<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=322836955126994&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about
Solar Power in Arizona

 

What is photovoltaic, or PV?

In general conversation, photovoltaic is 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 wires are strung together into solar panels, which are then strung together to generate the desired amount of wattage. PV is the industry acronym.

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 home may have a dramatically different power bill than you do. They may prefer cooler temperatures, or have more family members home at different times of the day than yours. Whatever your unique situation, going solar ensures that you will buy less power from the utility, which means a lower bill.  When we provide a quote, we evaluate all the variables, including your family's unique electrical usage, 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 multiple ways to pay for your solar energy system, including a $0 down low monthly lease payment, or numerous solar financing programs with extended terms 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 at 480-689-5000.

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

Sizing a solar energy system requires much more than square footage alone.  The number of solar panels needed is dictated by two main variables:  how much energy you use, and how much money you want to save. In addition, energy use is entirely unique to each household, with variables such as the number of family members living in the home, time spent at work vs. at home, or temperature preferences all contributing to a very personal energy profile. 

Sun Valley Solar Solutions offers two types of systems, Pre-Engineered solar packages, and Custom-Engineered systems. 

With nearly 8000 installations across Arizona, we have an intimate understanding of where size and maximum savings align for the majority of Arizona homes. This is the foundation for our pre-engineered approach, allowing us to optimize four high-performance solar packages for performance and value in Arizona’s most common sizes,  complete with panels, racking, inverter, and basic installation*. This approach allows us to pass tangible savings along to the buyer while offsetting a significant portion of their annual electric bill.

If you're looking for something more custom, we also offer fully engineered solutions that account for unique structural conditions, additional components such as batteries and EV chargers, as well as custom equipment locations and aesthetic requests. From there, we develop a detailed site plan and savings proposal that is totally unique to your home and family. 

Will solar panels power my home when the grid is down?

No, unless you have a fully off-grid system, your solar panels are integrated with the utility grid and will not operate if the grid is down. The reasons for this are both technical and regulatory.

From a technical perspective, as long as the sun is shining overhead, solar panels generate power regardless of how much electricity your home is actually consuming. In a grid connected system, excess solar power is sent back into the grid for a credit, and any additional power you need beyond what your panels are producing is pulled from the grid. It’s a constant push/pull. Panels reduce the amount of energy you need to purchase, but their production changes as the sun moves across the sky, clouds roll in, or night falls. Since your appliances require constant/predictable energy, the grid/solar interconnect creates a leveled power delivery throughout the day and night.

Safety regulations are the second reason. During outages, repair crews could be jeopardized if there is a local power generator (like a solar array) leaking power back into the grid lines. For this reason, utility rules mandate that solar arrays must automatically shut down during outages. Solar systems have devices that sense whether power is coming across the grid, and when that’s disrupted, the local solar array is automatically shut down for safety.

The only way to avoid all these things is by completely disconnecting from the grid. A fully off-grid solar energy systems generally requires numerous batteries, generators and other ancillary devices to provide 24/7 power regardless of weather conditions.

Will my system work at night or on cloudy days?

Your system will function on cloudy days, but it will produce less electricity depending on the density and duration of the cloud cover.

At night your system will not have enough light to convert into electricity. During nighttime hours, your house will rely exclusively on grid energy.

 

What is the difference between a kilowatt (kW) and a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?

A kilowatt is a measure of power within an electrical system – specifically the rate at which power is being generated at a single point in time. When a solar system is producing power during the day, at any given moment the inverter will be outputting a certain number of kilowatts. As a result, you may see the kilowatt production of your system fluctuating up and down depending on several factors throughout the day and at different times of the year. These factors can include variables such as the angle of the sun, weather patterns, ambient temperature, and more.

A kilowatt-hour is the amount of power generated over a period of time. For example, if a solar system produced 1kW continually for an hour, it has produced 1kWh. Kilowatt-hours are a more accurate representation of overall solar production, as it shows value over time rather than in a single moment. For an easy comparison, kilowatt-hours are also the same unit of energy that the utility company uses to determine energy usage. So, if your utility is charging you 20 cents/kWh, every kWh of solar power produced is offsetting that 20 cents you would have otherwise paid to the utility.

What is the best time of year to install solar?

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 switch the whole system on. If you wait until June to start shopping, you'll likely miss the opportunity to reduce or eliminate your high summer electricity bills.

In addition, many Arizona utilities allow you to earn energy credits when your solar energy system produces more electricity than your home is using.  This excess energy is sent back to the gird in exchange for a buyback credit from your utility. The best way to have enough credits to help offset your high summer bills is to have your solar energy system operational in winter when you are using less electricity. 

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 to the new homeowner. (NOTE: They have to qualify with a good credit score.)

 

2. You can purchase the system outright at “remaining value”, which is spelled out in your lease. It then 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.

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're using, the utility’s electric meter spins “backward” because you're feeding your excess energy back into the grid.

The utilities 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, you're 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?

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 - 30 years), inverters are covered by the manufacturer (typically 10 years), and installation workmanship is warranted by Sun Valley Solar Solutions for 10 years. 

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

If you purchase a solar electric system, the federal government will give you a 26% 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.

Are permits and inspections required?

Yes. 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.

Do the panels have to be cleaned?

We recommend yearly cleanings to keep your panels dust and debris-free and operating at peak efficiency. Every once in a while, such as after a really bad dust storm, you may need to augment that yearly cleaning schedule. It is also important to inspect your panels for bird infestations. Occasionally, birds will nest in the shaded area under the array. This can cause problems with proper water shedding which can, in turn, damage roof underlayment. 

Do trees impact solar production?

A solar panel achieves maximum energy production when the entire surface of the panel receives direct sunlight. If any portion of the panel is shaded, the entire panel’s electrical output will be diminished. For this reason, it is critical to reduce shading from tress with regular trimming.