O/T Solar newbie question

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Submitted by Clifford on August 21, 2015 - 1:10pm

I would like to have solar panels installed on my roof before the beginning of summer 2016. I understand that there are many steps involved in this process.

If I start calling the solar companies now, approximately how long before the solar panels can be turned on ?

Submitted by pjwal on August 21, 2015 - 11:40pm.

Hi Clifford,

I have a software company that has recently built a platform for a network marketing company submitting leads to Solar City. The bonuses the sales reps get are all based upon the key dates such as converted, contracted and installed. What I have learned so far is that the process from beginning to end is at least 2 months. I don't know all the details and we just have preliminary #'s so far.

However, I have learned that Solar City is in fact the best provider to go with as they are the most vertically integrated company. I have Solar myself from Solar Power and I'm not satisfied. I think as a new customer you would definitely want the new battery that SC is providing only for their customers at this point.

If you would like assistance in the process feel free to message me and I will put you in contact with the best rep that I can. I have a very tiny installation and it only saves about 20% btw.


Submitted by svelte on August 21, 2015 - 11:43pm.

From the time I had my first solar company come out to give me a quote until I signed a contract, it was about one month.

From the time I signed my contract until my panels were installed, it was about one month.

From the time my solar panels were installed until SDGE gave me permission to turn them on was about 2 weeks.

This was the spring of 2015.

Submitted by pjwal on August 21, 2015 - 11:56pm.

Hi Clifford,

I have actually just queried our DB to look at the dates and it seems as if the time span between initial submission of a Lead to installation is all over the map and mostly dictated by the sales process. There is at least one lead in which the process from submission to installation was exactly one month. Most, seem to have taken a little over two months.


Submitted by pjwal on August 22, 2015 - 12:03am.

To format the key dates svelte is discussing, the first quote he received is considered the "first contract date." The contract he actually signed is considered the "final contract date." And of course his installation is that "install date." Before that, there is a bunch of time during the sales process essentially in which you as the customer agrees to an on site inspection, mostly controlled by the home owner.

svelte, what company did you go with?


Submitted by moneymaker on August 22, 2015 - 6:25am.

2 Months would be reasonable, for me I think it was less than that although it could have been from time contract signed to meter spinning backwards. Funny thing is that the actual install takes anywhere from 1-3 days. I think the process could be streamlined but there is a lot going on. SDG&E have to be contacted with scheduled dates, permits have to be pulled with drawings and plans,often times electrical panels need to be upgraded. The main thing right now is net metering, because soon SDG&E will not have to do it, and believe me they are finding out that they can charge more when they don't do it. Only the first 5% are going to be grandfathered in to net metering.

Submitted by skerzz on August 22, 2015 - 10:04am.

I went with Sullivan Solar Power (and have referred people from this site to them as well) and have been very happy. I purchased the system outright -- many of the other solar companies, especially Solar City, were pushing the solar lease which essentially replaces SDGE with Solar City as your power company. If you are interested in getting a quote from Sullivan, shoot me a PM and I'll out you through their solar referral network which will give both you and I a $500 referral bonus check. This is a better deal than $500 off the system due to the tax credit impact (i.e. $500 off the system is only worth $350 after considering the 30% tax credit).

Submitted by hillsilly on August 22, 2015 - 1:57pm.

It was about 2 months for us, too, from purchase agreement to going live. Our utility is Edison and they were the pokiest part of the process. There was a bit of a lag for the net metering agreement application, and then, after the city signed off on the permit inspection, another lag before the PTO (permission to operate) was issued.

We got many bids. Solar City really pushed the lease arrangement. They proposed a smaller system for a higher price-- I think the promises of an inverter exchange and long warranty is priced in. There's also the question of whether a leased system makes it harder to sell a house down the road. In our case, it made more sense to own a system and collect the tax credit.

Submitted by Escoguy on August 25, 2015 - 8:22am.

I have five homes I'm putting solar on and have looked at many vendors. Solar City is about 30% more than Sungevity or the other company I'm using Alive Industries.

So far, I've installed two systems from Sungevity:
If you can't use the tax credit, a prepaid lease is best from a cash flow perspective. 3 KW with 4400 kWh production cost $8800 as prepaid lease.

Second system was 4.9 KW producing 8300 kWh/year with a fixed $83/month cost for 20 years with no escalation, Solar City goes up 2.5%/year.

Third system is a prepaid lease 4.3 kw at 6300 kWh/year, prepaid lease for $12,000.

Sungevity referral code: 339190

Fourth system buying from Alive Industries as I can add more panels later.

Fifth system also from Alive for same reason so I can add later.

Submitted by moneymaker on August 25, 2015 - 9:20pm.

I was told new permits are required to add panels, so unless you are adding a lot more or are flying under the radar may not be a good idea, just try to get the system sized right the first time is my advice.

Submitted by hillsilly on August 26, 2015 - 10:55am.

What happens if you want to add panels to a system already operating under a net metering arrangement? Does the utility allow this, or does it negate the agreement?

Submitted by Escoguy on August 28, 2015 - 9:59pm.

You can permit the system to the larger size and add the panels when needed. I.e. get the larger inverter now, then add more panels when needed to match.

You only need a new agreement if you add a second system which is stand alone.

The original NEM isn't invalid because more panels are added to bring the system up the the permitted size.

Submitted by Escoguy on August 28, 2015 - 10:01pm.

I get the permits for the larger size but as I'm doing multiple properties, it does make a difference to right size for today's tenants use vs expected future use. The difference for one property can be a few thousand so multiplied by 4-5 can be 20K more. Not a good use of money to add 20K in panels which aren't needed. Just saying, all permits are in order, just a better approach from my perspective.

Submitted by Coronita on August 4, 2019 - 7:15pm.

Bump. Solar company recommendations...Anyone anyone .

Submitted by zk on August 5, 2019 - 10:03am.

flu wrote:
Bump. Solar company recommendations...Anyone anyone .

We went with Home Energy Systems. That was 4 years ago. They did very good work. They hid the conduits or whatever very well. No problems then or since. However, having worked with no other companies, I can't really say they're better or worse than anyone else.

Full disclosure: I'd get a $500 referral fee if you say I referred you to them. I'd split it with you.

Edited to correct name to Home Energy Systems (not Home Energy Solutions).

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