Solar Incentives and Rebates

While solar can help you save on your electric bill, it’s also important to know what incentives and rebates are available for your solar system. Options can vary and change as new programs are put in place to support the growth of solar.

Take advantage of the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

The solar ITC is a federal tax credit for qualified customers who purchase solar energy systems for their homes.1 The credit is applied to a homeowner’s income tax and is not a tax rebate. Currently, the ITC is equal to 26% of the cost of eligible solar equipment until the end of 2022. It decreases to 22% in 2023, so the sooner you act, the more you can save.1

Veterans and Active Duty Military Rebate

EngagePower is honored to support our United States Veterans and Active Duty Military. This EngagePower exclusive $1,000 home solar VISA Reward Card rebate2 is for current and former members of all branches of the U.S.

The company has a long history of working with the government and armed services throughout the years. Through its commercial solar business, EngagePower installed a 28-megawatt solar system in 2017 and a 10-megawatt solar and storage solution in 2018, to name a couple. The veteran rebate program is a way to continue the company's longstanding military support by extending an exclusive offer through its industry-leading residential business.

 

  • 1. Tax credits are subject to change. EngagePower does not warrant, guarantee or otherwise advise its partners or customers about specific tax outcomes. Consult your tax advisor regarding the solar tax credit and how it applies to your specific circumstances. Please visit the dsireusa.org website for detailed solar policy information.

  • 2. Before offering a rebate costs will vary, depending on system specifications. Check with your EngagePower installation contractor to confirm participation with this offer. The customer must provide a military photo ID at the time of solar consultation. This offer is only available to customers who purchase a new, complete SunPower system from us as SunPower dealers, excluding customers who purchase a new home with existing solar installed. Rebate may not be applied to quotes on existing proposals or past purchases. Cannot be combined with other offers. The rebate form at sunpowerrebate.com must be completed and submitted to SunPower with the required documentation within 90 days of the final invoice date. Allow 3-7 weeks for processing. Late submissions or those submitted without proper documentation and signatures will be subject to delay or cancellation. Void where prohibited. Reward Card: SunPower Visa Reward Card issued by MetaBank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Reward Card expires six months from the date of issuance. Reward Card is subject to MetaBank’s terms, restrictions, and conditions, available at: https://www.giftcards.com/terms. The Reward Card is not redeemable for cash. This promotion is not sponsored by or endorsed by MetaBank or Visa.

  • 3. SunPower does not warrant, guarantee or otherwise advise its customers about specific tax outcomes or their ability to qualify for utility credits or other local incentives. Consult your tax advisor regarding the solar tax credit and its application to your specific circumstances. Your SunPower Dealer (EngagePower) can help you determine if you qualify for other local incentives. Please visit the dsireusa.org website for detailed solar policy information.

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days

Clouds gather. The sky grows dark. A solar homeowner may naturally wonder: how much energy can my solar system generate during cloudy days? What about rainy days? Will my solar system still produce solar energy in overcast conditions? And what about evening—how do solar panels work at night?

While of course solar panels need sunlight to produce energy, it's important to learn how cloudy conditions can affect the efficiency of solar energy generation and how factors such as partial shade and tree cover can impact your solar system power output.

In short, solar panels still work in cloudy weather. They just might generate less power, depending on the quality and efficiency of your panels.

Does a cloudy day affect solar energy generation?

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Anyone who’s gotten sunburned on a cloudy day knows that solar radiation penetrates clouds. For that same reason, solar panels can still produce electricity on cloudy days. But depending on the cloud cover and the quality of the solar panels, efficiency can drop to anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the energy output seen on a sunny day.

Which solar panels work best in cloudy conditions?

High efficiency panels make more energy than conventional panels on a cloudy day, making them an excellent fit for cloudy climates or if trees partially shade your roof during certain times of day. But don’t forget about the cells themselves. Some solar cells capture a broader range of UV light (for example, red and blue wavelengths) which contribute to higher energy production in various weather conditions.

Some cells (including those used by SunPower) incorporate a "backside mirror." This thin layer of aluminum bounces some of the light photons that are not absorbed on their first pass through a cell back into the cell to have a second chance for absorption. This results in greater output of electrons from the same input of light.

Don’t solar panels need direct sunlight to generate electricity?

Solar PV panels work by converting solar radiation to direct current (DC) and then an inverter turns that into alternating current (AC), which is the type of power most houses run on.

 

Sunlight

When sunlight hits a solar panel. photons (particles of energy) are converted into electrons.

 

Solar Cell

As Electrons pass through the cells of a solar panel, they're converted into direct current (DC) electricity.

 

Inverter

That electricity is sent to an inverter which converts it into alternating current (AC) power.

 

Home Appliances

That AC power runs through your home ready to power appliances charge devices and more.

If your solar system produces far more electricity than you need, that AC power then goes back to the grid to be used by the utility, which in many areas offers the homeowner a credit via net metering. Net metering policies, which vary by state, generally give you credit for excess power you produce, and you can draw on that credit at night or when your system produces less due to cloudy weather.

 

3 Key questions answered about solar panels and cloudy weather

 

Here are 3 important things to remember:

        Can solar power work well in typically cloudy, cold locations?

  1. These cities are some of the cloudiest in the US

    • New York

    • San Francisco

    • Milwaukee

    • Boston

    • Seattle

    All of those cities can experience quite inclement weather, from rain and fog to blizzards, yet all of them top the list of U.S. cities that see the highest level of savings thanks to solar installations.* The cost of electricity—not the number of cloudy or cold days—is the biggest factor in determining whether solar saves people money on their electric bill. In New York and San Francisco, for example, the high cost of electricity makes solar installation worth the investment for home and business owners.

     

     

  2. Does the heat or cold affect solar panels?

    Solar doesn't need hot weather to generate electricity. Solar panels actually work best in places that are sunny and cold. When panels get above about 77 degrees Fahrenheit, they tend to work less efficiently. That doesn't mean they won't work in traditionally hot places such as Phoenix (which is No. 6 on the list of cities with the greatest solar savings). Again, electricity costs—not the weather—play a bigger role in how solar systems save homeowners money.

  3. Will solar panels work in the shade?

    While partial shading—whether it be from natural or other sources—can decrease the amount of solar energy your system is generating, solar systems are engineered to prevent the effects of shading from causing all energy production to stop. How much, depends on the individual solar technology—particularly microinverters.

  1. With central inverters, all the wires leading to the inverter usually connect the panels together, like lights on a Christmas tree. But just like lights on a Christmas tree, that set-up can go awry thanks to one small problem.

    Say there are 24 panels on a roof. If shade covers just one of those panels for a couple of hours a day, the entire string of panels will underperform for those two hours. Though the other panels are producing maximum power, the problems of the one shaded panel will keep much of their energy from passing through the central inverter.

    High quality solar systems have microinverters under each panel. Each panel is independent, so if shade hits one panel for a couple of hours, then only that one panel is affected. As a result, much more power gets into the home. If, say, 20 percent of the solar panels are shaded by a tree limb, only 20 percent of the system's energy production is temporarily diminished—but no more. Again, qualified installers know how to design your system so shading issues won't be a problem. That's why it's important to work with a qualified solar panel installer.

    Ensure your solar provider uses qualified and/or local solar installers. Every jurisdiction has its own rules, guidelines and incentives—in addition to specific climate and geographic considerations. Locally based businesses with expertise in your community's weather and installation rules and regulations will have the best sources of knowledge on how solar will work on your home.

     

It doesn't hurt to keep in mind that Germany—a leader in renewable energy that has on average over 200 partially cloudy or cloudy days a year—accounts for about 25 percent of the world's solar power output and achieved its strongest growth in half a decade last year. That's good evidence that going solar is about saving on energy costs and helping the planet—not the sunny weather.

Do solar panels work at night?

Technically, no. Solar panels and cells must have direct sunlight to generate electricity. But that’s not the entire story. Complete home solar solutions offer two key benefits that affect nighttime energy use: backup battery storage and net metering.

While the solar panels themselves work hard all day producing electricity from the sun, adding a battery storage solution like SunVault Storage lets you access stored solar energy at night—and during power outages—further reducing your reliance on the grid.

As mentioned earlier, net metering offers similar benefits. It won’t help you access power in a grid outage, but it can help you offset the cost of using grid energy at night (and other times of low solar production).

Do solar panels also lose efficiency when it rains?

Just like normal cloud cover, ultraviolet rays still make their way through rain as well. However, because the sunlight is limited, so is production. The amount of electricity generated is dependent on the density of cloud coverage, so your system’s production will be inconsistent and generally reduced on those gloomy days.

Though energy production decreases as rain and cloud cover increases, solar panels continue generating more energy than you might expect. Rain also helps wash away dust and debris—keeping your panels clean and operating at maximum efficiency from season to season.

Does fog affect solar panel efficiency?

Similar to cloud cover, fog and other lowlight condition affect solar production, but the panels are still able to capture some of the sun’s energy. It’s estimated that most solar panels operate at about 50% of their normal efficiency during foggy conditions—vastly superior to really dense cloud cover or overcast conditions. And again, SunPower panels outshine the competition in lowlight energy production.

Additionally, fog typically burns off throughout day (typically in the morning), so by mid-afternoon, if sun returns, solar panel efficiency should return to normal levels.

The bottom line on solar panels and weather, clouds and rain:

A cloudy day, a cloudy location, or rainy weather shouldn't darken anyone's view toward considering switching to solar power for both energy savings and sustainability.

Adding Solar Can Increase Your Home Value

Did you know that installing a home solar system is an economic decision that can potentially improve your family’s financial position?

Home solar not only can reduce or eliminate your electric bill, adding a photovoltaic (PV) solar system to a house is almost always a good real estate investment and may contribute to increasing home values by 3 to 4 percent. The combined benefit of higher resale value and lifetime energy savings makes solar a compelling financial investment.

One study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which analyzed the sale of nearly 4,000 homes with solar in eight states,  determined that some buyers, particularly those in California, are willing to pay a premium of $12,000-$15,000 for a home with an average-sized, resident-owned solar array.1  That illustrates how important it is for buyers and sellers to familiarize themselves with how solar affects property values.

In states with a booming solar industry, such as California, which has a more mature solar real estate market, local real estate agents, lenders, and appraisers are more likely to understand the value of solar, and there are plenty of  comparable home sales that can guide accurate pricing decisions.

Other regions are still learning the benefits of solar. Renee Baker, a real estate agent in Las Cruces, New Mexico, said that about six years ago, many real estate professionals in the area did not understand how solar adds to the value of a house.

"The problem was that a lot of them didn't know what they didn't know," Baker said.

But that has changed as more solar houses go on the market. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that there are more than 1.5 million residential solar systems in the U.S. and that a new one is added roughly every 90 seconds. So, it follows that real estate professionals nationwide are beginning to gain experience marketing a house's solar features. They also have better tools and training to help them with solar real estate deals, including third-party groups that calculate the potential value of a solar system, currently and over its lifetime.

SunPower home solar systems are more powerful, more efficient, and degrade at a slower rate than conventional solar. As a result, SunPower systems generate up to 60 percent more energy over their first 25 years. If tools for measuring resale value base their assumptions on actual energy output and reliability, SunPower systems are well-positioned to add additional value to your home. Moreover, SunPower has the strongest combined product and power warranty in solar. In a blog post by Savenia Labs, it was noted that there’s a relationship between comprehensive solar system warranties and higher resale values.

Best Way to Assess Solar Home Values

Real estate agent Baker said that as local solar home markets mature, real estate agents are able to look up more comps. They are the best way to assess the value of any house, solar or otherwise.

Baker, who has handled about 16 solar home sales, said prospective home buyers have two major concerns: They want to make sure there's documentation that the installation was done properly (information that any reputable solar dealer will provide), and they want proof that the system is saving money on electric bills.

"So, if you've got that documentation, you can show that," Baker said. "You can show what the electric bills look like, and that's the proof in the pudding."

Using this “income approach” is recommended by the recent SEIA report, “How Owning a Solar System Impacts My Home Value: A Guide to Valuing Residential Solar Energy Systems.”

It spells out the various methods for assessing the value of solar homes and explains why the income approach provides the most accurate view for prospective buyers.

The report also provides several resources, including solar calculators, and lists organizations that can help solar homeowners. It will be updated periodically with additional tools as the U.S. solar market continues to grow and become a more integral part of the country's real estate landscape.

Contact EngagePower or call us at (877) 793-5331 to find out more.

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