Common Questions

Answers from Our AZ West Solar Experts

How do solar systems work?
A photovoltaic (PV) solar system is comprised of solar modules, racks for putting the panels on your roof, electrical wiring, and an inverter. From sunrise to sunset, the solar panels generate electricity (DC) which is sent to an inverter. The inverter converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC), which is the type of electricity required for household use. The AC power is delivered directly to your home’s main electrical service panel for use by you and your family.

 

How does shade affect the solar system’s performance?
Shading can be a problem as solar does operate best when the system is capturing direct sunlight. We will evaluate your particular situation and provide the perfect system for you.
How long will a solar system last?
Our systems are guaranteed for 25 years, but years of monitoring and tracking solar performance tells us the “useful life” of a system is 40 years. Some systems have been known to perform for over 45 years. Based on manufacturers’ in-field experience and reliability testing, PV modules will probably last longer, and are more reliable than just about any other capital investment for your business. In 2003, BP Solar published the results of their analysis of warranty claims and reported that of more than two million modules in service over nearly ten years, approximately one-tenth of one percent were reported faulty, noting “this represents one module failure for every 4,200 module-years of operation.” Put another way, if your system has one thousand modules, you may experience the failure of ten modules in 40 years.
Will a solar system increase my property taxes?
A solar system adds value to your home with no increase to your property tax.

How much will I save with a solar energy system?
This question has a few different answers based on home you manage the purchase or lease of your system. Your energy use and the size of your solar energy system will determine your actual savings amount. With little or no startup costs, systems start paying for themselves immediately and increase each year as the cost of electricity rises. It’s hard to pinpoint, but a typical return on investment is much higher than conventional investments. They typically return about 15-30%.

How much does solar increase my property’s value?
Solar homes appreciated17%, and sold 20% faster on average than the non-solar homes, according to a recent study by the (NREL) National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In fact, a study in California estimates that purchasing solar can increase the resale value of your home by more than $5,000 per kilowatt added. The average residential system size in Arizona is 9.5KW. Your return will vary based on the size of your installation. The most conservative and common rule is that your system will add $2.00 per watt to your home. So if you have a 9k system, a safe estimate is this system should add $18,000.00 to the resale value of your home.

How much will an AZ West Solar PV system for my home cost?
Whether you want to pay cash, finance or lease, we have lots of option, where you don’t have to pay the upfront cost. The cost of your solar system depends on several factors including: your current energy usage, your available roof space, your utility’s metering policy and other factors. The size of the system is the largest determinant of the price, and the savings rise accordingly. In most cases, the payback period for the investment in a photovoltaic system is roughly 7 years with internal rates of return ranging from 10% to 30%, depending on the cost of energy and the site-specific design and resulting costs.

Are some panels better than others?
Not all solar panels are equal. Quality is NOT output. Some panels are very high quality but are made to put out less electricity. And there are some solar panels that are made to convert more sunlight into electricity. They are also the most expensive. Our AZ West Solar experts would recommend these panels if you have limited roof space and need to maximize your systems output based on limited space. There are also very high quality systems that aren’t quite as powerful. Names Like Q-Cell, Sunpower, Samsung and LG.

It’s kind of like light bulbs. You wouldn’t use a 200 watt bulb as a night light. And you wouldn’t use a night light for reading. Once we know how much roof you have available and the size system you need, we use a formula to determine your “cost per watt over time”. You’ll also save more money over time by choosing the best panel to find that “sweet spot.” The lowest cost per watt with a fine product is a WISE choice that saves you the most money. Don’t be fooled into paying for the most efficient panel. They are typically the most expensive per watt and should only be used when you have limited roof space.

What can I do if my homeowner's association restricts the installation of solar electric systems?
In February 2003, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that a homeowner’s prohibition related to the installation of a solar energy system violated the public policy of Arizona as expressed in Arizona Revised Statute Section 33-439. Please refer to this statute to learn more about the state law regarding this issue.

How much electricity will a solar electric system produce?
Typically, solar electric systems produce 1,750 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year per kilowatt (kW) rating of the system. For example, a 5 kW system should produce 8,750 kWh per year. System output will ultimately vary depending on the type of components installed and the system’s orientation in relation to the sun.

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At a minimum, your solar electric system must have the following warranties to be considered for AZ West Solar customers:

Modules: The modules must have a performance warranty from the manufacturer that protects against the electrical output of the unit degrading more than 10% over a 10-year period, and more than 20% over a 20-year period.

Inverters: Inverters must have a 10-year warranty provided by the equipment manufacturer that protects against defect or component breakdown.

Installation: The installer must provide a 5-year warranty that protects against defects in the overall installation of the solar electric system that degrades the electrical output of the overall system by more than 15%. In addition, the installer must provide a 2-year warranty that covers roof penetration leaks. These installation warranties also must provide for no-cost repair or replacement of affected components, including any associated labor that is not otherwise provided by the manufacturer, during the warranty period.

IMPORTANT: Extended warranties: AZ West Solar customer receive as a standard feature 25 year warranties on inverters on all purchased systems.

What tax credits are available?
The Federal Tax Credit is 30% of the cost. Arizona currently offers a tax credit equivalent to 25% of the system cost, capped at $1,000 per residence, regardless of the number of energy devices installed. These credits are obtained through your annual tax process. Our AZ West Solar company will provide the receipt or other documents you need to present you tax professional.

IMPORTANT: The lease is another way to leverage your ITC and provide a way to bypass the need to deal with the IRS, while still getting the benefit of the credit. The lessor acquires the tax credit and passes those savings onto you in the form of a low monthly payment.

Are there any major advances in technology on the horizon that I should hold out for? (e.g., plastics, nano, thin film, etc.)
Unlike the other major use of silicon – computer chips – photovoltaic technology is not subject to Moore’s Law. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, the rate of improvement of achievements in efficiency for crystalline solar cells is less than 1% per year since 1970. Additionally, today’s commercially-available PV products’ efficiency levels were achieved in the laboratory anywhere from 15-20 years ago, indicating the long lag between research gains and commercial product introduction. Net, waiting for a magic solar bullet will probably mean waiting a long time, and paying a lot for electricity in the interim. Simply put, don’t wait, you’ll lose money.

How do I determine how large a system I'll need?
The size of the system is usually directly proportional to the amount of power you use. As part of the proposal process AZ West Solar will perform a site assessment, analyze at least twelve months’ worth of utility statements, and raise the question of near-term (3-5 year) expansion and business plans. With that information, taking into account the specifications and limitations of the components, we will present recommendations for your input and feedback the goal of making sure you feel the ultimate path chosen is ideal.

Roof-mounted or ground-mounted?
It depends. Roof-mounted tends to be less expensive as they require no support structures and are often not visible to passersby. On the other hand, ground-mounted systems can usually be oriented and tilted to optimize production. Through understanding your energy needs, AZ West Solar will present a solution that we guarantee will be the lowest cost per watt over time. Remember the “sweet spot.”

What happens on dark/cloudy days?
Unlike the early days of solar power when systems had to be sized for peak loads, a grid-connected PV system seamlessly switches to draw from the utility grid when needed. As such, AZ West Solar uses an annual production target, averaging out sunnier days with cloudy days.

Do I need batteries?
Is back-up power critical to your life? For most homes, the answer is “no” and if you don’t have a back-up solution today, an ordinary grid-connected PV system will leave you in the same position. However, if you require back-up power or are looking to upgrade your family’s disaster preparedness, AZ West Solar can design a battery storage solution for your PV system to automatically switchover in the event of a power outage. Most customers inquire about batteries and ultimately choose to do without based on cost. We only use the finest and newest technology from companies like Outback, Sonnen, Tesla and Generac.

I have plans for expansion. Can I plan for this now?
We frequently take into account future growth plans when designing your system. The choice of inverter can be influenced by near-term expectations about power usage and in some rare cases it may make sense to include excess capacity now and simply add more modules later. We’ll discuss this with you and explore a variety of options to meet your needs now and in the future.

What will this do to my roof?
AZ West Solar PV systems typically weigh no more than 3-4 lbs/sq ft, and most flat roofs have a 20lbs per sq ft ‘dead load’ capacity so array weight on the roof is rarely an issue.

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