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FAQ2021-05-11T22:17:47+00:00

Your Neighbors Are Saving With Solar. Why Aren’t You?

Calculate Your Solar Savings

You Have Questions? We Have Answers

If you’ve been considering adding a solar system to your home or business but have questions on if it’s the right decision for you? It’s a big step to a greener future! At Sunspear Energy, we help you every step of the way.

Buying a house with a system financed through a solar loan?2021-04-28T09:34:07+00:00

If the current homeowner financed their solar energy system with a loan, in most cases, the loan will always remain the current homeowners responsibility even if the property is sold.  Solar loans vary in terms and conditions and some may be transferrable to a new home buyer, similar to the transfer of a solar lease.  If your client is considering taking over a solar loan, follow the steps outlined above for a solar lease system to ensure you and your client understand the deal thoroughly.

The asking price for the property may reflect the loans held by the previous owner which means in most cases the price of the home also factors in the cost of the originally installed system and the long-term benefits it provides.

Buying a house with a Solar Lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) system?2021-04-28T09:35:11+00:00

If the property your client is interested in has a leased solar energy system, it means that the current homeowner sends a monthly payment to a financing company that owns the system on the home’s rooftop.  Before you advise your client to proceed with the home purchase, you’ll want to do some additional due diligence and gather some more information about the solar lease terms so that you can provide knowledgeable advise and show an understanding of the deal.

Some general questions to have answered by the lease contract and current homeowner:

Is there a purchase or ‘pay off the remainder’ option?

Some solar lease agreements will allow the current homeowner to purchase the system for a fixed dollar amount as specified per the terms of the contract.  Depending on the age and condition of the system, this may be a desirable option if your client does not want to assume the monthly lease payments.  The terms and conditions for this option can vary depending on the lease provider, contact your Sunspear Energy Consultant for assistance with understanding the fine print of the lease contract.  Purchasing the system or ‘paying off the remainder of the lease’ could be baked into the home sale transaction.

What are the monthly fees?

Most lease and PPA’s have a monthly payment, and if you take over the lease from the current homeowner those payment responsibilities will be assigned to you.  You want your client to understand what those payments amount to and what percentage of savings they provide relative to purchasing power from HECO (the utility).

Are the lease payments escalating?

Most solar leases have an escalator where the monthly payments increase by 1-3% year-over-year.  There are cases in Hawaii where solar leases were sold 6-10 years ago with a higher escalator and solar prices and regular electricity prices were much higher than they are now.  It is important for your client to know how the payments they are taking on will change over time so that they can forecast their cost of home ownership.

What is the term of the lease?

Solar leases are typically 20-25 years in length; depending on how far into the lease term the existing system is, your client can forecast the timeline left on their payment responsibility.

Final Considerations for Leased Systems:

Before your client assumes the responsibility of a solar lease make sure they understand their own financial situation.  Lease providers will typically require that the new home buyer meets their credit requirements before approving assignment of the lease.  It’s also important to be aware that leases can raise your debt-to-income ratio, which could affect a new home buyer’s ability to qualify for a mortgage and other potential long-term financing needs in the future.

Buying a home with a fully-owned solar energy system?2021-04-28T09:32:06+00:00

The most simple & straightforward situation is when the system is owned outright by the current homeowner. Systems that are purchased up front are owned entirely by the seller, which means that they don’t’ come with any strings attached (apart from potentially paying a little more for the property due to properties already with solar have an increased home value which comes at a premium). This price premium for the home is justified as the long-term ownership costs will be much lower because the house will have a lower monthly electricity bill.

What is Customer Grid Supply-Plus?2021-01-05T22:08:08+00:00

Here’s some information on how the Customer Grid Supply-Plus (CGS+) rate program that you will fall under after solar is installed would work. There is a minimum HECO bill for residential customers of $25 which basically covers the electric company’s fixed cost of providing and maintaining electric service to your home & neighborhood.

Example:

For your power usage, the solar will offset all your daytime electricity usage, excess power will charge the batteries, and once the batteries are fully charged, you will send power back to the HECO grid and get credits at 10.08 cents per kWh. At nighttime after the sun sets, your Tesla batteries will discharge to meet the power needs of the home, once the batteries are fully discharged, you will begin to purchase power from the grid. Right now, HECO’s ‘R’ rate is about 25 cents, so you would pay 25 cents less than the 10 cents credit you have made during the daytime for a net cost of 15 cents per kWh.

Customers have a tendency to use more power overall after they’ve installed solar because it seems a bit more guilt-free, so our system is sized based on your previous total annual electricity consumption of ~16,000 kWh. 

So what your monthly bill is can fluctuate depending on a number of things:

  • Seasonality:  Summer months have more intense sunlight and longer days so the PV system will produce more power during the summer.
    • Customers tend to use more power in the summer months also if they’re running their air conditioning more often.
    • You may build up some additional credits during summer time that will be carried over and used up in the winter time where the sun is less intense and you need to purchase more power from the grid.
    • The goal is for the credits to balance out over the 12-month billing period
  • Weather Patterns:  as you know in Hawaii, there are micro-climates and weather patterns (long stretches of rainy days, etc.) that will impact the solar production on a monthly basis
  • Home Power Consumption Habits:  It’s helpful to be more conscious of your electricity usage after you’ve installed your solar energy system, because the higher the percentage of your power consumption that you can shift to the daytime, the greater economic benefit you will see from the system. So certain daily habits like charging your EV during the day, doing laundry during the daytime, etc. will benefit from requiring less power from the grid during night-time hours.
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Powerwall backup load capabilities?2021-01-05T22:17:40+00:00

These are some of the household items you can power during a power outage: 

  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Lightbulb
  • Ceiling fan
  • Laptop
  • Wi-Fi router
  • TV
  • Fish tank
  • Garage door opener
  • Electric water dispenser
  • Cellphone charger

By installing more than one battery, you could also power a larger appliance, such as:

  • A/C – Central or window unit
  • Oven/stove
  • Water heater
  • Electric dryer
  • Pool pump
My monitoring isn’t working – what should I do?2021-01-05T22:16:50+00:00

Not to worry. This is a very easy fix. Before calling Sunspear, check the following things:

  • Is the power to the inverter still online? Check the breaker and make sure no one turned it off. This happens when people do updates to their home electrical.
  • Is your internet online? Some legacy systems require home Wi-Fi to be operational.
  • Did you accidentally unplug your indoor receiver? On some older systems, in order to connect to your system, there could be a power line ethernet port that may have been unplugged or a device connected directly to your router was unplugged.
Is the Hawaii Energy Income Tax Credit going to expire?2020-12-07T22:28:17+00:00

Currently there is no expiration date set for the Hawaii Energy Credit.  It is an important element to incentive system owners to ‘go solar’ and move toward the State’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.

So, the solar tax credit is like a ‘write-off’?2021-01-05T22:21:15+00:00

No, the ITC is a nonrefundable credit, not a deduction, making it much more valuable. The credit directly reduces the amount of tax you owe, providing a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax liability. So, if the tax credit you are eligible for was equal to $10,000, this would lower the amount of taxes owed by the corresponding $10,000.

A ‘write-off’ or deduction on the other hand, reduces how much of your income is subject to taxes. Deductions can lower your taxable income by the percentage of your highest federal income tax bracket. So, if you fall into the 24% tax bracket and receive a $10,000 deduction, this will save you $2,400 on your taxes.

Commercial energy systems are eligible for additional business tax deductions (accelerated depreciation). Visit our Commercial Solar Page for more information on solar tax incentives for commercial businesses.

What if I do not owe any taxes or have any federal tax liability?2021-01-05T22:32:17+00:00

The ITC is a credit against your tax liability, so it requires you to have a balance owed to the IRS for that tax year.

  • In the event you are retired and do not have any tax liability, we recommend financing your system through a Lease or PPA (Visit our Financing Page).
  • If you are claiming a loss for this tax year due to write-offs from other sources, you could install the system and carry the balance of the ITC forward to claim in a future tax year where you do owe taxes to the IRS.
Is there a maximum amount you can claim on the Federal ITC?2020-12-07T22:27:10+00:00

No, there is no cap on the amount that can be claimed for the ITC.

What if I buy a home which already has PV on it, can I claim the tax credit?2020-12-07T22:26:54+00:00

No, the tax credits for solar can only be claimed one time, and it is based on the year that the original equipment was placed in service.

What if I lease a PV system or purchase electricity through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?2020-12-07T22:26:40+00:00

If the system is leased or financed with a PPA, then the leasing company or PPA Provider claims the ITC, and the customer benefits by receiving a discounted cost of electricity.

What if I buy a newly built home with solar on it already?2020-12-07T22:26:27+00:00

If a homeowner buys a newly constructed home and owns the system outright, the homeowner is eligible for the ITC in the year they moved into the house.

What if it exceeds the amount I owe the State in taxes?2020-12-07T22:26:12+00:00

The Hawaii Energy Credit is considered a ‘nonrefundable credit,’ so you will not get a refund for the balance.  However, you can carry over the balance of any unused amount of the tax credit into the following tax year until it is exhausted.

Alternatively, you may elect to file with the ‘refundable’ option where the State will cut the system owner a check for the credit amount reduced by 30% (effectively 24.5%), regardless of their tax liability.  This option offers some flexibility; however, the refundable credit is treated as taxable income by the IRS and will be subject to federal income taxes during the year in which it was received.

What if the ITC exceeds the amount I owe the IRS in taxes?2020-12-07T22:25:49+00:00

The ITC is considered a ‘nonrefundable credit,’ so you will not get a refund for the balance.  However, you can carry over the balance of any unused amount of the tax credit into the following tax year until it is exhausted.

How do I claim the Hawaii Energy Income Tax Credit?2020-12-07T22:25:33+00:00

After consulting with a licensed tax professional to verify you are eligible for the Hawaii State Tax Credit, you will need to complete and attach the State of Hawaii – Dept. of Taxation Form N-342 to your State tax return.  Instructions for filling out the Hawaii DOT form are available HERE. 

How do I claim the ITC?2021-01-06T00:16:40+00:00

After consulting with a licensed tax professional to verify you are eligible for the ITC, you will need to complete and attach IRS Form 5695 to your federal tax return. Instructions for filling out the IRS form are available here.

What if I need a new roof for my home?2021-01-06T00:20:31+00:00

We recommend doing installations on roofs that are less than 10 years old. We also recommend adding the solar system to your home insurance policy once the installation has begun. If a new roof is needed, then the uninstall and re-install of the solar system will be covered by your home policy in the event of weather damage. The price increase to home insurance is negligible to add a solar electrical system.

When an uninstall and re-install is needed, the roofers should NOT be un-installing your solar electrical system. Sunspear Energy will handle that for you.

An unintended benefit of installing solar panels is that the panels will shade the roof, keeping the house cooler, and also extend the life of your roof shingles.

What if I move to a new home?2021-01-06T00:26:30+00:00

As solar systems are attached to the home, they therefore stay with the home in most cases. If you received a rebate, the utility company will dictate that the system stays in their service territory.

What types of rebates and incentives are available?2020-12-09T05:03:27+00:00

The Hawaii Energy Tax Credit allows owners of single-family homes to claim a State income tax credit up to 35% of the actual cost of the system or $5,000, whichever is less.

Each ‘System’ is defined as 5 kilowatts (kW); therefore, a 10kW would be eligible for up to $10,000 in Hawaii State Tax Credits (see example calculation below). The system must be fully installed and “operational” by 12/31/2021 to claim for the 2021 tax year.

Are there financing options available?2020-08-28T17:02:18+00:00

Yes, we strive to present the best financing package in the market as well as an honest assessment of how financing can impact your return on investment.

How much will a solar electrical system cost?2021-01-06T00:28:47+00:00

Your system will immediately increase the value of your property upon installation and can also be exempt from property tax. After your system “saves” for itself, your system electricity will be free for years and years to come. A customized, site-specific proposal will be provided to you at no cost. Due to the importance of this investment, an at-home presentation is highly recommended.

Going solar is a long-term investment. We provide competitively priced systems with the highest level of quality. Signing incentives are available. In addition to competitive pricing, our focus is on customer service and communication!

What happens to solar panels when it’s cloudy or raining?2020-08-28T17:01:34+00:00

Solar panels absorb the greatest amount of solar energy when they are in direct sunlight, but they continue to capture indirect sunlight when it’s overcast or raining. Rain can provide an unexpected benefit by rinsing debris off of the panels, which allows them to perform at their best.

How do I track the production of my system?2021-01-06T00:32:47+00:00

With your new solar electrical system, you will be provided an online monitoring platform that can be operated on your computer or mobile device. The platform allows you to see how your system is producing in real time, has panel level access, and can be setup to provide automatic messages and alerts.

How long does an installation take?2021-01-06T00:36:02+00:00

A Sunspear Energy electrical system installation takes 6-8 weeks from contract signed to installation. Care is taken at every step of the way because this is a big investment for our customers. Because of this, no corners are cut to ensure a quality job all around. We provide you with full details and schedules of your installation plan.

What kind of equipment do you use?2021-01-06T00:37:26+00:00

We provide the highest quality products and are a SunPower Authorized Dealer, a REC Solar Authorized Dealer, and a Tesla Powerwall Authorized Dealer.

Can I install the solar system myself?2021-01-06T00:40:13+00:00

We do NOT recommend that homeowners install solar electrical systems themselves due to many factors including safety concerns and obtaining permits, many of which REQUIRE having a licensed installer with a State of Hawaii electrical contractor license.

Who installs my solar electrical system?2021-01-06T00:41:39+00:00

Our team has helped hundreds of residential customers save big by switching to solar power. With our turn-key process, we can design and install your solar panel system on any roof. We will do the ‘heavy lifting’ of the process by handling the approvals, permits, and other administrative aspects. You as a customer can get involved in this process in more detail, but that is not required. You can sit back and watch as we provide you a state-of-the-art solar electrical system.

What is the output guarantee on your panels?2020-08-28T16:59:14+00:00

Solar PV panels can expect to have a working lifespan of 40 to 50 years. Solar panel degradation does occur and is 0.5% yearly on average for newer technology panels. This means that after 25 years, the solar PV panels will be producing 87.5% as much electricity as they did when they were first installed. The output warranty is at 80% productions at 25 years for most brands. You can learn more at the engineering.com website.

Real-life tests in Switzerland showed positive results. The LEE-TISO testing centre for photovoltaic components installed Europe’s first grid-connected PV plant back in 1982. They had the opportunity to inspect it 20 years later in 2002. The results showed an decrease of around 11% (only 0.5% per year) against the initial output rate.

Warranties on our equipment are as follows:

  • Solar PV panels – 25 years
  • ‘Solar Edge’ Optimizers – 25 years
  • ‘Solar Edge’ Inverters – 12 years (this can be extended to 25 years)
  • Workmanship – 10 years
Is it possible to power a household entirely by solar power?2020-08-28T16:42:05+00:00

Yes, many people power their remote homes completely with solar energy in a stand alone solar electrical system. This will depend on the amount of solar PV panels that can be installed on the roof and the energy needs for the household.

In the suburbs, people often choose a utility grid connected solar electrical system in which they can actually credit excess generated energy to the utility during the day and buy back at night. Whatever energy needs you may have, day or night, they can easily come from the grid.

Is my house suitable for solar PV?2020-12-09T05:14:12+00:00

A high percentage of homes in Hawaii are suited to use solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Ideally one or more of your roofs will point close to south. Part of our FREE ESTIMATE includes a breakdown of what parts of your roof would be best suited for solar PV panels.

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