How To & FAQ

The information below is intended to help you learn about PV Solar electric systems and the steps to consider before and when having a system installed. We also encourage you to review our PSA Frequently Asked Questions which includes many general topics related to solar photovoltaic systems and our Residential Solar Consumer Tips one-page reference pdf file.

1. For the basics and details about solar photovoltaic technology, see Solar Electricity Basics from Homepower magazine.

2. Check out these consumer guides and references for residential solar PV system installations:
3. Suggestions for “How to find solar installer”:
  • Ask a friend or someone you know that has installed solar PV for some suggestions
  • Check out the business member list of the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES). Contact TXSES and ask them for a few ideas in your particular area of the state.
  • go to the Oncor website - www.takealoadofftexas.com
    • select the "Find a Provider" tab on the far right of the upper window area
    • enter your zip code (or the closest zip code to yours that is in an Oncor service area) in the appropriate field
    • in the "Select Program" pull down, select "Solar Photovoltaic Residential" (or "Solar Photovoltaic Commercial" for business installations)
    • in the "Select Service" pull down, select "Solar PV"
    • click on the "Submit" button
  • To obtain quotes from multiple companies, try www.energysage.com
  • To obtain quotes that include options to finance, try www.sungagefinancial.com
  • Check to see if there are any group purchase projects going on where you live - www.solarizetexas.org/solarize-programs
  • Cautions: See Plano Solar Advocates blog posting - Considerations When Contemplating Energy Savings "bundles" 
4. Suggestions for “How to choose a solar installer”:
  • Review "How to Choose a Solar Installer" by the Texas Solar Energy Society.
  • Do your homework, talk to friends and neighbors who have chosen solar, use common sense, and be active and engaged in dealing with solar companies
  • As with any major purchase, make sure to get multiple bids for your solar system.
  • Before entering an agreement with a solar company, do your homework. Ask for references of solar installations in your area and call them.
  • Review again the consumer guides listed above.
5. Retail Electric Provider considerations: If you have or are going to have a PV solar system installed, it is recommended that you evaluate electricity rate plans that compensate you for electricity sent back to the grid. The current PowerToChoose website (www.powertochoose.org) offers a separate search for renewable energy buyback plans here - http://powertochoose.org/en-us/Content/Resource/Selling-Renewable-Power. Readers are also encouraged to read our blog posting - The "Real" Power to Choose! - to learn more about net metering type rate plans in Texas. 

6. Incentive and loan opportunities
  • Generally, electricity is distributed to residents in Plano by either Oncor or CoServ. If your home is serviced by Oncor, then you can find out about solar program information from their website - Solar Photovoltaic Residential Standard Offer Program. If your location is serviced by CoServ, check out information at CoServ Solar Energy Rebate.
  • If you live in Plano, check out the city’s Smart Energy Loan Program which supports affordable energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy system loans to Plano homeowners, and the Great Update Rebate which is a program to assist Plano homeowners with the financial burden of caring for older homes in the City If you live outside of Plano, contact your city to see if they offer similar programs.
  • And don't forget to check to see there is a group purchase or other project underway - see Solarize Plano and also Solarize Texas.. Also, a residential solar 101 is included in the 2013 Solarize Plano project presentation available as a youtube video - see Information Session.
7. Cost Estimation Tools: 
  • If you live in the Plano or the surrounding DFW area, download this installed cost spreadsheet and follow the notes and instructions included. 2015-1H-solar-installed-cost-examples (xlsx) 
  • If you live outside Plano or the surrounding DFW area, try using the solar cost estimator at this website to get a better understanding of costs and return on investment - http://www.solar-estimate.org/

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