Frequently Asked Questions

Solar installation - FAQ

No two solar systems are the same. The amount of power that a home uses is very different from the next home.  Usage depends on the number of people who live in the house, how liberal or conservative a home is consuming power, and even the age and number of major appliances the home has. When designing a custom solar system for your home, we look at your current usage but also your future usage as well. For example, more homeowners are buying electric cars than at any other time in our history. We need to make sure that your solar system will not only power your home, but also your car.. 

Once customized, the way a solar system works is actually pretty simple. The solar panels on the roof actually make DC electricity from the sunlight that is hitting your roof. Then, that power gets sent to an inverter which converts it to AC electricity, which is what we use in our homes. Solar systems are generally designed to over-produce during the day because it doesn’t produce any power at night. That excess power that is produced during the day, is sent back to the power grid and the utility actually pays YOU for that power. When the sun goes down, you buy that power back and if your system is customized properly, what you buy at night will be less than what you sell to the utility during the day. This process is called Net Metering.

Solar IS expensive. But you know what’s even more expensive? The ever-increasing rates you pay to purchase power from a government-sanctioned monopoly every single month! In the old days, the cost of solar was prohibitive for most homeowners in America. In the early days, you had to come out of pocket to cover the cost of your system, and most people didn’t have the thousands of dollars necessary to get a system installed on their home. Fast forward to today, all you need is a relatively decent FICO score and solar can be installed on your roof with NO money out of pocket and a set monthly fee that never goes up, and in most cases is less than what you’re paying the utility today. For example, a home that pays an average of $200 / month to their utility, might only pay $150 / month for a solar system. Most homeowners see savings in their very first month after their solar system is installed. Better yet, you lock in your rate for as long as it takes you to pay off the solar. After that you have FREE power in your home. Forever.

In many cases, a battery is a smart addition to your solar system. In other cases, they’re not as important. There are basically two great use cases for battery backup:

If you live in an area where the grid is increasingly unstable, or you experience a lot of weather events that cause frequent and persistent power outages, a battery can absolutely be a life-saving option for your home. Recent highly publicized grid failures dramatically highlight the need for a battery on your home. Thousands of homes in Texas in 2021 were out of power for weeks after unseasonably cold weather hit the area and crashed the power grid. If you didn’t have some form of battery backup or at least a generator, those were some miserable days / weeks for you and your family. 

A second, lesser known use case is becoming extremely popular in high-cost energy markets, such as California, Massachusetts & New Jersey. Most batteries these days can be programmed to charge up with solar during the day, then the home uses all that power at night, at peak rate times. For example, a customer in Northern California with PG&E as their utility are paying some of the highest power rates in the entire country. Worse yet, PG&E customers are often on a “time of use” plan, meaning that different rates are charged at different times during the day. Guess what times are referred to as “Peak Times”? Peak times means peak rates, and they just happen to coincide with exactly when your solar system stops producing at the end of the day. Battery customers program their backup storage for use during these hours, so they don’t have to pay these extraordinarily high rates. 

Yes. The federal government passed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” around the middle of the year and it provides a 30% tax credit to all new solar customers who qualify. The Solar Investment Tax credit is available to anyone in the USA who pays taxes and purchases their solar system. It’s based on the market value of the system you buy for your home, and is applied to your taxes at the end of the year. For example, if your total solar system cost is $30,000, including all associated financing fees, then your tax credit at the end of the year will be $9,000. It’s important to consult your tax advisor about whether or not you qualify for the tax credit, but the general rule is if you pay taxes, and you’re installing solar on your primary residence, then you qualify. 

In addition to the Federal Tax credit, a lot of states and utilities will offer their own credits, incentives or rebates. It varies widely from state to state, which is partly why it is important to work with an experienced solar professional who can guide you through the maze of various incentives that may or may not be available for your home. 

There are basically 3 ways to go solar. You can either buy it, lease it or sign up for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Each option has its own unique benefits that are important to understand as you evaluate which option is best for you. 

Leases and PPA’s are similar, and are generally best for those who cannot benefit from the available tax credits either federal or state. For example, retirees often don’t have an income anymore and thus don’t pay any taxes. No tax liability means no 30% federal tax credit. In leases and PPA’s, the company you lease your system from, or buy your solar power from take the tax credit on your behalf and presumably factor that in as savings on your overall ongoing monthly rate that you pay them. 

Whenever possible, we always favor buying vs leasing or PPA’s. When you purchase, you get all the tax benefits, all the incentives, all the rebates, all the increased value in your home and unlike a lease or a PPA, come with an end-date. That said, it doesn’t make sense to pay 30% more for a solar system if you can’t qualify for the federal tax credit, so in these cases a lease or a PPA might make sense. Paradigm Shift Solar offers all three options to our customers. 

Short answer: you can’t. You can’t because they DO NOT EXIST! There is no such thing as free solar and nobody is going to give you a $15,000 battery out of the goodness of their heart. Period. This is simply a marketing ploy that some unscrupulous solar sales people use as click-bait. Unfortunately, there are a lot of deceptive sales practices across the solar industry, which is why it is so crucial to only work with solar professionals you can trust. 

Unlike other appliances in the typical home, a solar system is relatively maintenance-free. Aside from occasionally taking a garden hose to your panels, and keeping nearby trees and brush trimmed back so they don’t cause too much shading, there’s almost no maintenance required at all. That said, there are components in your system that are more susceptible to failure as they age. The solar inverter(s) generally have a lifespan of about 10 – 12 years, and replacing or fixing them could be costly. That is why it is so important to make sure your solar system comes with a satisfactory warranty. 

This varies based on a number of factors. Most solar installers offer 25 years on panels, 10 years on inverters and 10 years on workmanship and roof penetration. Some installers will expand the inverter warranty all the way up to 25 years, while some others will offer an extended warranty of up to 30 years on everything. The warranty is a crucial part of your solar set-up and a lot of the reason why we formed Paradigm Shift Solar. As solar “advisors”, we work for YOU! That means we will work with you to determine exactly the right warranty for your home, which will ultimately depend on which solar installer we pair you with.

This is how we determine exactly how much solar you will need. Most electric bills will tell us your exact power usage over the past year. We take that information in combination with the other information we gleen about your home and your future plans to design a fully customized solar system just for you. Without the information on your power bill, we can guess-timate how to design and quote a system for you, but it’s only a guess. Sending us a recent bill allows us to get you up to 3 down-to-the-dollar quotes, from three of the top installers in the USA.

Just like no two solar systems are alike, no two quotes for solar are alike. System costs vary based on many factors including the installer, how many panels you need, the type of inverter we use, whether or not we include a battery or an extended warranty, whether you buy or lease and even where you live, just to name a few. Generally, a minimum-sized system is going to run as low as $15,000, but a very large system on a very large home could top $100,000. More important than cost though, is the savings. Whether you pay $20,000 for your system or $70,000, if it saves you money every single month and you’re not out a penny out of pocket, then overall cost isn’t as much of a factor for most people. The very first step in our process is to get you a comprehensive “Savings Report” which shows you EXACTLY how much money you’ll save every single month, as well as over time going solar.

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