Frequently Asked Questions  

Who is Sun Solar Electric Inc?

Sun Solar Electric is an S-Corp Entity Licensed for Solar and Electric Sales and Services.

Who are the owners and staff?

SSE INC was Co-founded and is directed by Michael Meyer, overseeing the Electrical Division Operations;

Co-Founder Jayson Fernandes directs and oversees Operations of the Solar Division.

Brett English is the Electrical Foreman; Nick Tognozzi is SSE’s Solar Foreman.

Steven Bernard is SSE’s Sales and Marketing Director.

Where is Sun Solar Electric Inc’s Central Office?

SSE Inc central office and warehouse is located in the San Francisco Bay Area’s North Bay city of Petaluma, CA.

What is Sun Solar Electric’s Specialty?

What makes SSE Inc stand out is versatility, with the experienced capability to serve as a “One-Stop-Shop” for all Electrical and Solar Project needs for: Residential, Agricultural, Commercial, Municipal, and Industrial

SSE has a well-earned reputation for knowledge and craftsmanship skills applied to jobs that include:

  1. Solar, on-grid and off-grid; installation applications include RV, roof-top, ground mount, and even water-borne floating arrays.
  2. EV Charger Installation. SSE is listed as the regional specialist for several EV Charger Manufacturers, including Tesla, Clipper Creek, Juice Box, etc.
  3. Electric Panel Upgrades, Sub-Panel Installations. New and renovative whole building wiring.
  4. Battery Storage and Battery Back-Up.
  5. Back-Up Generators -SSE is a Generac Dealer and Installer-and, can provide knowledgeable service to other brands as well.
  6. Lighting: Whether an upgrade in efficiency, or adding beauty and/or security-indoors or outdoors.
  7. Nu-Heat and Warm Floor Installation
  8. Everything Electrical

What are the Financial Benefits of Solar Energy?

Solar has a multiplicity of ways it can provide financial benefits. For the end user, even Leasing, or Power Purchase Agreements, as means of choosing the Solar option to Utility generation will reduce energy bills. The ideal model of Solar acquisition, in general, is gained through purchase.

Multiple benefits can then apply to the home or business owner who invests in the ownership of their Solar powered energy generation. These include increased property value; eligibility for a significant FED Investment Tax Credit; and, the largest long-term savings, vs. Utility and/or Leasing/PPA costs, comes with ownership.

What are the Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy?

Solar Energy provides benefit to both local and global environment by reducing CO2 emissions in several ways.

First, by powering a home or business with Solar directly, a significant annual reduction of demand on a Utility Company’s coal, oil, and/or gas-fired turbines occurs. This in turn reduces mining, drilling, and transportation loads in the energy grid infrastructure.

Secondly, with a Grid-Tied Solar System that is properly sized, a dedicated breaker is added to the Electric Panel. That breaker allows the excess electric generation during auspiciously sunny days to send “clean”, sun-made electricity to the Grid mix. This increases the percentage of renewable source energy being distributed by the Utility Co. to all in its territory.

A comparative example of Solar’s 25 year Environmental contribution: an average home converting to solar will add to atmospheric health over the next 25 years that is equivalent to planting 5,000 trees!

How do I find out how much I pay for electricity?

No single bill from your Utility Company can show you your monthly average kwh usage. The proper way to analyze the appropriate size of an effective Solar System for your property is a 12 month retrospective study of your kwh usage, and corresponding costs, for each month.

This can be done by a careful review of saved bills; or, a phone call recitation of same from the Utility company; or, access to your account’s complete “picture” via an on-line account, if available. Of course, SSE is happy to do your analysis at no charge to you.

Note: in some counties, a secondary Renewable Energy company may be the actual electricity provider, utilizing the Utility Company’s Grid as the delivery mechanism. A “generation credit” may be applied.    

The Utility Company’s electrical billing records may only show the delivery charges they applied, and not include the separated billing for the actual electricity provided by the Renewable Energy company. For an accurate assessment of actual costs, a careful look must be given to all the above-mentioned factors.

What is “Net Metering”?

The Net Energy Metering Agreement (NEMA) is, in effect, the Solar System Owner’s license and contractual terms to sell back excess electrical generation to the Utility Grid manager and provider(s), for credit. It evolved from efforts to provide fair compensation to the private investors in Grid-tied Renewable Energy. Home and business owners installing wind and solar not only help themselves financially, they help Utility companies achieve their mandatory minimal levels of Renewable Energy provided On-Grid.

Terms of the NEMA vary from state to state-and are subject to scheduled reviews with the PUC (Public Utilities Commission)

The anniversary date for each NEMA processed begins with the Utility’s date of PTO (Permission To Operate) for your approved and PERMITTED solar installation.

In many cases, the Utility Company provides a monthly statement, with an annual billing. This single bill referred to as a “true-up”. The logic of its use is as follows:   

Solar Systems obviously require sunlight to function. When the sun has set, your home or business that is Grid-Tied must pull from the Grid to acquire needed electricity, until daylight reoccurs in the following morning. The peak months of production for your solar system are of course the 3 months before, and the 3 months after, Summer Solstice-the longest days of sunlight. During these months, a properly sized system will be sending substantial excess (to your needs) production to the Grid, and that amount is measured and credited by the Utility Company, giving you, in effect, an electricity “Savings Account”.

When the 6 months around the Winter Solstice occur, and daylight hours are diminished, it is also necessary to pull from the Grid for electrical needs. If your system has been designed correctly for your benefit, the credits you have built in the summer months will apply to the billings accrued in the winter months

The “true-up” that occurs annually measures the “IOU’s” from the Utility Co. to your summer over-production against the “IOU’s” you have to the Utility Co. for your winter consumption.

How does Solar impact my Property Value?

The answer to this question is dependent on a key factor-who actually is the owner of the system? If you acquire solar via lease or PPA, you are not the owner of the solar power plant on your property-a 3rd Party is. The 3rd Party is able to utilize the FED ITC, owns the System’s Warranties until the Lease/PPA is bought out, and also remains the holder of the NEMA. Until such agreement is brought to satisfactory completion, a 3rd Party on the property can actually be a hindrance to sale marketability.

Conversely, Solar acquired through purchase by the property owner, has proven to increase both the property value, and market value. A six state survey by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory bore this out. Numbers revealed by NREL showed properties with solar ownership sold at average for 17% more in dollars, and at a rate of 20% faster.

Another advantage to the Solar purchaser, is increased property value listed in the Assessor’s office will carry no additional tax liability.

How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

“Photovoltaic” (PV) simply means conversion of sunlight to electricity. Solar panels work by allowing particles of sunlight (called photons) to free electrons from atoms. This occurs in the semiconductor material of the cells (most commonly silicon). With electrical conductors connected at positive and negative sides, the freed electrons are then captured, and directed as electrical direct current (DC).

How is Solar-generated DC adapted to the AC-ready Grid structure in America?

To power homes and businesses, the DC current generated by the PV panels must travel through an Inverter, where it is converted to Alternating Current (AC). AC’s practical value is its ability to travel greater distance with significantly less power loss, and is the chosen mode for function on the national Grid.

There are 2 generally described types of Inverters applied with Solar arrays for homes and businesses: wall mounted string Inverters (including Central Inverters), that manage DC to AC conversion for the entire array; and, micro-inverters, which are mounted individually, 1 to each 1 of the PV panels in the array.

Variations of each type now include Optimizers for the string inverter, that does allow individual panel monitoring, with conversion for the whole array still occurring in a single location; and new PV and Micro-inverter joint manufacturing alliances, creating what are called “AC PV Panels”-the micro-inverters are connected with the PV panels on the assembly line. This design was created to further streamline the installation process, reducing costs by reducing labor time.

Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?

PV panels cannot produce power if the sun is below the horizon. With a grid-tied system, your building simply switches to grid fed electricity. With an off-grid system, your building switches to its existing storage system. 

If weather conditions are foggy during daytime hours, the extra reflective qualities of fog can enhance solar production. Conversely, daytime rainfall can severely limit production.

What happens if there is snow on solar panels?

If PV panels have their receptive access to sunlight blocked by snow cover, they cannot produce electricity. Normally, PV panels are mounted at an approximate 23-degree angle, aiding the slide-off of snow and rain. There are times and types of snow where the “slide-off” won’t occur until some atmospheric warming occurs.

This lost Credit-building time in snowy winter normally occurs in Northern Latitudes. These same Latitudes also have the longest daylight hours in summer, when production Credits can be gained back to an over-the-years’ time positive benefit.

Can I go off-grid with solar panels?

Being able to go “off-grid” means, first of all, that the sizing of the system’s generation in place more than accommodates the amount of usage shown by previous year’s average. The other major equipment needed for off-grid solar is a well-designed battery storage.

When allowably disconnecting from the grid, or, building off-grid, the excess production from the solar fills the battery storage rather than feeding the grid for credits.

Even when building off-grid, all final work must still receive and pass Final Inspection from the Building Department of jurisdiction.

Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?

If you have a single electricity provider via the grid, your NEMA, in effect beginning with your PTO, may then provide you terms that deliver monthly statements, rather than electric bills. This is what you can expect if your billing terms are an annual “True-Up”. (see “Net-Metering” above)

If your system has been sized for less than a 100% offset to your usage, your single annual payment for electricity will be relative to the amount of grid-generated usage above the credits for your own solar generation.

Regardless of how powerfully your system is designed to offset your usage, you will see other various fees that come with your secure connection to the grid. These include various small charges for miscellaneous grid-subject fees, and, of course, your meter and its service.

Do Solar Panels still work in a black-out?

The panels themselves are still able to generate electricity as long as the sun is shining-however, one of the safety factors an Inspector must confirm before an approved “Final” on a solar installation is assurance of “Rapid Shut Down”. This stops the transmission of electricity from your system as a vital safety factor for Utility crews working on down lines.

(The grid-tied solar system, has a breaker feed that sends your solar-generated electricity to the grid-through the lines that may be in the hands of repair crews.)

There is an adaptation offered by at least one inverter company that provides an “off-grid” socket to plug an extension cord into, for minimal use during a grid power outage.

How much will solar panel maintenance cost?

If you are acquiring your solar system through a licensed installer, with new equipment, you are normally acquiring lengthy warranties in conjunction: 10-25 year warranties from the various parts manufacturers, and, with SSE as an example, a 10 year Workmanship Warranty.

SSE normally recommends every Solar System have a Monitoring system, that allows both the client and the manufacturer, and SSE, to be able to view the functioning “health” of the system.

Warrantied service, if required, will then be provided. In current times, some service items can be performed remotely.

Solar panels themselves have an extraordinary low failure rate. If the system is in an area that accumulates a lot of dust and debris, an occasional rinse off may be in order. In normal climates, mother nature will perform this service with rainfall.

If this is an inconvenience or simply difficult access for the system owner, it is a service that may be contracted for through the installation company, and/or independent sources. This, normally, would be the only maintenance cost for solar panels-minimal to no cost.

What solar energy rebates and incentives are available?

State and Federal programs are often put into place to help incentivize a fast launch to consumers acquiring new, transitional technology deemed to be of broad benefit to all.

As an example, in the years leading into Solar’s explosive, exponential growth, California offered Rebates, and so did NorCal’s major Grid manager, PGE. These ended at 2013’s year end. They had helped engender a doubling of solar installation in one year over all previous years combined of installation in the state.

Still in place as a support for the national grid transition to renewable source energy, is the FED ITC (Federal Investment Tax Credit).  This provision allows a 30% credit applied to the total cost of your successful solar installation. (including occasional extraneous necessities such as Electric Panel Upgrades, tree trimming, roof repairs, trenching, etc.)

This recently renewed Incentive, which has helped bring the cost of renewable energy to cost-competitive levels with fossil fuels, shall continue at 30% through 2019, 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% in subsequent years after, for future purchasers.

Currently, strong Federal and CA State incentives are available together to help compel another “Green” launch: Electric Vehicles

What are my solar financing options?

For ownership acquisition-which entitles the purchaser the FED ITC, increased property value, control of the NEMA, as well as Product Warranties, eligible for transfer upon property sale-a number of financing options are available.                                      

Many banks, Finance companies, and Credit Unions offer unsecured Solar Loans, at fixed rates, ranging from 5-20 years.

Another option to explore is a HELOC (home equity loan), with terms up to 30 years. If a fit for an individual’s financial structure, this approach is very advantageous for these combined factors: the easy transition to paying less, monthly, than current average payments to the Utility Company; the ability to have “write-offs” of interest applied on already lower payments; the predictability of lower, fixed payment outlays rather than ever-increasing Utility charges, for the years ahead.     

HELOCS will generally offer a significantly lower interest rate than unsecured loans.

PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Programs are also available in most areas these days. The benefits of ownership (vs. leasing or PPA’s) still apply for the purchaser using a PACE financing tool, but the system, in effect, belongs to the property itself, and payments are made as an addition to the Property Tax, and are due at the same time.

Benefits of using a PACE program include having the solar system “off-book”- i.e., this financing will not be attached to your Credit Report. The first payment is not due until the next property tax cycle occurs-often providing enough time to gather several months of not paying utility electric bills to apply on first payment; all the interest is tax-deductible-and, again, the normal benefits of ownership, including the 30% FED ITC also apply.

In all the mentioned vehicles, it is advised to check for the option of early pay off without penalty. Another option to seek is an ability to convert the pending tax credit to pay down the loan for re-amortization of terms. 

Should I buy or lease my solar system?

With most situations, the ultimate ROI on solar will go to the owner of the system. Two of the most important benefits to the owner are the 30% FED ITC, and the NEMA. When solar is accessed through lease, or a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the structure is referred to as a “Third Party” ownership. The 3rd major benefit of increased property value becomes moot for the home-owner, as the solar system on the property does not belong to them. The marketability of the house in the future can also be stymied, rather than helped, unless the future property buyer is agreeable, able, and willing to take over the lease.

A lease can be a simpler option for someone who wants to add a greener dimension to their lifestyle, pay less monthly than utilities will charge, while not having any tax appetite, or any future notion of selling the property.

The leasing/PPA entity will use the FED ITC, and thereby lower the dollar amount to be paid monthly.

Which is better-solar loans or solar leases?

With the right loan choice, a loan that gives one all the benefits of ownership is preferable for maximum ROI. A lease will generally have annual “escalators”, and careful attention to the math in adding up the years of payments will often show higher costs than ownership loan payments.

What is the difference between secured and unsecured solar loans?

Unsecured loans are provided based on credit score, and usually have a slightly higher interest rate.

Secured loans use the property as collateral, and consequently can in turn provide lower interest rates, and have slightly less stringent credit requirements.

How do I choose the best solar loan?

Every financial picture has a “best fit”. SSE suggests a lot of the necessary research you need to do can be short-cut with a free consultation with our experienced advisers.

SSE does not have any single entity that we advocate-we have as a practice a desire to help you find the “best-fit” for your financial picture.

 

Contact Us:

Email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 707-658-2157

We are happy to answer all your questions, and, will make ourselves available for a FREE In-Home Consultation at your best time of convenience!

 

 

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