Rancho Electric      Solar Electric Installers for Butte county, Glenn County, Colusa County, and Tehama County

American Made Solar Power

Solar Electric Frequently Asked Questions

 Solar Electric Frequently Asked Questions 

Rancho Electric
Lic: C-10#276359

Steve Elliott

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday
8 AM – 6 PM

Service Areas:
Glenn County,Butte County,Tehama County
and Colusa County

• Durham
• Orland
• Willows
• Red Bluff
• Richvale
• Corning
• Chico
• Colusa
• Williams

We Are:
•  Licensed
•  Bonded
•  Insured

Why should I considering purchasing a solar electric system?

  1. The current cost of a solar electric system is the lowest it has ever been.
  2. With financial incentives a solar electric system provides low cost energy.
  3. A solar electric system is virtually maintenance free and will last for 25-40 years.
  4. A solar electric system is an effective hedge against rising utility rates.

Will PG&E pay me for excess power that my solar electric system generates?

The answer to this question is somewhat complicated, and difficult to explain. “For example if your home uses 10,000 KWH per year you may be able to eliminate your utility bill by installing a solar electric system that generates only 8,000KWH per year. This scenario is common for customers that use only 25-30% of their power during peak times which are 1-7PM for homeowners and 12-6pm for commercial rates. “ In order for you to get paid for excess KWH that your solar electric system produces  you would need to install a Solar Electric system that generates over 10,000 KWH per year. In the above example you would get paid the wholesale rate of approximately 4 cents times 1000 or $40 per year. Consequently you would need to install a solar electric system that is 37.5% larger or approximately pay an additional $6000 after tax dollars to earn $40 per year.

Should I wait for the costs of solar panels to go down?

No. The cost of solar panels and components has dropped significantly in the past few months by almost 40%,but the rebates for an installed solar electric system have  decreased just as quickly.  
Furthermore if the FTC puts Tariffs on Chinese solar panels we are likely to see a future price increase on American made solar panels as the Chinese solar manufacturers were most likely the biggest factor in the price decline for American made solar panels during the past few years. Furthermore, solar panels are made from a complicated  manufacturing process so it is highly unlikely that the cost of solar panels will continue to decline much further. Furthermore, with the current Federal and State budget problems we cannot assume that the 30% Federal Tax Credit will be available in future years to offset the costs to install solar panels.

Will current solar panels be obsolete in a few years?

No. There have been many improvements made on the efficiency of the solar  panels that are sold today, but the technology has not changed for many years.  solar panels are about the same size as in the past but solar electric manufacturers are able to generate 250 watts compared to 175 watts in the same size solar panels. Also, these solar panels generate power for your home or business for more than 25 years and will pay for themselves in as few as 4 years.  In addition, there are no other technologies that make better financial sense and are as dependable as a solar electric system in CA.


What is net metering?


Net metering is a type of arrangement where the excess power generated by your solar electric  grid-connected systems "turns back" your electricity meter as it is fed back into the grid. Thus, if you use more electricity than your solar electric system feeds into the grid during a given month, you pay your power provider only for the difference between what you used and what your solar electric system produced. For example, a Rice Dryer who has installed a solar electric system may only use power 3 months out of the year but it can “Back Feed” power with the solar electric system to the utility for 9 months, and then during the fall when it is time to “Dry Rice” the facility can use the credits it built up during the year.


What is a time of use electrical rate?


A time of use rate is an electrical rate offered by many utilities that charges customers different rates based on the time, day and season. For example, currently PG&E charges approximately 31 cents for peak periods which are 1 to 7pm Monday through Friday during the summer, but it only charges approximately 8 cents for Off-Peak periods for Residential rate E-6. Due to the fact that a solar electric system produces a large portion of its power during the Peak Period and the local utility must give the homeowner credit for every KWH produced by the Solar Panels during the peak period a family that is conservative with their electrical usage from 1-7 PM may benefit greatly by switching to a time of use rate after installing a solar electric system. For example, a couple that works all day can earn a 31 cent credit for every KWH their solar electric system produces during the Peak Period while they are at work. Subsequently at night when the solar electric system is not producing this family can buy back the power at the off-peak electric rate.


 Does it matter if I buy American made solar panels?

It really does matter! Rancho Electric sells Sharp and Solar World solar panels for the following reasons. First, they are American made of the highest quality components and under strict quality control programs. Purchasing American made solar panels is important because it provides manufacturing jobs for other Americans that would otherwise go overseas. Second, American made solar panels are produced under more strict quality standards than solar panels made in many other countries, and for this reason your investment in an American made solar electric system is more likely to last and produce solar power for many years to come. Finally, we sell these Sharp and Solar World solar panels because they are financially stable companies that are in the best position to pay their warranty if there was an issue with your solar electric system. In fact almost all solar panels manufacturers offer a 25 year warranty, but the fact of the matter is that if the company has too many quality issues or solar panel recalls they will not be in a position to honor their warranty.   Subsequently purchasing foreign made solar panels in not going to save any money, as Rancho Electric can, in most cases, provide you with quality American made solar panels at a price competitive to those selling foreign materials.


Should I purchase a micro Inverter or a string inverter for my solar electric system?


 Benefits  of  a micro inverter


  • Allows  solar panels to work independently of others. For Example, if your site has shading issues from a utility pole and it takes several hours for the shadow to move across the solar electric system then a micro inverter would be your best option for your solar electric system because it would allow the solar panels to operate independently,  and only the solar panels shaded would be affected, compared to a string inverter which would lower the production of all the solar panels to the level of the shaded solar panels. 
  • Comes standard with a 25 year warranty 
  • Allows you to view online the actual production of all solar panels independently and the solar electric system


  • Most popular inverter brand is made in China and Canada
  • It is approximately 25% more expensive than a string inverter.
  • Requires high speed internet to take full advantage of monitoring.


Benefits of string inverter


  • Power-One inverters are made in Arizona and they have been in the industry since 1977.
  • String inverters are just as efficient as a micro inverter at converting DC to AC.
  • Significantly less initial cost compared to micro-inverter.
  • Customer can purchase warranty extension up to 25 years.
  • Basic monitoring is available on LCD screen on inverter.



  • If one solar panel drops in production on a string then all solar panels on the string will drop to the same level, until faulty panel is replaced or problem is corrected.
  • The majority of string inverters come standard with a 10 year warranty and expected useful life of 15 years.