Bizzy Tucson Homes recently had the opportunity to speak with Brian Mueller, of Net Zero Solar. He gave us lots of great information regarding solar and how it affects the value of your home when selling, or buying a home with solar.
Bizzy Tucson Homes: What are the advantages and disadvantages between leasing and owning solar.
Homeowners need to be really, really careful when looking at a leased solar system for a couple of reasons. First, the company offering the lease will take the tax credits from the individual who is leasing, so there is no tax advantage to leasing a solar system. Second, a lot of companies that lease solar systems also have escalators built into the cost of energy year after year, so your lease payment will continue to escalate over time. Customers need to carefully review a contract or proposal from a company that is offering a lease to see what that escalator is. The standard cost of energy has escalated at a rate of about 1-2% a year, historically, in the Tucson area, and sometimes we see leases from other companies that have an escalator of 3-6%, you can do the math. Sooner rather than later, you’ll be upside down on your lease, and paying more for the leased solar system than you would for the cost of energy. So, definitely review any leased contracts thoroughly. As far as disadvantages to purchasing, really, there are none. There’s a misconception that there is a lot of maintenance with solar, but the truth is, there isn’t any. All of the leasing companies will try to sell that they are a maintenance free system. The truth is, any reputable solar company that does a purchase system is going to have robust monitoring systems. The monitoring systems measure in 5 minute increments, exactly what each single solar panel and inverter are producing, and what they should be producing based on the orientation to the sun, as well as the current weather. So, anything that would require any maintenance would be a warrantable issue, and that would be covered by the manufacturer. Warranties are usually 25 years for every single solar panel out there in the market, and also 25 years for the Enphase micro inverters that we use at Net Zero Solar.
Are there any roof types you DO NOT do installs on? What makes a home the best candidate for solar?
The only rooftops that Net Zero Solar would not work on would be terra cotta or clay tile. They’re just much too brittle and fragile for us to be up there walking around on, so we will not, and really any solar company shouldn’t do installation on a home with clay or terra cotta tiles.
As far as the best candidate for solar, an optimally south facing roof plane without any obstructions from trees, vent stacks, satellite dishes, etc. is ideal. So south is best, and then we would move to the east because the easterly sun is actually cooler than the westerly setting sun. Solar is going to be more efficient to the east. Lastly we would mount solar panels to the west, and never, ever, ever to the north, despite what some companies may say. So as long as you have an unobstructed rooftop that has good southern exposure first, then eastern exposure, and lastly western exposure, we can do an installation on the rooftop.
How can solar affect the value of a home?
If someone has a grandfathered net metering solar system, it goes with the home. Currently TEP is still offering grandfathered net metered solar systems for a period of 20 years from the date of installation. So if you were to sell your home after 5 years, the new homeowners would also have a grandfathered net metered system for the remainder of that 15 years. Basically, the way a solar system is designed is that during the net metering calendar, which runs from October 1st to September 30th, we design a solar system that is going to off set all of your consumption for that time period, leaving you only with the standard connection to the grid. Basically, that would be something the new homeowner would also get. Most new homeowners would only have an electricity bill which would be the standard connection to the grid, which is currently $13 a month plus taxes. Use an agent who is knowledgeable about solar power, knows that it’s a purchase system, and also that it would be a grid tied, net metered and grandfathered system. Also use a real estate appraiser that understands the value of solar and that a potential homebuyer could be moving in to home that would only be paying the standard connection to the grid, and would not have actual energy usage charges, which depending on the size of the home, can be quite substantial. Here is a great explanation about net metering.
Do you still get rebates from the government?
Technically they’re not rebates, they’re tax credits, they are dollar for dollar tax credits. The federal tax credit is 30% of the cost of the entire solar system. The Arizona Tax Credit is 25% of the cost of the system, but it maxes out at $1000. Most people get 30% from the Federal government, and $1000 from the State of Arizona. Please keep in mind these are actual tax credits, not tax deductions, so they are quite valuable when it comes to purchasing a solar system.
What makes Net Zero different than other local solar companies?
Net Zero Solar is the highest rated solar company in the state of Arizona, as rated by Solar Reviews (Check out reviews here!). Whether these reviews are on Solar Reviews, Facebook, or Google, they are all 5 stars! We only use top tier equipment from LG Electronics and Enphase Energy. We keep good people around, have a fun work environment, as well as paying livable wages, healthcare, and paid time off. We live in this community so it’s important for us to get out in front of people. We do that face to face for initial meetings, and we don’t do anything via email. We explain the various nuances of installing a grid tied solar system, what’s currently going on with utility policies and new technologies, and really inform people about solar. This is our community, and we want to do a really good job for the solar industry, the people of Tucson and the greater Tucson area. I don’t think there’s any other company in town that can match our crew, our experience, our NABCEP certifications (NABCEP), and definitely no one that can match our reviews.