— Residential Facts —
Commonly Asked Questions
Doesn’t solar systems require a large upfront cost?
No. Sopris Solar offers a variety of financing options, including $0 down. A majority of our customers purchase their systems through one of our financing partners with no down payment. Our partners offer a variety of rates from 5.45% to 2.99% depending on the loan term. In addition, we also encourage homeowners to check the rates available through HELOC, Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Energy Program or refinancing options with their bank. If you have any questions regarding what financing option is best for you, we’re happy to consult on which option is best for you. Just contact us for more info.
How much does solar cost?
All of the solar programs require no upfront cost and usually the monthly payment will be a right around your average monthly payment that you currently pay with your utility. Remember, with solar your payment is a flat rate that never goes up.
What are the advantages of HELOC or refinancing my mortgage to pay for the system?
It depends on your relationship with your bank and available rates. We have seen many homeowners able to receive HELOC loans at interest rates between 3.5 -4%. Besides finding a lower interest rate, the interests payments are tax deductible which means your monthly payment for the system will be even lower.
Refinancing is a very attractive option as well for most homeowners. Since solar increases the value of your home, we have seen more and more homeowners finance their systems and then a year later refinance the mortgage and pull out the equity created by the solar installation and pay off the system.
What is the HomeStyle Energy Program?
Fannie Mae’s solar offering is different from other solar financing options in one major way: borrowers can use the HomeStyle Energy Program to finance their solar energy installation when they are purchasing a new home, or refinancing their current home. Other solar loan options require that homeowners take out a separate home equity line of credit, PACE loan, or unsecured loan.
Homeowners who have already installed solar with the help of a solar loan can benefit from HomeStyle Energy, too: the program can help them pay off existing, higher interest unsecured loans and PACE loans, either by refinancing or rolling the loan into a new mortgage.
Will solar increase the value of my home?
The answer is already a resounding ‘yes’, and the evidence only continues to mount. A multi-institutional research team of scientists at the Department of Energy Berkeley National Laboratory utilized cost estimates, income estimates and side-by-side comparisons to similar non-solar homes to conduct an evaluation of whether rooftop solar panel systems increased home value. Their finding? Based on their research, solar panels that were owned by a homeowner did boost value.
The team compared approximately 4,000 solar rooftop homes in eight states and 12 years to approximately 19,000 comparable non-solar homes. They found that buyers were generally willing to pay around $15,000 more for an average 3.6kW host-owned solar system house than a comparable non-solar home.
FHA and Fannie Mae agree with this assessment. If you own a home with a solar system, the FHA requires that the value be assessed and added to the total appraisal value of your home when you want to sell it. Likewise, Fannie Mae has indicated that your solar energy system’s value may be included in an assessment of your home if you are the owners of the system.
If you home has increased dramatically, consider taking out an HELOC loan and use the money to pay for the system. Use it or lose it.
What if we are planning on moving in the next couple of years?
Perfect!! The government is giving you 30% federal tax credit for going solar. So for example, if you purchase a $30,000 system then you will receive $9000 tax credit. If you are moving you can pocket this tax credit and pay off the system when your home sells. Studies have shown that solar results in 150% recoup when you sell your home (compared to 80% recoup for kitchen remodel). That means that you will recoup most if not all of the payments back when you sell your home and walk away with a nice check from the government.
Does the warranty transfer then I sell my home?
Yes. The warranty and maintenance will transfer to the new homeowner.
Won’t solar make it harder to sell my home?
This is true for a solar lease because the new home buyer is required to take over lease payments of the old homeowner. If you own the system it will help you sell your home. All the studies on solar in the last 5 years have come to the same conclusion. Solar increases the attractability of your home and helps sell homes 20% faster and for about 17% more.
Will my property taxes increase?
No! In fact, Colorado currently has tax exclusions for solar energy systems. So you gain the advantages of increased property value without having to pay for taxes for the increased valuation.
What happens when I sell my home?
Since we only offer purchase programs for homeowners, the cost of the system will be included in your home value. If you financed your system, once you have sold the home you can simply pay off the remaining amount with no prepayment penalty.
Remember, solar has been shown to increase your home’s value and shorten the time that it takes to sell your home. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory offers a useful guide when determining how much your property’s value will go up. According to its research, each additional $1 in energy bill savings (from your solar installation) adds $20 to your home’s total value.
How long does it take to install a solar power system?
It generally takes 1-2 days for the average rooftop system to be installed. From start to finish, the entire process takes around 6-8 weeks from the time you get an evaluation to the time your solar power is turned on. Our installation time depends on the electrical utility you are with. If you live in an HOA, it may take some additional time to process your solar design application as well. Our experts will guide you through the entire process, making it as smooth as possible. For more information, check out our 4 steps on our “Our Process” page.
Can my HOA ban solar panels on my home?
No! There are about 24 states, like Colorado, that have solar access laws. These laws prohibit community associations from barring residents from placing solar panels on their home. In these states, if your HOA flat out refused to allow owners to place solar panels on their home, they are breaking state law.
How long will my system last?
All our solar panel products are backed by the 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance guarantee, though panels routinely outlast the warranty. All of our panel manufacturers are expected to last 40 years. Please call for warranty details.
I heard that solar is expensive to maintain?
Absolutely not. Our installations are warrantied for 10 years for any workmanship defect. As for the panels and inverters, they have 25-year performance guarantee and 12-year product defect warranty. If anything does go wrong your system monitoring system will notify you and we will send someone out to look at the system…free of charge.
I heard that solar installation will affect the integrity of my roof?
Solar installation has come a long way over the years. No longer is each panel actually attached to the roof. Your system will utilize a racking system which will have minimal penetration points on your roof. Each penetration point is sealed, epoxied and waterproofed. After that, a metal flashing will be placed over the roof shingle and the rack is attached with the panels sliding into the racking system. In addition, we warranty the roof for 10-years after the installation for extra peace of mind.
What if the system produces more energy than expected?
The amount of electricity produced by your photovoltaic (PV) system is tracked by your electric meter. For systems that are tied to the electrical grid, when PV panels produce more electricity than your house is currently using, the meter spins backward. This excess electricity will be credited to you on your monthly electric bill at the rate you would have been charged to use it. At the end of the year, if you have excess credits you have the choice to roll the credits over to the next year or receive a check for the credits.
What happens if I use more energy then my system produces?
If you start using more energy then your system produces, i.e. hot tub, new additions to the home, family size increases, you will have to pay the utility for the energy you use. Fortunately, since your usage is so low you will be charged the lowest rate available from the utility company.
If you feel that you will need additional energy, we can easily install an extra panel or two make up for added usage. Since your system is up, adding new panels is very inexpensive and easy for our installers if you have adequate roof space.
How do I know if the panels are working?
You can check your meter as soon as the utility company has installed their net meter. In addition, Sopris Solar sets you up with a monitoring system you can track using the internet and your computer. We also have access to the monitoring system and are here to help with any questions you have about how your system is working.
What happens to the panels in a hail storm?
In a solar power system, only the modules are typically exposed to hail. All other equipment should be tucked below the modules or mounted in less exposed locations. Here in Colorado, we have hail storms every year. It is common for us to be contacted to remove a PV system so that the hail damaged roof can be replaced. We have yet to come across a system with hail damage to the modules themselves.
It is now common for most permitting authorities to require that solar modules are listed to UL1703 which requires PV modules to be impacted by steel spheres of 2-inch diameter that generate impact energy of 5-foot pounds. The glass on the surface of the modules are tempered and fairly flexible. Additionally, we find that it is unusual to have the hail stone impact the module exactly perpendicular and more commonly at a glancing blow.
While it is very uncommon for a solar PV module manufacturer to cover hail damage under its warranty, we find that most all home insurance companies with cover the modules under your homeowner’s insurance policy.
What if my roof needs to be replaced after a storm?
Since the panels are covered under your homeowner’s insurance, your insurance company will pay to have the panels removed and reinstalled if there is any damage to your roof. There will be no out-of-pocket expense for you. At Sopris, we will remove the panels and reinstall them once the roof has been prepared. Keep in mind that your panels will protect your roof from any damage from hail storms.
What happens if there is an electrical outage in the area?
Unless you have a battery storage system connected to your solar system, you will be unable to obtain energy from your panels. Even though your panels will still be producing energy, the inverters have an automatic shut off when there is an outage so that your system does not feed electricity back to the grid and injury any workers that may be trying to repair the lines.
Will my homeowner’s insurance increase because of my solar system?
Most insurance companies these days cover home solar panels. In fact, many carriers may offer a slightly lower rate because environmentally-friendly people are less likely to make an insurance claim (those who are concerned with saving the environment are not likely to be smokers and so are less likely to cause a house fire). Some insurance companies have even been known to offer a 2-3 percent discount for home solar panels.
What are the environmental benefits of “going solar?”
Solar energy creates electricity and heat and avoids pollution from conventional coal plants and nuclear plants. Using national average emission factors, every megawatt-hour of electricity generated through a solar system avoids more than 1,300 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2), more than 5 lbs of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and almost 2 lbs of nitrogen oxide (NOx), and it also avoids producing radioactive nuclear wastes.
Solar energy production is highest on hot, sunny days when air conditioners are running and electricity demand peaks. By providing energy during peak demand times, solar provides a clean alternative to ‘peaking plants,’ that are often the dirtiest and least efficient coal and oil plants.
Where are Sopris Solar solar energy services available?
We currently offer service throughout Colorado.
Will my solar power system require maintenance?
Our solar systems require very little maintenance. The panels are typically cleaned when it snows, rains and some owners additionally hose them down once a year. Don’t spray down the panels under a hot sun, as a major heat differential could cause them to crack.
How many solar panels will I need for my home?
The amount of solar panels needed is determined by a number of factors: the capacity of your roof or ground area, current utility bill amount, and the percentage of bill desired to be covered. During our solar consultation, our engineering team will give you all the options and work hard to figure out what system will produce the maximum possible.
How does solar power work at night?
Your solar system is working very hard during daylight to produce electricity. When your system is not generating energy, the excess of power that was created during the day offsets the cost of electricity used at night. The result is a lower electricity bill (and a much happier you)
What rebates and incentives are available for solar power systems?
Currently, the federal government allows you to deduct 30% of your solar power system costs off your federal taxes through an investment tax credit (ITC). Depending on the area that you live in, the state or utility rebate will differ. Please call us for more info regarding your specific city and we will be glad to give you up-to-date details about the state and federal rebates. Or try here: http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-rebates-and-incentives/colorado.
How much energy can my rooftop produce?
Of course, some homes will generate more energy than others based on a number of factors. During our consultation, we will be able to determine how much energy the system will produce with the goal of offsetting 100% of your home’s electricity bill.
Is my house a good candidate for solar power?
In North America, south-facing roofs receive the most sunlight, making them ideal candidates; however, east-west exposure is more than adequate for any solar installation, we have often been able to put panels where other solar installers thought it was too difficult. If necessary, our experts will analyze your rooftop and create a complex shading report to determine if solar is feasible for your roof. Our experts can help you decide on if and how to trim surrounding trees to ensure maximum solar access. Lastly, if rooftop panels aren’t practical for your property, we can work with you to design a ground mount to maximize solar production.