Why should I invest in solar installation?

For financial and environmental benefits - read more about that subject.

How long will it take to get started?

As soon as you are ready. From order to completion, the solar installation process typically takes 4 to 6 weeks, but can in some cases be done in about two weeks.

What do you mean by Zero Down? What does it really cost?

Zero Down means that with various financing options you can get solar panels without spending any money upfront and also zero out your electric load. Almost invariably, the cost of the financing will be less than your utility electric bill. So even with Zero Down you can see an immediate cash benefit.

How can I afford enough panels to make my electric bill zero?

The goal with solar panels should be to zero out your annual electric consumption from the utility. Because the utility has a minimum bill of about $120 per month even for customers with no electric consumption, sizing the system to eliminate this minimum payment is not in your best interest. However, getting close to zero kWh from the utility is typically very easy: in most cases the Zero Down financing payments are less than your current electric bill on day one, and these payments will be fixed for the term of the loan. So in short, it is very easy!

How does the solar installation process work?

  1. Step 1: Initial consultation to size the system based on your current and future electric consumption.
  2. Step 2: You will receive a solar installation proposal, complete performance analysis and financial breakdown from us.
  3. Step 3: After you accept the solar panel project proposal and sign a contract, we will design your customized system, submit the permit package, and assist with applying for financing.
  4. Step 4:Once we have the permit, and financing approved, we schedule the solar panel installation.
  5. Step 5: We complete the solar installation, get final inspections from AHJ and start the utility interconnection process.
  6. Step 6: After the utility company issues Permission To Operate (PTO) via email, we activate your new solar system, set up your solar system monitoring, and provide you with access to the solar energy monitoring portal.
  7. Step 7: You enjoy the financial and environmental benefits of going solar powered.

Why should I get solar now since I'm going to have to still pay the electric company? Why shouldn't I just wait for affordable batteries too?

For several reasons:

With the current price levels of solar material and installation, it saves money to go solar now. The goal is to immediately improve your financial situation.
In Southern California, the utilities are switching all residential customers to Time of Use (TOU) rates starting in March 2018. This means that even with Net Metering you "sell" your solar energy to the utility at lower rate during the day and "buy" it back at higher rate in the late afternoon/early evening. With SGDE, you have a choice to stay with tiered rates if you have received Permission To Operate (PTO) before 03.30.2018. After this deadline, you will have to select a TOU rate (and your benefit is less than doing it now).

Our Inverters have the capability of working with battery backup and EV stations and we can explore if either of these options works best for you now or later. IE, Our systems can be adjusted to a Storage Ready System in the future, so you can simply add a battery to it to take advantage of the benefits of having the battery (for instance shifting self-consumption or back-up power).

Tax Reform may negatively impact Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) starting 2020.

I only have so much roof... should I use solar panels to heat my pool or get solar electricity instead? Why?

For most customers selecting solar for electricity over thermal solar to heat a swimming pool provides a higher financial benefits. Only if you have a very low electric bill, but need a heated pool, will the thermal energy be a better choice. With a cover on your pool and correctly sizing your solar system to provide enough electricity to offset the increased consumption, you may still be able to heat your pool without prohibitive cost (solar panels provide electricity year round but most people only need to heat a pool only part of the year). Also, using an electric pool heater (connected to 240V circuit) in combination with solar panels, you will get the benefits of solar even if you decide not to heat the pool in the future.

How do I keep the electric company from 'cheating me' on solar electricity returns once my solar system is installed?

Every Solar system comes with solar energy monitoring capabilities, which you can access online and from your smart phone. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regulates and oversees our electric utilities. When your solar is installed and the solar interconnect agreement signed, your electric meter will monitor both the amount of electricity (kWh) you receive from the utility and the amount of energy your solar installation sends back to the utility (your smart meter will allow you to keep track).

There are so many types of panels how can I make a good decision?

Selecting the right panels (and other equipment) will naturally greatly affect the benefits you get. Many people have the misconception that the higher the efficiency the better the panels are. In reality, often selecting the most efficient panels costs much more than the "ideal" panels. The key is to combine correctly sized panels with those which have good warranties from the manufacturer in order to optimize your financial benefits from your solar panel system. Zero Down Solar will consider our customers' specific needs when selecting the panels.

What makes your company different from your competition? Say Baker, SunPower or Semper Solaris?

Due to our lean and efficient structure we can typically offer a very attractive price for a solar panel system using high/premium quality equipment with premium warranties. Therefore, we can focus on working closely with the customer to provide them with the highest financial benefits without being forced to shave our margins. In addition, we are a referral fueled company (not a turn and burn marketing entity) - we want every customer to come back us again for their changing solar installation needs and to refer their friends and family. Additional solar needs could include buying an electric car and needing a charging station or adding a battery backup system.

Why do you call yourselves Zero Down Solar? What is this really going to cost me anyway?

Our choice Zero Down Solar is emphasizes the fact that it is possible to take advantage of the benefits of going solar without any upfront cost. Whether you finance or pay for the solar with cash, there are immediate measurable financial benefits. The one important point is that going solar will immediately improve your financial situation! Plus, the increase in your property value (purchased solar) is more than the cost of buying solar.

What does it mean when the electric company says "they will true-up my electric bill at the end of the year?"

When you sign the interconnect and Solar Net Metering agreements with your utility company, you will go on to an annual billing plan instead of monthly billing. Throughout the year, you will continue to receive statements from the utility. On the billing statement following the anniversary day of your 'Permission to Operate', the utility sends you the bill showing final usage (difference between what you used from the grid and what you sold to the grid in kWh). If you send more electricity back to the grid that you pulled out, you may get a negative final bill (you can get money from the utility).

What other things can you do to help bring down my solar electric bill?

Use LED bulbs, insulate the house, get energy efficient appliances, windows and doors. Replace old inefficient A/C unit with new higher efficiency unit or set the thermostat at lower temperature. Get a variable speed pool pump (if you have a pool). Turn of electrical devices that you don't need to have running, etc.

My chimney shades part of my roof during the day, how severely will that cut my production?

It depends on too many factors to give a specific answer. Zero Down Solar will advise customers all known shading issues (based on site survey) . Further, we use systems with module level electronics to minimize the impact of shading and size the system using the site survey results to counter any shading impact.

How do you figure out how many solar panels I need on my roof?

We use your current annual consumption, and account for any future changes that you anticipate, (example; electric car purchase) as the bases. Then we also account for location, orientation and tilt of the solar panels.

I believe in buying American made products... Can you assure me that I will have a great system if I by from you?

If buying American made products is a priority to you, we will use all American made products for your application and still use the same guiding principles that we use for all customers - finding a solution that best meets your needs. We may present our "non American made" option if there is a substantial price difference, so you can make an informed decision.