FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why switch to solar?

Here’s how we look at it. Buying power from the utility is like renting electricity.
And, just as rents increase, so do utility rates. But with a solar system, it won’t matter how much the utility raises their rates. You own your home, so why not own the ability to produce your own electricity?

Continue to pay your current rates and watch them go up over time, or…

Choose solar and eliminate your electric costs forever, without the fear of future rate hikes. Quantum Solar Designs offers “0” down finance to ownership.

  • What is solar energy?

Solar energy is the process of absorbing energy from the sun to create electricity. After installing solar panels, you can start generating your own power directly from the sun.

Solar energy is considered environmentally friendly because the sun is a natural, renewable energy source, that does not require the burning of fossil fuels or produce the associated air emissions. In addition, it is considered renewable, since energy from the sun does not deplete any natural resources and will never run out.

  • What is photovoltaic?

Photovoltaic is the method of converting solar energy into electricity using solar panels. Photovoltaic, or PV solar devices, generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material, called semiconductors.

Electrons in these materials are freed by solar energy and can be induced to travel through an electrical circuit, powering electrical devices or sending electricity to the grid. Solar panels are often referred to as PV, or photovoltaic systems. Source

  • What are the benefits of solar power?

Installing solar can provide the following benefits to you and your family including:
Home improvement
Eliminating your electric bill
Reducing pollution from fossil fueled electricity

When you buy your solar system outright, the value of your home increases. Market research shows that homes with PV systems sell 22% faster than those without. Home buyers these days appreciate energy-efficient homes, and the average solar home is appraised at 9-12% more value than one without. In fact, solar finance experts suggest that every 1,000 Watts of power from a photovoltaic panel adds $15,000 to the resale value of a home.

Solar power can lower and eliminate your electricity bill by reducing your dependence on your electric provider’s rates. The price of electricity is steadily increasing, and costs are predicted to go up by 30-40% in the next few years, with no sign of stopping. With solar panels, you can lock in your electricity rate, pay less than you were paying before, and eliminate your electric bill entirely.

Solar power also reduces pollution. The less everyone relies on traditional sources of energy like nuclear power plants, natural gas, and coal– the less air pollution we produce. Solar power, in turn, supports a clean, healthy environment by helping you reduce your carbon footprint. This can help reduce the negative effects of carbon emissions associated with climate change.

  • How much do solar panels cost?

Much of the cost of a system can be offset with State and Federal rebates. In fact, the ITC (Federal Investment Tax Credit) in effect until December 2016, qualifies residents who install solar for a 30% tax credit.

That being said, the cost of solar panels is calculated based on your electricity usage per watt. Your payment, when you buy solar panels will be less than your electric bill payments per month. This way you have savings every month, and are not subject to rate increases ever again.

The size system your home needs, is custom-built to match your average electricity use over the last 18 months with your electric provider –and that is the law. The average home system requires about 18-24 panels, or a 5-7 kilowatt system (1,000 watts=1 kilowatt).

The best way to get an accurate quote is to Set Up a FREE Appointment for Quantum Solar Designs to come and assess your home.

What if I want to add more panels to produce extra power?
Electric companies will not let you build a system that is larger than your average usage rate for the past year. If you add on a pool, for example, or need more power later on, you can add more panels at that time.

  • What is the difference between solar electric and solar thermal?

Solar electric systems create power for your home utilities, while solar thermal can only be used to heat water. With solar electric, any power that is needed for the home can be generated including pool heating, air conditioning, and powering appliances. Solar electric systems are tied to the main electrical grid.

Solar thermal systems only use the sun’s energy for water heating. Many people use solar thermal systems to heat water for their pools and homes. This type of system is considered passive, and is not tied to the grid. The disadvantage with a solar thermal system is that its power can only be used to heat water. It is also made of materials that do not last as long as solar electric panels.

  • Do solar panels require any maintenance?

There is zero maintenance required for solar panel systems. There are no moving parts, so photovoltaic panels require little to no upkeep, rarely break or wear out, and can last over 25 years, providing you with clean, consistent energy. Some suggest washing dusty panels to maintain efficiency, but this is not necessary.

  • What is Net Energy Metering (NEM)?

When you install solar panels, the system will be connected to the main power grid (your local electric provider). This enables you to still get power, even when the sun is not shining.

With net energy metering, any extra power that your solar panels produce will be added back to the grid, as credit on your electricity bill.

Some solar customers produce more energy than they use, earning them an energy credit. At the end of the year, they get a check from their electric company instead of a bill.

Other customers pay little to nothing because their solar panel system is custom designed to meet their energy use demands as they fluctuate throughout the year.

  • What is the Investment Tax Credit (ITC)?

The ITC is a 30% tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. Anyone who has installed a system before the deadline, will be eligible for the credit.

Under current law, the ITC remains in effect through December 31, 2016. The existence of the ITC through 2016 provides market certainty for companies to develop long-term investments that drive competition and technological innovation, which in turn, lowers costs for consumers.

After this date the commercial credit will drop to 10 percent and the residential credit will drop to zero—unless Congress extends this deadline or changes the the law.

We highly recommend purchasing a system before this deadline is reached. The ITC is part of the Clean Air and Energy Act and there is no guarantee that this type of discount will ever be offered again. In fact, we expect there to be a backlog of orders around this time, making it difficult to get permits and install in a timely manner. If you want solar, now is a really good time.

  • What is the difference between a Solar Loan vs. Leasing and PPA’s (Power Purchase Agreements)?

If you lease a system, there are no upfront costs and you would start saving a few dollars per year, right from the start. However, the lease payment takes up a big chunk of the amount, limiting your actual savings.

The leased system will generate roughly $4,000 total savings over the 20-year lease term. Over that same period, the owned system would have paid for itself, plus earned you more than $50,000 additional. By the end of the 25-year warranty period of owning solar panels, you would save nearly $125,000 above and beyond the initial cost of a system.

With Quantum Solar Designs, you can own a system for less than it costs to lease, and less than you currently pay for electricity. How does it work? With a simple trust Solar Loan Program.

The solar loan is a LOW, Fixed Interest Rate for 12-20 years. Other companies offer a lease agreement.

When is leasing a system a good choice? If you are a non-profit entity, non-profits do not pay income tax. Therefore, they could not benefit from the federal investment tax credit for solar. In this situation, a lease is often used and the lease company will take the tax credit instead of the customer.

Whether you opt for ownership or leasing depends on your unique financial situation. It is important to partner with an experienced solar contractor company like Quantum Solar Designs, a leader in green source energy that strives to educate the public about the best options to go solar. We will never pressure you into a sale, and only advise you on the best long-term investment choices that fit your lifestyle.

  • What is my return on investment with home solar panels?

Depending on the type of payment plan you decide on, the average solar panel system can be paid off within 5-12 years, with a return on investment of 5-7 years.

Right now, with your electric provider, the average cost of electricity doubles every 4 years. You pay these rates anyway, because you have to. With a solar loan, you pay fixed rate monthly payments at 2.99% for 5-12 years, then you own the panels and never have to pay for electricity again.

  • How does solar “eliminate” my electric bill?

Quantum Solar Designs gets permission from your electric provider to build a system based on your last 18 months of energy usage. That is the maximum size system the utility allows. Then, with the Solar Loan Program, you can choose $0 down or put something down at a very low, fixed interest. Next, you choose the amount of time you want to make payments on the system (5, 12, or 20 years) with no early pre-payment penalty . After that, you own the panels, and only pay a bill if you use more power than your system produces!

Before the solar panel system is turned on, we apply through your electric provider for Net Energy Metering. With net energy metering, any extra power that your solar panels produce will be added back to the grid, and then as credit on your electric bill.

This way, you have a monthly solar loan payment that is less than what you were paying for electricity, and at a fixed rate. The average cost of electricity is rising each year, and will only continue. With solar, you lock in your rate, bringing a return on your investment and more!

  • How are electricity rates measured?

Under California’s current 4-tiered rate structure, residential energy costs increase as consumption increases. Consumption in the lowest tier — which covers energy use up to 53 percent of the residential average — is billed at the lowest rate, while energy use in the three higher tiers is billed at gradually higher rates.

In order to calculate the size of solar system your home needs, you have to look at your annual kilowatt usage on your electric bill.

  • What if there is a power grid blackout?

If the main utility power grid goes down, solar panels that are connected to the grid will not work without a battery backup system. Most current solar electric systems are “grid-tied” so when the sun is not shining, your home can still get power. When the grid is down, your solar panel power will go down as well, unless their is a backup generator or battery in place.

The only way to become completely independent, is to design a system that is not tied to the grid. It would need a backup generator or battery to sustain your home for a certain amount of time. This can be a costly process because large backup batteries need to meet safety requirements and require special types of storage outside of the home. However, they are the ideal type of system for self-sufficient power generation, and can sustain the home with electricity when there is a grid blackout. For more information on the latest technology in battery backup for solar, call our office at (805)445-6576.

  • What if there is a problem with my panels?

Although problems with panels are very rare, in the case that there is a defect, or malfunction with the product, please contact Quantum Solar Designs directly at      (805) 445-6576, or email us at info@qsd1.com. One of our representatives will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours to resolve the issue.

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