Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to frequently asked questions below.
Would my home or business be a good candidate for solar?
Solar power systems interface with all parts of a building: the roof, the siding, the structure, the electrical system, the orientation, and site. Solar arrays can be mounted on east or west facing roofs, but southern exposures are preferred. They can also be mounted on the ground. Shading from trees or other obstructions has a major impact on system performance. The electrical service equipment has to be large enough to accommodate the solar power system, and free from major code violations. Because solar panels add and redistribute weight to the roof, the house structure may need to be upgraded for solar panel installation. The best way to determine the suitability of your house for solar power installation is to contact us for an assessment!
Is switching to solar a difficult process?
With Solar Five® Solar Power Systems, it’s easy to make the switch. Although there are a fair number of steps involved in installing a solar power system, we manage the process as much as possible for our customers, while delivering a high-quality product.
What happens if I sell my house?
Recent studies show that a solar power system increases the property value by a substantial amount, often recovering 100 percent of the original cost. The actual answer depends on whether you leased or purchased your solar power system, but this should not at all be a cause for concern.
If you purchased your solar power system using cash or by taking a loan, there are no encumbrances in a home sale scenario. Purchasing a rooftop solar power system is an economic home-investment.
I want an installation on my house! What happens now?
Once we have been in contact and you agree to a free site assessment, we will arrange for it to happen as soon as possible. For local customers, this should happen within a week, depending on availability. We require you to be present for the assessment. Its purpose is to verify that your house is suitable for solar panel installation and to evaluate the details needed for engineering. Our site surveyor will evaluate the optimal positioning of your system and give you detailed information about the system options available, your return on investment, and the products we use.
What is a Photovoltaic System and how does it work?
Photovoltaic (often abbreviated as “PV”) is a scientific term used in the solar power industry to describe the process and effect that the sun’s rays have with your solar panels to create electricity.
Your solar panels are made of individual cells with negatively-charged and positively-charged wafers. When light hits the cells, it energizes electrons from the negatively-charged wafers that flow as an electrical current through the conductor to the positively-charged wafers. This current can then be used to power loads that are connected to this conductor.
What is an inverter and why do I need one?
Your solar power system uses an inverter to change the DC electricity produced by your solar panels to the AC electricity used in your home.
What does it mean to have a grid-tied system?
Currently, you receive your electricity from the “grid.” The electricity produced by your solar power system can replace up to 100 percent of the electricity normally received from the grid or your electric provider. On those occasions when your solar power system produces more electricity than you are consuming at any given moment, the excess is sent from your system to the grid. At night, on very cloudy or during stormy days when your solar power system is producing less electricity than you are consuming, your electricity will come from the grid.
What is Net Metering?
For houses that have solar power systems, special billing arrangements are needed to account for the energy produced by the system. Customers with net metering get credit for the electricity they have used from their solar power system at its full retail value. Typically, the utility provider keeps track of the energy flowing from the utility and “nets” it against the energy flowing back to the grid from the PV system each month. Adjustments are made for seasonal variations over the course of a whole year. The customer then only has to pay for the electricity used in excess of what their PV system provided.
Net metering is usually mandated by state law, and not all utilities offer net metering. Municipal utilities, in particular, are sometimes not required to offer true net metering. All utilities are mandated to offer interconnection and financial consideration for the power produced, but instead of the full retail amount for the solar energy production, they offer an “avoided cost” amount that is less than the retail electricity rate.
If a solar power system produces more energy than is used, on average, every month at a house, compensation varies by utility. Some will pay the “avoided cost” rate for this electricity. Some allow credit for this energy to be allocated to other accounts they administer. Generally, offsetting 80 to 90 percent of a house’s consumption offers the best return on investment.
How long can I expect my solar system to produce electricity?
The PV modules that make up the solar panels are typically warrantied for 20 to 25 years. Solar Five® offers an extended 20-year minimum warranty on the inverters that it installs. The racking and electrical components are all of the best quality and designed to last for 20+ years. PV modules and other equipment have been known to last more than 30 years. In fact, some of the first solar power systems installed in a residential setting from the 1970’s are still functional.
How big of a system can I fit on my roof?
Standard PV modules are rated about 13.8 watts per square foot. The energy produced by a PV panel depends on the site conditions. Ultimately the number of solar panels appropriate for your house will depend on the available area and the amount of electricity consumed.
Do PV modules produce the same amount of energy every year?
No. Weather conditions play a significant role in yearly solar energy output. PV modules degrade slightly every year. You should expect somewhere between 0.25 to 0.75 percent energy loss every year from the date of installation.
How long does the installation process take?
This depends on the jurisdiction and the complexity of the project. Typically, we estimate between 30 days and 90 days, depending on many variables. Installing a solar power system requires multiple permits and applications to be filed with building departments, utilities, and state-based rebate authorities, in addition to financial institutions if a loan or lease is being used to finance the purchase. All of these different agencies and institutions have their requirements and timeframes that may expedite or delay solar panel installation. Difficult or unusual projects may take additional time to design and plan.
How many kWH can my system produce?
In good conditions, on average over the whole year, a one kW system will produce 3.5 kWH of electricity per day. This equates to over 1,300 kWH per year and an offset of over 1 ton of greenhouse emissions.
Will I be able to use electricity from my solar system during a blackout from the grid?
No, your “grid-tied” solar power system is entirely grid-dependent and, for safety reasons, the solar power system will shut down for as long as the power blackout lasts. Turning the main switch off in your solar panel will also cause the solar power system to shut down.
If you leased your solar power system, the terms of the lease will dictate how the lease is transferred to the new homeowners, but all the lease programs we offer are fully transferable.