Suntuity Solar Power: Frequently Asked Questions:

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1 Suntuity Solar Power: Frequently Asked Questions: SOLAR POWER FOR YOU FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF SOLAR POWER LEASING A SOLAR POWER SYSTEM ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF SOLAR POWER FINDING THE RIGHT SOLAR POWER PARTNER DESIGN AND INSTALLATION PROCESS THE SUNTUITY DIFFERENCE SOLAR POWER FOR YOU Where can Solar Power be used? Solar Power can be used in Residential, Commercial or Utility scale projects. It can be used to offset your entire electric bill or eliminate peak demand utility charges. What do I have to do to use Solar Power in my home or business? Request a free initial site survey of your property to verify if your home or business is a good candidate for a solar power system. Installation of a system generally includes installation of solar panels, wirings, inverters and monitoring. What happens to my Utility Bill? Depending on the size of the solar power system, your utility bill can be offset by up to 99%; most utility companies charge a minimal rental fee which you would still have to pay. Can I install a Solar Power system that will produce more than my yearly consumption? This depends upon the state in which you are installing the system. Several states have laws that prevent you from installing a system that will produce more power than your yearly consumption. For example, New Jersey does not allow you to install a system that would produce more than your consumption but does not prevent you from installing a system that gives you a 100% of your consumption and reducing your yearly consumption which indirectly allows you to produce more than you consume. State and utilities generally require you to provide the last 12 months of electric bills or in the case of no prior history such as a new home, a line item breakdown of all the appliances that will be used in the home. Using these numbers they can determine what size system would give you 100% capacity. What is Net Metering? 1 / 13

2 Several states in the US have laws in the US that require utilities to track both production and consumption of power at a customer site. When you install a solar power system the utility changes your meter and installs a bi-directional meter. This meter tracks the excess power produced during the day time and the consumption of power from the grid during night, and gives you a kwh for kwh credit. For example, if your solar power system produces 75 excess kilowatt hours during the day the meter will track this excess and give you a credit for what you consumed during the night that your system does not produce. What kinds of systems/technologies are available? Solar energy falls into two main categories; these are solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. Solar photovoltaics are also known as solar power systems. The three main commercially available solar power technologies are thin film, poly-crystalline and mono-crystalline. Thin film solutions are low efficiency and low cost solutions, more suitable for large utility scale projects (approx. 6-10% panel efficiency). Poly-crystalline solutions are mid efficiency solutions with panel efficiencies ranging from 11-15%. What kind of maintenance is needed? Solar power systems, if installed correctly, require minimal maintenance. There are no moving parts. And most high quality panels have a life expectancy of years and high quality inverters have a life expectancy of yrs. What size Solar Power system do I need? The size of the solar power system needed is directly related to your consumption and budget. In addition to this, the amount of roof or ground space you have available to hold the system will determine the percentage of your capacity you can fulfill. What is the importance of Solar Panel efficiency when choosing a Solar Power system? The amount of space required to install a solar power system is directly related to the efficiency of the panels. The higher the efficiency of the panels the less square footage of roof or ground is required it to install the same DC wattage of solar power. For example, a system that utilizes 19.5% efficiency requires approx. 30% less space to install a system of the same size using 13.65% efficiency panels or another way to look at this is if you utilize panels that are 19.5% efficient you would be able to install approx. 30% greater capacity in the same space as a less efficient (13.65% efficiency) panel. How reliable is Solar Power? Solar power is an extremely reliable source of energy. Solar technologies have been in existence for several decades and there are systems in production that have been producing power for the last 25+ years. 2 / 13

3 When is my Solar Power system producing power? A solar power system produces power when it is exposed to sunlight. Depending upon how a solar system is engineered, a solar panel system will turn on at sunrise and turn off at sunset. The intensity of sunlight falling upon the solar panels determines the amount of power produced by the solar power system. What are On-Grid, Off-Grid and Battery back-up systems? On-grid solar power systems are systems that are connected to the utility grid. They provide power only during the day when the sun is shining. Off-grid solutions are solar power systems that are not connected to the utility and again, will provide power during the day when the sun is shining. Battery backup systems are generally used in conjunction with off-grid solar power systems where battery banks are used to provide power when the solar power system is not producing any energy or power such as at night. What happens if I lose Utility power? If you have an on-grid solar power system your system is required by law to turn itself off if you lose utility power. It will turn itself back on once utility power is restored. An off-grid power system will continue to run during the day if you lose utility power. What happens during the night or on cloudy days? During the night the solar power system does not produce any power. This is the primary reason why an on-grid solution relies on the utility grid and Net Metering laws to provide supplemental power during the night or when the sun is not shining. On cloudy days a solar power system will still produce power but at a diminished rate. An on-grid solar power system will use power from the utility grid to supplement the power produced by the solar power system. What is the expected life of a Solar Power system? (Please refer to the Question "What kind of maintenance is needed?") How does the Utility keep track of my power production? (Please refer to the Question "What is Net Metering?") What kind of approvals do I need to use Solar Power? Approvals required for the installation of a solar power system vary from state to state. In general, almost all states require state, utility and local municipal approval. The approvals required usually occur both prior to and after the installation of a system. 3 / 13

4 Request a Quote Please enter your complete U.S. address as follows: (Address, City, State, Zip) FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF SOLAR POWER How do the financials of implementing a Solar Power system work? Financial incentives for a solar power system can be divided into four categories; federal, state, utility and local. At a federal level, solar power systems can avail of an investment tax credit of 30% of the total cost of the system. For example, if the cost of a solar power system was 50,000 dollars you would get a dollar for dollar credit of federal taxes paid up to 15,000. Depending upon the state, incentives such as rebates, SRECs(green tags) and tax credits may be available. Various utilities also offer rebates and feed-in tariffs as incentives to install a solar power system. Local municipalities can also offer incentives such as tax rebates to install a solar power system. When does it make sense for me to consider a Solar Power system? The financial incentives to implement a solar power system can make solar power feasible for almost anyone. If you are tired of paying your utility bills and would like to change your roof or ground from a cost center to a profit center you should consider installing a solar power system. What are Green Tags or SRECs and how do I get them? Green Tags or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates are incentives offered by several states to make the implementation of a solar power system financially feasible. Utilities in these states are required to produce a certain amount of power through clean energy and if they do not meet these state requirements, they are required to pay fines for the amount of clean energy production that was deficient. This creates a market for SRECs in that state. An SREC is similar to a stock certificate that is allocated to each power generator for every MWh produced using renewable energy. SRECs are allocated for every MWh hour of production irrespective of how much is used on site or supplied to the grid. A typical 8 kwp system can produce up to 10kWh, (10 SRECs per year). SRECs are allocated to you through an online account at the end of each month Once allocated, SRECs can be sold online to brokers and utilities in exchange for payment. Will my property value increase if I install a Solar Power system? 4 / 13

5 Studies have been conducted which clearly indicate an increase in property value with the installation of a solar power system. This increase can be up to $20,000 for every $1,000 savings in electric bill. Do my property taxes or property insurance rates change if I install a Solar Power system? Because the increase in property value is due to a renewable energy solution your property taxes cannot increase but your insurance will increase marginally to cover any losses that may occur to your solar power system. The increase is usually around $75-$100 per year for a typical residential system. When is it a good time to get a Solar Power system? The best time to get a solar power system is NOW. With federal, state and local incentives being some of the highest they have ever been, the financial benefits of implementing a solar power system create an extremely strong case to move forward. How do I finance my Solar Power system? There are several options to finance your solar power system. These range from straight loans such as, capital improvement loans, unsecured loans and home equity lines of credit, to lease and power purchase agreements. What is a Power Purchase Agreement? A power purchase agreement is an option for implementing a solar power system where an external investor agrees to provide power at a reduced rate compared to that of your utility in addition to maintain the solar power system. The financial benefits offered through the federal, state, local, and utility is then retained by the investor. This is beneficial for situations where you might not want to invest in a solar power system using your own monies but at the same time would still like to hedge your cost of power for a period of time (15, 20, 25 years). Do you offer financing for Solar Power systems? We have several financial options available to help pay for a solar power system. These range from unsecured loans and bridge loans to capital improvement loans and lines of credit. LEASING A SOLAR POWER SYSTEM 5 / 13

6 How does Solar Leasing work? There are various solar leasing options to help offset the initial implementation cost of a solar power system. A solar lease can be used where the lessee can get a locked-in electric rate for the term of the entire lease with the option to buy out the system during or at the end of the lease. In addition to this, a solar lease can also include a prepayment option which would reduce any monthly lease payments in addition to locking any electric rates for the term of the lease. What benefits do I get from leasing a Solar Power system? A solar power lease hedges your price against any utility rate increases in addition to in some circumstance allowing you to retain additional benefits such as SRECs or green tags. A solar lease also provides you with a production guarantee and an optional early buy out arrangement which can give you peace of mind that the system is performing as promised and the option of retaining the system if you wish to do so. What Lease terms do you offer? Our lease term is usually twenty years with options that are fairly flexible and can range from a zero down option to a full prepayment option that eliminates any monthly lease payments. In addition to this, all our lease plans have any early buyout option. Can I pre-pay a part of my system as part of my Lease? Yes, you can pre-pay any part of your system lease. What happens if I decide to sell my house during the Lease term? Our leases, as well as our buyout option and production guarantees are fully transferable to the new property owner. What happens to the Solar Power system after my Lease term is over? As part of our lease option, you retain the right to extend or buyout the system or we can also remove the system and restore the roof to its original condition once the lease term is complete. Who is responsible for maintenance of the Solar Power system during the term of the Lease? We would provide complete maintenance coverage and guarantee the performance of the system as part of the lease. 6 / 13

7 What kinds of Performance Guarantees are offered as part of the Lease? As part of our lease we guarantee the system will perform as per our original specifications provided to you when the system was installed for the entire period of the lease. If the system does not perform as promised, we will compensate you electric losses and rectify the system. ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF SOLAR POWER How does Solar Power help the environment? Solar power is a renewable form of energy that eliminates the need for burning of fossil fuels which are directly responsible for global and environmental damage. There are no emissions during the production of solar power and it is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy known to mankind. In addition, a solar power system is relatively maintenance free which further reduces the carbon footprint of the solar power system. Traditional electric sources such as coal, oil and natural gas result in the emission of polluting gasses, some of which are toxic and extremely detrimental to the environment. Fossil fuels are and continue to be the one of the largest cause of global warming. Depleting sources of fossil fuels also cause dramatic spikes in the cost of energy which can be mitigated by the implementation of clean solar power energy. For more information please visit: What kind of environmental benefits can I expect from a typical Solar Power system? A typical home consumes approximately 10,000 kwh per year. Installing a system that offsets the same amount of usage would result in approximately 15,000 pounds of CO2 reduction every year. This is the equivalent of carbon eliminated by 1.5 acres of pine forests every year. For further information please visit: FINDING THE RIGHT SOLAR POWER PARTNER What should I look for when it comes to choosing a Solar Power partner? 7 / 13

8 The following are some of the points you should look for and ask about prior to choosing a solar power partner: Registered: Ensure that the solar power contractor or partner has a registered business in the state in which you need your system installed. Licensed: Ensure that your solar power partner has the necessary licenses that are required for them to deliver the solar power system to you. Most states require a Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) license for Residential systems. In addition, it is illegal in several states for any solar power installation work to be done by anyone that is not on the payroll of a licensed electrical contractor. Many companies hire electricians on their payroll to supervise their solar power installation which is not necessary legal. Insured: Ensure that your solar power partner is bonded and insured to give you the peace of mind that you are covered in case something goes wrong. Request to see a copy of the Certificate of Insurance prior to allowing them to do any work on your property. Certified Personnel: Ensure your solar power partner has knowledgeable staffs that are certified by the solar power manufacturer of the products used on your property. This gives you the peace of mind that the work being done is up to manufacturer s specifications. Longevity: It is usually a good indication that a business that has been around for more than a couple of years is going to be more reliable and effective in the delivery and maintenance of their solutions. It is in your best interest to partner with a solar power installer that has been in business for at least 2-3 years. Experience: It is imperative that the employees or the staff working on your solar power system have the experience and knowledge to deliver it in the best possible way and derive the maximum output. You should ask your solar power partner how experienced their employees are and the largest and various types of systems they have worked on prior to making your final choice on your delivery partner. Engineering: Engineering is key to maximizing the output of your solar power system and return of investment. Similar systems can be engineered and installed in many different ways with many possible outputs. You should insist on a solution that has been custom engineered for you instead of allowing a partner to deliver a cookie cutter solution. Customer Service: Working with a partner that is customer focused is crucial because any solution delivered by a solar power partner should last a very long time which means you will be interacting with their staff well beyond the day the system is installed. Products: The ranges of products available in the market today for solar power are endless. You should ensure that the products being used on your system are of the highest quality and backed by manufacturer warranties comparable to what you would expect from the very best. Every component in a solar power solution should reflect the highest quality so as to ensure that the solution will last as long as the highest warranty of any single product. Simple things such 8 / 13

9 as zip ties and sealants can become a point of failure in a solar power installation. The choice of flashings and racking can make a difference between a worry free install to a roof that leaks every time it rains. Ask your solar power partner specific questions to be sure that only the best is used with your solar power solution. Equipment Certifications: Insist on using products that are at a minimum, CEC or UL certified. This ensures that the product has been tested by world renowned and credible third party testing facilities. Guarantees: Insist on guarantees and not just warranties from your solar power partner. This should also include a solar power output guarantee. The difference between a warranty and guarantee is that a solar power partner will compensate you for any losses with a warranty but will also rectify any issues as part of a guarantee. In house staff: Verify that majority of the work being performed is done using in-house staff. In addition to making the solar power partner directly accountable for their actions, in-house personnel are generally better trained than subcontractors. References: Request for references from your solar partner to verify conformance to all of the above. DESIGN AND INSTALLATION PROCESS How difficult is it to install a Solar Power system and switch to Solar Power? The level of difficulty in installing a solar power system depends on the type of roof or ground being used, in addition to the complexity of roof lines or grading on the ground. Most systems are fairly straight forward and easy to install. Switching to solar power is very easy and seamless to homeowner or businesses once it has been done. How difficult is it to move or remove a system from my roof? It is relatively easy to remove a system and restore the roof or ground to the way it was before the system was installed. This can be done with minimal inconvenience to a homeowner or business. Do I need a new roof before I get a Solar Power system? What happens to the life of my roof when I have a Solar Power system? It is generally a good practice to replace your roof prior to installing a solar power system if your 9 / 13

10 roof is older than 10 years. This ensures that the roof under the system will last as long as the system. What happens to the life of my roof when I have a Solar Power system? The roof under a solar power system generally lasts a lot longer than a roof exposed to the elements. How much weight will my Solar Power system put on my roof? A solar power system is fairly light and exerts approx. 3lbs per square foot on a roof. Should I request a Structural Analysis for a Solar Power system? It is a good practice to request a structural analysis from a certified professional engineer prior to installing a solar power system I own a Town Home. Can I install a Solar Power system? Most town homes qualify for installation of a solar power system. I belong to a Home Owner s Association. Can I still install a Solar Power system? Most Home Owners Associations allow the installation of solar power systems provided that certain requirements are met. You should request that your solar power partner review these requirements before installing a solar power system. What are the advantages of installing a Solar Power system on the ground? Ground based solar power systems have several advantages over roof base systems. These advantages include higher outputs, better tilt and orientation and easier maintenance. What guarantee is there that my roof will not leak because of my Solar Power system install? The quality of the products, the type of the flashing, and the skills of the solar power partner are crucial to ensuring that your roof does not leak when you install a solar power system. In addition, your solar power partner should carry insurance that covers any risk associated to a roof leak when a solar power system is installed. Request this information early on before proceeding with any contracts. What are my options if I have trees shading my roof? 10 / 13

11 The options in such a situation are limited to reducing the size of system installed or installing the system on a smaller roof area not shaded by the trees. Under certain circumstances trimming of the trees that would shade the system might also be required. You could also install a solar power system that uses micro-inverter technology which does not completely eliminate the detrimental effects of shading on a solar power system but reduces it to a good degree. There are both advantages and disadvantages when using micro-inverters and these should be discussed with your solar power partner early on in the sales process. How do Solar Panels handle adverse weather conditions such as Snow or Hail? Most high quality solar panels are rated to withstand snow loads as well as up to one inch of hail. Verify these with your solar power partner during the sales process to ensure the products being used comply with local weather conditions. How often do I need to clean my Solar Panels? Cleaning of solar panels is determined by the local weather conditions or external weather conditions in your location. For example, if you are located in an area that receives snowfall, the cleaning requirements might be minimal because the snow cleans the dirt off the panels. If you were to live in a dusty region you might have to clean your panels several times a year. In addition, if you are located close to external environment factors that can cause dusting situations such as quarries, etc. you might have to clean your panels even more often. Where can I place my Inverters for my Solar Power system? Most high quality inverters are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. To ensure optimal inverter use, your inverters should not be placed in an area that is exposed to extended periods of direct sunlight or directly in front of a sprinkler system. Also, inverter locations are mandated by local and national electric code. What kinds of approvals are needed to install a Solar Power system? The approvals required for a solar power system vary from state to state and utility to utility company. Most installations require state, municipal and utility approval. How long does it take to receive approvals for a solar power system installation? Approval times vary from state to state and utility to utility. Pre-installation approval times can range from 3-10 weeks and post installation approvals can range from 1-8 weeks. Installation times required to install a solar power system depend on the size of the system, the location of the system and the experience of the crew installing the system. 11 / 13

12 THE SUNTUITY DIFFERENCE What kind of Products does Suntuity use in their installations? Suntuity prides itself on using the highest quality products globally available. This includes using the highest efficiency and best quality panels and inverters to state of the art racking, flashings and sealants. Our system components are designed to last for decades. Simple components such as a zip ties and screws that are generally overlooked by most installers can become a point of failure for a system. Our solutions include products manufactured by the following: SunPower, Sanyo, Sharp, Kyocera, Suntech, First Solar, SatCon, SMA, PV Powered, Enphase, UniRac, DPW, Quick Mount, Deck, Fat Spaniel and many more. What kind of monitoring solutions does Suntuity offer? Suntuity offers integrated solar production and consumption monitoring solutions. Using state of the art SCADA systems our monitoring solutions are Internet and Mobile accessible. Our Commercial monitoring solutions also include weather data integration that continuously cross references a system s actual production with its theoretical output. Why are Suntuity Solutions so different from those of other installers? Every Suntuity solution is custom engineered for our client needs. Our single goal is to deliver the best quality products and solutions that optimize/maximize the output and return on investment for our clients. This is reflected in the products that we use and the solutions that we implement for every client. What kind of services does Suntuity offer if I already have a system installed through another Solar Power installer? Suntuity offers a variety of services for systems installed by other solar power partners. These include: - Testing services - Cleaning services - Addition of monitoring solutions - Moving services - Expansion services - Removal services and - Troubleshooting services 12 / 13

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