Solar FAQs

How can I tell if my house will be a good fit for solar?
The typical home will need to have a southern-facing roof with little or no shade. East and west facing roofs also are viable, but their yearly output is decreased by 15% or more over the course of a year. A perfect slope for your roof would be 25% to 30%. While a solar electric system will produce power at a wide variety of slopes and orientations, it is important to try to maximize your output in relation to the size of the system.

How much roof space do I need?
Newer solar electricity systems produce about 10 watts per square foot. An average system would need 200 to 300 square feet for a shade-free southern-facing roof.

What type of roof do I need?
Solar manufacturers have created mounting methods and equipment for most commonly used roofing materials.

What happens with my solar electric system when I move? Does it stay with the house or can I remove and re-install it on my next house?
Most solar electric systems stay with the home to which they are attached. The cost to remove and re-install a system is usually offset by the higher re-sale value of a home that produces some of its own electricity.

What happens at night when the sun is down? Do I still get electricity? Does electricity get stored somewhere in my house?
At night, or on overcast days, a conventional solar electric system goes dormant. During these dormant times, you will get power from the electricity grid. When the sun comes back out, the system resumes producing energy. If you don’t use all the electricity that you are producing at that moment, the excess gets sent back to the electricity grid. You are credited this amount on your bill. This process is called “net metering.”

How does a solar electric system work?
A solar electric system (also known as a photovoltaic system) uses solar panels installed on your roof to convert sunlight to electricity. This electricity is then converted to AC power which you can use to supply part of your electric use.

Are solar electric systems reliable? 
Solar electric systems have been in operation for many years. The first commercial application of solar electric power was in the aerospace industry. In the early 1950s, the aerospace industry was already using solar cells to extend the useful life of satellites. Currently, there are almost 3,500 solar electric systems installed in the SMUD service territory.

How long will the solar electric system last? 
Most new solar electric systems have a 20 year warranty. The average system degrades in output by approximately 1% per year. For example, in 20 years, a 1,000 watt system will produce at least 800 watts of electricity.

Will my rooftop solar panels heat my pool or the water in my home water heater?
No. The technology used to convert sunlight into electricity is different from the technology used to heat water. Hot water and pool heaters use a technology called solar thermal. The two technologies are different and have no common parts.

Are there any tax credits available?
Yes!! At the present time there is a 30% Federal Tax Credit available, however, tax incentives may vary over time. The tax credit expires at the end of 2019. Discuss this with your tax consultant before making a purchasing decision. They will let you know the latest federal tax incentives and their possible benefit to you.

Will I  benefit most from solar power? 
The most cost-effective installations are in homes with very large electric bills, however, we have found that many people are installing solar for environmental benefits. The pay-back is fastest for customers with larger bills, yet many solar users value environmental responsibility as much as they value cost benefits.

What is net metering and how does it work?
Net metering is a billing method that gives you credit for excess electricity your solar electric system produces. When your house uses power from your solar electric system, you are not buying power from your local power company. That lowers your power bill.