Sun Room

Going electric?
Solar could be for you!

If you're increasing your electricity load by replacing gas appliances with electric, installing an Electric Vehicle charger, etc - then solar could help you reduce costs in the long run. 

Have you insulated your home yet? 

Before exploring solar, make sure that your home has great insulation
Insulation is a two-way shield that limits the amount of energy that is lost by escaping through the attic, ceiling, vents, floor, or walls. 
A well insulated home uses less energy, allowing for a smaller (less expensive) solar system to be able to meet all of your home's energy needs. 
Click here to learn more about your options and available incentives.  
man and pannels

How much is your energy bill?

Are you paying an average of $120 or more for your electricity each month? Knowing how much you pay for electricity is the first step in deciding whether you are a good candidate for Solar PV. The more you currently spend on electricity, the faster the payback will be on a Solar PV system. You can decide to get a PV system that matches some or all of your load. You might be thinking of increasing your electric load, which will make you a better candidate for Solar. Are you thinking of adding one or more Electric Vehicle? Are you considering changing gas appliances, such as dryers, stoves or ovens, with electric ones? This increase in your electric load can put you in a higher bill bracket, making Solar a more attractive alternative.

When do you use the most electricity?

Most people use more electricity in the winter when the days are shorter, the sky is more cloud-covered, and the heat is on (even gas furnaces use electricity if they have a fan). Electricity usage also tends to go up at night. On the other hand, Solar panels generate electricity during the day when the sun is shining. The more you can match your electricity use to the time you are generating electricity, the better deal you get:

  • If the timing is out of synch, you will be selling your electricity back to Alameda Municipal Power during the day and throughout the summer, and buying it back at night and in the winter.
  • You can always invest in a battery storage system to help line up the timing better, but this technology is still young and costly. Work with a solar provider to do the math to figure out if Solar makes sense for the way you live and use energy.

Is your roof suitable for solar panels?

There are several things to consider, including:

  • Do you have strong, durable roofing material, such as composite or asphalt shingle, concrete tile or standing seam metal? These are the ideal roof surfaces that most installers are comfortable working with.
  • How many more years of life does your roof have? Since solar panels are expected to last 30 or 40 years, you want to install them on a roof that is relatively new and in good condition.
  • Does your roof receive enough sunlight at the right time of day? Use Google’s Project Sunroof to find out what your roof looks like from above and how much usable space you are likely to have. You will still need an on-site consultation with a solar professional to determine whether your roof is solar-friendly. The things that will be evaluated include the direction the flat surfaces of the roof face - south is best, but west is good for producing electricity in the afternoon - and whether you have shade blocking your roof.
  • Also, some roofs have many pipe, chimney or skylight penetrations, getting in the way of panel installation. If your roof is particularly steep or has many gables or dormers, it is more difficult (and expensive) to install solar.

Does your budget allow for a big ticket item like solar photovoltaic that may have a long payback?

Buying a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is a big investment, one that may not pay back for 10 to 15 years. Ideally, you would want to live in the home long enough to get a payback on your investment. If you pay for your Solar PV system using a PACE loan, the loan stays with the house:

  • If you are thinking of moving, it is difficult to predict whether the solar panels will add value to your home at selling time. It depends on how old the panels are and how much potential buyers value the solar panels.
  • Other options exist that allow you to avoid the big initial investment, and instead pay a flat monthly fee for the use of your solar panels with an annual true-up charge. Work with a Solar provider to find out which options works best for you.

Do you have other reasons to install Solar that are less tied to economics?

For example, you might want to do your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. From 2020, Alameda Municipal Power will be providing you with 100% Clean Energy so you might want to take advantage of other ways to do your part for the planet.

Is Solar Right for You?

Can I install a battery storage system with my solar system?

Yes. A battery storage system must be paired with a renewable energy system, like a solar power system, in order to qualify for interconnection to the electric grid. The battery storage system must not send energy back to Alameda Municipal Power’s distribution grid.

Will my solar system generate all the power I need?

Renewable generation is variable because of the resources it relies on. In California, a photovoltaic system will produce the most electricity in spring through fall when sunlight hours are the longest and the sun is positioned higher in the sky. It will produce less in the winter months or when the sun is obstructed by poor weather. It will stop generating all together at night. Because of this, you need backup generation to provide power when your system is under-generating, or to absorb power when your system is over-generating. If sized correctly, your system can generate all the energy your property needs over the course of a year.

How much space will my system need?

The amount of space needed is based on the size, or generating capacity, of the solar energy system. Residential solar energy systems can vary in size from 50 square feet to 1,000 square feet. A rule of thumb is that a square foot of photovoltaic module area produces 10 watts of power in bright sunlight. For example, a 2,000 watt system would require about 200 square feet of roof area.

How big should my system be?

In order to get the maximum benefit for your installation, your system should be sized to generate approximately the same amount of energy that your property uses in a year. Compensation for excess energy you generate that you do not use in a year will not justify the cost of installing a larger system that generates more energy than you need.

How much will it cost?

The cost varies depending on many factors, including the solar energy system’s size, equipment options and labor costs. Typically, the installed costs are determined based on the size of the system’s output. The cost per watt is often used for comparing systems of different sizes.

Are homes able to run during blackout events if they have solar panels and on-site battery storage?

No, it’s not enough to have both solar panels and a battery in order to island and run independently of the grid. They need to be connected—and once they are, that’s called a “microgrid.”

Frequently Asked Questions