1How does solar power work?
A solar panel, or module, generally consists of a series of solar cells encapsulated by a thermoplastic backsheet and a tempered glass panel. The module is generally set into an aluminum frame. A group of modules is called an array. When sunlight strikes the surface of the array there is a voltage generated. When the system is operating, there will be a current in the wires from the solar modules to the inverter. This will be a DC current that goes in one direction. The inverter is a device which converts the DC current from the modules into Alternating Current (AC). In alternating current, the current goes back and forth rapidly in the wire. The alternations happen at a frequency of around 60 times per second. The power supplied to your home or business from the utility is AC and the inverter synchonizes the power output from the solar array with that of the utility. The output of the inverter connects to the service panel (or breaker box) for your property. There it can provide power either to your property or back to the utility.
2What is Net Metering/How do I get credit for my power?
After the energy from your solar system reaches your service panel (breaker box) it can either be used in your property or sent back to the utility. When electrical energy goes from the utility into your home it runs through your electric meter and the utility uses that measurement to bill you. When energy flows from your solar array and goes back to the utility, the meter measures that as negative and it serves as an energy credit. Some of the energy from your solar array will get used by you at your property and that is an energy savings. But, sometimes you will continue to use energy from the utility (at night for example) and you will be billed for that. Over the course of the year, you will accumulate credits and debits of energy and the utility will bill you on the amount you used minus the credit amount. In some cases, you may end up with more credit than debit, but we size the system to make that unlikely because they don't pay you at nearly the rate at which they bill.
3Will I have power during a power outage?
Generally, no. The system does not store energy. Conventional solar systems need to shut off when the power goes out so that they do not energize the utility lines in case a utility worker is working on them trying to restore power during an outage. There are solar systems which include battery back-up and are automatically isolated from the utility during an outage. This is quite an expensive addition and in most areas the power doesn't go off often enough to justify the expense for most people. However, if backup power, which doesn't require bringing in fuel or connecting to gas lines which might be compromised in an earthquake is very important it is a possible option.
4Are there rebates or other incentives?
There is a federal tax credit of 30% through the end of 2019. After that it is scheduled to decrease to 10%. This is not just a deduction, it is a credit and every dollar of your tax credit will reduce your federal income taxes by a dollar. Depending on your utility, there are also rebates which are decreasing as time passes. If your system is for a business, it can be depreciated over 5 years.
5What kind of maintenance is required?
One of the best features of solar power is it's reliability. Solar modules come with a warranty that they will provide at least 80% of their rated power after 25 years. Your entire system will function day in and day out without your having to do anything other than enjoy your reduced energy bills. In the event that there is an issue, all your equipment is covered by a 10 year warranty that includes labor. If you wish, you may want to wash your solar modules. Some studies have shown losses of up to 7% from soiling. You may wish to wash your solar modules or hire someone to do it with window washing equipment or just hose them off. Please clean them in the morning or evening to avoid thermal shock on the glass face if they are hot and the water is cold.
6How much will it cost?
We prefer to think of how much it will save and with financing that can include no down payment and up to a year with no payments you may well find that your cash flow is positive from the first day on. But, as far as the price of your system goes, it varies quite a lot based on your system size and components. That depends on your roof space and energy needs. We're sorry that we can't quote a price on the website, but please contact us for a hassle-free (and free of cost) estimate.