• Solar + Storage

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Everything you need to know about solar panels and home battery storage.

  • How Solar + Storage Keep the Lights On

    Learn the basics of how solar panels and battery storage work together to power your home, both when they're tied to the grid and during an outage.

  • Solar + Storage FAQs

    Why should I make the switch to solar?

    When you install solar panels, you'll be generating your own energy from the sun to power your home. You'll also be compensated by your utility for the energy sent back to the electric grid from your panels, offsetting the cost of your electricity use. In fact, many people with solar panels have no electric bill at all! On top of that, you'll be increasing the supply of clean, zero-carbon energy and helping California move on to a more sustainable future.

    Watch 5 benefits of solar!

    How do I choose between different solar quotes?

    Here is the good news: we've made it easy to evaluate the quotes you'll receive from SunShares installers by listing our prices in a directly comparable 'Price per Watt' format. We have also ensured that no matter which of our installers you choose, you will receive quality service from a trustworthy licensed contractor who has been in business for several years.

     

    There will still be differences between the solar proposals you receive. Here are a few factors to consider:

    • Panel efficiency vs. Price: Some solar panels convert sunlight to energy at a higher efficiency than others. The greater the efficiency, the greater the cost of the panel. Consider your needs as you decide between different solar panel offerings. For example, if your roof is shaded for much of the day, a higher efficiency option may be worth the extra cost.
    • System size: Different providers may design your solar system to produce different amounts of energy. Consider how much of your electricity bill you want to be covered by your solar panels.
    • Add-ons: Some homes may need additional work to be solar ready (e.g. new roof, electric panel upgrade, etc) or require additional services (e.g. torching by a roofer) which can add to the total cost.  The good news is, all of this is upgrading your home and most likely increasing it's value!

    The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has create a helpful solar consumer guide available in 9 different languages and you can also watch this short video to help you in your decision.

    Can I augment/upgrade my existing solar system through SunShares?

    Yes, there are options to augment an existing solar system. Each home is unique so your individual project would need to be examined by a professional installation company. You are eligible for the SunShares discount every year so please sign up so one of our pre-vetted installers can contact you to discuss your needs. Alternatively, you can directly contact the original installer (if different from our providers) to discuss your options; if you choose to do so you would unfortunately not receive the SunShares discount.

    Will my solar system provide power during a power outage?

    On its own, a solar system will not provide electricity to your home during a power outage. This is one of the primary benefits of pairing your solar system with battery storage. Home battery units store electricity from your solar panels that can be used by your home even during power outages.

    Why add battery storage?

    Battery storage allows you to get the most out of your solar system.

    • Home battery units store electricity, either from the grid or from your solar panels, that can be used later by your home.
    • During power disruptions, batteries paired with solar panels can power your home for multiple days.
    • Battery storage can reduce your energy costs even further by charging from the grid at times of day when electricity is cheaper and sending electricity out to the grid when it is more expensive.

    Can I add battery storage to my existing solar system?

    Yes! In fact, that's the best way to get the most out of your solar system and make your home resilient. The feasibility of your project will depend on the specifications and age of your solar system. Talk to our selected installers to find out which battery models are compatible with your system and inverter.

    How long will battery storage provide electricity during a power outage?

    How long your system will provide power depends on your battery storage capacity and critical energy needs (i.e. how much energy you use_. Talk to a SunShares pre-vetted installer to figure out what works best for your home.

    How do I choose the right battery?

    There are many factors to consider when choosing which battery model to install in your home. What to prioritize depends on your needs, such as which appliances you want your battery to power during an outage. Here are a few of the most important:

    • Maximum usable capacity: The total amount of electricity that your battery can store.
    • Power rating: The amount of electricity that can be discharged at any one time.
    • Round trip efficiency: The percentage of the electricity fed into your battery that can be discharged out of it.
    Our selected installers will walk you through your options and help you make the best decision for your home.

    How can I make the most of my solar system?

    Once you've decided to go solar, it's in your best interest financially and environmentally to power as much of your home with electricity as possible. This means replacing appliances that currently run on gas with new, all-electric options. Learn more about your electrification options here!

    What is Net Energy Metering (NEM)?

    Net energy metering (NEM) is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they sell to the electric grid. For example, if a home has a solar electric system on their roof, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours and that electricity is sent back to the electric grid to fulfill the needs of other customers. During the night when the solar system does not produce energy, the home will either pull electricity from the grid and/or from home batteries if installed with the solar system. With net-metering, the customer receives credits for the electricity provided to the grid and is charged for any electricity used from the grid. Customers are then billed for their "net" energy use either annually or monthly in some cases. In California, NEM is regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and is currently under review. More information can be found on the CPUC website.

    Can you install solar on a Condo or Townhouse?

    Solar projects in condominiums and townhouses involve more than one stakeholder, so they are more complicated than installations on single ownership homes. Beyond getting approvals from your Homeowner’s Association (HOA), limited roof space, shared roof ownership and shared electric meter can make it logistically challenging if not impossible to install solar. If your home does not have these constraints, we encourage you to sign up for SunShares and discuss the feasibility of installing solar on your home with the installers. If installation is not possible for you at this time, we encourage you to look into different ways to harness clean energy such as opting up to 100% renewable energy or switching your appliances to all electric.

    I have a Homeowner's Association (HOA), what do I do?

    You may need to get your HOA's approval prior to installing solar, please consult the CC&Rs as each HOA is governed differently. A few things to know:

    1. The Solar Rights Act (CA Civil Code 714) bars unreasonable restrictions by homeowners associations (HOAs) on the installation of solar-energy systems.
    2. Whether the roof replacement is individualized or a shared cost could have an impact on the HOA approval process.
    3. For townhomes, available roof space can be a challenge as most building & fire departments require setbacks to be able to walk around the solar system.  More generally it is not advised to install solar if there is considerable shade nor is it advisable to install a solar system on the north-facing roof (unless the solar panels are titled to capture the southern sun).

    What is the Solar Investment Tax Credit? And how do I claim it?

    The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is available to homeowners who install renewable energy. In the recent Inflation Reduction Act, the ITC was extended to 30% through the end of 2033! Please talk to your tax advisors to confirm that you qualify and how to access the tax credit.

    Can the Solar ITC be combined with the SunShares Discount?

    Absolutely! The Federal Solar Tax Credit can be combined with the SunShares discount, which means you can save even more on making the switch to solar!