Below is a list of frequently-asked questions about solar energy. Are there other things you’d like to know about solar? Send us an email and we’ll try to add your question.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy takes advantage of the sun’s rays to generate heat or electricity. It is an infinitely renewable resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner. Can’t beat the sun for being oh-so-cool!
How do Solar Photovoltaic Cell work?
In layperson terms, photovoltaic cells are comprised of a semiconductor material such as silicon. Added to the silicon are the elements phosphorous and boron which create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons. The electrons move across the cell when activated by the sunlight’s energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel.
How many solar panels do I need for a solar power system?
The size of the photovoltaic system is correlated to your home’s energy-use needs, available space for a system, and overall costs for the system components and installation. Solar contractors in your area can help determine the best size for your solar photovoltaic system.
What is an Off-Grid Solar Power System?
It is possible to install a solar system that is independent of the electrical grid. This is called an off-grid system, and it requires that the solar panels are able to produce enough electricity to cover 100% of the energy needs of the buildling. Most homes have higher electricity demand in the evening or at night, so off-grid systems usually incorporate either a battery (to store energy produced during the day), a backup source of energy (like a generator), or both. Off-grid systems are more complex and less flexible than grid-tied systems.
What is a Grid-Tied Solar Power System?
Grid-tied systems are the most common type of solar PV system. Grid-tied systems are connected to the electrical grid, and allow residents of a building to use solar energy as well as electricity from the grid. Grid-tied systems do not need to produce 100% of the electricty demand for a home or business. When there is no demand for energy, the solar panels send excess electricity back out into the grid for use elsewhere. When a home or business is using energy, but the solar panels aren’t producing enough energy (at night, or on a stormy day), electricity from the grid supplements or replaces electricity from the panels. Owners of a grid-tied system complete a net metering agreement with their utility. This agreement allows utility customers to receive credit for the excess energy they generate, typically credited as a kilowatt-hour credit on the next month’s bill. Net metering policies and agreements are different for each utility. Living with a grid-tied solar PV system is no different than living with utility electricity, except that some or all of the electricity you use comes from the sun. Grid-tied systems do not provide protection from power outages. When the electrical grid fails, grid-tied systems will not continue to operate. This allows utility employees to fix the power lines safely without wasting time identifying solar energy systems that are still feeding electricity into the power lines.
What is a Hybrid Solar Power System?
Grid-tied systems can be upgraded to include a battery backup: a bank of deep-cycle batteries. The backup battery is charged by both the grid and the solar panels. In the event of an outage, the backup battery will need to be switched on either manually or with an automatic system to provide backup power to the building.
How much does a solar electric power system cost?
Total cost depends on the components to be used – solar panels, panel mounts, charge controllers batteries and inverter – and labor associated with installation. It does not however, reflect all the avoided costs, such as the incentive and the credits received through net metering. To give an actual computation, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.
How much will I really save on my utility bills from using home solar power setup?
Of course this is a relative question. It depends, in part, on how much electricity you use and how efficient the appliances are that you operate. That said expect to generate excess electricity in the summer (when days are long) which can potentially offset the energy you use from the grid during rainy season. A combination of energy efficient appliances and light bulbs can help reduce your homes energy bill by over two-thirds.
How much maintenance do solar panels require?
Solar photovoltaic panels require little maintenance – no need to wash or dust. It is, however, important to place panels where they will remain clear of shade and debris. Thus you will have to wipe them off if too much dirt or leaves fall on them.
What should I ask to a professional solar installer?
Solar professional installers can take the guess work out of installing a solar power system. When you decided to install a solar power system, a solar pro can help you determine the type and size of system that will work best and guide you through the process.
How long will it take to install a solar power system in my home?
Planning, configuring, and doing any custom ordering for your solar energy system can
take up to a few weeks. However, the installation process itself can typically be completed in only a few days time, in many cases even lesser.