Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from Our Riverside County Solar Installation Experts
Do you have questions about going green with solar energy? Keep reading for answers to some of the questions SunPower® by Precis hear most often from customers about PV panels, clean energy alternatives, and making the transition to a solar power system.
If you have additional questions, or if you would like to discuss your unique situation, contact our Riverside County solar panel installation company today for a free quote. We are ready to put our decades of experience in quality solar and clean energy products to work for you.
How do I know if my system is working properly?
Login to your SunPower monitoring portal (https://monitor.us.sunpower.com). SunPower provides real-time data for how much power your solar panel system is producing in kilowatts (kW) at any given moment. This number will fluctuate based on the current time of day, weather patterns and season. Your system will produce more power in the summer than in the winter, and less as the sun rises or sets than it will at midday. The “Today’s Energy” graph shows how much energy you have produced each hour, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), with total energy produced for the day displayed below. To see how these kilowatt-hours add up over time, check out your SunPower monitoring graphs section for a weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime view of your system’s production.
If there is an issue with your system, an alert bar appears at the top of the screen. Click the alert text or the icon on the left for details regarding the issue and for troubleshooting instructions. Before you report your system is malfunctioning, please check and/or reset your home internet router and ensure you have the latest version of the SunPower monitoring app. Your monitoring site may still display the alert if your internet connection has not been restored.
How do I read my utility bill?
You will see two main measurements:
- How much electricity you have used from the utility company (“Consumption”).
- How much electricity you have given back to the utility company (“Net Generation”).
Your utility company only measures A) the electricity sent to your home and B) the excess energy your panels produce and send back through the grid. During the day, when solar-panel production is at its highest rate, your system may create more energy than your home can use. This excess electricity is pumped back into the grid to be re-routed to other homes in your area. This means your utility will credit* your account for that energy. (*Only if you are on a Net Metering billing plan.)
At night, those same credits are used to cover the cost of any electricity you receive from the utility grid when your solar panels are no longer producing energy (i.e. when the sun is down or obstructed). This means that at the end of each month, you are only billed for your “net” amount of energy used—the difference between how much energy you produced and how much energy you pulled from the grid.
Please note: Your “Net Generation” value only accounts for the amount of electricity you produce that exceeded your electricity needs during the month. It is not representative of your system’s total energy production for that month.
Your Net Metering Monthly Cost Equation:
Utility Bill = Amount of grid electricity used – Amount of excess energy produced
KEEP IN MIND: It is important to pay attention to the information on your monthly utility bills so that you aren’t surprised if you still owe the utility company a substantial amount of money at the end of the billing year.
If you have any questions regarding Edison billing practices, you may contact one of their representatives
What is Net Metering?
Net Energy Metering is a billing system that allows solar homeowners to receive credit from the utility company for any excess power their solar energy system provides. On a Net Metering plan, every time your system produces more electricity than you can use, the rest of the electricity is fed back into the grid, making your meter run backwards.
Example: During the month of November, your monitoring site says you produced 1,000 kWh, but your utility bill says you consumed 500 kWh and generated only 300 kWh.
If you produced 1,000 kWh but the utility bill only recognizes that you generated 300 kWh, it means the remaining 700 kWh unaccounted for was already used to power your home.
Instead of billing you for the 500 kWh that was pulled from the grid, your utility company will subtract the 300 kWh of your excess kWh produced and only charge you for 200 kWh.
In this case, your utility bill would read:
• Consumption: 500 kWh
• Net Generation: -300 kWh
• Net Usage: 200 kWh
This is the amount your utility company will bill you for—your “net consumption.”
Net Generation Explained
Any excess electricity that you are not able to consume at that moment is sent to the grid. Your utility company keeps track of that excess to document how much to credit you. A credit will appear as a negative number—i.e. -300 kWh. Prime examples of net generation are measured at times when you and your family are not home in the middle of the day and your solar array is at its peak performance. The electricity will first go to your fridge and any lights or other electronics left on. The rest will go straight to the grid..
The utility company cannot measure how much electricity you have consumed from you solar production, only how much electricity you pull from the grid. Example: It’s 4pm and your solar production is declining for the day but the kids are home from school using their computers and you’ve begun a load of laundry, turned the lights on in the kitchen and started defrosting some chicken in the microwave. Most of the electricity needed to run all those lights and electronics must be pulled from the grid as your solar panels are now producing at a low capacity. Your utility company can always tell how much energy you’ve given to or taken from the grid.
Your True-Up Bill
Your utility company allows for the credits in the high producing months to roll over to the low producing months when you may incur some electric charges. You annual bill (also known as the true-up bill) will be paid on the month following your solar anniversary, one year after your solar system was energized.