Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about
Solar Power in Arizona

 

How Much Does Solar Cost?

The price of solar varies greatly from customer to customer. This is because the number of solar panels you need is directly related to how much power your family uses. After all, a different family living in your exact same home may have a dramatically different power bill than you do. They may prefer cooler temperatures, or have more family members that are home at different times of the day that yours. Whatever your unique situation, what we can tell you is that our pricing will be LESS than your current electric bill, especially over the long run. When we provide a quote, we evaluate all the variables, incluing your family's unique electrical usage patterns, roof configuration, shading, and local utility pricing. We then customize a system to produce enough electricity to completely offset your usage, or partly offset your most expensive electricity during peak time.

We also offer a whole portfolio of way to lease or purchase your solar system, including a $0 down low monthly lease payment, or numerious solar financing programs with extended terma and $0 down payment options. 

Our consultations are free, and since our mission is to educate, you can look forward to a low-pressure experience. Call one of our solar integrators for pricing and information specific to you and your home, 480-361-6041.

What’s the average size of a solar electric system?

Even though some companies will try to sell you a pre-configured 5kW system, it is simply not true that there is an average solar system size for your home or business. It’s like asking “what is the average shoe size.”

A solar electric system cannot be based on square footage alone, although that is one indicator. Electricity usage is based on a long list of variables, incluing the number of people living in a home, the number and type of electrical appliances, and most importantly, your own family's unique usage habits. Think of it this way - another family living in your exact same home will have drastically different electricity requirements. They may have more family members, or they may like the average temperature cooler or warmer than you do. The right system size is the one that's sized specifically for you. 

Every Sun Valley Solar Solutions system is custom engineered. We analyze your unique electricity consumption patterns, as well as your individual roof structure and potential shading issues. Depending on your budget and available roof space, we’ll design a system that produce as much electricity as possible.

Is it best to install solar in the summer when my power bills are the highest?

While the is no wrong time to install solar, waiting until summer can actually have a few disadvantages. First, as temperatures start to rise, so does the rush to install solar. This high seasonal demand can make installation times longer. This is critical because it can take up to several months to design your system, complete the installation, and then wait for your utility company to swith the whole thing on. If you wait until June to start shopping, you'll likely miss the opportunity to reduce or eliminate your high summer electricity bills.

Starting early is also beneficial when it comes to net metering.  Many Arizona residents also have the opportunity to earn energy credits from their utility provider when their solar energy system produces more electricity than the consume. During the cool winter months when the AC is switched off, the majority of solar customers produce excess electricity. Net metering allows these consumers to feed unused electricity back into the grid. Utility companies credit these homeowners for the excess power, allowing them to use those credits during the hot summer months. If you want to be ready for Summer, it’s vital to have your solar system operational in winter so that you can start banking those credits before your electricity bill starts climbing.

I only have wireless Internet access during part of the year. (I cancel it when I travel in the summer.) Is that a problem?

With some of our solar leases which provide a guaranteed electricity production clause, the lease requires 365 day per year wireless internet monitoring in order to prove the system is generating the electricity promised. Be sure to let us know in advance of your situation so we can propose an appropriate workaround for your situation. There are options.

What if my homeowner’s association (HOA) won’t allow me to put solar panels up?

By Arizona statute a homeowner’s association must allow a solar installation. Here is the statute itself signed into law in 2007:

§33-1816

When concerns arise, Sun Valley Solar Solutions makes every attempt to minimize the visibility of our solar arrays and design the most efficient solutions possible. We will work with your HOA to help them understand the law, and we'll be sensitive to their guidelines every step of the way.

If I lease a solar electric system, what happens if I sell my home?

With a solar lease, you basically have two options when sell your home, 1. You can easily transfer the lease the new homeowner. (NOTE: They have to qualify with a good credit score.)

2. You can purchase the system outright at “remaining value” (spelled out in your lease) and then it becomes real property and part of the sale.

If I lease a solar electric system, what happens if I pass away?

Just like any other financial arrangement, solar equipment obtained through a solar lease is subject to legal ramifications of property and debt passed to heirs through probate or will or trust. Consult your attorney or tax adviser for more information.

I’ve heard of the SunPower brand of solar panel, but isn’t one 5kW system the same as any other 5kW system?

Not all panels are created equally. A higher effeciency panel will produce more electricty every hour than a lower efficiency panel of similar physical size. So, if you have limited roof space, a better quality panel will deliver more power from a smaller footprint. In addition, a higher quality panel is more durable and will offer a much longer peak-effiiciency operatine lifespan.

Be cautious of "big-named" solar companies who will gladly put any brand of panel that is cheapest at the time on your roof. Ask them for the details about the brands they offer, incluidng the kilowatts per hour (kWh) they produce. And by all means, be sure to ask about how much electricity their panels will produce in year five, year ten …. and all the way out to 20 years.

If I wait, won’t the cost of solar go down?

This is one of the most common myths that hold homeowners back from investing in solar energy. We did indeed see a reduction in panel pricing in the first few years after the technology became mainstream, but pricing has remained mostly stable since 2012. As for performance,  engineers have improved efficiency of the modern solar cell to the point where future advancements are likely to be mostly incremental. 

But looking at pricing and efficiency alone is only part of the equation. Right now there are very lucrative federal tax incentives available that are scheduled to decrease in the coming years. Overlay this with the fact that local utilities are working to increase their grid access fees for new solar customers, and the question really becomes: how much money do you stand to lose while waiting for small changes in efficiency and price? 

So if you've been considering solar it makes the most sense to take advantage of the current incentive programs and start turning Arizona's most abundant resource into real savings today.

What is “net-metering?”

The electricity produced by your solar system is monitored by a dedicated (separate) solar meter. That meter is connected to the “grid” – which is monitored by the utility company’s electric meter (also on your home). When you're producing more electricity than you are using, the utility’s electric meter spins “backward” because your feeding your excess energy back into the grid.

The utiliites credit you for every kilowatt hour you produce more power than you use. Conversely, when you need more power than your solar system is producing, such as at night or on cloudy days, you can cash in your energy credits and avoid purchasing that needed power directly.

Thanks to net metering, at the end of each month, your credited or charged for the difference between what you produce and what you use.  At the end of each year – depending on your utility company – you may receive either a check or a credit for any extra credits still remaining on your account.

Different utilities have different net metering policies, fiscal periods and payback plans. Our solar Integrators are fully versed on the varying plans and can easily explain the net metering program in your area.

Do I have to buy insurance for a solar array?

The answer to this depends on whether you lease or purchase your system. If you lease, insurance is included. If you purchase, you just need to add the system to your homeowner’s insurance policy. Typically, any increase in premium is put in place to cover the replacement cost because you’ve increased the value of the home, rather than the system being viewed as any sort of liability.

Who takes care of service?

Once again, this depends on whether you lease or purchase. When you lease, all service issues are taken care of for the 20 year term of the lease.

If you purchase your system, the panels are covered by the manufacturer (typically for 25 years), inverters are covered by the manufactuer (typically 10 years), and installation workmanship is warranted by Sun Valley Solar Solutions for 10 years. When it comes to damage caused by weather or accident, your homeowner’s insurance protection will generally cover repairs.

Aren’t there big federal and state incentives for solar?

If you purchase a solar electric system, the federal government will give you a 30% tax credit on the total paid which can be taken in one year or spread out over five years. (check with your accountant for tax specifics.)

The state of Arizona offers a $1,000 tax credit for solar. Additionally, solar purchases are not subject to sales tax.

What about permits and inspections?

Sun Valley Solar Solutions handles all the necessary paperwork for permits. We are also on-site for all city inspections. Throughout the process we take care of as much as possible to make things easy for you, and we’ll walk you through the entire process – as much or as little as you want to know.

What is photovoltaic, or PV?

In general conversation photovoltaic often used to refer to solar energy technology. Specifically photovoltaic is the technology which uses silicon crystals and wire conductors to generate solar power. These crystals and wire are strung together into solar panels, which are then strung together to generate the desired amount of wattage. PV is the industry acronym.

Do the panels have to be cleaned?

We recommend yearly cleanings to keep your panels dust / debris free and operating and peak efficiency. Every once in a while--such as after a really bad dust storm--you may neet to augment that yearly cleaning schedule. While it's certainly possible to clean panels yourself with a garden hose and soft brush, you recommend that you contact our service department to schedule a professional cleaning. This is the safer option and the results are dramatically better.

Why do I have to have a high credit score?

Leasing companies are heavily regulated, and some require a FICO score (different than a credit score) of 700 or higher in order for you to qualify for their program.

We have a lot of new financing packages with different requirements available, so be sure to ask.

What is a FICO score?

A FICO (pronounced FY-koh) score ranges from 300 – 850 and is calculated based on information compiled from all three of the major credit bureaus’ (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax).  It is not the same as a credit score. A FICO score is the one most widely used by the nation’s largest banks to make credit and loan approval decisions.

Your FICO score is based on five key pieces of information: the timeliness of your bill payment history, your level of debt, the types of accounts you have, the length of time you’ve had credit, and the number of recent credit applications.