Estimate the cost and size of a solar energy system for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on any of the questions for the answers


What is solar power?
Today we're able to harness sunshine using technologies that either heat water or generate electricity. Solar thermal technology uses the sun's energy to warm water through a variety of uniquely-designed solar panels. Solar electric technology uses photovoltaic panels to directly convert the sun's light into electricity.

What is solar electricity (also called photovoltaic energy)?
Photovoltaic (PV) systems - also known as solar electric systems -- convert sunlight directly into electricity that can be used to power your home, office or factory. Today's solar electric technology can be harnessed to either augment power supplied by your utility company or to take you completely off-grid from the utility. Off-grid systems use battery back-up systems to store power that's needed at night or on cloudy days. SunWave Energy can customize your solar electric system to supply as much solar energy you want or can afford.

Can solar energy lower my electric bill?
Yes, in every home or business application. Solar power can be harnessed to support any type of energy needed to power a home or building. You can "own" the energy at a fixed rate instead of "renting" it from a power utility company at fluctuating and increasing rates.

  • A solar water heater will immediately reduce your gas or electric bill by approximately 25%. Because they are so affordable and offer such a dramatic reduction in utility costs, SunWave Energy solar water heaters offer the fastest return on your solar investment.
  • If you own a pool that's heated with electricity or gas, you'll experience a large and immediate savings on your utility bills with a solar pool water heater. Not only are they cost effective, our pool heaters will greatly extend your swimming season up to seven months in most California locations.
  • Solar electric systems can greatly reduce your electric bill, but because the initial investment is higher than solar thermal units, the return on investment takes longer. Whether you choose to augment your existing power or to go completely off-grid, photovoltaic panels can have a dramatic effect in lowering your electric bill too.

How can solar energy lower my carbon emissions?
85% of US utility power is created by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Not only are fossil fuels non-renewable (meaning they're in limited supply - when we run out, we can't get more), they also emit dangerous gases into our atmosphere when burned. Whenever you lessen your use of power coming from your utility company, you help our country reduce its carbon emissions. Since solar energy is completely pollution-free, you're making a personal contribution to the reduction of these gases.

How can solar energy reduce reliance on fossil fuels and foreign oil?
Because 85% of all US power comes from burning fossils, much of which comes from unstably priced foreign oil, anytime you lessen your dependency on utility power you're helping our country reduce its reliance on energy from energy sources that are environmentally-unfriendly and financially unstable. Solar energy comprises an alternative solution; e.g., less reliance on traditional resources.

How much does a residential solar system cost?
Keep in mind there are numerous local, state and federal incentives and rebates available to help offset the costs of installing solar systems.

DSIRE: Database of State Incentives of Renewables and Efficiency

It's important to understand all factors of properly specifying, sizing and planning for a solar energy system - and fitting it into a budget. SunWave Energy can help you identify what incentives apply, then calculate your true net costs. Here's a rough overview of entry costs for solar energy -- before subtracting all available tax credits and rebates:

  • SunWave Energy water heater system costs $4000 and up, installed.
  • SunWave Energy pool heater costs $2500 and up, installed.
  • SunWave Energy PV solar electric system costs $12,000 and up, installed.

What is a solar panel?
Solar water heating and solar electric (photovoltaic) systems receive solar energy in rectangular-shaped panels - also known as "collectors". These solar collector panels are mounted on a building's roof or ground-mounted in special situations. In solar water heating panels, water is heated by sun energy as it circulates through. Solar electric panels contain the materials that convert sunlight directly into electricity. Solar panels are engineered to operate in very high winds and withstand environmental damages.

How long do solar panels last?
Many SunWave Energy customers still benefit fully from solar panels installed on their property in the 1970s. While warranties last up to 25 years on some solar components, their practical use far exceeds that.

How much maintenance is required?
SunWave Energy solar energy systems require very little maintenance. In most cases, our guidelines require owners to not adjust, maintain or repair the systems themselves. SunWave Energy warranty programs provide for regular service visits, which should be all the maintenance a solar energy system needs. Of course, if a problem arises with a SunWave Energy system, call the service team immediately.

How do I get incentives from the government or utility company?
Programs from state, federal and utility companies have been dynamic - changing frequently. Ask your SunWave Energy solar energy specialist for the latest information and requirements. SunWave Energy can apply for all incentives and rebates on your behalf. Or check these links for new updates.

Can I get a payment plan?
SunWave Energy can help you find, review and select the financing plan to meet your needs.

What happens if there is no sun that day?
Lack of sunshine limits the solar energy potential of any solar energy system. However, some of the sun's solar radiation will penetrate clouds to heat water or generate electricity.

Can I upgrade a solar panel?
Solar panels themselves can be replaced with newer panels, different size panels or more energy efficient panels. Or a homeowner can add more panels to increase the solar energy potential of a system. However, the panel itself can't be upgraded.

I heard that the electric company has to pay me for surplus power. Is this true?
Each electric utility has its own programs for crediting customers who supply them with surplus energy (solar electric / PV power generated by a SunWave Energy system that exceeds the home's needs). SunWave Energy solar energy specialists can help you understand those specific utility programs and how each affects the financial picture of your solar energy system.

How long does it take to install a solar energy system?
Most home systems can be installed by a SunWave Energy crew in 2 days. Installation follows a thorough site survey and engineering review. Larger commercial or business installations can take longer depending on size, complexity and special mounting.

Does a solar panel need to be on my roof?
For most home installations, that's the optimum placement for solar panels. Unobstructed by trees or other shade-producing structures, facing toward the south and able to be securely attached. If the homeowner has adequate yard space SunWave Energy can review the option of ground mounting. This technique includes a reinforced heavy-gauge rack for the panels that angles the panels to the most effective orientation, typically affixed to a concrete pad. This option allows easy cleaning.

Do I have to angle solar panels at the sun all day long?
Solar panels are installed in a fixed arrangement. They typically don't move to track the sun during its movement through the sky. Mounting the panels to face south at the proper angles enables them to capture and collect the optimum amount of solar energy during the day.

Can I adapt solar energy systems for my business?
Due to higher incentives and rebates for businesses, solar energy systems make just as much if not more sense for business owners. Add in the depreciation factor for a solar energy system capital expense, and the financials become even more attractive.

Commercial Photo Voltaic

How do I know if solar will work on my business?
SunWave Energy offers more than one way to go solar. A solar system can be installed on many types of rooftops, on the ground, over a parking lot or even over water. With so many options to choose from, you Sun Wave Energy will decide what's right for your business by analyzing your site to determine the best system solution. Please review Sharp commercial case studies to understand how other savvy enterprises put solar to work for them.

Are incentives or rebates available for commercial solar systems?
The federal government and most states currently offer incentives to offset the cost of a solar installation at your business. In addition to existing federal incentives such as the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the Stimulus Bill) contains 19 provisions that will benefit solar customers and companies. These provisions include billions of dollars for federal cash grants, loan guarantees, funding to state programs and more.

On the state level, incentives are available that reduce the cost of the system, reduce the tax burden of the solar customer and more. For a clearinghouse of all incentives available from the federal government and the states, go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). We will work with your business to ensure maximization of financial incentives.

What is the process for buying a solar system?
The first step in the process will be a site assessment, when SunWave Energy visits your company to analyze your business's utility bills and energy usage, and conducts an onsite audit of your site's physical characteristics.

Next, we provide a detailed proposal laying out the system and financials that maximize your solar energy output and savings. We can consult or provide financing options through national or local institutions. Additionally, we will ensure your business is able to maximize rebate and tax incentives.

The third step is the actual installation. We have extensive experience in commercial applications and can provide a turnkey system.

Once your system is up and running, there are many options to allow your company to monitor its system's performance. Since solar is virtually maintenance free, there are no major maintenance requirements. We do offer both a monitoring and maintenance service to ensure optimal performance.

How much does solar cost? Is a solar system cost-effective for my business?
The cost of a system depends on a wide variety of factors including the type of roof, system complexity, geographic location, system size and more. The federal government and the State of California offer generous rebates for purchasers of solar systems.

A solar system is an investment that guarantees the cost of electricity for years to come. After the system is purchased, the electricity it generates is essentially free. An independent Sharp certified installer will analyze your specific electric usage, electricity rate schedule and site to determine what option is the best investment and will produce the highest returns.

What are the different financing options for my business to go solar?
There are several options to finance a commercial solar electric system. We can help advise your company on available options and the financial package that best fits your requirements. Beyond purchasing a system outright, there are other financial solutions which are growing in popularity, such as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) are financial vehicles that enable a company to afford a solar system on their property without outlaying capital. In this financial arrangement, a third-party owns, operates and maintains the solar system for a period of years. Customers then buy the power for an agreed-upon set of terms.

How big of a solar electric system do I need?
The size of your system depends on several factors including your company's regular electricity use, space availability for a system and financial preferences. Solar systems can either offset 100% or only a portion of a building's energy requirements. In most situations, your system will be connected to the utility grid, so even if your solar electric system doesn't generate all of your building's electricity, you can still draw from the utility.

How can I get an installation estimate?
We are ready to come to your business to determine your energy needs with a free consultation. All you have to do is contact us. We'll do the rest.

What is your warranty?
Solar Panel manufacturers offer a 25-year limited warranty for all modules, and all material defects and workmanship for one year from the date of purchase. They also warrant power output for 25 years from the date of purchase. Typically the first 10 years are at 90% of the minimum rated power output and the remaining 15 years are at 80% of the minimum rated power output. In addition we offer a 10 year warranty as required by the California Solar initiative.

How does using solar electricity help the environment? Does solar help offset climate change?
Coal-fired electrical power plants are responsible for 72% of all sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. On the other hand, solar electricity produces absolutely no pollution. When one million homes go solar, this will cause a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 4.3 million tons per year! That's the equivalent of removing 850,000 cars from the road. By using more solar electricity, fewer greenhouse gas-producing power plants need to be built. This is one major step to reducing climate change.

What is Net Metering?
Typically most commercial solar systems are connected to the utility grid through a meter. This meter tracks the amount of electricity your company's solar electric system produces and the amount of electricity your building consumes. During sunny days (peak production period) your system may produce more power than your building uses, and your electric meter runs backward as you send electricity back to the utility grid. At night when your system isn't producing electricity, you will draw energy from the grid. This process is called net metering. At the end of the month, the utility company will only bill your company if it used more electricity than your system produced.

Net metering allows companies to ensure a constant flow of electricity while also receiving credit for the energy its system produces.

What are financial options for governmental or non-profit organizations?
California, offers cash rebates to non-profit and governmental organizations. Some local and state agencies can apply for a variety of loan options with low or no interest. Finally, a Power Purchase Agreement (third-party financing) is another vehicle for different organizations. Check with us to learn more about financing options specifically for your industry or business.

How long does it take to install a solar system?
Installation time varies greatly, mostly depending on complexity and size of the system. Small commercial systems can typically be completed in a few short weeks; however, large-scale installation could require one month or longer.

Will my building have power in the event of a blackout?
As a safety precaution for electrical workers, your commercial system will lose power during a blackout (unless you install a battery backup system).

How will I monitor the system to ensure peak performance?
Several monitoring systems are available that can track your system's energy output, and can produce daily, weekly, monthly and annual data. We will work with you to determine which monitoring system best meets your requirements. Check us to see about a monitoring maintenance service. Service agreements can include cleaning and performance monitoring.

Is there maintenance required to keep a solar system operational?
Occasionally, a solar array should be rinsed off with a hose to clear the dust or debris that blocks sunlight and reduces efficiency. That's about all that's required. There are no moving parts to wear out and solar modules are covered under limited warranty for 25 years. In fact, there are solar modules installed 50 years ago that are still producing energy today. Check with your installer to see if they offer a maintenance service. Service agreements can include cleaning and performance monitoring.

Solar Pool Heating

How do solar pool heating panels work?
Solar Pool Heating panels are passive, meaning they are literally using the Sun's intensity to transfer its heat into your pool water directly. Most systems use your existing filtration pump to move the water to and from your solar panels so you are not using any additional energy or cost to heat your swimming pool. A thermostat can be used to control the temperature up and down, just like a traditional heater.

Do solar pool heating panels work better than an electric heat pump?
Solar pool heating panels provide a weather based consistent amount of heat for your swimming pool. With no added cost to run the system, you can expect to keep your swimming pool over 80 degrees, even well over 85 degrees for 80 -90% of the year. An electric heat pump will provide relatively equal temperatures, sometimes warmer in the coldest months of the year, however the costs are more significant as the air temperature gets colder.

Are there different types of solar pool heating panels?
Yes. There are many different manufacturers of solar pool heating panels. Each system has their benefits and some disadvantages for your application. We have relationships with many manufacturers and shop the market for your application. Some locations have more or less space to work with and that can determine the type of panel used.

Can I use Solar Water Heating Panels to heat my pool?
Yes - if you have space on your roof or yard. The typical pool equipment plumbing lends itself to connecting in solar water heating panels. In Northern climates, solar domestic water heating panels are used for pool heating to divert the excess heat out of the panels in the warmer months.

What rebates are available to help me make this investment in my home?
There are many rebates and incentives available to home owners. We make a concentrated effort to keep our customers informed about the different rebates, incentives and other policies that effect their solar production and investment. The systems also now qualify for the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit.