABCEP certified professional PV installer, his team at Photon Solar Power has all the expertise you would expect from a San Diego solar contractor. Photon Solar Power is capable of managing a multi-trade construction project that involves roofing, electrical, earth moving and general carpentry skills.
The North American Board of Certified Practitioners (NABCEP) offers certifications that are widely recognized as the “gold standard” for renewable energy installers. Certification is achieved when individuals who have specialized solar training and on-the-job experience pass a very rigorous exam. Out of 1000+ individual in North America who have earned the right to call themselves NABCEP certified, Mr. Laine is the only one in the Escondido area.
A site visit is one of the first things we would like to schedule with a homeowner. A solar power system can be installed on a composite, tar and gravel, bitumen, shingle, cement tile, or metal roof top. Solar panels are usually installed flush to the roof surface. For this reason the orientation of your roof is important. South facing roofs offer the most annual production, while east and west facing roofs being acceptable as well. However, west facing roofs produce more power during “peak” times when power can be worth more money. This is important for utility customers who want to take advantage of time-of-use metering. Also, near the coastal areas, there is an added benefit for facing west because marine layer will be usually burned off by afternoon.
Being manufactured of aluminum, solar panel and mounting equipment add very little load to your roof. In most cases, the Escondido and San Diego solar electric systems we install will add less than 4lb/ft2 of load to the roof. Virtually all modern construction is designed to support loads far greater than this. Some older homes may require some structural work prior to installing a system. However this is very rare and is still an exception even for older homes.
Yes. Your solar electric system will supply you with electricity, which will cost you less than the expensive rates you are currently paying. Over the course of its 25-30-year lifetime, a solar electric system is a great investment. It is low-risk, high-return investment that is very competitive with other types of investments (stocks, bonds, and property). The San Diego solar installers at Photon Solar Power can look at your specific situation and calculate exactly what your return on investment will be and how much you will save over the life of the system.
No. Your utility charges more than you would pay if you had a solar electric system. SDGE rates are constantly increasing, and have increased over 6-7% annually since 1970. As you pay your utility bill you do not gain equity in an asset. Paying for utility power is equivalent to having an infinite term loan with a variable interest rate, which always increases.
If you finance your system as recommended, you may experience net savings as early as the first year. Instead of paying your monthly utility bill, you will make monthly loan payments for your PV system. You will effectively pay less for your loan over time than you currently pay your utility company. Solar power systems usually yield an initial return on investment of 7-20%. As utility rates increase your return will also increase.
Systems will usually have a payback period of between 6-10 years. Your exact payback period will depend on your electrical usage, electric rate schedule, and cost of your system. In most cases the larger your electric bill the greater the return on investment and the faster the payback.
Your system will reduce the demand on existing fossil-fuel power plants, thereby reducing pollutants and global-warming CO2 emissions. The EPA says, “Using solar energy to replace the use of traditional fossil fuel energy sources can prevent the release of pollutants into the atmosphere.”
According to The Appraisal Journal, Evidence of Rational Market Evaluations for Home Efficiency, a $1 decrease in your annual energy bills results in a $20 increase in your property value. In California you are also exempted from increase on your property tax for the added value of a solar system to your property.
Provided you have enough physical space, you can install a photovoltaic system that will produce as much electricity as you use, leaving you with a minimum bill of about $5. Since January 1, 2011, in California you will also receive compensation for excess generation according to AB920.
You have to pay your electric bills. You are already essentially financing an indefinite, variable rate loan from your utility company. Installing a solar power system allows you to refinance this loan at a fixed rate and term, pay less every month, and have your loan payments go towards ownership of a valuable asset. Remember, solar power is a low-risk, high-return investment that is very competitive with other types of investments (stocks, bonds, and property). Solar power systems usually yield an initial return on investment of 7-20%. As utility rates increase your return will also increase.
Your solar electric system will not produce electricity without direct or diffused sunlight. On rainy days and at nighttime, you will draw electricity from the grid. You build up credits on sunny days and draw from these credits on cloudy days and at night.
The sun’s energy in the form of photons release electrons from their bonds in the silicon semiconductors that make up the solar cells. The flow of these electrons makes up the current that will ultimately be utilized in your home or building.
Yes! The rebates pay for 20-35% of the installed cost. These programs are administered by the state through the California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission. However, these rebates will not be around forever. The California Energy Commission buy-down program will cease to exist when the current available funds are reserved and ultimately paid out by 2017. In addition, the rebate levels decrease as systems are installed. The sooner you install, the larger your rebate will be.
Yes, Since January 1, 2009, homeowners may claim an uncapped 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit for installed systems.
The electricity produced by the solar modules is direct current, or DC. The inverter converts this electricity to alternating current, or AC. Most electrical devices in homes and businesses run on AC electricity.
You do not need batteries if you are tied into the public utility grid. Essentially your utility company stores your solar electricity for free. Batteries would only be necessary if you need power during blackouts or if you are not connected to the grid.
You do not designate electricity to any specific loads. The electricity produced by your solar system functions in the exact same way as the electricity from the grid. Your solar electricity will provide power for all of your uses.
You can find out how much electricity you use by looking on your utility bill or calling your electric utility. It is very helpful to get the last 12 months of electric usage in kilowatt hours (kWh). Your electric utility can provide you with this information over the phone or you can get it online.