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Have questions about solar energy? We have answers.

How do Solar Panels generate electricity?

Solar Panels are made of Silicon. When sunlight is absorbed by the Silicon, it releases electrons. When released, those electrons only have one place they want to go; ground. The solar panel and associated wiring direct those free-wheeling electrons to the route to ground that will generate power for you. Power that you can use in your home or to sell back to the utility for other buildings to use.

If it’s cloudy, will my panels still make electricity?

I’m afraid not. The Silicon only releases electrons when absorbing sunlight. There are cloudy days where there is still some ambient light around and your panels will make some electric then, just not as much as a clear, sunny day.

Will my Solar Panels act as a backup if the utility power goes out?

No. Your system is designed to work along with your utility. If the system detects that there is no power available from the grid, it shuts down. This is a code requirement that protects the utility lineman from shock hazards that would be created from a system sending power into the grid without their knowledge.

How long will a Solar Power system last?

Our PV Module warranty is for 25 years. Although there are not many systems in the US that have been around that long, there’s known to be systems in California approaching 40 years and still running strong.

Do I need a new roof before I get solar?

Your roof needs to be in good condition simply because you don’t want to incur the cost of removing the solar to replace the roof.  Generally, if the roof is less than 12 years old, it should be OK.  Solar panels can actually extend the life of the roof because it won’t get as hot.

What happens when it snows? We get lots of snow here.

The panels won’t produce any electricity when covered with snow. In many areas, the typical snowstorm is usually followed by a bright, sunny day. That sun will melt the snow quickly and your panels will be making power in no time.

I have a lot of trees, can I still get solar?

You can, but we might have to fire up the chainsaw!  When we speak to you about Solar, we’ll pull up a satellite map of your property.  That will show us if shading is a major problem or not.  You should also know that having Solar electric is the equivalent of planting acres of trees, so don’t sweat over cutting down one or two. Or you could opt for the off-site options we talk about in our education seminars.

What kind of maintenance does a Solar electric system require?

Solar electric systems require very little maintenance. In our area, normal rainfall cycles do a good job of keeping the panels clean. During very dry periods, it is a good idea to hose them off with a garden hose (just don’t do it when it’s very sunny out). I good rule to live by is that if you have a lot of dust or pollen on your car, there’s likely just as much on your panels and you should hose them off.

What are the benefits to owning a Solar electric system?

There are many. Typically, you can greatly reduce your electric bill or even eliminate it altogether. Combine that with the Federal Investment Tax Credit, Utility Rebates, and the costs are reduced to the point where your system can pay a rate of return much higher than the stock market or bank deposits. Lastly, it helps the environment – every Solar electric system installed is like planting acres of trees.

How do I know that my system is working?

Solar electric systems don’t make noise and have no moving parts so it is definitely hard to tell. Typically, when you first have your system installed, you’ll spend a lot of time watching your electric meter spin backwards. You’ll realize that every time the kids leave the lights on, the meter spins backwards slower. The kids will likely despise your newfound obsession for energy conservation. Once the newness wears off, you’ll stop watching the meter and you’ll think about it less and less. Lot’s of people don’t realize they are having a problem with their system until they receive their (too high) electric bill. Fortunately, every system we install can be monitored so the instant there’s a reduction in performance we’ll be there to fix it.

How heavy are your panels?

Our Modules in development weigh approximately 8 lbs each, and can typically be mounted with less than 1 lb/sf roof loading.

How long do they last? Are they guaranteed?

Our Modules are designed to last for more than 30 years and we guarantee the power output for the first 25 years of operation.They will degrade by no more than 1% annually for the first ten years, so our modules are guaranteed to be at the industry standard guarantee of 90%. And at year 25, it’s still at least 80%, a linear performance guarantee provides clear added value that you can take to the bank.

Do these solar panels break easily?

No. Our Modules are made from tempered, shatterproof glass and are designed to withstand up to 1″ diameter hail strikes at over 50 mph as well as wind and snow loads up to 112 psf.

How much space does this require on a roof?

Solar panels are modular by nature, so your system can be sized to fit your roof as well as your electric bill. As a rule of thumb, each kW of PV will take up about 100 square feet of roof space.

Can I install a solar system myself?

While technically possible, we do not recommend that homeowners install their own systems. Most city and state building codes require a licensed electrician to connect the system to the grid and a trained solar installer can help to ensure that your system is well designed and qualifies for the maximum possible rebates and other incentives.

Does it take more energy to manufacture these solar panels than they produce in their lifetime?

No. In a typical installation, our module will provide “energy payback” (produce more energy than was required to manufacture it) within 1 to 2 years.

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With over 200,000 panels installed, we are proud to be the premier solar installation firm for companies and homeowners throughout the US.

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