Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!
For our most common questions, please see our Solar FAQ below. Don’t see your question here? You can also always ask us directly.
The more solar panels you get, the more it costs. If you have enough roof space, we will size a system for you that will meet your entire electrical usage. Alternatively, you can easily install a smaller system now and add panels later. Because of the fixed permitting and design costs, the smallest system we install is twelve solar panels, which will cost as little as $7,000 after the Federal Tax Credit.
The more solar panels you get, the more you will save. Your monthly savings are based on your marginal electric rate, which for most people in Silicon Valley is currently $0.34/kwh in the top rate tier. At this rate, each panel will generate about $120 of electricity per year; for twelve panels you will save about $1,400 per year.
Our average time from contract to PG&E hookup is 45 days. That’s really fast! First we will get a building permit, which takes about one week in most cities. Once we have the permit and schedule your job we will be working at your house for two or three days. After the system is installed, PG&E typically takes 15 days to complete the connection of your system. Since we are local we can minimize delays and work around your schedule. We’re happy to give you plenty of local references from customers who made the decision to go solar and were quickly installed and operating.
PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It’s a new loan program that includes your solar loan payments in your annual (or semi-annual) property tax payments. Cinnamon Energy Systems has been at the forefront of PACE loan programs since 2008 — and now (finally) there is a great PACE program for homeowners who live in the City of San Jose. So now you can get solar for Zero Down without having to sign a long-term lease.
There are four big advantages to a PACE loan:
1. Almost all homeowners with equity in their home and no recent bankruptcies qualify (no specific FICO minimums)
2. If you sell your home the remaining payments are automatically passed through to the new property owner (no “gotchas” like a solar lease)
3. Interest on your PACE loan is tax deductible, just like a home equity loan
4. The PACE process is easy, there are no fees, and Cinnamon Energy Systems will help expedite your paperwork
When solar equipment was expensive, the only way to make the numbers work out for customers was with long-term financing. Solar leases and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) were great innovations because they helped customers spread payments out over 15+ years. The downside is that your are committed to making these lease payments, and cannot get out of the lease or PPA unless you pay for the full residual cost of the system. Fortunately, now that system costs have declined so much, it’s no longer necessary to lease a system and be locked-into a 15+ year payment obligation. For more information about leases and PPAs, see:
Over the past few years, rooftop solar equipment has become standardized and much more affordable. Since there are no moving parts, rooftop solar systems provide clean, reliable, maintenance-free electricity for 25+ years with negligible maintenance. Although leased systems were very popular when systems were expensive, now that system prices are so low many homeowners realize that their overall economics are much better if they purchase the system outright. With a cash or bank loan purchase, after a four to eight year payback period, customers enjoy the full benefits of free electricity – and are not obligated to continue lease payments for 15+ years.
The simple graph above shows your cumulative costs for electricity in three scenarios: no solar, leased/PPA solar purchase, or cash solar purchase. Although the leasing option saves you a little bit of net cash in the first few years, it is very clear that the cash purchase saves much more money over the medium and long term. In this typical 4,000 watt system example, the total electricity costs over 25 years are $70,000; with a leased system the total costs are $63,000; and with a cash purchase the total costs are $33,000. Basically, with today’s low solar prices, leasing is a bad deal.
If you ask your accountant, he or she will probably tell you the best financing option is to pay with cash. For example, with a six year payback, your ROI is 17%. In this example, over the 25 year life of your system on a cash purchase, your payments for the system and electricity will be about $40,000. With a lease or PPA option, over 25 years your costs will be about $65,000 for your lease and electricity payments. Basically, after six years you are way better off by paying cash for your system. If you don’t plan on staying in your house for 15 years you should definitely not lease a system since your termination costs will be the full residual value of the system.
Rooftop solar systems have no moving parts and use extremely dependable components. Cinnamon Energy Systems provides comprehensive warranty coverage (including labor) for your solar power system. All major components carry a 25 year warranty that covers both parts and replacement labor. You don’t have to worry about maintenance because there basically isn’t any — and if a problem does occur Cinnamon Energy Systems will take care of it.
There is a 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that you will get on your system. Basically, if your total costs are $10,000 you get to reduce your annual tax bill (one time) by $3,000. There is a simple one page form that your accountant will fill out. The California Solar Incentive (CSI) program has such a small credit now (Step 10, $0.20/watt) that the paperwork (50+ pages), delays (extra few months) and special requirements (energy audit, special instrumentation) isn’t worth the tiny rebate that you can receive.
The sunnier your roof is (generally facing south with no shading), the more electricity you will produce. Composition shingle rooftops are the easiest roofs on which we can install solar panels. Concrete tile, metal and flat rooftops are a bit more complicated, and delicate barrel tile rooftops are the most complicated. If you have an old or leaky roof it is better to get a new roof installed first.
Just fill out IRS Form 5695. Basically, you take the full cost of your solar power system, multiply by 0.30, and claim that as a tax credit (reduces your tax bill). Your accountant can help you with the details if necessary.
One More Question?
Contact Cinnamon Energy Systems online or call us at 408-883-7000.