Solar Energy FAQs

Solar Energy FAQs

Will solar power work for me?

To reap the rewards of solar power, solar panels should be placed where they receive the most sunlight possible. This is typically on south facing roofs that receive unobstructed sunlight. However, wall, pole or ground mounted panels as well as tracking mounts that can tilt panels toward the sun may also make solar a viable option. A qualified solar technician can assess your property and your energy usage to help you find the renewable energy source that’s right for you.

How much money will I save using solar energy?

Exact savings is dependent upon the output of your solar energy system and your electric usage. To get a general estimate of savings, use our solar calculator below.

Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy or cold?

Even on a cloudy day your panels will still produce electricity since solar panels collect direct and diffused light. Solar cells use this light to produce energy, so they don’t need heat to function. Solar panels conduct electricity better when they are cold and work well in cool climates.

How long do solar panels last?

Most solar panels come with a 25 year warranty, however, they may continue to remain effective long after this. Some homeowners claim that their panels continue to produce adequate electricity well after their warranty period ends. Solar panel systems installed with no moving parts will require little to no maintenance.

What is the difference between off grid and grid-tied?

An off grid solar energy system is not tied to the local utility company. This system requires a back up energy source, such as a battery or a generator, to be used during times your solar panels are not generating electricity.

A grid-tied solar energy system is connected to the local utility power grid. Grid tied systems allow you to pull electricity from the utility grid when your solar panels aren’t producing electricity. In turn, any excess power generated by your panels during the day is fed back to the utility company.

What is net metering?

Since many solar powered homes generate more electricity than needed during daylight hours, net metering allows the homeowners whose solar energy systems are grid-tied to receive a credit for power generated by their system that is sent back to the grid. These credits for net excess generation may be applied to electricity the homeowner pulls from the utility company at night or when their electricity usage exceeds their solar energy output. Using net metering can greatly reduce or even eliminate your electric bill.

How do I get power at night?

If your system is grid tied, it will still be connected to the local utility which will automatically feed your home power when you need it. If your system is off grid, it will no longer be connected to the utility company and you will need a backup battery to store excess energy generated during the day for nighttime use. Your renewable home energy technician will help choose the right type and size battery to meet your energy needs.

How much money can I expect to save with incentives?

DSIREusa.org can give you up-to-date information on incentives and policies that support the use of renewable energy. Federal tax credits and state incentives will significantly reduce the cost of your solar energy system.

Do I need to replace my roof before I install solar panels?

Solar Energy FAQs

Since solar panels will last over 25 years, your roof should be in good condition and no more than 10 years old. If your budget is limited, you may replace only the roof tiles where the solar panels will be placed. Remember that solar panels will greatly reduce the wear on the roof by protecting it from snow, ice, and ultraviolet rays.