|Frequently Asked Questions
- How do solar panels generate electricity?
- What is a net meter?
- How am I compensated for power fed back in to the electricity grid?
- What happens if I use more power than I generate?
- What happens if I generate more power than I use?
- How long does it take to install a solar power system?
- What happens if there is a blackout?
- What maintenance is required for a solar power system?
- When I go solar, am I going ‘off-grid’?
- Can I store electricity for my own use?
|How do solar panels generate electricity?
Solar photovoltaic panels produce electricity when light photons from the sun strike a semiconductor material (usually silicon) in the solar cells of the panel, knocking loose their electrons and generating direct current (DC) electricity.
|What is a net meter?
A net meter is a utility meter that calculates the ‘net’ of the electricity that you use and the amount of electricity that you generate and feed into the utility grid. A net meter will spin forward when you are using more power than you are generating, and backward when you are generating more power than you are using. When the meter is spinning backward, you are contributing excess electricity generated to the grid! Starting in 2011, if over a year you contribute more than you use, utilities such as SCE, SDG&E and PG&E will pay owners of solar powered homes for their excess generation.
|How am I compensated for power fed back in to the electricity grid?
Currently you receive a bill credit for any power fed back into the grid in excess of what you used over a twelve month period. Under AB 920, recently signed into law, you can receive a monetary payment for this excess electricity generated by solar energy homes beginning in 2011.
|What happens if I use more power than I generate?
You continue to receive electricity from the grid, so if you use more than you generate, you will pay your utility for that usage—at the tier rate associated with your usage (which could all be as low as tier one or two, when without solar you could have been using electricity at higher tier rates).
|What happens if I generate more power than I use?
Once your solar power residential system is approved by the utility and turned on, excess electricity produced will feed into the ‘grid’ and your net meter will spin backward when you are producing more energy than is being consumed. The best part is: you get credit for it. You are entitled to be credited for the value of energy you feed in to the ‘grid’, up to your own annual usage. Excess beyond your annual usage may be compensated by your local utility.
|How long does it take to install solar power systems for homes?
The length of time it takes to install your solar roof depends on the size of your system, as well as the design of your roof. Most installations take between two and five days. We can provide you with an estimate of installation time for your particular installation at your in-home solar analysis.
|What happens if there is a blackout?
If there is a blackout, your solar system for your home will shut off. This is a precaution that allows your utility to safely resolve whatever issue has caused the blackout.
|What maintenance is required for a solar power system?
A solar power system requires little maintenance. We recommend a yearly cleaning and inspection. Remember, ASD includes the cost of this cleaning and inspection in its low, monthly lease rate.
|When I go solar, am I going ‘off-grid’?
No. You will remain a customer of your current electricity provider, and the utility will continue to be responsible for maintaining power to your home. You’ll just need far less of the utility-delivered power, since you’ll be generating your own solar power energy! And, here’s the best part – you’ll be delivering the additional power that you don’t need back into the ‘grid’, and getting credit for it.
|Can I store electricity for my own use?
We don’t recommend battery back-up systems, as they can be expensive and inefficient. Instead, our systems connect you to the existing electricity grid, where you can continue to draw power when you need it, such as at times you are using a lot of power or at night.