Frequently Asked Questions

What is solar power?

Solar power is electricity that is generated from the sun's energy. Solar power is an infinitely renewable resource, giving it the unique ability to generate energy that is clean, quiet, and consistent.

How does home solar power work?

Home solar power is based on photovoltaic (PV) panel technology. PV panels use a semiconductor material like silicon, along with elements like phosphorous and boron that create conductivity within the photovoltaic cells. The sun’s energy activates the electrons in the elements, which move across the cell to create electricity. This electricity is created as direct current (DC) power, which PV panels change into alternating current (AC) power suitable for use in your home using an inverter.

Are there any major advances in home solar technology coming soon that I should wait for?

No. Unlike other technologies like computer chips, photovoltaic technology is not subject to Moore's Law. Instead of rapid performance gains, PV technology has slowly improved over time, which means there is no need to hold out for major advances on the horizon, since they won't offset the savings you could be receiving now.

If I have home solar, do I still need to connect my home to the grid?

Yes. A home solar power system is interconnected with the grid, and is designed to work with your utility company to provide consistent power. During the day, solar power will be the primary source of electricity for your home. If your system produces more electricity than your home is using, you may be eligible for net metering that credits you for the excess power that you generate and return to the grid. At night, and if your electricity demands exceed the power produced by your solar system, your utility company will provide you with power to match your needs. Systems are also available with a battery backup that charges during the day when your system is producing excess power, and provides power back to you at night and in the event of a power outage. To see how much you could save, click here to request a free home solar quote.

What is a net meter?

Net meters are just like other outdoor electricity meters, with one important difference – they spin forwards to record power used, but can also spin backwards to record power produced by your home solar power system and returned to the grid. Since your home solar power system is interconnected with your utility, if your solar system produces more electricity during the day than your home is using, your utility may allow the crediting of your account for the excess power generated and returned to the grid.

How much can I expect to save with home solar power?

The average homeowner pays 65% less to their utility, and saves hundreds if not over $1,000 per year on electricity by installing solar panels on their roof. That’s including the cost of the solar panels! To find out how much you can save, contact us for a free home solar quote.

How much does a home solar power system cost?

Every rooftop is different, so the best way to find out how much home solar would cost you is to contact us for a free home solar quote. While the total up-front cost of solar is one number to consider, it's also important to calculate the financing terms, return-on-investment, and cash flow of the entire system. Solar leases and other innovative financing models mean that many people can go solar for little or no money down. Some solar customers even save more on their electricity payments than they pay for their panels, meaning their investment is cash-flow positive from day one! Factors that influence the cost of solar for your home or business include available, unshaded roof space, the current energy usage of your home or business, your current energy costs, other energy efficiency improvements that you have already made, any utility net metering policies in your area, federal investment tax credits for solar, as well as any other tax credits, rebates, or other state & local incentives you might quality for with solar energy. To find out what a home solar power system would cost for you, contact us for a free home solar quote.

Will a home solar power system increase my property taxes?

No. Solar improvements add significant value to your property, but do not cause an increase in property tax.

How much of my home’s energy needs can be provided by a home solar power system?

Solar customers typically generate 50 to 90% of the energy they use every year from solar power. Since solar power is more affordable than electricity from the utility company, that can lead to significant savings on your monthly power bill! It's also important to understand that solar power systems do not need to provide all of the electricity your home needs to still be a great value. A small system that covers an average of one-quarter to one-half of your power demands still reduces your electric bill, and provides a source of clean, renewable energy.

Is it possible to have a $0 electric bill?

Yes. Some solar systems do produce more electricity than is used each month, bringing your net electricity costs to $0. Usually there is a small connection fee (typically about $100 per year) to remain connected to the electrical grid, but your monthly bill can be drastically reduced, and sometimes even reduced to $0. To find out how much you can save, contact us for a free solar quote.

What is a solar lease?

A solar lease is when you pay for your home solar power system over a period of years, rather than with a large up-front payment. Customers can often purchase solar for little or no money down, and start seeing energy savings immediately. To find out if you’re eligible for a home solar lease program, contact us for a free home solar quote.

What rebates and incentives are available for solar energy?

There is a 30-percent federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy systems purchased through December 31st, 2016, and both residential and commercial customers are eligible. In addition to the federal ITC, many states, counties, municipalities, and utilities offer rebates and other incentives for solar energy technologies. To learn the most up-to-date information on solar incentives and rebates you may quality for, contact us today for a free home solar quote.

Do solar panels work when it's cloudy or raining?

Yes! Photovoltaic panels can use either direct or indirect sunlight to generate power. Though they are most effective in direct sunlight, solar panels still work even when light is partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt, so the occasional shower is good for them. To find out your home is right for solar, contact us for a free home solar quote.

Do solar panels work in the winter?

Yes. Solar panels do work in the winter, as long as they're not covered by snow or other materials. Given equal sunlight, a solar panel on a cold day will actually out-produce a solar panel on a hot day! In addition, you'll likely generate excess electricity in the summer months when days are long, which can help offset the cost of the energy you need in the winter.

How long will it take to install a solar power system in my home?

Planning, configuring, and any custom ordering for your solar power system can take up to a few weeks. However, the installation process itself can typically be completed in just a few days, and in many cases even less.

Can I install a solar power system myself?

It is not recommended. The process requires both licensed electrical and roofing skills to ensure your solar power system is safe and optimally designed for many years of energy production. In addition, each location has unique permits that are required to install solar, which your solar installer will manage to make sure you're covered.

How much space do I need for a home solar power system?

As a good rule of thumb, a photovoltaic panel yields 10 watts of power per square foot in bright sunlight. For example, a 1,000 watt PV system may need 100 – 200 square feet of area, depending on the type of module used. To calculate your specific power needs, contact us for a free home solar quote.

How many panels do I need for a home solar power system?

The size of your photovoltaic system is dependent on your home’s energy needs, available space for a system, and overall costs for the system components and installation. To determine the best size for your home solar power system, contact us for a free quote.

What direction does my roof need to face to be compatible with home solar?

In the United States, roofs facing south receive the most sunlight. However, many roof directions are compatible with solar, so contact us for a free home solar quote so we can evaluate your specific roof situation.

Are there solar installation options other than the roof?

Yes. If a roof-mounted system won't work for your specific needs, there are also options for a ground-mount, trellis, or pergola applications. To find out if your roof is right for solar, contact us for a free home solar quote.

What happens to my solar power system in extreme weather conditions?

Solar panels are designed to withstand high winds, snow loads, and even hail. When properly installed, extreme weather does not pose a danger to your solar installation.

How much maintenance does a home solar power system require?

Solar photovoltaic panels have no moving parts, and are designed to last 25-years or longer, so they require little maintenance. It’s recommended that the installer do a system check once a year, just to make sure everything is performing as it should, but many installers cover the cost of that visit. If convenient, you can also hose off the solar panels two or three times a year to make sure they’re performing at their best.

I’m planning to replace my roof soon. Does it make sense to install a home solar power system at the same time?

Yes. If you’re planning to replace your roof in the next few years, it may make sense to install your solar power system at the same time as the new roof so that your solar installer and roof installer can coordinate efforts.

What happens if I decide to sell my house after having solar installed?

A home solar power system can save you money today, and even pay for itself in as little as five to seven years. When you do decide to sell, having a home solar power system is a huge benefit. According to one study, homes with solar power systems command more at resale than homes without. Because of that, most customers simply transfer their solar agreement to the home’s new owner. You can also buy out the system ahead of time and include the cost in your home’s sale price.

Do I need special insurance for home solar panels?

No. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies will usually cover your home solar power system as well.

Will I need a building permit to install a solar power system in my home?

Yes. You need building permits to install a solar photovoltaic system in your home, and building, electrical, and plumbing codes will also apply. Thankfully, most jurisdictions have building codes that embrace solar power technologies, making the process easy. Your solar estimate will include the cost of these permits in the total estimate, so contact us today for a free home solar quote.

Why is it important to get quotes from multiple solar companies?

As with any major purchase, you want to compare costs, information, and other factors like timing and availability. Getting quotes from multiple solar companies provides you with more options, can help set realistic expectations, and helps you fine-tune the solar system that will work best for your needs.

How does WikiConsumer.org help me shop for home solar?

WikiConsumer.org saves you time, money, and headaches by connecting you directly to the best home solar companies in your area. We only work with experienced solar companies that have a history of success and satisfied customers. To learn more about home solar, just contact us for a free home solar quote. By telling us a little bit about your solar needs, you can be sure to receive competitive bids from the very best companies in your area. WikiConsumer.org was designed for you the consumer and is completely free to use, and there are no obligations, so contact us today for a free home solar quote.

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