Swell Energy Answers Your Solar FAQs

  • Posted on 5 December 2022
  • By Swell Energy & Sierra Club Angeles Chapter
Have a question? It might be a frequently asked question…see if you can find your answer here. Of course, Swell is always happy to take your call or email to address your questions too. You can also check out common myths about solar that we’ve addressed with facts in this month’s Southern Sierran. Learn more about the Sierra Club Angeles and Swell Energy partnership offer of $500 cash back on the installation of solar, energy storage or both with a donation to your Sierra Club Angeles chapter of up to $750 here.
Q: Who is Swell Energy
A: Swell is a different kind of solar company. While they sell solar and battery backup systems for your home, what sets Swell apart from the rest is their commitment to “creating a greater grid for the greater good.” They do this by bringing solar to the masses with flexible finance offerings and incentives, by collaborating with utility partners to integrate more clean energy generated by homeowners and small businesses into the power mix, and by working to provide energy security to critical infrastructure and underserved residents of California. 
Q: Why should I make the investment to install solar on my home? 
A: Solar is sustainable, free energy powered by the sun. By powering your home with solar, you’re reducing the need for energy derived from fossil fuel-based power plants. With an aging and increasingly strained electric grid, producing energy from the sun reduces dependence on the grid and the need for building additional peaker plants to meet excess energy demands. Solar saves on energy costs and fixes your energy costs for years to come, thereby inflation-proofing your energy bills. When paired with energy storage, solar and the energy stored in your home battery also protects your power during an outage, so when the lights go off, yours stay on.  
Q: Why should I add an energy storage battery to my solar and can I finance it?
A: Adding energy storage to store the energy you produce from your solar system is the best way to ensure your power stays on during an outage. Solar alone doesn't keep your lights on in the event of an outage. You can also use your stored energy during times of the day when energy rates are highest. With the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), now is a great time to be adding energy storage to back up your solar. The IRA incentivizes homeowners with a 30% tax credit for adding a home battery that stores at least 3 KW hours of energy, so most home batteries will qualify for this tax credit. The Tesla Powerwall, for example, has a storage capacity of 13.5 kWh. Energy storage can now be financed where $0 money down is required. 
Q: What is a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and are there any VPP programs in my area?
A: Solar-powered battery storage enables renewable energy to be available on demand and, when aggregated and managed en masse, can serve as dispatchable virtual power plants (VPPs) that have societal benefits including reducing dependence on traditional fossil fuel-based power plants and improving grid resiliency. By orchestrating thousands of distributed energy resources like residential solar and energy storage systems, VPPs reduce grid stress and the need for building new costly and carbon-intensive energy infrastructure. Swell is currently enrolling customers in VPP programs in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange County, Laguna, Irvine and additional zip codes in these regions as well as in Northern CA and Hawaii. Read more about VPP programs here. Customers who enroll in a VPP program can further offset energy costs by earning GridRevenue for their participation. 
Top Ten Myths About Solar 
Myth 1: Solar is too expensive.
FACT: Solar is an anyway transaction - instead of paying your expensive, steadily increasing utility bills, solar paired with energy storage allows you to take control of your energy costs by giving you a predictable, inflation-proof monthly payment. Your energy bill stays at a fixed rate year on year and doesn’t increase while everything else around you does. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act allows a 30% tax credit for the installation of solar. 
Myth 2: I won’t be able to sell my home with solar.
FACT: Buyers who qualify to purchase your home will likely also qualify to take over the solar on your home. When someone takes over your system, they’re getting the grandfathered-in energy rate that you, as the original owner, bought into when you purchased the system. So, the new owner is getting lower energy costs than they would if the home you're selling didn’t have solar. When selling your home with a Swell Energy system, you can contact your Swell support team to make the transition easier for the new owner. We’ll educate the new homeowner and realtor on the sales process. The older the system is, the more savings the new owner is going to see when taking it over. New construction in CA requires solar now, so soon it will be difficult for buyers to find homes, especially any new builds that don’t have solar. 
Myth 3: Solar installation will damage my roof, or cause it to leak or deteriorate.  
FACT: Solar panels cover areas of your roof protecting them from weather-related normal wear and tear thereby preserving the areas they cover. Solar can easily be removed should your roof need to be repaired and solar is mounted, but it is advisable to repair any roof issues before installing your solar. Our trained consultants will recommend the best course of action prior to installing solar. The solar panels themselves are mounted on a railing system with mounts surrounded by metal flashing that further protects from the elements and sealants are used to fill in any gaps. Companies like Swell with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating only work with the top installation companies who offer penetration warranties to protect against roof damage in the unlikely event that damage or leaks occur. 
Myth 4: Solar panels are ugly. 
FACT: Solar panel technology and design continue to evolve. The industry has taken customer feedback into account regarding the curb appeal of residential solar and now panels are becoming sleeker to meet consumers’ requirements. Panels are now black on black providing an improved roof aesthetic.  While there are now panels that are actually roof tiles or ‘solar roofs,’ these products tend to have less efficiency and effectiveness and cost exponentially more than traditional solar arrays. 
Myth 5: Solar protects me from power outages. 
FACT: With solar only and no energy storage backup, when the power goes out, yours does too! This is because your grid-tied system shuts down for safety reasons, while workers are trying to fix the problem. To keep your power on during an outage, consider adding an energy storage battery to your solar. Your battery will secure your power so that when the lights go off, yours stay on. 
Myth 6: Solar will make my bills go up. 
FACT: If your system is sized correctly, this shouldn’t happen. Your Swell Energy Consultant will work with you to build a customized solution tailored to your unique energy needs. Our consultants analyze your current bills, your roof layout and your anticipated future electricity needs to ensure the right system size to avoid this. Many customers find they have a bill credit at the end of the year. 
Myth 7: Solar panels require regular maintenance.
FACT: Solar panels require little to no maintenance. It’s simple - there are no moving parts and your panels come with 25 year warranties, although many systems last longer! It’s recommended that you keep your solar panels clean by hosing them off about once a year, but some homeowners opt to let the rain do the job. While dirty panels may reduce efficiency slightly over the life of the panels (estimated no more than 5%), the monitoring software that comes with your system will allow you to see any reduction in performance right away. If any large debris falls onto your panels, you’ll want to remove it, but apart from that, your solar panels will be doing their job with little need for assistance from you. In the event your panels are not performing optimally, Swell Energy’s top rated Customer Experience Team is at the ready to assist you and help resolve the situation. 
Myth 8: The payback for solar is too long.
FACT: Homeowners with standalone solar systems in California can see a relatively quick return on investment with 6 to 7 year paybacks on their system, and you’ll begin to notice the savings from day 1 with a decrease in your energy costs. Solar is a long-term investment that will continue to provide you energy collection for many years into the future. Swell Energy’s solar installations come with a 25- year guarantee, the best in the industry. 
Myth 9: A solar electric system will raise my property taxes.
FACT: In actuality, a solar system on your home will NOT raise your property taxes, but it WILL increase the value of your home. A law in place since November of 1980 codifies that solar systems are not considered ‘newly constructed’ for the purpose of property taxes, and therefore, can not increase your tax bill. According to the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, a home’s value increases on average by $20 for every $1 saved in annual electricity bills. This means if you save $1000 per year on energy costs with your solar, your home’s value has increased by $20,000 per year as well. 
Myth 10: Any solar installer can add energy storage to my system. 
FACT: Not all solar installers have the inventory, capacity or capability to install energy storage with your home solar system. Swell Energy began installing energy storage in California long before other solar companies. Many solar companies don’t offer installation of energy storage at all. Swell Energy has the largest network of Tesla Powerwall Certified Installers in California and the expertise to professionally and seamlessly install your energy storage battery. 
Visit: swellenergy.com/sierraclubangeles for more information about solar, energy storage and Virtual Power Plants. 

Header image: Photographs of solar panels being installed on homes in Benicia, California Taken by photographer Henrik Kam. 


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