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Frequently asked questions

Have a question about going solar or Westhaven energy systems? Then, we have an answer for you. Our FAQs are designed to provide more insight into how solar, batteries, and generators work, including our ultra-reliable energy system, Power A.L.I.

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WHY GO SOLAR

How do solar systems work?


Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells made of silicon that convert sunlight to electricity, which have been wired together to form a solar panel. Generally at three feet by five feet, the panels are coated in tempered glass, which allows them to endure most weather conditions. The electricity produced by a single solar panel is not enough to power a home or business, so multiple solar panels are needed. The number of panels can vary by installation, depending on the roof type and shade factors. Every solar system (also called an “array”) will include a series of panels mounted and wired together, which can be installed on a roof (“rooftop solar”) or on the ground-level (“ground-mounted solar”). The electricity generated by solar panels takes the form of direct current (DC). However, most appliances and electricity-consuming objects (called “electric load”) require alternating current (AC). To convert the solar electricity from DC to AC, an inverter is needed. You will need to choose between two types of inverters: a central inverter and microinverters. While both perform the task of converting electricity from DC to AC, they differ in critical ways. Solar homeowners with their inverter A central inverter receives the electrical output of your solar system and converts it from DC to AC at a single, central location. A single central inverter is required for a solar system. It is often mounted on the side of your home or building next to your electric meter. Central inverters are affordable, but they are susceptible to variations in panel performance. If one panel is shaded and produces less electricity than the others, the total electrical output will drop. If shading is of concern, microinverters can help maximize production. Unlike central inverters, microinverters individually mount to the backside of each individual solar panel. They capture the electricity that flows off of each panel, converting it immediately from DC to AC. With microinverters, if one panel is shaded, it will not affect the output of the whole array. By design, microinverters help maximize the conversion of electricity and are useful in situations with variable shading. What’s more, because they allow each panel to operate independently of one another, microinverters make it easy to add more panels to a solar array in the future.Once electricity is produced by the solar panels and converted from DC to AC by the inverter(s), it will flow through your electric meter and into your home or building. It will be used on site the moment it is created. Any excess will flow back out through your electric meter and onto the local grid.




How long do solar panels last?


Solar panels will produce electricity up to 25 years or more! It’s a smart investment all around.




How do I get credit or receive compensation for my solar electricity production?


We don’t mess around when it comes to your power. We carefully review each of our systems for design integrity and then put our money on it. If our system shortfalls in production we pay you the difference. Through our power guarantee, PoWr Guard for all Westhaven VIP customers after 2017, you receive a monthly overview of your home energy production so you always know where your total production stands and we proactively monitor and service the system as required.




Will my system need maintenance?


Solar is a low maintenance technology and generally lasts its lifetime. But like all electro-mechanical systems it should be serviced and maintained routinely. Solar panels should be washed at least two times per year in the spring and summer. If they are in particularly dusty places then they may need to be washed more. The rain naturally cleans them too, which is a convenience for many of our customers. Even though solar is low maintenance, we recommend an annual inspection post installation to ensure your system is operating optimally. The service fee is a separate cost, but will ensure that all equipment is in working order, check for wire damage from critters, and make sure your system is performing properly. To learn more about this service, contact our Support Team.




What kind of roof can solar be installed on?


Solar panels can be installed on a variety of roof materials and almost any kind of structure, whether it is flat or pitched. Panels are attached to your roof with a racking system. Therefore, the best racking system for your home depends on your roof structure and what type of roofing material you have. As a best practice, we recommend the racking system that is most efficient for your property.




What if my roof isn’t good for solar?


On rare occasions, your roof may not be suitable for solar due to obstructions on the roof such as peaks, chimneys, and HVAC vents. In order to maintain the roof’s integrity, shading, orientation, or other structural factors, we may install a ground-mounted system, designed by your energy specialist. For a ground-mounted system, we’ll need access to a clearing that has adequate sun exposure and little shade. Most ground-mounted systems are composed of aluminum and stainless steel racking and are mounted on concrete footings in the ground.




What happens when the power goes out?


Most solar systems are grid-tied, which are connected to the local power grid. This means that homeowners are able to use their solar electricity when there is sunshine, and seamlessly switch to utility electricity on cloudy days or at night. For grid-tied solar systems, it’s important to understand how a power outage will affect your solar panels and your home. When the grid goes down, your solar panels will stop producing electricity as a safety measure, designed to prevent your panels from feeding electricity into the grid and injuring the utility workers who might be servicing the wires. Now, you can protect your home from future Public Safety Power Shutdowns (PSPS) when you are powered by our ultra-reliable energy system, Power A.L.I.. It will allow your home to produce electricity and be completely energy independent. To learn more, schedule an obligation-free conversation with our energy pros here.




How do batteries work with solar?


In California, the opportunity to power necessary electricity during grid shutdowns makes battery storage a very attractive investment for many customers. Home and business owners are taking the storage leap in order to access the backup power value batteries can provide them. For more information on how batteries work, speak with our energy pros to learn more .





SOLAR TECHNOLOGY

How do solar systems work?


Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells made of silicon that convert sunlight to electricity, which have been wired together to form a solar panel. Generally at three feet by five feet, the panels are coated in tempered glass, which allows them to endure most weather conditions. The electricity produced by a single solar panel is not enough to power a home or business, so multiple solar panels are needed. The number of panels can vary by installation, depending on the roof type and shade factors. Every solar system (also called an “array”) will include a series of panels mounted and wired together, which can be installed on a roof (“rooftop solar”) or on the ground-level (“ground-mounted solar”). The electricity generated by solar panels takes the form of direct current (DC). However, most appliances and electricity-consuming objects (called “electric load”) require alternating current (AC). To convert the solar electricity from DC to AC, an inverter is needed. You will need to choose between two types of inverters: a central inverter and microinverters. While both perform the task of converting electricity from DC to AC, they differ in critical ways. Solar homeowners with their inverter A central inverter receives the electrical output of your solar system and converts it from DC to AC at a single, central location. A single central inverter is required for a solar system. It is often mounted on the side of your home or building next to your electric meter. Central inverters are affordable, but they are susceptible to variations in panel performance. If one panel is shaded and produces less electricity than the others, the total electrical output will drop. If shading is of concern, microinverters can help maximize production. Unlike central inverters, microinverters individually mount to the backside of each individual solar panel. They capture the electricity that flows off of each panel, converting it immediately from DC to AC. With microinverters, if one panel is shaded, it will not affect the output of the whole array. By design, microinverters help maximize the conversion of electricity and are useful in situations with variable shading. What’s more, because they allow each panel to operate independently of one another, microinverters make it easy to add more panels to a solar array in the future.Once electricity is produced by the solar panels and converted from DC to AC by the inverter(s), it will flow through your electric meter and into your home or building. It will be used on site the moment it is created. Any excess will flow back out through your electric meter and onto the local grid.




How long do solar panels last?


Solar panels will produce electricity up to 25 years or more! It’s a smart investment all around.




How do I get credit or receive compensation for my solar electricity production?


We don’t mess around when it comes to your power. We carefully review each of our systems for design integrity and then put our money on it. If our system shortfalls in production we pay you the difference. Through our power guarantee, PoWr Guard for all Westhaven VIP customers after 2017, you receive a monthly overview of your home energy production so you always know where your total production stands and we proactively monitor and service the system as required.




Will my system need maintenance?


Solar is a low maintenance technology and generally lasts its lifetime. But like all electro-mechanical systems it should be serviced and maintained routinely. Solar panels should be washed at least two times per year in the spring and summer. If they are in particularly dusty places then they may need to be washed more. The rain naturally cleans them too, which is a convenience for many of our customers. Even though solar is low maintenance, we recommend an annual inspection post installation to ensure your system is operating optimally. The service fee is a separate cost, but will ensure that all equipment is in working order, check for wire damage from critters, and make sure your system is performing properly. To learn more about this service, contact our Support Team.




What kind of roof can solar be installed on?


Solar panels can be installed on a variety of roof materials and almost any kind of structure, whether it is flat or pitched. Panels are attached to your roof with a racking system. Therefore, the best racking system for your home depends on your roof structure and what type of roofing material you have. As a best practice, we recommend the racking system that is most efficient for your property.




What if my roof isn’t good for solar?


On rare occasions, your roof may not be suitable for solar due to obstructions on the roof such as peaks, chimneys, and HVAC vents. In order to maintain the roof’s integrity, shading, orientation, or other structural factors, we may install a ground-mounted system, designed by your energy specialist. For a ground-mounted system, we’ll need access to a clearing that has adequate sun exposure and little shade. Most ground-mounted systems are composed of aluminum and stainless steel racking and are mounted on concrete footings in the ground.




What happens when the power goes out?


Most solar systems are grid-tied, which are connected to the local power grid. This means that homeowners are able to use their solar electricity when there is sunshine, and seamlessly switch to utility electricity on cloudy days or at night. For grid-tied solar systems, it’s important to understand how a power outage will affect your solar panels and your home. When the grid goes down, your solar panels will stop producing electricity as a safety measure, designed to prevent your panels from feeding electricity into the grid and injuring the utility workers who might be servicing the wires. Now, you can protect your home from future Public Safety Power Shutdowns (PSPS) when you are powered by our ultra-reliable energy system, Power A.L.I.. It will allow your home to produce electricity and be completely energy independent. To learn more, schedule an obligation-free conversation with our energy pros here.




How do batteries work with solar?


In California, the opportunity to power necessary electricity during grid shutdowns makes battery storage a very attractive investment for many customers. Home and business owners are taking the storage leap in order to access the backup power value batteries can provide them. For more information on how batteries work, speak with our energy pros to learn more .





INSTALLING SOLAR

Should I repair or replace my roof before going solar?


It’s important that your roof is in good shape. If your roof is more than 10 years old, we’d recommend a lifespan check to ensure it is healthy enough for a solar installation. Luckily, we are licensed in that area and can do a full assessment - just say the word.




How long does it take to install a system?


To learn more about our installation process, click here.




How do I select a qualified installer?


When choosing an installer, you’ll want to consider many criteria. We’ve distilled the most important into a comprehensive list below.

  • Experience: It’s important to assess the company’s overall experience. How many installations have they completed? How long have they been in the industry? Our team has been in the business for over 20 years and we understand what it means to take care of our turf - Northern California.
  • Licensing and certifications: While no universal solar license exists, you always should ensure that the company has the right licenses, which affirm that the business is in good standing. For us, we have licenses for all of your energy needs:
    • B - General Construction
    • C10 - Electrical
    • C20 - Warm Air & Heating
    • C39 - Roofing
    • C46 - Solar




Does Westhaven energy systems come with warranties?


Solar installations come with three warranties: product warranties, power production warranties, and installation warranties.

  • Product warranties guarantee the physical integrity of your solar panels and inverters. For example, should a soldered connection on one of your panels fail (adversely affecting its electricity production), that panel would be replaced under the product warranty. Product warranties are offered through the manufacturer, not your installer.

  • For solar panels, most manufacturers offer a 10-year product warranty. Some high-end panel manufacturers offer longer product warranties, up to 25 years. Inverters come with product warranties that range from 10 to 25 years. Central (or string) inverter manufacturers offer 10- to 15-year product warranties, while micro inverter manufacturers offer 25-year product warranties.
  • Power production warranty guarantees that the solar panel will produce at least 80 percent of its capacity for a minimum of 25 years, offered and protectedthrough our PoWr Guard program. If it doesn’t live up to expectations, we’ll pay you the power difference!*

  • Labor warranty covers the installer’s workmanship, including electrical wiring work and any roof penetrations made to attach your solar panels to the roof, which we provide for a cost.




What if my system has problems?


Connect with our Support Team.




What should I do if I’m a member of a homeowners association?


We’ve got you covered. We’ll provide you with a customized mock up plan, designed specifically for your home based on your needs. This will demo what the roof (or ground) will look like once the panels have been installed, and will be a compelling resource to share with your HOA.




What is the process to get my system permitted?


Sit back and relax. We take care of it, so you don’t have to.





STORAGE TECHNOLOGY

Is there a rebate for residential battery storage installation?


Yes. If you live in a high fire risk community (and have a low income), you may be eligible for Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) money when you install a battery with solar panel system. This combination must draw at least 75 percent of the charge, have a single-cycle round-trip efficiency of at least 85 percent, and are enrolled in some kind of time-varying rate program. This new SGIP program can cover up to 100 percent of the total cost of a home battery system installation, with a rebate of $1 per watt-hour of battery storage installed. For instance, a Tesla Powerwall battery that holds 13.5 kilowatt hours (kWh) could be eligible for a rebate of $13,500 or the amount equal to the system cost. In order to qualify for the new equity resiliency incentive, you must be a homeowner in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 high fire threat area. Type in your address here to see if you qualify, then apply for SGIP (between March and April 2020). The online application can be found here.




How does battery backup work?


Let us start by saying, going solar is a smart decision, period. It doesn’t matter how you go solar, but who you go with. This decision will impact how much you save money. There are two ways to go solar:

  • Allow the utility company to be your battery, where you continue to rent your power from. They send your unused energy elsewhere, and return it when you need it for a discounted rate (e.g. at night). This means that the utility takes the power you generate, and sells it back to you, which still significantly saves you money compared to the status quo. However, the caveat is that you are still dependent on the grid and susceptible to high peak energy rates, limiting control over your own power.
  • Be your own utility and store your energy with a battery. What’s yours is yours! The biggest advantage here, as we see many of our homeowners take the leap, is the ability to control your power. This coupled with a generator ensures that you have electricity during an outage and protects you from Time-of-Use/Time-of-Day pricing during peak hours, and Rule 21.




What is Rule 21 and how does it impact you?


Rule 21 is an interconnection tariff levied by the California Public Utility Commission that sets rules for performance of power generation. It allows the utility to control your solar inverter and limit your energy production at any given time. This often occurs when the company cannot profit from the surplus you generated and limits their payback/credits back to you, meaning you lose money. So when we install a battery and solar system to your home, the unused energy is transferred back to the battery for storage. You’ll use that energy at night instead of the utility’s - and won’t have to pay for the power you had already generated. This is the closest option to grid independence and to maximize your solar investment. As the grid continues to fail, we believe that every home will soon require a battery installation. Just as every household needs a water, heating and air system, they will need a whole house solar and storage system to meet their family’s energy needs.




What’s an inverter and do I need one?


The short answer is yes. As the most overlooked piece of the battery system, inverters manage when and how your batteries run. All battery storage systems require an inverter and will be programmed to run based on your preferences and needs.





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CA State Lic. 965111

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