Solar FAQ

Solar Reviews for Unique Solar

Why should I purchase a PV system?

People decide to buy solar energy systems for a variety of reasons. For example, some individuals buy solar products to preserve the Earth’s finite fossil-fuel resources and to reduce air pollution. Others would rather spend their money on an energy-producing improvement to their property than send their money to a utility. Some people like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from their utility, because it makes them less vulnerable to future increases in the price of electricity.

What are the Benefits of going solar?

  • Solar Power is clean, inexhaustible, and easy to harness A solar system has virtually no moving parts, no noise, no pollution, and extreme safety standards.
  • A Solar electric system will provide you with energy independence and is calculated correctly should reduce up to 100% of your electric bill.
  • A Solar system adds value to your home or business. The value added is 20 times the annual savings you will realize in your electricity bill. Homes with solar sells 1.2 times faster than homes without solar
  • The additional of a solar system is exempt form a property tax increase although it is considered a major home improvement
  • When purchasing your solar system you are eligible to receive a federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of your system which can be used over a period of three years.

How much does a typical residential solar system cost?
While system sizes can vary greatly, a typical residential solar system will have a post rebate cost between $15,000 and $40,000.

How long does a solar system take to pay for itself?
This depends on a number of factors including your current cost of electricity, the rate structure of your electrical service, the incentives available to you, and the cost of money on your investment. When paying cash, a typical residential system may see a simple payback in 7-8 years. If you are financing the purchase of your solar system, you may see immediate positive cash flow or you may initially see a slight negative impact on monthly cashflow when factoring the cost of the loan against the initial savings. As electrical rates increase, and with your loan payment staying fixed, you will eventually see positive cashflow, a break even point, and then a positive rate of return. Financed systems typically either see immediate positive cashflow or will attain positive cashflow within three years or so.

How big a solar energy system do I need?

Typical residential solar systems range from 3-10kW. The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity you use, the size, shape and orientation of your roof, and how much you’re willing to invest. Your system can be sized to zero out your electric bill completely, or designed to eliminate the higher tiers of your electric usage, which are much more expensive.

Do the solar modules need to mount on the roof? No. Though the roof is the most common location for mounting solar modules, they can also be mounted on the ground or in other architecturally integrated ways such as on walls or shade structures. Ground mounted systems tend to cost more than roof mounted systems because of the need for trenching, concrete footings and (typically) a steel sub-structure. Ground mounted systems are, however, viable and common.

How long will a solar system last?
The main component of a solar system, the solar modules, are typically warranted for 25 years but have a design life of over 40. There are modules still operating today that were manufactured in the 1970’s. The inverters are typically warranted for 10 years. It is not certain how long they may last beyond their warranty period. A conservative set of assumptions when considering the long term financial performance of your system is to figure the performance at 30 years with the replacement of the inverters at year 15. The inverters may represent roughly 10% of the post rebate cost of the system depending on system size, configuration and system installation cost. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.

How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?

A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. Climate is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather. In fact, some PV modules actually work better in colder weather. Most PV modules are angled to catch the sun’s rays, so any snow that collects on them usually melts quickly. There is enough sunlight to make solar energy systems useful and effective nearly everywhere in California.

What kind of maintenance does a solar system require?
Most roofs have enough of a slope allowing occasional rainfall or a slight breeze to naturally clean your panels to maintain the system’s expected output.  Occasional visual inspection of the array is wise in order to identify any serious soiling of the array such as significant bird droppings or other types of opaque soiling. Washing the solar array with your garden hose a few times a year is a good idea but not strictly critical

How long does it take to install the system?
The average system takes about two months from start to completion. This included system design, obtaining proper permits, and the actual installation. Electrical panel upgrades, when needed, can add an additional two to three weeks to a project

What about my roof?

Solar arrays when properly installed could potentially reduce harm to your roof.
Solar panels block sunrays from your roof and help preserve the area beneath the panels. Your roof, as well as your attic space, will be significantly cooler.
Ulf Waldmann, owner of Unique Solar will personally perform an inspection of your roof to ensure the structural integrity is sound and your roof will safely house the panels. Ulf was a roofer for over twenty years and was President of the San Diego Roofing Contractors Association. His significant knowledge and expertise in the roofing field is critical to solar installations. Building inspectors typically only scrutinize the electrical portion of the job and don’t look at waterproofing issues which constitute the majority of problems encountered in solar installations. Unique Solar guarantees the roof we worked on to be leak free for 10 years.

It is also important to note that we would be using Quick Mount Tile hooks for concrete and clay tiled roofs. These mounts eliminates tile hole cutting for fewer broken tiles and less dust and are essential for a strong, 100% code-compliant waterproof solar installation.

What is net metering?

Net metering is a policy that allows homeowners to receive the full retail value for the electricity that their solar energy system produces. The term net metering refers to the method of accounting for the photovoltaic (PV) system’s electricity production. Net metering allows homeowners with PV systems to use any excess electricity they produce to offset their electric bill. As the homeowner’s PV system produces electricity, the kilowatts are first used for any electric appliances in the home. If the PV system produces more electricity than the homeowner needs, the extra kilowatts are fed into the utility grid.  Because your PV solar system is connected to your SDG&E grid you will be charged about $5 a month for this service. Solar customers get a monthly statement in the mail, but only make a payment once a year. At the end of the year, it will be balanced out, depending on your solar production. If the production is higher than the usage, your electric utility company will actually pay you for the excess electricity you have produced.