Solar 101

Getting Solar in CALIFORNIA

Here’s a quick introduction to how solar works and some of the benefits of solar for homeowners.

How solar works

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Solar Panels
When sunlight hits your panels, they produce DC current through the photovoltaic effect.
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An inverter (either one central unit or individual microinverters) switches it to AC current.
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In-Home Usage
Your home uses every bit of juice that it possibly can. You won’t notice a difference, but everything is running on sunshine.
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Net Meter (export)

All the excess power flows out through your meter. It used to only run one way (up, like your old power bill) but now it tracks everything you produce too.

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Utility Savings

When the sun is down, you use the excess power you already banked. This means money back in your pocket for years to come.

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Clean Energy Living
Solar panels last for decades, and don’t require maintenance. You’ll save money and save the planet all in one.
“I’m fascinated with ‘green’ and how to not be reliant on the utility company.“ – Gary Gietz, CEO ESP

Why Go Solar?

Green Living
From the minute your solar flips on, you’re clean and green. Two noble goals that we can all agree on are protecting the environment by offsetting pollution from fossil fuels and reducing our impact on the planet.
Long-Term Savings
Who doesn’t love saving money? Solar is an investment that gets more valuable the longer you have it, as utility rates continue to rise. You’ll notice the difference on your power bills and can expect to save thousands over the coming years.
Our Shared Future
You’re investing in a valuable asset for your home and your family, but you’re also investing in the future of technology. All the coal and oil in the world won’t ever match the near-infinite power of the sun, and we’re just barely tapping into this enormous potential. With thousands of ESP customers in California running on sunshine every day, we’re off to a good start.
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We don’t sell solar.
We install it.

The team behind ESP has spent decades improving the solar installation process. We’ve found that focus and dedication on the tasks we’re the best at produce many more benefits than “trying to do it all”. That’s why we don’t sell solar, we install it.
Energy Service Partners is not a sales organization, and we don’t employ solar salespeople. We partner with outside sales reps and organizations that we call our Authorized Dealer Network. We conduct background checks and thorough pre-screening to make sure we’re working with reputable people. We would always encourage homeowners to conduct due diligence of their own, to ensure the salesperson pitching you solar is presenting you with facts and figures and being truthful about how they operate.

If you have questions about your current solar project, please reach out to our Support team.

Solar Installation Timelines and Expectations

We’ll provide you with a Project Coordinator at the start of the timeline, so you’re never left guessing when or what comes next. Like any construction project, there can be unknowns. But, after more than 15,000 installations, we know how to manage them. The guide below lays out our expected milestones and how long each stage should take.

You’ll receive regular status updates when your project hits key milestones. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes – the part where the panels go on the roof isn’t the end! We want to wow you with the speed and efficiency of our process, while being 100% transparent with the status of your project.

Our team verifies site conditions, takes photos and detailed measurements, and conducts shade studies or other environmental dynamics, if needed.
After the project has been verified, the finance company reviews the file and grants Notice to Proceed (NTP) with the project. ESP will review the site survey report and confirm that the PV installation is possible.
Your project goes to our design team to achieve maximum production. Detailed layout, drawings, and final engineering documents will be submitted to the municipalities for approval. As soon as your project design is completed, you’ll receive a copy of the proposed plan set for you to review. Note that any changes to the design after this stage can and will cause delays in completing your solar project, as new permits will have to be obtained.
Final drawings are submitted to your local municipality’s building and construction safety departments. Many cities review and approve plans in a few days, but some cities can take weeks. Similarly, utility submittal and approval processes and timelines vary. Note that any open permit, code enforcement ticket or any issues concerning unpermitted structures on the property site will cause your local municipality to put a hold on the solar permit. When starting a solar project, please ensure that all open permits requests you may have with your local municipalities are closed out so we can get to work promptly for you. Again, any changes to design will result in delays.
Once approvals are received, your project manager will call to schedule the delivery and set-up of your solar system. The on-site work will typically take about one to three days, depending on the system size and other conditions. Our installation teams are trained, licensed and bonded, technically skilled, and highly experienced. We protect the integrity of your home with safety in mind, and we do our absolute best to leave everything tidy when we’re finished.
The local municipality needs to approve our handiwork. Your project manager will call and arrange a time to have an inspector from the local municipality come out to review your solar project. This may take more than one inspection, in the event that adjustments are required. Important Note about MPUs: Please be aware that if your project requires the replacement or relocation of your main service panel, the timeline to schedule final inspections may take longer than one to two weeks. Municipalities sometimes require us to leave an area directly around the panel open and unfinished for their inspection. Once this inspection process is complete we will make any aesthetic corrections to the immediate property.
The approval from the final inspection is submitted to the utility company for interconnection and Permission to Operate (PTO). Depending on your utility provider, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Your project manager will call you to schedule the activation, go over system monitoring, and answer any final questions you have.
Congratulations, your solar is ready to go!
Setting Expectations

Setting proper expectations is part of good communication.

At ESP, our core focus is your satisfaction and the success of your project. While the above is an outline of the standard process, construction of any kind can present unknowns. If you’ve ever worked with contractors for your home in the past, that’s no surprise to hear. As projects mature, different things may be needed to progress to the next milestone. There are hundreds of cities, municipalities, and utility districts across California, and many more inspectors of those.
Rest assured, we are experts at what we do, and after 15,000 successful solar panel installations, we’ve learned how to overcome any obstacle. We don’t like surprises any more than you do, so transparency comes standard. We will see your project through to the end!

Warranties & Guarantees

Thanks to our highly skilled installers and partnership with quality manufacturers, ESP is proud to stand behind our work. We’ve got your back.

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Frequently asked questions

Solar saves you money by generating electricity from the sun instead of racking up your power bill. Solar costs have fallen dramatically over the last 5-10 years, and tax incentives remain strong through 2021. You’re stuck paying a never-ending rent check to the power company for life, until you go solar – it’s the same reason to consider buying a house instead of renting one. In short, it’s totally worth it.
California is one of the top 5 states in the continental US for total sun exposure and solar potential, as measured by the National Renewable Energy Lab. That means it’s pretty rare to find a roof that won’t work. Our Authorized Dealers are equipped with tools to show you where the panels will go, and then our site survey and design teams will make sure we maximize your total solar generation.
Solar works best in direct sunlight. While the technology has advanced quite a bit to capture some ambient light, one major advantage of solar is Net Metering, where you accumulate excess solar production and bank it for days where the sun isn’t shining as much. You don’t need to worry about the solar working every minute of every day. On average, solar will overproduce in summer to make up for lower production in winter.
You don’t need to change a thing. Solar connects directly with the main electric panel in your home. It’s like having your own clean power plant on the roof that works in tandem with the power company. You won’t notice any difference in your day-to-day, until you see your electric bill dropping like a stone. Keep in mind that you will still be connected to the grid, and your system is designed to produce based on your historic energy usage over the past year. If your electric consumption goes up, your solar doesn’t have the ability to produce extra. One option to ensure you never get a surprise power bill is choosing to install more solar panels when first designing the system just to be safe.
Studies from Lawrence Berkeley Labs and other reputable research organizations have shown that solar arrays can add a healthy bump to home value. On average, a 4% increase is a safe estimate, but it depends on lots of factors. It’s important to have the solar installed professionally and with aesthetics in mind- exactly how we do it!

Homeowners who purchased a system after July 1st 2021 have the added benefit of Pearl Certification, which is a set of documents you can share with your Realtor or Appraiser if you’re ready to refinance or sell your home. If you’re an ESP customer with solar purchased prior to July 2021, you can check out Pearl Certification as part of a Service Plan at www.joinespservices.com.

Solar panels require little to no maintenance to continue operating for years. Cleaning once or twice a year doesn’t hurt. In the event of severe smog or ash from wildfires, hosing the panels off at the end of the day isn’t a bad idea. But we would never encourage you to climb up on your roof or do anything unsafe.

We offer Panel Cleaning packages at www.joinespservices.com if you’re interested in getting professional help with this.

Every solar array comes with a monitoring app included for the homeowner. Enphase and SolarEdge are the two primary providers of this feature. You’ll receive instructions as soon as your system is activated. Production reports or alerts will go directly to you.
Most solar panel manufacturers offer a 25 year warranty, which includes a production rating or “degradation factor” that states the panels should still be generating a certain amount at the end of any given period (usually no less than 80% production power at the end of the 25th year). If you follow that trend, many panels will still be functioning for decades to come.
It’s a good idea to look into roof repair and replacement as part of your solar project. If you discover that your roof is in need of repair after the solar has been installed, we offer Removal and Reinstall services at www.joinespservices.com.

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