Frequently Asked Questions | Option One Solar

Frequently Asked Questions

Share on linkedin
Share on LinkedIn
Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter

1) Is installing solar really worth it?

On average Solar is 10X cheaper than paying electric bills in CA.  

Our average size system is 6 kW / 6000 watts, average system cost after incentives is approximately $15,000.00. The average electric bill is $200 per month and considering utility inflation rates of 8% per year, you will pay $175,000 over 25 years. $175,000.00 divided by $16,000 = 10.93; Solar is 10.93 times cheaper than electric bills, you save $160,000.00.

On a national average solar pays back 101% of its costs upon the sale of the home. Homes sell faster and up to a 15% premium with solar. Not only do you save money but you also increase your homes value.

Let’s us prove it to you, Option One Solar offers a free financial benefit analysis, this will show you the financial benefit of solar vs. your electric company. Get A Free Quote.

2) Can I install solar on my roof?

In most cases yes, Option One Solar can install on composition shingle, rolled comp, hot tar, rock, flat tile, S-tile, metal tile, wood shake, metal seam.

Spanish clay tiles or fragile lightweight tiles break easily and we must consider the cost of replacing broken tiles and or removing tiles and installing composition under the solar modules, these must be looked at case by case.

The ideal position for solar is 180 degrees due south, but any roof surface from west to east will usually work. North facing roofs are last resort, it will still produce but will require more modules or we can install tilt-up frames to elevate the modules up to face south, both options create additional costs.

Other things to consider are the age, condition, shading, etc. of the roof.

3) How do I know what size solar system I need to zero out my electric bill?

Determining the correct size of your solar system is more complex today. Utility companies have changed their billing rates and have added what is called Time of Use. On a Time of Use (TOU) rate plan, the utility charges you more for electricity at certain peak times during the day. When your solar panels overproduce, they also buy that power at a higher rate. most solar customers must be on a TOU plan. But when solar produces at off-peak times, they also pay you lower, so depending on your energy consumption behavior, it might take more solar to offset the difference.

This means not only do we have to measure your energy consumption from the utility, but we must also record what time you are consuming the energy. Option One solar measures energy consumption and the time you use the energy to accurately offset both your energy usage and your electric bill.

Option One Solar will download all of your utility data, every hour of your energy usage, and the time of use. We will also ask lots of questions about your energy consumption behavior, and potential changes that may increase or decrease your energy usage and or bills, like adding an electric SPA, or Electric Vehicle. We take all of this information and enter this into our system to generate a customer financial benefit analysis unique to your personal requirements.

4) How many solar modules can I get on my roof?

Most competitors use modules in the 300 -330 watt range. Option One Solar offers modules from 330 up to 440 watts, and on flat roofs or ground mounts, we like to use 400-watt bi-facial modules to take advantage of additional production from the backside of the module which can be over 500 watts combined.  

Option One Solar uses the most efficient and highest performing modules in the world, so a competing module may be 300 watts and our same size module is 380 watts, so it will require fewer modules to zero out your bill.

The key here is how many modules can your roof accommodate, taking into consideration vents, skylights, chimneys, etc. Most residential codes require a 3-foot setback at the top of the roof and sides of the roof for a standard gable roof, however, setbacks have been relaxed in recent years to allow more modules to be placed on roofs. 

On certain roofs, setbacks may not be required like flat roofs, hips, valleys, or detached garages. Each jurisdiction is different and makes the final call.

5) Can I install solar modules on mobile homes?

Yes. We install solar on mobile homes as a common practice. Just like a residential property engineering is required to snow and wind loads. We have not found one that did not satisfy engineering as of yet. However, we do not install solar on RV/motorhomes. 

6) What if I can not afford to install enough solar modules to offset my electric consumption?

In most cases even a smaller system has a high return on investment and is still far better than nothing at all. Option One Solar will work within your budget to build the right system for you.

7) What is the weight of a solar module?

A typical solar modules is about 40 lbs, high performing dual-sided modules can be 60 lbs, but this is evenly dispersed over the entire roof. Very rarely does engineering require bracing to accommodate the additional weight of the solar modules.

8) What is the size of a solar module?

Most solar modules are either 60 cells and approximately 65” x 39” or 72 cells and approximately 77” x 39” The cells are the same, the 72 cells is just 12 cells larger and is used on bigger roofs to reduce module counts and 60 cell modules are smaller and sometimes fit in small roof spaces better. For example: let’s say a solar cell in a given module is 5 watts x 60 cells, that equals 300 watts, or 5 watts x 72 cells, that equals 360 watts. Each manufacturer has different cells, more efficient and higher-performing modules utilize cells with higher watts, as a general rule, the higher wattage modules are higher performing.

9) Do I need batteries?

With the new Time of Use rate plans coming, we think every utility customer should consider batteries to become more independent from the Grid and protect yourself over the long term from utility rate increases. Battery backup prices have come down significantly in the last few years and it is much more economical even if you only need them for a specific purpose or just peace of mind. If you are in an area with frequent power outages or it is a medical necessity or you just want the peace of mind of backup power anytime, it is possible to connect modern battery systems much easier today.

Keep in mind, Urban areas connected to standard utility Grid are very stable and power outages are less frequent and or for short periods, but if you have stand-alone solar, it will not operate in power outages, it is designed to shut off so utility workers can perform repairs without the risk of getting electrocuted. So that means you will not generate any solar energy during power outages. If you have a battery, this will allow you to produce and use solar energy during any power outages.

10) Will I notice when my system switches from solar power to utility power?

It should be unnoticable, excluding appliances or devices that were not planned and set up to be on backup power.

11) Will I still have an electric bill and can I make money from overproducing?

Option One Solar’s standard design is to offset 100% of your energy costs, but with Time Of Use electric rates, it can take anywhere from 100% to 120% to offset the energy costs, because the utility pays lower cost for Solar credits during the peak sun hours, and charges almost double during peak energy consumption periods from 4-9pm. So if you are a heavy user from 4-9PM you will require more solar to offset this higher cost. Our solar experts will be happy to explain this in more detail for you anytime.

12) What about local building permits and interconnection with utility?

Option One Solar facilitates all plans, engineering, permits and interconnection, and permission to operate with the local building departments and customer utility companies. We do everything for you.

13) Will I have a direct interface with the utility company?

Option One Solar secures permits and schedules inspections and the bi-directional meter change. The only interface the client has with the utility is to sign the Net Metering Agreement.

14) How do you tie in my system to the utility company?

Normally a grid-tie system is tied into the utility company through the electrical service panel. Breakers are installed in the service panel that back-feed the panel with power from the solar system. Any excess solar power produced is credited to your account by the utility company.

15) Why do I need a disconnect next to my meter?

In times when the grid is down and work is required on the grid, the utility company may elect to disconnect your system from the grid while the work is being performed. This is a double safety precaution as the inverters shut down when the grid is not active.

16) Do I produce more electricity in the summer or winter?

Energy production is higher in the summer than in the winter due to the added number of sun hours. However, energy

consumption may be higher in the summer due to the use of air conditioners. So your utility bill may be higher in the summer than the winter.

17) How does the utility company give me my credits?

The utility company removes your existing meter and installs a bi-directional meter. The new meter records the power per kilowatt-hour (kWh) that you take from the utility company and also records the amount of power per kWh that you give. The difference between the two readings is the net. If you give more than you take from the utility company then you have a positive net, and you receive credits for every kWh that you produce over the amount that you received. When the sun is not shining or during the nighttime you use your credits before you start paying for power.

18) Can I transfer my credits from one bill to another?

Some credits can be transferred. Arrangements must be made before you install your system as utility policies vary from one utility to the other.

19) When will the utility install my bi-directional meter?

Once the installation is complete and your system has passed county codes inspection, the utility will conduct its own inspection and install the bi-directional meter.

20) Where will my inverter/inverters be installed?

Option One Solar will install your inverter in a location most convenient for the system operation, typically this is close to your electrical main service where utility power is connected. We can install an inverter outside or inside of the garage, assuming there is room to do so.

21) Is the inverter weatherproof?

The Inverter is weatherproof and designed to operate outside.

22) Is my roof protected by the panels?

A roof is protected by the panels from direct sunlight (UV rays), direct rain, wind, and hail. The roof area beneath the panels will age at a much slower rate than the part that is not under the array.

23) How will the Solar be attached to the roof?

Option One uses only the highest quality solar racking mounts, which are designed to install with any type of roof, shingles, tiles, metal, roll comp, etc.

24) What about leaks in my roof?

Option One Solar takes every precaution to prevent leaks and the best sealer is used for the various types of roofs. 

25) What happens when I have to change my roof?

Because the part of the roof that is under the panel ages at a much slower rate than the part not protected, the roof is often changed around the array and the roof under the array not changed. Should the entire roof need to be changed Option One Solar will remove and reinstall the panels for the going solar installation rate.

26) What is the wind rating of the system?

All of our systems are installed according to the Codes wind ratings for the area. Option One Solar will also comply with client requests should they desire a higher rating.

27) What if a hurricane destroys my panels? 

Should panels be destroyed or damaged due to any circumstances they will be covered by your homeowners’ insurance as they are insured as part of the permanent structure.

28) Do I have power during a hurricane?

If grid power is lost during a hurricane your inverters will shut down therefore you will be without power. If you need

emergency power, Option One recommends the NeoVolta Battery system which is much more affordable today and has seamlessly and 100% quiet operation for many years.

29) What happens if there are problems with my system?

Option One Solar and customers both get alerts if anything goes wrong with the system, and in the case the issue does not clear itself, your can contact our tech support department if they have not already contacted you.

30) Do I have to clean the panels?

Rain normally does a satisfactory job of cleaning the panel. During extended periods of no rain heavy pollen and dust, rinsing the panels with a hose removes most of the particulates. Never use detergent on the panels.

31) What maintenance is required on the system?

There is virtually no maintenance on the system other than an occasional rinsing.

32) Are some panels better looking than others?

Panels are manufactured in various colors and some people prefer some panels over others. Option One Solar always shows their clients what is available so the client can choose.

33) How am I affected by shading?

Shading will affect the output of the panels. All shading issues are addressed and resolved prior to installation. Option One Solar Inverters and Microinverters have shade mitigation technology built in and handle shading when necessary.

34) What is the efficiency of the panels?

Panel efficiency varies by panel type and manufacturer. Option One only offers the world’s highest performing modules with the highest efficiency ratings.

35) What is the warranty of the panels?

Option One only offers modules with 25 year full coverage warranties, product, performance and labor. Not all manufacturers include labor, but ours do.

36) What is the warranty of the inverter?

Option One only offers inverters with 25 year full coverage warranties, product, performance and labor. Not all manufacturers include labor, but ours do.

37) What is the DC to AC Derate Factor?

When Power is converted from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) there is some power loss. The amount of the conversion loss is referred to as the Derate Factor. Because Option One Solar uses only the highest efficiency modules and inverters, we have the lowest derate factor, which means your system produces more energy.

38) What are the government incentives?

The State of California Incentive:
There is currently a federal tax credit of 26% which applies to the entire solar system, batteries, and any structures that will hold the solar, ground mounts, canopies, patios, carports, and even roofing replacement if needed. Batteries also have a separate cash rebate, from $2500 up to the entire cost of the battery system, effectively making the battery system free in some cases. Our Solar experts can explain all this in detail.

The 26% federal tax credits will be in effect until 2022 and will reduce each year after.

39) How do I file for my government incentives?

You file for your incentives when you file your income taxes. Option One Solar will provide all documentation necessary and a list of instructions for proper filing.

40) When do I get my incentive money back from the government?

Incentive money is received in the normal income tax refund period.

41) How long will the incentives be in effect?

The 26% federal tax credits will be in effect until 2022 and will reduce each year after.

42) Do you have financing?

Yes we have the lowest rates and cost financing available. As low as 2.99% for 12, 15, 20 and 25 years.

43) What is the payback time for my investment

User behavior, utility rates and time of use will determine return on investment. The average payback time in the western states is around 5 years, give or take.

44) What is the return on investment?

The average returns are in excess of 16% and many are over 20%, while a typical bank account returns around .5%; so easily 20 times greater. More importantly there is zero return from paying utility bills, it’s just something we have become accustomed to paying to keep our lights on, but now we have a far better option. The average utility bills paid over time will be in excess of $100k, larger bills in excess of $200k, but the average solar system cost is around $15k after incentives, thus solar is 10 times cheaper than remaining with the utility company. Take it a step further, invest the savings into a compound mutual fund and you can turn that $100k utility bill into a $400k investment account by diverting the same spend amount from the utility company to yourself. It’s very powerful.

45) Will I have to pay taxes on the power I generate?

No taxes are paid on the power that your system generates.

46) How much will I save per month and per year?

The average electric bill is $200 per month and considering utility inflation rates of 8% per year, you will pay $175,000 over 25 years. $175,000.00 divided by $16,000 = 10.93; Solar is 10.93 times cheaper than electric bills, you save $160,000.00.

47) How much will my homeowners insurance go up?

Many times it will not because solar has a very low risk factor for theft or fire. The feedback from 1000’s of customers, we have heard of $50 per year for very large systems.

48) What is the cost of my system?

Our average size system is 6 kW / 6000 watts, average system cost after incentives is approximately $15,000.00. The average electric bill is $200 per month and considering utility inflation rates of 8% per year, you will pay $175,000 over 25 years. $175,000.00 divided by $16,000 = 10.93; Solar is 10.93 times cheaper than electric bills, you save $160,000.00.

49) When are payments due?

If paying cash, we require a 10% deposit, and then you will make 3 progress payments at each time we reach a milestone, plan approval by customer, and then again when we start installation, and final payment when inspector signs the job card certifying that the project has meet or exceeded the electrical and solar codes and work was installed in a professional manner.

50) When can you start?

Option One stocks all equipment we sell and we are almost never waiting for equipment, so depending on our workload and the building department workloads we typically have you installed in under 6 weeks and sooner if this is a requirement.

51) How long will it take to install?

The typical roof mounted installation takes about 2 business days, if you have spanish clay tile it can add several days. The typical ground mounts and carports require trenching from the solar structure to the Main Service panel, and drilling holes 4 feet into the ground to secure the structure, also these system are typically larger and require more materials, labor and inspections and will usually require several days.

52) Who inspects my system before commissioning?

All solar project plans are submitted to the county or city building departments to get plans approved in order to pull the required permits. Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be only a final inspection when completed or there may be several inspections during different phases of the project. Once everything is certified, approved and signed of by the inspectors, we can then submit to the utility for permission to operate.

53) When can I start operating my system?

Once the project is completed, certified, approved and signed off by the city or county we request permission to operate from the utility. The utility can take from 1 day up to a couple weeks, depending on their internal workloads. But on average our customers see around 2 or 3 days.

Stop Energy Bills

Our solar experts can analyze your energy usage and design a system specific to your needs. Contact us to learn how much you can save.

Leave this field blank