Frequently Asked Questions

Shopping for solar, storage, or an EV charging station? Here are some of our frequently asked questions.

+ What are the advantages of going solar?

Solar is a benefit to customers for both financial and environmental reasons. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels capture sunlight on your roof or your property and convert it to electricity that you can use to power your home. If it uses electricity in your home, solar can power it, including charging your electric vehicle (EV). Solar also reduces dependence on utilities, and the impact traditional energy sources make on the environment.

+ Is it really cheaper to go solar than keep paying my utility for electricity?

Provided a home has the right sun exposure and ideal system placement, we find that most reduce their electricity bill so that their savings pays for the cost of solar. Our goal is to save you money. If we can't do this, we'll let you know that solar may not be a good fit for you. If qualified, we'll show you options for how you can save right away, and how your savings add up over the long term.

+ What is the benefit of SunPower® solar?

In 2007, we partnered with SunPower, a worldwide solar manufacturer, so we could offer our customers this premium, cutting-edge technology. SunPower’s distinctive solar systems combine the most efficient energy production with the industry’s best warranties. We’re proud to be a part of the SunPower family.

Learn more about SunPower solar here.

+ Do you offer solar other than SunPower?

We offer both high-efficiency SunPower systems and standard-efficiency solar options.

Standard Efficiency: Time-tested, economical solar option with modest warranties and a variety of financing solutions. We’ve selected the best-performing technologies, and paired them with choice system components to provide you with the most value we can find to maximize your savings.

High Efficiency: Along with the benefits of standard efficiency systems, systems using high-efficiency technologies provide the added benefits of a smaller footprint while providing more power over time, and improved reliability through more robust components and warranties.

+ Where can I see examples of solar?

Click here to see our online portfolio. You can also come into our Chico Showroom and see actual solar panels, Tesla Powerwall, and examples of projects.

+ What are my payment options?

Whether you're interested in purchasing, financing, or leasing, we have options for you.

Cash/self-finance: when you buy or self-finance (personal loan, HELOC), you get to take advantage of the tax credits associated with owning the system. And since you own your system, you gain the most value if you sell your home.

AES coordinated loan: Like paying cash, you benefit from eligible solar tax credits and/or state and local incentives with little-to-no money down. For many customers, the combination of the loan payment and the remaining power bill is less than their previous electric bill.

Lease: Leasing offers a way to benefit from going solar without the responsibility of owning the equipment. In most cases this can be obtained with no money down and instant savings.

Read more about your options here.

+ Does solar have to be installed on my roof, or can I get a ground-mounted system?

We install rooftop, ground-mounted, as well as shade structures. Each system is custom-designed for your specific needs.

+ What is NEM?

NEM is short for "net energy metering" which refers to the relationship you have with your utility have you've gone solar. An NEM agreement allows you to receive credit from your utility for the excess electricity your system generates.

An example of this is when your home's solar system produces more energy than it uses, it is sent back to the electrical grid, and your utility credits you for this energy. Then, at times when you need more energy than you system provides (for example at night, or during heavy cloud cover) those credits apply to the balance you use.

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+ What is the warranty?

Most panel manufacturers offer a 25 year warranty, but there are other parts to a solar system to account for. Product warranty, production warranty, and installation warranty all play a part in a solar system. Let us show you what makes our solar different.

+ Will solar help me save if I'm on a special rate program (CARE, FERA, medical baseline, etc.)?

It depends. Special rate programs are typically based on a fixed % discount of current rates, the best outcome from going solar would be locking in current rates to prevent them from increasing in the future. We are here to advise if solar is a good fit or not — we wouldn't put anyone in a solar contract that doesn't ultimately save!

+ Just tell me what it costs to go solar!

Since every project is custom designed for you — based on factors such as your energy usage history, where the solar is to be installed, and how much sun your location receives — it's not possible to just throw out a dollar amount. If you'd like the financial broad strokes of going solar, we can tell you that most of our customers tend to finance their investment, typically with no money out of pocket, and their monthly payment is often less than their energy savings from day one. Cash customers typically see a payback in 5-12 years.

+ What are the advantages of battery storage/backup?

Battery storage (and battery backup) offers you flexibility with your energy use, and goes very well with a solar system. If you add a battery to your solar, you will be able to keep using the energy generated during power outtages when others who have solar-only systems won't have power. Additionally, battery storage allows you to store your excess solar energy produced during the day to use during the evening when the rates are typically at their highest (4pm to 9pm). Battery storage can be set to recharge with energy during the night when rates are their lowest.

You can read more about Tesla Powerwall here.

+ Why should I choose AES to be my solar installer?

Alternative Energy Systems (AES) provides sustainable energy services to residential, commercial, and agricultural customers in the North Valley.

Based in Chico, CA, locally-owned AES was founded with the idea that we all need to share in the responsibility of maintaining and improving our environment for generations to come. Since we installed our first solar system as AES in 2003, we’ve focused on offering award-winning service and the highest quality equipment, while building lifelong relationships with our clients.

As a family-owned company, we take pride in our reputation for providing reliable, caring, and quality workmanship to our community. We bring the manpower, materials, and resources equivalent to that of a national company while maintaining our North Valley culture. Each opportunity is treated with the personal care and excellent customer service we believe you should expect from a local business.

Additionally, AES is the North Valley's locally-owned Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer.

Learn more about AES here!

+ SunPower by Alternative Energy Systems or AES? What's your real name?

We used to have two names that went along with the different types of customer sectors we worked with (SunPower by Alternative Energy Systems for residenital solar and AES for commercial/agricultural solar). But having two names/logos got really confusing for everyone, so in July 2018, we decided to simplify and go back to our original company name - Alternative Energy Systems.

+ What does A-E-S stand for?

AES stands for Alternative Energy Systems, though many people often think the "S" stands for "Solutions". Fun fact: When the founders were originally naming the company, they wanted to choose "Solutions" but that name was already taken.

+ I was looking for All Solar Electric (ASE) and their website took me here. Why is that?

AES aquired All Solar Electric in November 2015, when our friend, Victor Krambo, was looking to retire. If any ASE customers are looking for any warranty work or additional solar, we are happy to help!

+ What is Amicus?

We are a member-owner of the Amicus Solar Cooperative, which was started in 2011 with the goal of bringing together a select group of solar integrators who wish to bring the most knowledge and best products to their region’s customers, while allowing each member to provide the “family business feel” our customers have come to value.

Learn more about Amicus here.

+ Where can I find out about my solar rights?

In 2019, new CA law mandated that all solar companies present the 23-page California Solar Consumer Protection Guide to customers before they chose a solar integrator. Customers are instructed to read, initial and sign this document before they purchase a solar system that will be connected to a utility grid.

This guide encourages CA solar customers to be on the look out for false claims such as “Free solar!” or claims that they will never pay an electricity bill again.

Contact us to learn more

Or call 888.225.4984