Solar 101

Solar 101

Saving money by going solar starts with getting informed.

The following document highlights key points every homeowner should understand before making a decision.


Why Solar?

Businesses and Homeowners are going solar at a record rate for one simple reason: Solar saves you money, hands down.

With $0 Down financing from our recommended programs, a homeowner can get a solar power plant installed for no money down, own the equipment and begin to save immediately.

The monthly reduction of your electricity bill adds up. Over 25 years, your system will save you tens of thousands of dollars. Paying for the system itself and increasing home value.

Why Now?

Solar energy prices have dropped 99% since 1977. Solar without incentives, is often cheaper than fossil fuels right now. 

The Federal Tax Credit expires December 31st, 2016. If you purchase solar now, the Federal Tax Credit will cut your project costs by 30%. That means more savings and money in your pocket.

Net Energy Metering changes in 2016: Your Solar System will produce more energy than you need at times and turns the meter backwards. That excess energy is credited back to your account at cost. Utilities are working hard to change that.

You can go solar for $0 Down, start saving money and take advantage of all the incentives before they expire.


Why Allterra?

Allterra is a customer focused business with the most qualified solar professionals in the region. We pride ourselves on the following:

      • High quality solar systems that are built to last.
      • The best customer satisfaction possible.
      • Reinvestment in the community through sponsorships, salaries, and support for environmental and educational causes.

Testimonial From a Satisfied Client

Voted the BEST Solar contractor for 2013, Allterra Solar lives up to its reputation. An outstanding local company that provides quality reliable installation and service using the best panels in the industry. They will personally evaluate your energy needs to best suit your budget and lifestyle. If your home is not suited for solar, they will not sell you a system just to make a sale. Truly a Five STAR company.

Patty L.

Santa Cruz, CA

Quick Case Study

Learn how Mr. Wallace saves over $150 a month on his electrical bill!


rsz_screenshot_2015-02-25_132615 Homeowner: William Wallace, aka Bill

City: Aptos, California


Bill used no money out of pocket, purchased solar, got a tax credit, and saved money every month.

Initially Bill was reluctant to go solar as he just retired and did not want to make any large purchases.  I asked Bill to schedule a Free Site Assessment and get informed before making a final choice on how to power his home.  Long-term savings from creating your own power with solar can make retirement living more affordable. Bill scheduled a Free Site Assessment with Allterra Solar at a time that was convenient.



Bill's Free Site Assessment

Our Free Site Assessment Process starts with a phone call and specifically addresses:

  • How PG&E rates are based on usage; the more electricity used the higher the electricity rate.
  • Electricity rates have increased 6% per year since 1970 in PG&E territory.
  • How solar equipment produces electricity and turns your meter backwards.
  • Solar equipment options that perform best for your home and local climate details (we live here too and understand our local climate zones).
  • How solar equipment is installed and what areas of the home are good for solar.
  • Special solar financing programs available through qualified contractors and other incentive programs.  Allterra Solar has access to a wide array of financing options and available incentive programs.
  • How Department of Energy (DOE) Studies on real estate data in California show owning solar energy increase home values.
  • How using a $0 down local loan can lock in lower electricity costs for the next 20-years and beat most solar Power Purchase Agreement programs.

Allterra Solar’s Free Site Assessment showed Bill he could purchase solar modules with great warranty coverage and put his SW facing composition shingle roof to work reducing his $277 electricity bill.  After meeting with Allterra Solar, Bill understood how a $0 down secured loan from a local Credit Union and a sunny southwest roof could reduce monthly expenses and protect against future energy costs.


Project Details
Allterra Solar’s Free Site Assessment showed Bill he could purchase solar modules with great warranty coverage and put his SW facing composition shingle roof to work reducing his $277 electricity bill.  After meeting with Allterra Solar, Bill understood how a $0 down secured loan from a local Credit Union and a sunny southwest roof could reduce monthly expenses and protect against future energy costs.  After getting informed Bill decided to say yes to solar and moved forward with the following solar project:

Sketched Solar System
SketchUp Design of Mr. Wallace’s Solar PV System

3.92 kW PV SystemProduces 60% of Annual Electricity Consumption  

  • 12 SunPower 327 watt modules with 25-year Warranty
  • 1 Power-One Inverter with 10 year Warranty

Secured $0 Down Solar Loan3.99% Interest Rate with 30-yr term

  • Santa Cruz Community Credit Union’s $0 Down Loan enabled Bill to save money immediately using only his credit score to purchase solar.
  • Project financing interest payments are eligible for tax write offs.

Project Budget & Tax Credit$21,000 Budget & $6,300 IRS Tax Credit

  • 30% of Project Costs are eligible for a federal tax credit.  Bill received a $6,300 tax credit, from the IRS for purchasing solar.
  • Allterra Solar’s recommended loan options all allow the 30% tax credit to pay down loan principal and re-amortize the loan.  Bill can keep the $6,300 tax credit or pay-down the loan to have lower monthly payments for rest of the loan term, or pay the system off sooner.  Bill’s system will pay for itself several times over.

Home Value Increased by Purchasing Solar PV System

  • Department of Energy Study of Real Estate data from 2002-2013 showed a measurable increase in value from purchased solar PV.  Study estimates home value to increase roughly $4 per watt installed.  Based on market data and study results, Bill’s home saw a $13,000 increase in value.  Homebuyers in California like free energy and are willing to pay more for a home when solar is part of the real estate transaction.
  • For more Information about the study check out our blog:


System Performance


Performance from July 14, 2013 to February 11, 2015.

We estimated Bill’s system would produce 5,843 kWh in Year 1.  Our estimate is based on our engineered system design and computer modeling.  Over the last 577 days Bill’s solar power plant produced 9,409 kWh or 16.3 kWh per day.  Over a year Bill’s system actually produced 5,952 kWh; exceeding our estimate by 1.6%.  Bill’s system is producing clean energy at a rate better than we predicted.  Here is a screen shot of Bill’s monitoring system from December 22, 2014, the shortest day of the Year; it was a cloudy day too.  Bill’s system works in foggy winter conditions:




Recently retired, Bill was motivated by reducing his monthly expenses and saving money on electricity over time. Bill met with Allterra and had a February 2013 bill for electricity of $277.  After purchasing solar, monthly electricity bills shrunk by 80% on average and are now typically less than $50.  Bill is saving approximately $200, or more, per month since going solar and his future savings will grow as electricity rates rise.  Bill’s loan payments are easily covered by the value of electricity generated from solar.

Once his system was hooked up, solar produces all the electricity his household requires.

Bill used a fixed loan, Allterra Solar, and a sunny roof to fix his electricity costs for the future and save money.  Bill is also a part of the solution to climate change by substantially reducing his carbon footprint.


Important Incentive Expiration Date – 2015 is Year to Finally Call Us

  • 30% Tax Credit Expires December 31, 2016
  • PG&E Net Energy Metering Rules and Rates are set to change in late 2016.  Installing solar now locks in current rules and rates for the next 20 years.


Ready to Go Solar?

Allterra Solar helped 260 homeowners go solar and save money in 2014 by installing solar equipment on their homes.

Free Site Assessments are available for any homeowner in the Monterey, Santa Cruz, Salinas, or San Jose regions interested in learning more.  Solar energy is helping families and businesses save money on monthly expenses, creating jobs, and protecting the environment.  Why wait, start saving now before the solar opportunity passes you up.