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Frequently Asked Questions (solar)

 What is the difference between Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Hot Water Systems?  

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight into electricity which can then be used to power appliances in the home or be sold back to the grid. In this video on solar fire safety you can literally see a home electric meter spinning backwards as power is sold back to the utility company.

Solar Hot Water Systems (also known as Solar Thermal) use the heat from the sun to warm either water or a fluid which is pumped through the system and then returned to a storage tank. The warm water can then be used to keep a pool warm or to reduce the amount of energy needed to warm hot water by a traditional hot water tank. These systems are generally cheaper to install than a Solar PV system and are ideal for homes with a high demand for warm/hot water (e.g. homes with pools or high shower usage).

What homes are best suited for Solar PV systems?

Homes with roofs that receive a high degree of solar exposure from the south or southwest throughout the day are good candidates. The payback time frame (how long it takes to recoup the investment) can range from 6-9 years. A qualified solar contractor can help you determine if your home is a good candidate and the estimated payback period.

Does the City of Irvine offer any rebates or incentives?

The City of Irvine does not charge permit or plancheck fees for solar energy systems. The City does not offer additional rebates or incentives, but homeowners and business are encouraged to review the incentives offered by Southern California Edison (in conjunction with State of California’s Go Solar Program) and consult their tax professional to determine if they qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit.

If I’m not ready to do solar but want to make my home or business more energy efficient what other steps can I take?

       The City of Irvine's Environmental Programs website offers a wealth of information and an e-newsletter on incentive programs and tips on how to save energy.

       The Energy Upgrade California website is a one-stop location where residents can enter their zip code and see energy rebates and incentives (including free items) offered by local utilities.

I heard about a program that allows homeowners to pay for solar systems over time through their property tax bills. Is it available?

This program known as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy)  was originally enabled by the passage of State Assembly Bill 811 (AB 811). The cities of Palm Desert and Berkeley began the first programs, but participation statewide has been put on hold due to guidelines issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac