With so many working from home or scheduled now to work from home indefinitely, our homes were never really set up to be lived in 100% of the day. And, the idea of working from home while turning up the air just adds to another thing reducing your income exponentially. Don’t sweat it out, it’s solar to the rescue.
Residential Solar Adds Comfort and Savings
Are you considering solar panels for your home to help reduce energy costs? We’re not surprised. Solar has become big business, with the global market in excess of $160 billion. And, you’re not alone. Depending on the age group, up to 8% of people were recently surveyed by Statista. Inc. says they intend to install solar panels in the next twelve months.
The one thing these people have in common are questions, lots of questions. With that in mind, we prepared this FAQ section to address the most common issues on most consumers’ minds today.
The Answers To All Your Questions, No More Guessing
About Solar Energy
How does a solar panel (photovoltaic, PV) system work?
Photovoltaics is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Certain materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current that can be used as electricity results.
Solar panels are made up of many solar cells. Solar cells are made of silicon, like semiconductors. They are constructed with a positive layer and a negative layer, which together create an electric field, just like in a battery.
When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity. The more panels you can deploy, the more energy you can expect to generate.
What are the different types of solar panels?
First just a bit of background. Solar panels are also known as solar modules. The individual units on a panel are referred to as solar cells. The panels are installed on an aluminum framework, in a pattern designed by PEP Solar for maximum efficiency There are also frame-less models.
Choosing the optimum panels for your installation is largely dependent upon certain factors:
- Amount of shade
- And the amount of available space
The primary factors in determining the panels you will purchase are efficiency, power rating, bankability, and warranty.
- Efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that hits the solar cell that is converted to energy, the typical range is about 14 – 22%.PEP Solar panels are 20% – 23% depending on the model. We have the most powerful panel Alpha series on the planet with the new HJT technology (HIT is old technology).
- Panels have different wattage or power ratings, ranging between 300 and 370 watts. As you would expect those panels with higher wattage, tend to be more expensive, and many are larger in their space requirements.
- The manufacturer offers warranties between 10 and 25 years. Our MFG with PEP Solar solar warranty is up to depending on the model a 4 way 25 YEAR ALPHA Guard Performance, Product, Labor, Install. Ask about our ALPHA Guard series.
- Bankability, for the purposes of this response, bankability simply means to use a company you are confident will be in business for the course of your warranty and beyond. PEP Solar will always offer us the best solar panels with the original manufacturer’s shipping label. Panels shipping to the third party often resells modules with micro-cracks not covered by manufacturers after the sale. Microcracks allow for hot spots in the fifth year on average or 1% fires. Our Tier 1 manufacturers also have the financial ability to maintain the warranty.
There are several different types of solar cells. Amorphous Silicon, Cadmium Telluride, Concentrated PV cells, Copper Indium Gallium Selenide, Crystalline Silicon, and Dye-sensitized cells. PEP Solar is familiar with the different types of cells and will explain and recommend the appropriate option for your home.
What is a power inverter?
Solar panels and an inverter work together to form the primary components of your solar system. The power inverter converts the electricity from solar panels into useable energy. The electrical energy produced by solar panels is in the form of direct current or DC power, and our homes use alternating current or AC power. The inverter converts the solar energy from DC to AC.
PEP Solar will verify that your solar panels are compatible with the type of inverter you wish to use. They need to work together flawlessly. There are three types of inverters; String Inverters, Microinverters, and AC Modules.
- A String Inverter is a standard inverter, a stand-alone box installed near your fuse box or electric meter. String inverters work best when you have a single plane of panels and convert all your energy at once. Now rarely used because Arizona is a cloudy state and clouds every day can cause reduced power production compared to our more advanced microinverters (optimization is a less expensive way to help with cloudy days but not as advanced as micro-inverters)
- Microinverters are a bit more costly than string inverters. They are used in installations where you have multiple planes of panels and where energy is converted by individual panels (versus all at once). A microinverter is preferable when you have a partial shade that covers some panels. Although the capacity of the affected panels will be diminished, uncovered panels will continue to operate at peak power without help from other panels.
- If roof space is a problem, you will need to use AC Modules to optimize output. These panels have microinverters built into the individual panels allowing you to produce more energy from fewer panels.
Inverters are typically sized to match the output of your installation.
Do I need a solar monitoring system?
It’s essential that your solar system has a monitoring system that will allow you to view and measure real-time and historical energy production. To ensure your solar system is producing energy, it’s crucial to make sure your solar panels are paired with an energy production monitoring system. You will want to know how much energy you are producing, how much you are consuming, and how much you are sending back to your local utility. The inverter tracks and makes this information available. PEP Solar offers online monitoring or MFG phone application monitoring.
Can I go “off-grid” after installing solar panels?
Installing solar panels doesn’t mean that you’re off the grid. Most systems don’t generate enough electricity to be your sole source of power. As such, most homeowners stay connected to their local utility company. When you generate more energy than you use, your utility gives you a net metering credit on your electricity bill. Then when you need electricity, you spend your credits to supplement your solar power. When out of credits you’re simply charged the going rate for electricity at that time.
Going off the grid is possible, but would require solar battery banks to store energy from times when you have excess energy to those times you require additional energy.
Do I still need an electric meter with solar panels?
In most instances, yes. Most systems don’t generate enough electricity to be your only source of power. As such, most homeowners stay connected to their local utility company. When you generate more energy than you use, your utility gives you a net metering credit on your electricity bill. Then when you need electricity, you spend your credits to supplement your solar power. When out of credits you’re simply charged the going rate for electricity at that time.
The standard electric meter will need to be replaced with a grid-tied meter that shows these two numbers, the power bought, and the power sold. Most states make power companies use “net metering,” which means that you get paid the same amount for the excess power you generate as you pay for any additional power you need to buy.
Will I still receive an electric bill after installation?
Yes, for any energy used above and beyond your energy credits
Are there special charges from the utility when using solar?
This is becoming an area of contention as traditional electric suppliers are fighting to retain their profit margins. One Arizona utility has applied demand-charge rates for solar customers, an up-charge, that can’t be offset by the solar credits. Although a solar battery can change to storing and off-setting demand charges.
What is net metering?
When you generate more power than you use, your utility gives you a credit on your electricity bill. Most states make power companies use “net metering,” which means that you get paid the same amount for the excess power you generate as you pay for any additional power you need to buy.
What size solar system will I need for my home?
System size is largely dependent upon the amount of electricity you consume. The more energy you consume, the more solar power you’ll need to generate. Ideally, your system should produce enough power to offset 100% of your electricity requirements.
PEP Solar will help you determine the size of the system required. Since factors in determining the appropriate size of the system include your average usage and use history, it’s best to have a full year’s worth of electricity payments, so your system designer can factor in household usage patterns. Local weather, the size of your roof, the percent efficiency of the panels installed, and how much of your energy cost you wish to offset are other factors.
Are there environmental benefits to solar energy?
In addition to reducing air and water pollution, solar energy is renewable. By contrast, fossil fuels are not, and there will come a time when we will run out. Or, the cost of finding and extracting these sources will become too expensive. By that time, the resulting damage to the environment may be irreparable. Just remember, Coal lasts only minutes as it burns, while solar panels after they are created provide up to 50 years of energy.
Where Quality, Service & Design Have Value > PEP Solar Is #1
The Consideration Period
What am I paying for energy today? How do I find out?
Your average monthly energy usage is found on your utility bill in kWh – kilowatt-hours. Locate the total number of monthly kWh your home uses each month. There will be a total column on the bill which indicates your usage at a certain rate. Note, your total could also include additional value-added service charges.
Another method to determine usage is to conduct a test by reading your meter, noting your usage, and re-reading the meter one week later.
Is solar right for my home?
Orientation is important. Even if you do not have southern exposure, most solar panels can achieve 85%, or more, efficiency on east and west slopes. Extra panels can also be added to make up for the loss of power generation due to imperfect orientation. And PEP Solar can install on the north side with a reverse tilt to add even more power.
Is my roof suitable for solar panels? Will a solar installation void the warranty on my roof?
Roof slope and material are important considerations. Lower slope roofs are typically better at capturing more direct sunlight. Generally, the lighter in color your roof surface is, the cooler it will stay during the hot months of summer. The type, age, slope, and amount of shade affect the number of panels required. If you live in the northern hemisphere, it’s better to have more panels placed on the southern side of your roof.
Your roof represents a significant investment. We install panels properly with lifetime sealants, and as a result, solar panels will not void your roof warranty. PEP Solar has advanced roof knowledge to install on even rubber and TPO membrane roofs to not void the MFG warranty.
What are the available tax credits, grants, rebates, and incentives?
To view a comprehensive list of federal, state, and local tax credits, grants, and rebates, we recommend you visit DSIREUSA.ORG, the primary resource for renewable energy and energy-efficiency incentives. The site even includes utility company offers and incentives. The information is organized by state and updated weekly
Are there other options for installing solar?
The below options offer the advantage of lower monthly energy costs, without upfront costs:
- Leasing allows you to “rent” the renewable energy system for a set period. Generally, you pay a fixed monthly rate no matter how much energy the system produces each month. This is among the worst ways to go solar and it will ruin your ability to demand a higher sell price for your home.
- A PPA wherein a third party owns and maintains your renewable energy system. Typically, you pay for the electricity generated at a rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which your agreement specifies. This is no different than renting solar.
- The best way is to own solar, as PEP Solar offers loans as low as 3.99% and as long as 25 years so you can use the bank’s money, Own Your Solar™, increase your equity, and obtain the federal tax credit now 26% and the state tax credit now 25% or up to $1,000 (please consult your licensed CPA).
How will a solar installation impact the value of my home?
The addition of a solar system will favorably impact the value of your home and its desirability when selling the property. A typical 6-kilowatt installation could increase your home value by $24k, about $4k per kilowatt for a well-maintained home.
What are applicable local, state, and federal laws regarding solar?
As with anything, you must comply with laws and permit requirements when it comes to installing a solar energy system. For the most part, US laws favor solar energy, but there are isolated cases of community associations that still resist solar paneling.
We strongly recommend:
- Choosing a solar provider who knows local laws and standards
- Call your local city hall and get in contact with their experienced experts on solar.
Like laws in general, solar permit laws are meant to protect you. Common problems with solar electric systems include excessive roof load, improper wiring, and unlawful tampering with water supply.
Will my HOA allow solar panels?
Federal and state laws prohibit any HOA from rejecting solar installs. PEP Solar even paints your conduit to match when the project is fully commissioned and the paint is provided by the customer.
To read part 2 – click here!
Advanced Solar Product
Phoenix Energy Products, dba PEP Solar, has exclusive solar energy products not available with other companies. At PEP we are the Solar Smart Home™ of the future. Ask about our other products.
Solar Air Conditioning
PEP Solar installed over 83 solar air conditioners just for Arizona State Parks & Trails. You can rent one of these cabins at many locations around Arizona. Our systems heat, cool, and the 5th generation now can operate while the grid is down while full sun.
PEP Solar Started 43 Years Ago
Here’s a throwback to one of our old ads from 1981. For companies who say they are older, we just say show us your old ads and pictures with you on the roof.
We have learned a few things over the years. Pick up the phone and find out just how nice and professional our team really is…