How Solar Works

What is solar power?

Solar power has many forms, but most commonly refers to technology (panels) relying on the photovoltaic effect, or PV. Certain materials react when exposed to light, creating electricity. Solar panels generate electricity as DC, which is then switched to AC using an inverter. Inverters can be attached on each panel (called microinverters, best for residential), or the panels are strung in series to one big central inverter (usually best on large commercial arrays). Auric specializes in designing and installing high-performance PV systems using PV technology.

 

Other types of solar power include solar hot water (a.k.a. “hydronic heating”) and concentrated solar (mirrors focusing light on a single point to create heat). Those are great for specific applications, but outside Auric’s current repertoire.

Does solar really power an entire house?

Sure does! In fact, solar arrays are powering a couple million residences in the U.S. right now. Auric has installed over 7,000 home solar arrays, and the majority of them are designed to be running on 100% solar. It all depends on available roof space and amount of power used by the home in a year, which is why we give custom quotes to everyone. We use 3D modeling and decades worth of data, so you can rest assured we’re more accurate than any other solar company in the market.

Solar even directly powers your electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids when you charge at home. Ask us about EV charger installation with your solar array. We also offer commercial solar & EV network installation, if your employer is interested in an employee EV discount program.

How long do solar panels last?

The industry standard for manufacturer warranties is 25 years, but based on rigorous testing, the panels we offer are likely to last about double that. Auric also offers a 25 year craftsmanship warranty on our installation handiwork.

How much does solar cost? Can I get a ballpark quote or rough estimate?

Auric is a detail-oriented company. We don’t want to set up the wrong expectation, either high or low.

Every home has different energy needs and solar potential. Many solar installers have different products and business models. Asking how much solar costs is like walking into a dealership and saying “how much is the car that’s perfect for me?” There are lots of additional questions to ask, and our energy experts are your best source for answers.

 

We know it’s nerve-wracking to give out your information to a business. We won’t bother you, or waste your time. If you order a pizza delivery, you’ll have all the time it takes to talk to an energy expert by the time it shows up. And you’ll be able to order a lot of pizza with your solar savings.

Should I get a new roof before I get solar?

We’ll conduct a site inspection before starting the project. If you have concerns it is best to get a roofer’s opinion. Auric has special financing that allows us to bundle structural projects including roofing into the solar, and we have some great roofing contacts. Request a free quote for more information. Once installed, it’s likely your panels will outlive your roof. The panels protect your shingles from UV damage as well as hail or snow.

Is solar the best renewable energy technology? What about wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc?

Solar has the greatest potential of any energy source known to humankind. Call us biased if you want, but we’ll gladly prove it to you. The Sun produces an unthinkable amount of energy, and even the small fraction that hits the Earth is equal to quadrillions of watts. Wind, tidal/hydro, and geothermal all make for excellent applications where they make sense, and all renewables play well together, but we have no doubt that solar will save the world.

What types of solar panels does Auric install?

Our projects use monocrystalline silicone PV panels from several different companies.There are many materials and products that can produce the photovoltaic effect, but we’re highly selective about the manufacturers we use based on reputation, quality, longevity, and support relationship.

Does solar need a mechanism to track the sun, or adjust the angle of the array as seasons change?

Not unless you own a few hundred acres in the desert. Tracking systems are large and incredibly expensive. They typically do not increase efficiency enough to make the added expense worth it for the average homeowner – we’re talking a difference of single digits. Panels mounted flush with the angle of the roof produce plenty of energy thanks to modern solar technology and you don’t need to worry about any moving parts breaking down.

We offer a Production Guarantee on every system we install, so you know exactly what the system is rated to do. If there’s ever a chance that it doesn’t quite do what we said it should, we’ll make up the difference.

I get a lot of weather in my area. Will solar still work on cloudy days?

Solar does capture some light, even through clouds, fog, or smog. When we give any homeowner a quote, it’s based on a 3D model of the area that includes decades of climate & weather data baked into the calculations (that’s part of our Production Guarantee). So, while there will inevitably be some days that your panels can’t squeeze out as much juice, they’ll make up for it at other times of the year. Thanks to net metering, you don’t need to worry about producing everything you use at every single moment.

How does the electricity get stored?

Most modern solar arrays use “net metering”, which is an agreement with your local utility. The power you produce during the day gets used in your home right away, and then all the excess power goes out to the power grid. The power company will track how much they receive (after what your house uses), and bank it on your account for later use. At night, or on a very cloudy day, your home will be drawing energy “stored” in your power account, so there’s no interruption to your electricity (unless the power grid cuts out entirely).

Do I also need batteries?

Batteries are only necessary if there is no power available – either because you’re very far away from power lines, or if the local grid is unstable and experiences frequent blackouts. Batteries can be a viable add-on to your solar project depending on your needs, so we offer Tesla and sonnen battery products right now, and are constantly on the lookout for new breakthrough tech. We’re building exciting projects right now using multiple linked sonnen batteries as a grid stabilizer – read all about the Soleil fleet on AuricEnergy.com.

What if I want to go totally "off-grid"?

We can’t tell you how to live your life, but to quote a classic: “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” Going off-grid is a lot more expensive and resource-intensive than net metering, and requires major lifestyle changes. Put simply, off-grid solar is for remote sites in the wilderness, not for suburban homes. Ask yourself why you want to unplug – do you dislike paying the power company so much? Do you want more energy independence? Solar is still the right answer, so please get in touch and let’s talk about your life goals.

Will solar add value to my home?

Market studies say yes. Unfortunately, there is still a missing foundation of solar education in the real estate industry. Many appraisers and realtors can only put down “zero” because they don’t know any better. The good news is, with the right documentation, professionals are able to fairly assess the value of reduced electricity costs and energy efficiency upgrades. Ask about our Pearl Certification and Warranty Eligibility Certificates if you’re thinking of refinancing or selling a solar-equipped home.

Are there still tax credits or incentives for solar?

Yes, there is a Federal Tax Credit available for solar, known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (or Solar ITC). This credit is still available in 2020, at 26% of the total cost of your solar project. It will decrease to 22% for solar installed in 2021. Many cities, states, and utilities have additional incentives, but they are going quick because of growing demand.

How to Buy Solar

Are there incentives for buying solar?

For any solar array installed in 2020, the owner qualifies for a 26% Federal Tax Credit. (You must pay taxes to qualify.)

 

Other incentives vary from state to state. Your power company also needs to offer a Net Metering program of some kind, also called a “feed-in tariff” in some areas. Request a free quote and we’ll gather everything you qualify for.

 

Most homeowners will qualify for thousands of dollars in incentives for installing a solar array in 2020.

Should I buy solar or lease it?

Auric doesn’t offer lease agreements on solar – we believe in owning your power. Leasing solar panels may seem like a viable option for some people, but the benefits (low fixed payments, long-term warranty, dedicated service agreement) are all available with purchased systems through Auric. One of the primary goals of going solar is eliminating a rent check to the power company, and a lease is just a different rent check. You own your home – why rent the electricity that runs it?

How do I pay for solar? Do I need cash saved up, or does Auric offer financing?

About half of our customers use financing through our recommended lending partners, and the other half use cash.

 

Some great things about financing:

  • You still own the system from day one
  • Your payments never change until they go away for good
  • You pay $0 upfront, and can pay off the system at any time with no penalty

Some great things about paying cash for solar:

  • You don’t have to worry about payments ever again (power bill or otherwise)
  • You get a big tax credit on savings that otherwise aren’t doing much for you (26% back all at once instead of <2% a year isn’t a bad deal)
  • You get a discount on the overall price of the solar project

 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you, and we’re happy to help you figure out what makes the most sense for your situation.

What if solar panels break? Is there a warranty?

Solar panels are incredible resilient. Solar panels from a good manufacturer come with a 25-year warranty, and have already gone through a rigorous range of stress tests. We don’t install a product that we don’t think will stand the test of time, and you’ve got a built-in “just in case” clause to ease your mind. The manufacturers we use have an extremely low defect rate – we’re talking a few dozen out of every million panels. In the rare event that something seems broken, call our Customer Service team and we’ll investigate the issue.

Should I get multiple bids, or are all panels and installers about the same?

It never hurts to get a couple quotes. There are lots of important details to look for. Solar is a good thing, but not all solar is created equal. We’ve helped set the bar for quality since we started, but we’re also educators and want to help you understand your best options. That’s why we don’t call our people “sales reps” – we’re energy consultants. If you want help comparing bids, we have a handy impartial guide that we provide with every free estimate.

I see lots of ads saying the power company or government will pay for solar, is that true?

Yes and no. There is a big federal tax credit, lots of state and local utility incentives, and other ways that you can reduce the cost of your solar array. It will definitely save you lots of money, and you can get solar with nothing out of pocket through our zero-down financing.

However, any of the following advertisements should be taken with a grain of salt:

  • Solar is “free” or “No cost” solar program
  • You will get paid back by the power company
  • (Federal, state, county) program pays for your solar

Anyone running those ads isn’t telling the whole truth. Here at Auric, we’re all about educating and empowering customers to make the right decision, and protecting the solar industry by setting a high standard for accuracy and transparency. It’s important not to get sucked in by opportunistic advertisers. If something seems too good to be true, just ask us for a closer look.

How long does solar take to get installed?

Solar installations themselves only take a few hours, at most 1 or 2 days on most homes. But the overall process can take a couple months – mostly waiting for permitting and paperwork. Timelines vary from city to city and state to state, and we’ll give you a specific breakdown for your project.

 

Auric has a track record of quality, timely installations because we’ve built our business on doing it right the first time, and getting faster at it over time.

Owning Solar

How do I know the solar is working?

All of our solar arrays come with lifetime monitoring. You can login to an app on your phone or via the website and see near-real-time production all day long. If there are any issues, an alert will pop up and our support technicians can help troubleshoot.

 

The majority of our residential systems use Enphase microinverters. Enphase provides a tool called MyEnlighten to monitor system production anytime. You can download the Enphase app on the Apple and Android app store for free, or you can visit the website at http://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com on your computer.

 

If your system uses a different inverter system, please consult your user manual for the appropriate monitoring tool.

Do I need to clean the solar panels, or keep snow off?

Dust and grime are expected to build up over time, and will only marginally affect production over decades. Generally rain and snow will keep the panels clear of major debris that could severely impact production. If you’re very concerned about dust from nearby construction or ash from wildfires, it doesn’t hurt to hose the panels off, but we never advise anyone to do anything unsafe like climb on the roof or try to clear snow manually – it’s not worth the pennies you’ll save. Mother Nature is on your side when it comes to keeping solar arrays clean.

Can birds or animals damage the panels by getting underneath?

If you notice birds or squirrels nesting, please contact our support technicians right away to get a quote on pest control cleanup and “Critter Guard” installation. Although our installs have very few exposed parts, it’s possible for very ambitious animals to chew on some components. Birds or animals can pose a health/safety risk and can damage shingles and gutters as well.

 

If you notice a lot of birds or other animals in your area, we encourage you to be proactive – preventative measures are exponentially cheaper than the cleanup process. We offer Critter Guard as an optional upgrade customized to your system for new installations as well as retrofits.

I see an error on the monitoring app. What do I do?

Errors on your monitoring app don’t always mean something is wrong with the solar. There are a few common errors that you might see. Some resolve themselves within a short time and aren’t anything to worry about. Others may require a support technician to troubleshoot with you, or possibly schedule a site visit*.

 

If your Enphase monitoring app shows “Envoy is not reporting”: this does not affect your solar production and generally resolves itself within a few days. Examples of why this happens include if you have recently changed your internet provider, upgraded your router, etc. If the error persists for longer than a week, please follow this guide for basic troubleshooting. (Note: do not reset your TP-Link, the small device with the green light attached to your router).

 

If your Enphase app shows “Production error”: this may be a result of a few things. Your system is designed to throw this error when it falls below a certain threshold, typically 90% of estimated production for that time of year. Examples of why this happens include the weather (i.e. snow covering panels, which will melt off), or a genuine issue with the system underproducing. We are happy to help in the latter scenario and are proactively responding to these particular issues, however, it might take our team longer to detect. We encourage you to proactively reach out if the error persists outside of weather-related concerns.

 

If your Enphase app shows “Microinverter not reporting” error: please refer to the above for potential weather-related causes. This is usually temporary, does not generally affect solar production, and often resolves itself. One common cause is the Envoy having regained Internet connection and uploading backlogged data – it just needs time to catch up. If it persists for longer than a week, please follow the Enphase troubleshooting steps here. We encourage you to proactively reach out.

 

If your Enphase app shows “CT measurement issue”: these are more technical errors related to consumption monitoring. This does not affect production, but will generally require a site visit.

 

*Site visits may incur a fee in some situations, for example if the issue is not related to component failure covered by warranty.

I need a new roof. How do I take my solar off to let the roofer do their job?

Do not have anyone but a qualified solar technician remove the solar panels. Auric’s Field Service team is at your service if your original solar installer can’t meet your needs. Oftentimes there are workmanship warranties that may be voided by tampering with the solar, but our fully-licensed and highly-experienced support technicians are happy to schedule an uninstall and reinstall based around your roofing contractor’s timeline.

If you have had hail or wind damage to your roof, or if you are an insurance adjuster searching for a service/subcontractor quote, we ready to help. Please call us at 801-878-3363 to discuss your needs.

The numbers don't match up on my power bill and my monitoring app - why?

This is because of what we call “behind-the-meter” usage. The numbers will never match because of how your home uses solar power, and how net meters track energy flowing through them.

 

Imagine your home is a bucket that needs to be filled with electricity at all times. When you have solar panels, your home will be filled with either 100% solar electricity during the day, or utility grid electricity at night. When the sun is out, your home uses the solar power first. Excess power is exported out to the grid, through your net meter.

 

The net meter can only read in or out. It doesn’t see what the solar is putting directly into your home, since that’s “behind” the meter.

 

Your solar monitoring app shows what the solar puts into your home. It can’t see what the net meter is seeing, since it’s filling up the other side of your “bucket”.

 

However, there is an optional upgrade that shows both production and consumption. If you want to see everything at once, just call 801-505-WATT (9288) and ask to speak with a Field Service technician about upgrading your system to Smart Home/Consumption Monitoring capabilities.

I'm still receiving a power bill. Why isn't the solar covering my electric use?

You will still receive a monthly bill for the basic net-metering charge, usually no more than $10/month depending on your utility. If your bill is higher than this, there could be a few reasons.

 

  1. Your electric usage may have increased. This could be due to additional members of the household, new gadgets or appliances (electric cars, hot tubs, etc.), outdated or malfunctioning appliances, and more. For example, if your AC or fridge are failing, they can start to draw significantly more power without your knowledge. Check out our energy efficiency tips here and here. If you’re not sure whether you’re using more power, we are happy to conduct a power bill analysis for you. We need copies of at least the last 12-24 months of power bills sent to support@auricenergy.com to analyze.
  2. Your system may not have been designed to cover 100% of your usage. This may be due to how much roof space you have, your existing shading conditions, utility restrictions, or other limiting factors. The good news is that solar will always knock out the most expensive power tiers charged by your utility, keeping your bill in the lowest rate group available. You could say that your very first solar panel saves you the most amount of money over time. Utility charges and rate questions should be directed to your local utility, as they are outside Auric’s direct control. We endeavor to stay up-to-date on any rate changes or net-metering program updates before they might affect our customers.
  3. Lastly, the solar may have a production issue. As mentioned above, our support team is proactively seeking out issues that affect solar production. If your system has ever failed to meet our acceptable level of production, we will take care of you.

I'm moving to a new home; should I take my solar with me?

It is up to you and your situation, but generally we advise selling your home with the assistance of a green-certified appraiser or realtor who is familiar with the value of solar. We offer Pearl Certification and Warranty Eligibility Certifications for situations like this.

 

Moving an entire solar array is essentially a brand new project using existing materials. (Do not have anyone but a qualified solar installer do this for you). We have to re-permit and re-design for the new home’s layout, incurring sometimes-significant fixed costs that are unavoidable even if you own the panels outright. Furthermore, moved solar arrays do not qualify for tax incentives because of used materials. The new homeowners will enjoy reduced or eliminated power costs just like you did, so they should be interested in paying a bit more for that luxury.

 

Our Field Service team will absolutely provide a quote for moving the array, and we can also line up a brand-new quote for your new home to compare which makes the most sense for you.

 

If you are a realtor selling a solar-equipped home, we are happy to offer general advice. Call 801-878-3363 anytime.

I bought/sold a home with solar. How do I transfer ownership & warranties?

Congratulations on selling/buying your solar-equipped home! Great news – manufacturer component warranties are fully transferable to the new owner. Call our customer support team at 801-878-3363 if you are the seller or buyer of the home, and we will complete our internal updates at no charge.

 

If your system uses Enphase inverters, Enphase has a change of ownership form (with a one-time fee, not charged by Auric) which is required to transfer monitoring capability and microinverter warranties.

Seems like there's new technology coming out soon. Should I wait to go solar, or upgrade my system?

The short answer: no. There’s no reason to wait, and no time to waste.

 

Solar technology is always advancing, but only incrementally. Modern solar panels are highly efficient and last an extremely long time – it’s great right now, and will keep getting better by baby steps. But it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see a leap in efficiency or power like you do in the computing or cell phone world. And even if such a leap took place, new technology inevitably costs more until it reaches mass adoption (and also always has some kinks to work out).

 

Further, you will still be paying a power bill while you’re waiting. Every year that goes by is another couple thousand dollars or more thrown into the endless pit of your utility rent check. Adopting solar with current technology cuts that bad habit cold turkey.

 

And probably most importantly, the environment doesn’t have that long to wait. By curbing human pollution, we’re literally giving ourselves breathing room to come up with multi-pronged solutions to climate change and other problems humanity is facing. You have the power to act.

 

The panels you put on your roof right now will last decades and start saving you money immediately. You can use your savings over the next 25 to 50 years to pay off the solar array of the future.

 

Like grandpa used to say, “why do tomorrow what you can do today?”

About Auric

How long has Auric been in business?

Auric was founded in April of 2010, and finished the first installation by August.

What does "Auric" mean?

“Au” is the symbol for gold on the periodic table. The definition of “auric” loosely means “made of gold” or “sharing properties with gold”. We’re the gold standard for solar power.

 

An alternative definition is “the auras around living beings”, and we’re okay with that too – we’re creating positive energy every day.

Where is Auric located/headquartered?

Auric’s headquarters are in West Valley, UT, on the outskirts of Salt Lake City.

I don't live in any of the states you currently service. Can I still get solar from you?

If you own a business or commercial property, we can install anywhere in the United States. And we are growing – check back soon to see if we’re coming to your state. In the meantime, your best bet is SolarReviews.com or EnergySage.com to find well-reviewed providers.

Does Auric do commercial/utility solar?

We have a robust portfolio of commercial projects, including the revolutionary Soleil fleet of virtual power plants, in addition to our 7,000+ residential customers. Please check out our case studies and clients on AuricEnergy.com.

Not seeing an answer you’re looking for? Please let us know.

Contact Our Specialists