Solar Frequently Asked Questions




How Solar Works

  • Will solar work on my home or business?


    We hope so! The two biggest factors are the amount sunlight you get throughout the day and the amount of open roof space. We can give you a quick assessment by looking at satellite photos of your property. If your roof looks good, we will schedule a follow-up free solar consultation where one of our experts will t to evaluate if a solar power system will fit with your architecture and meet your energy needs. They will provide a detailed proposal including recommended system location, size, pricing and financial analysis.

    Back to Top

  • Will I need to adapt my home or business to run on solar power?


    No. Solar power electric systems fit seamlessly into your building. You won't have to buy new appliances or change your electrical outlets; everything will work just the same as it did before. You should experience no practical changes except for one: you won't have to pay a big utility bill every month!

    Back to Top

  • No big utility bill? Really?


    Really! When you begin to generate your own solar power, your utility bill will drop significantly. How much you can save will depend on the size of your solar system and your electricity usage. When your solar system generates more electricity than your building can immediately use, your excess power flows back to the utility grid and your meter literally spins backward! Learn more about utility billing and "net metering".

    Back to Top

  • Should I wait for new technology?


    No, now is really the best time to invest in a solar system with the combination of technology and cost. The underling benefit of turning sunlight into electricity will not change for as long as we still use electricity to power our homes and businesses! SolarCity offers multiple solar panel solutions to our customers. We continue to evaluate new technology and will offer it to our customers once it becomes a reliable and cost effective option.

    The other key component in evaluating the right time to install solar is government incentives. Federal and state governments are currently offering generous incentives to go solar; however, these programs are designed to reward early adopters of solar power, so the rebate amount per project continues to drop as the allotted funds are consumed.

    Back to Top

  • What size solar system do I need?


    Every home and business is different, so the size of your system will depend on your energy needs, roof space and solar goals. Residential solar power systems are typically 3-10 kW and commercial solar power systems range from 50–500 kW for a medium sized business. SolarCity will custom design a solar power system to meet your specific needs and offset as much of your utility bill as you desire.

    Back to Top

  • What maintenance is required?


    Your solar energy system requires very little maintenance, largely because it has no moving parts. All your system requires is minimal shade, occasional cleaning and inspection. We suggest that you keep an eye on trees that may shade your system and keep them trimmed. Using SolarGuard—the SolarCity service team proactively monitors your system output to ensure that your system is performing as it should. In the unlikely event that your system underperforms, SolarCity will alert you and help to remedy the situation. With our SolarLease, and SolarPPA energy plans, maintenance and warranty repairs are included as part of our service to you.

    Back to Top

  • How reliable is solar power?


    Solar systems built today are very reliable. They have proven to be dependable sources of energy for large office buildings, mass retailers and governmental agencies, supplying megawatts of energy. Some of the largest companies in the world have buildings powered by solar energy, including eBay, WalMart, and the US Air Force. SolarCity has incredible high quality standards and only use best of breed equipment—we build our systems to last.

    Back to Top

  • Do I need a battery back-up system?


    No. All SolarCity solar energy systems are connected to the utility grid so you always have access to a power source. You never have to worry about "running out" of power.

    Back to Top

  • What happens at night, or when the weather turns cloudy?


    Since the amount of power your solar system generates is a direct result of sunlight, it will produce slightly less energy when the weather is cloudy. Your system will not produce any energy at night. Your SolarCity power system will be interconnected to your local utility grid, so that you can automatically begin to draw power from the grid whenever you need it. You won’t experience any power interruptions—the switch between solar system power and the utility grid happens seamlessly, with no effort on your part.

    Back to Top

  • What happens if there is a black out?


    In the event of a black out, your system is designed to turn off. This is a safety requirement by the utility company so that their technicians can safely repair down electrical lines.

    Back to Top

  • How long will a solar system last?


    Most of the parts on your solar system, such as solar panels, carry manufacturer's warranties of 25 years; other parts, such as inverters, carry 10-year warranties. In addition, SolarCity offers 20 years of included monitoring and repair service with our SolarLease or SolarPPA options. Most solar systems may far outlast their warranties; many of the first solar systems installed more than 30 years ago are still going strong.

    Back to Top


Installation Process

  • Is it difficult to switch over to solar power?


    No. SolarCity makes it easy to switch to solar. We will get your solar system up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible so that you can start saving money and using clean energy. You won't experience any changes inside your home or business.

    Back to Top

  • How long will it take to get my new solar system up and running?


    A typical solar panel installation takes about 3-5 days and a typical commercial installation takes about 1-3 weeks from the day we begin the installation. The length of time depends on the complexity of your roof and the number of panels that will be installed. The estimated installation time will be included in the design proposal presented to you by SolarCity.

    Back to Top

  • What kind of permits are needed to meet local building codes?


    As part of our comprehensive service, SolarCity will obtain all building permits and design your system to meet your local building codes. We’ll arrange the electrical, building and utility inspections and be on-site to make sure that everything is up to code. SolarCity takes care of your project every step of the way.

    Back to Top

  • What if my roof needs repairs after I've installed solar panels?


    Ideally, you should install solar panels on a roof that is in good condition. When a SolarCity site auditor comes out to inspect your building prior to installation, he or she will check to make sure that your roof is suitable for a solar installation. Once the solar panels are installed, they actually help to protect your roof from the elements. If you should ever need to make repairs on the roof, the solar panels will need to be removed and re-installed. SolarCity offers this service for a reasonable fee.

    Back to Top


Financial Benefits of Solar Power

  • Does a solar system make financial sense for me?


    Yes! Solar is cleaner and less expensive than power from the utility company. Solar is a smart financial investment because you will save money on electrical costs for years to come and increase your home value. Our customers who purchase their system typically see a strong Return on Investment (ROI) and expect to recoup their solar system investment within 5-10 years. Depending on the rebates and incentives offered in your area, you may be able to pay back your system even sooner.

    With SolarCity's SolarLease, and SolarPPA you do not have a big upfront payment and can save your money for other opportunities. And you lock in a lower monthly rate for your energy usage.

    You can get a quick, high level estimate by speaking with one of our knowledgeable energy consultants.
    Back to Top

  • Will the government really give rebates and tax incentives for going solar?


    The incentives and rebates are both real and substantial. Local, state and federal governments offer tremendous financial incentives for businesses to choose solar. A combination of incentives and tax credits can cover more than 30% of the total cost! The most important thing to keep in mind about these governmental programs is this—they won't last forever. Now is the time to take advantage of the federal and state mandate to switch to renewable sources of energy; once the adoption rate reaches a certain level, the incentives will disappear.

    Back to Top

  • Is now a good time to buy a solar system?


    Now is the perfect time to switch to solar. Federal, state and local governments are offering generous rebates and incentives to go solar; however, these programs are designed to reward early adopters of solar power, so the rebate amount per project continues to drop as the allotted funds are consumed. In additions, solar can dramatically reduce your utility bill and will protect you from rising utility rates for years to come.

    Back to Top

  • Do you have financing available?


    Yes. SolarCity offers SolarLease and SolarPPA financing for homeowners and a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for business owners. Now you can start experiencing the benefits of solar power immediately — and lock in a lower cost of energy for decades. We install and maintain the equipment on your site and you get the power it produces. You just pay a low monthly payment.

    Back to Top


SolarLease

  • What are my options at the end of the SolarLease?


    SolarLease is a very flexible way to go solar. When your SolarLease ends, you have several good options to choose from:
    • You can upgrade to a new system with the latest solar technology under a new SolarLease.
    • You can also extend your existing SolarLease in five year increments.
    • You can ask SolarCity to remove your system for free.

    Back to Top

  • What if I move to a new home before the end of the SolarLease?


    You can pass on the solar system to the new owners in two ways. The great thing about either of these options is that solar homes typically have a higher resale value, because their lowered electricity costs.
    • You can transfer the SolarLease to the new homeowners if they qualify with excellent credit.
    • You can also prepay the lease and include it in the asking price.

    Back to Top

  • Can I decide to buy the system later?


    No, but you can renew your lease in five year increments.

    Back to Top

  • A SolarLease includes full service. What is included?


    • Your free SolarGuard monitoring service will alert you and SolarCity of any changes in performance. If we see a problem, we will give you call to help diagnose the problem and dispatch a repair team to fix it if needed.

    • Every SolarLease and SolarPPA includes an extended warranty on workmanship and hardware through the end of your lease. SolarCity will repair or replace broken components at no cost to you. For instance, your inverter will likely need to be replaced around year 12.
    • SolarLease and SolarPPA performance is guaranteed. If your system doesn't produce as much electricity as we promise we will pay you back.

    Back to Top


SolarPPA for Homeowners

  • What are my options at the end of the SolarPPA contract?


    A SolarPPA is a very flexible way to go solar. When your contract ends, you have several good options to choose from:
    • You can purchase your system
    • You can ask SolarCity to remove your system for free.
    • You can upgrade to a new system with the latest solar technology under a new contract.
    • You can extend your agreement in five year increments.

    Back to Top

  • Can I decide to buy the system later?


    Yes, you can purchase your system anytime after year five. The buyout price is specified in your contract.
    Back to Top

  • What if I move to a new home before the end of the contract?


    You also have several options if you move before the end of the contract:
    • You can transfer your SolarPPA to the new owners at no cost.
    • You can prepay the agreement and include it in the value of the house—solar homes typically have a higher resale value.
    • You can pay to have it moved to your new home. See the contract for certain restrictions.

    Back to Top