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12/14/2011: Clean Energy Advocate Solar Workshop Preliminary 1.

What characteristics should a house have to be considered a good solar candidate? Ideally a house with a south facing roof (west or south-west will also work), minimal trees and little to no shading. Also one must consider the age and condition of the roof. If the roof is over 25 years old reroofing may be required before solar can be installed. 2. Will shading really affect my panels that much? Yes. For solar, shade is the enemy. The sun is higher in the summer and lower in the winter and what may be sunny in the summer maybe shaded in the winter. Solar installers will come out to inspect your roof and use diagnostic tools such as a digital shade camera which determines the shade factor during the year. The best time to have sun on your roof is 1-7p, May to October for the best output of your system. *Shade mitigation – Micro-inverters are a way to mitigate shading. If your panels have microinverters the panels that receive shading will not affect the production of the other panels. Without micro-inverters if multiple panels are on the same string, shading will affect the entire system. 3. Even if some of my panels are shaded, will the unshaded panels still work? As mentioned in question #2, if your system is connected to one inverter (think of old Christmas tree lights on one string, one went out and the entire strand shut off) production will suffer if areas of your system get shaded. If your system has micro-inverters you will not have to worry about shading affecting unshaded panels. 4. Should an energy assessment of the home be done before solar is installed? Yes. According to some companies this is crucial. In fact it has been determined that an assessment can help you cut at least 10% energy consumption which will decrease the amount of solar your home needs by approx. 20%, saving you money! SCEIP (Sonoma County Energy Independence Program) offers a rebate for a comprehensive home energy analysis. They will subsidize up to 100% of an energy assessment (Average costs of assessments range from $800-$1200). Contact SCEIP by clicking here or by calling 707-565-6470 for more information. Functionality 1. How does solar work? Essentially a solar panel is made up of silicon-based materials that absorb sunlight. Sunlight activates the electrons in the solar cell generating electricity. This electricity is called DC (direct current) which goes to your inverter and is converted to AC (alternating current) which powers your home. In most cases you are then connected to the “grid” hosted by your local utility provider. Unless you live in an area where grid connection is impossible, grid connection allows you to store excess power as well as draw power when your system does not produce enough. 2. What’s better- ground mounted or roof mounted? It depends. A roof mounted system can be less expensive to install but it depends on the size of system your energy load requires. Don’t forget to factor in shading when determining ground or

They will pull permits before starting your project. The panels need to shut down so they don’t continue to force electricity back to the grid. When your installer assesses your demand electricity load. 4. Do you recommend a battery backup system? Batteries are rare. Do my panels still work when a power outage happens? No. Are some invertors better than others? Yes.) Once the materials. All three panelists use SMA central invertors for most of their jobs. How long does it take to install a solar PV system on the roof? (The actual racks and panels etc. This is important to review when you receive a proposal to make sure the inverter chosen is best for your system. Other companies believe that there are specific panels that are most efficiency or are the premium brands.roof mounts. Unless you cannot be tied to the grid. permits and financing pieces have been prepared installation of a solar system should take no more than 2-3 days. 6. *Micro-film needs twice the amount of space to be as efficient as regular solar panels. if your house is tied to the grid. All three panelists agreed that American made panels are best and encouraged because they help the local economy and are more reliable. A contractor will be able to take in all factors and make a recommendation that can be best for your property. battery backup is not recommended because of the expense and the waste manufactured from old batteries. 5. How much does solar cost? . 7. Are some panels better than other? The jury is out on this one. As mentioned in question 1. most panels are about the same efficiency. not the manufacturer. How reliable is solar PV? Very. electrocuting anyone working on the power lines. 3. Be sure to look for permit fees within your bid proposal before agreeing on a price. Inverters have 10-15 year warranties as well. micro-inverters are the best way to mitigate shading. some of which have the capacity to generate a little more power. The number of panels needed will determine the type of inverter. Financing 1. There are no moving parts and panels are under warranty for upwards of 25 years. Some companies believe that although there are different types of panels. If something does go wrong. 8. first call your installer. Will my contractor take care of permitting with the city for me? Yes. he/she will determine which panels are best for your needs. 9. Workmanship is under warranty for 10 years. Think of your house as a mini power plant.

us 3.gosolarcalifornia. On average a system could cost a typical home $13k-$20k. 4. Rebate or Incentive About Contact California Solar Initiative (CSI) Provides a rebate per watt of solar installed (currently $ for more information or call 707-543-3886. You make fixed monthly payments over a 5. water or renewable project permanently fixed to the property can be financed through an assessment placed on the property Healdsburg Utility customers http://www. purchase the system at fair market value or renew the lease. many. There are two options if you do not want to own a system: Lease or PPA (power purchase agreement). They install it at no cost and maintain www. Visit www. Can you lease a solar system? Yes.healdsburg. Are there tax credits or rebates available to help finance solar PV projects? Yes. Clean Energy Advocate program for a free bid comparison. For both a PPA and a lease the customer does not receive any rebates or tax credits. One thing to consider is the annual estimated kilowatt hour production for a system on your Federal tax credit Energy Upgrade California www. You want to compare costs on a price per watt basis. 10 or 15 year term. 2. Lease – You lease the solar system from a solar company. At the end of the lease you can either have it removed from your roof for free.energyupgradeca. You can always send your bids to the City of Santa Rosa.It depends on the number of panels.srcity. 7% interest charged.sonomacountyenergy. Most property owners are concerned with kilowatt production capability versus owning so the draw for a lease or PPA is that you simply purchase fixed energy from the system installed but you do not own or maintain it. The term is usually 15 to 20 years. which is determined by energy needs of your home/building. *If you sell your home the agreement transfers to the new homeowner and no fees are incurred to do so. Financing.25) Provides a 30% tax credit Receive up to $4. Healdsburg Utility offers rebates for solar and energy efficiency measures www.000 in rebates for energy efficiency measures Any Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) www.energystar. . What is a PPA and how does it work? A PPA (similar to a lease) is a long term agreement to buy electricity produced by the solar system. Now is a good time to buy because of these rebates and credits.

Owner  Nate Gulbransen. Or leave it to the experts. Essentially washing the panels a couple times a year is the only maintenance.After solar 1. This allows you to store excess power and pull power when your system does not generate enough electricity for your demand. There are no moving parts. Do-It-Yourself 1. What maintenance do solar panels require once they’re installed? Almost nothing. and when you use your electricity. Work with your contractor to decide on which rate schedule through PG&E is best for you. 4.summer is usually the busiest time of the year for solar companies. If a system is grid tied. In addition connecting to the grid can take up to 2-3 weeks after the install is complete. The time frame also depends on how busy the company is.Synergy Solar. There is no easy answer and should be discussed with your contractor based on you particular bill.West Coast Solar . Any tips for do it yourselfers? Be very careful. Disclaimer: While the CEA strives to provide the best information possible. you may need to wash more often. 3. Owner and CFO  Kate Collins. 2. the CEA makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the information provided or arising out of your use of the information provided by the CEA. Depending on the area you live (i. What is net metering? Benefits? Risks? Essentially your system is tied to the grid and any excess power you produce allows for electricity credits for your account. Thank you to our three solar experts:  Jeff Mathias. What is the usual turnaround time from signing the contract to installing the system? 2-3 weeks is typical. and a minimum of 10 years on the workmanship.Gaia Energy Systems.e more dust). and you have a 25 year warranty on the equipment. how much does PG&E pay a customer back for their excess energy? This is a complicated question that depends on what rate schedule through PG&E you are currently on.