FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

General Solar Power Questions

The number of solar panels you need is dependent upon how many kilowatt-hours of power your home consumes and the power output of the solar panels you install. Your home’s location and roof size can also impact the number of panels needed. Before you go solar, it is advised to meet with a certified energy practitioner who will be able to analyze your home’s Green Button usage data from SDG&E and do shade readings on your roof. If you are planning to purchase an electric vehicle, install a pool, or add an air conditioning unit in the future, then you should account for these additions when deciding how many panels are needed.

Solar photovoltaics uses the raw material silicon to convert sunlight (photons) into electricity. The electricity generated from solar panels is Direct Current (DC) electricity, which then gets converted into Alternating Current (AC) electricity by the inverter and is used in the home or business.

Due to statewide fire code (9.7?), most solar customers without an energy storage unit will experience a loss of power during a Public Safety Power Shutoff event in order to prevent excess electricity from entering the grid and creating a potential safety hazard. If you experience a loss of power, your solar energy system will automatically shutdown. No additional action is required. When power is restored, your solar energy system will then automatically restore itself.

If you have an SMA America Inverter with a Secure Power Supply function:

If your energy system is equipped with an SMA America Inverter that includes a Secure Power Supply switch and outlet (pictured here) you can power a load with the energy produced by the solar panels. The power available through the Secure Power Supply operation depends greatly on the solar irradiation. Therefore, power output can fluctuate depending on the weather and is not available at night. To read more about activating the Secure Power Supply operation click here.

If you have a SolarEdge StorEdge Inverter paired with anLG Chem Residential Energy System Unit (RESU) battery:

If your solar energy system is equipped with a SolarEdge StorEdge inverter paired with an LG Chem Residential Energy System Unit (RESU) and back-up service panel, your inverter will automatically enter backup mode and supply power to the 2-4 circuits you selected to power during the installation of your system. While the sun is still up, this power will be supplied by your solar panels or the power will come from your LG Chem RESU battery if the sun has set. When SDG&E restores your electricity, your inverter will be automatically notified and switch back to normal operation.

Your solar system will stay with the house. The new owners will take over your monitoring and Sullivan accounts and we can go over the system and how to read the production monitoring with them if needed. Make sure your realtor includes the added value your solar system brings to your home when you list! You may also request a solar appraiser, which can add an accurate value to your home price based on your solar power system.

If you have financed your system and own it, congratulations! After you have paid off your solar loan, you are producing nothing but clean energy and instant savings, all with a warrantied system that will last for 25+ years.

If you have a solar lease, at the end of the leasing contract you may have a few options depending on the company. The most costly option will be to buy out the system from the leasing company. You could also renew your lease, or you could choose to terminate the lease in which the leasing company will come to remove the panels.

It depends. Not everyone’s roof or home is optimized for solar. There could be problems with roof space, orientation or shading by large trees. Some people live in areas where the energy rates wouldn’t make sense to go solar. Some people don’t own their homes. Overall, if you do own your home and you have a high energy bill, you will most likely be able to benefit from solar. Everyone can benefit from solar but there are sometimes factors that prevent a homeowner from being able to utilize it. Link to testimonial about Sean Kelly who didn’t go solar.

Installing a solar power system on your home or business paired with upgrading to energy-efficient products, such as LED lights and energy-efficient appliances, will allow you to save hundreds of dollars each year and thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your solar power system. How much you will save depends on a number of factors, such as direct hours of daily sunlight, the size, and angle of your roof, and most importantly, your local electricity rates. Also factored into how much you will save by going solar is not only how much energy you consume, but the time of day you consume energy the most, which is called the time-of-use rate. Some homeowners may also qualify for the federal tax credit (ITC), which, in 2020 will be 26% of the cost of their entire system, even those which include a battery. As an example, a typical home that uses 5.9 kilowatts of energy per year could see a savings of up to $96,612 over 25 years owning a solar power system. The same home could expect to see up to $79,860 in savings for a leased system. Regardless of how you finance your system, you will save money by going solar and taking the power away from your current utility provider.

Maintenance/Over-time

Typically, solar panels require very little maintenance once they are installed. The only recommended maintenance is to spray water on the panels using a garden hose 3 to 4 times a year. Since the panels have tempered glass, it is important to only apply water in the morning or evening when the surface temperature is not hot. If you live in an area that has a lot of smog, dust, or dirt more frequent cleanings may be suggested.

Yes, solar does have what is called a degradation rate. However, solar panels are well known for being extremely durable and long-lasting. For example, a Panasonic 330 panel is warrantied to degrade by .26% per year, meaning that at the end of a 25-year period the panels will still produce over 90% of what they did on day one. This is why solar is a great long-term investment that offers savings and peace of mind.

Solar on your roof does not deteriorate your roof, rather it can act as a shield to the sun and heat, cooling the surface’s temperature by a couple of degrees. Damage on the roof will only come with faulty installations. It is important to know the certifications your installers have before they are up on your roof. At Sullivan Solar Power, all of our electricians must be state-certified, with more than 5,000 hours of on-the-job training and multiple courses completed in job site safety. They also must earn the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners’ (NABCEP) certification through the NABCEP Associate Program and the NABCEP Solar PV Installer certification. These certifications help ensure that our electricians have field experience acting as the person responsible for installing PV systems, a minimum of 58 hours of advanced PV training and an OSHA 10-hour construction industry card or equivalent.only work with licensed professionals who are well versed. To protect our customers even further, we provide a 10-year roof warranty that protects all of the work done on the roof.

We can come out to take the panels off (there is a fee per panel to cover labor) and re-install them on your new roof.

The severity of the earthquake will determine the amount of damage done to a panel. There is a chance that minor earthquakes will not do any damage, much as your home does not always sustain damage. Earthquakes will pose a risk for micro-fractures within the cells if it is a significant earthquake that may cause a loss in production. If the earthquake is severe enough to damage your home substantially, then the chances are that your panels will also be severely damaged. It is recommended to add your solar system to your current homeowners' insurance policy or your earthquake insurance policy if this is a concern to you.

Company Specific Questions

Our clients are homeowners who are trying to gain control over their energy source, save money in the long run by getting rid of their energy bill and reduce their carbon footprint. We also serve institutions looking to do the same, including UC San Diego, SDSU, UC Irvine, NOAA, Camp Pendleton, the Navy, City of Chula Vista, Encinitas Union School District, Petco Park and many more.

Yes. We have a C-10 license and we employ only state-certified electricians, with more than 5,000 hours of on-the-job training and multiple courses completed in job site safety. This means we only hire from a select pool of electricians who have been tested for competency in the electrical industry.

Yes, Sullivan Solar Power is an accredited PV installer by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. In fact, Sullivan Solar Power was the fourth solar company in the United States to receive an NABCEP accredited and remains the only NABCEP accredited company in San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties. Sullivan is also one of only three companies accredited in the entire state of California.

Sullivan Solar Power was founded in 2004 and has been in business ever since. As a C-10 licensed electrical contractor focusing solely on photovoltaic solar installation, we are one of the longest standing privately owned solar design build firms in Southern California, and have been featured on the Inc 500 Fastest Growing Companies list for 8 consecutive years.

Sullivan Solar Power has a strict quality control, quality assurance program to align ourselves with proven, financially-stable manufacturers. We use a handful of different companies to offer our clients a variety of high-quality products. Many of our clients are selecting Panasonic Solar and LG Solar panels. We do not use solar panels made in China. We offer SolarEdge inverters, which convert the DC energy from the solar panels into AC energy used in homes and businesses.

We have a department at Sullivan Solar Power that monitors our clients systems to ensure they are online and producing properly. Additionally, our clients are able to monitor their own solar systems through the SolarEdge monitoring app and receive a monthly email detailing their monthly production. We provide in-house monitoring services for 20 years as part of our contract for all clients.

Finances

Cash purchases are always available. Second, a homeowner can obtain a solar loan through various creditors. This is a beneficial option for those who do not want to pay the full upfront cost but would like a lower monthly payment than their current electric bill that invests in the solar power system. Each creditor has a variety of terms, interest rates and reamortization options. With loans, it is important to note that you own the system and are eligible to receive the federal tax credit. There are also no prepayment penalties. Lastly, some solar companies will offer a lease through a third-party leasing company. You will not own the system, therefore you are not eligible to claim the federal tax credit, and your payments are a fixed monthly charge, usually lower than your electric bill. The most common leasing agreements are 20 and 25-year contracts with various terms for the termination of the lease. The lease option creates a few hurdles when the contract expires or when selling the home, so this option is generally only recommended for those without a tax appetite to claim the federal tax credit, who would benefit from passing that incentive on to the company and buying clean energy from them at a low cost.

There is a federal tax credit available to everyone who goes solar. As of 2019, it covers 30% of your entire project cost and you credit it to your taxes owed for the following year. However, this credit is reducing to 26% for 2020 and then to 22% in 2021. After that, it will be completely phased out. In California, there is a state-rebate program for batteries only, not panels. However, the funds have been depleted from this battery rebate program (Self Generation Incentive Program) and there is now a waitlist for SDG&E and Edison customers. The funds will be replenished in 2020, but at an amount that is to be determined.

Sullivan Solar Power offers one of the most comprehensive warranties on the market today. In fact, Sullivan Solar Power is the only company in the Southern California solar power industry to offer a production guarantee on all systems we install. They guarantee the kilowatt-hour production of your solar power system for the first 10 years of system operation. Anytime one of their systems is operating outside of its expected performance ranges, they are automatically notified and one of their electricians will be onsite within 72 hours to bring the system back to its full capacity. If the system does not produce what they specify, they will pay you for any energy lost.

Due to their high sales volume, Sullivan Solar Power is able to offer its clients an exclusive 25-year full warranty on any Panasonic solar panel system and a 25-year full warranty on any Solaredge inverter. These warranties allow Sullivan’s clients to have peace of mind, knowing their solar power systems will be well taken care of for the life of their systems.

In 2019, SDG&E began defaulting solar and non-solar customers on to time-of-use rate plans where customers are charged for energy based on when they consume it not just how much they consume. SDG&E offers many different pricing plan options for solar customers. New solar customers should select the plan that their solar energy system was designed to offset and existing solar customers should remain on the plan used to design their system. There are a few different factors that go into deciding which time-of-use plan is best including if you have an electric vehicle, your energy consumption patterns, and if you have solar. Before choosing or changing a plan, solar energy customers should consult with their installer or use the SDG&E rate analysis tool.

Net metering is the billing arrangement that solar customers enter into with their respective utility once they go solar. Net metering establishes an annual, not monthly, billing cycle for energy charges and allows solar customers to receive retail value credit for all energy exported to the grid within their 12-month billing cycle. Solar customers are grandfathered into their net metering agreement that is available the day they receive permission to operate for 20 years. After those 20 years, they will be defaulted on to the new net metering arrangement that is available during that time. California is one of the few states in the United States with a net metering program, not all states have this critical program that makes solar affordable and accessible.

Existing Customers

There are a few things to consider for existing solar customers who want to add some more panels. The first thing to consider is the actual equipment. You will need to ask your solar provider what type of inverter you have, and how many watts can that inverter handle? You may already be at the maximum wattage of that inverter which would mean you would need to add another inverter to accommodate your add-on or upgrade your existing inverter. If you have micro-inverters, it shouldn’t be an issue to add on more.

The other thing to consider is your current net-metering agreement with your utility company. For example, in San Diego Gas & Electric territory, solar customers are grandfathered into particular Net Metering agreements. If you were to add any more than 10% or 1 kilowatt to your system, you will null your net metering agreement and be placed into whichever net metering agreement is in place for that time. Your system would have been designed for the rate structure of the time, and it may not be financially beneficial to lose that preexisting agreement.

Just contact your solar provider, they will be able to add on a battery to an existing system. If you get another company to do the work, your warranties will be void. It’s also good to know that you may need to upgrade your service panel and/or your inverter when adding a battery to accompany the load.

Installation

Yes! Every person who installs on your roof is a Sullivan Solar Power employee who has been hired from a select pool of electricians who have been tested for competency in the electrical industry. In fact, all of our state-certified electricians are drug screened as a requirement of employment with the training and standards that are required to be employed by Sullivan Solar Power.

The condition of your roof must be determined before any solar panels can be installed. Therefore, a roof inspection is required before going solar with Sullivan Solar Power. We have an in-house roof inspector who provides complementary roof inspections before a contract is provided to the customer.

Yes, but in a good way! In a 2015 study by the United States Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, researchers analyzed 22,000 home sales across eight states and concluded that buyers are consistently willing to pay more for homes with owned solar systems.

Financing options for solar are becoming more popular and are a trustworthy solution for customers that don’t want to use cash. Homeowners selling their homes with a solar loan typically include the remaining payments on the loan in the listing price. Solar leases may make sense for some customers, but to own the system, whether through a cash purchase or financing option, brings the most added value to the home.

Solar installers such as Sullivan Solar Power have made it very easy to inherit or purchase an owned solar power system home; all warranties stay with the house, as well as any servicing, net metering benefits, and production guarantees. Please read our our blog for more information on this topic!