Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about solar system installations:
Typical residential PV arrays are from 6 - 30 modules, 2kW - 9kW, and require approximately 120 - 600square feet of space. Actual area needed will be determined during your Solar Site survey.
Panels are often mounted on the roof, but can also be mounted on the ground. If there is room available at the property, ground-mounted or pole-mounted arrays are preferable in the long term as there are no additional costs when it comes time to re-roof your property.
South is best, but panels installed facing east or west can still provide a great deal of power for you. The best way to determine what makes sense for you is to have one of our solar professionals come out to your property. Contact us today to schedule a Solar Site survey.
Each home or application is different, and the amount of electricity you use is very dependent upon your lifestyle, how your home was built, and your appliances. When you contact us for a Solar Site survey we will help you identify how much electricity you use and tailor a system that makes sense for your particular needs.
Systems come in many sizes, and we will work with you to determine the correct size system for your specific needs. Depending on your energy goals and budget, the system can produce 100% of your electricity needs if desired.
The solar panels have a 25-year power warranty from the manufacturer but they can last up to 40 or more years. What else have you ever purchased for your home with that kind of warranty? The other major components (inverters, mounting system) generally have a 10 year manufacturer's warranty, but many are moving to a 25-year warranty also.
For safety reasons, and UL requirements, inverters for grid-tied systems do not generate power when the utility is out, even if it is sunny. If you live in an area with utility power but have frequent power outages, we have grid-tied systems with battery backup for critical loads.
If you are off-grid or need back-up power for critical loads then there is a need for batteries. Most grid-tied solsr PV power systems do not have batteries.
Net Metering allows you to send any power that you are not currently using back into the grid. A separate REC meter is installed and meters all solar PV power produced so you get credit for every kilowatt hour generated by your system. Exact provisions vary from different utility companies, but the effect is to allow you to generate excess power during the day, and use it at night.
In a grid-tied system power is not stored. It is either used immediately in the house, or sent back to the utility grid.
In a grid-tied system with battery backup, a small battery bank stores energy for your critical loads during a power outage.
In an off-grid system, all of the solar energy is sent through a charge controller, stored in a battery bank for use as needed. An inverter changes the DC battery power into pure sine-wave AC power.
Generally, if you think you will get another 5 years out of your roof go ahead and install the solar system. If you think you will need to replace your roof within the next 5 years you may want to install a new roof before your install your new solar system. Solar panels will last many years and after the panels are in place, they will greatly reduce the wear on your roof by blocking ultraviolet rays. Most installations do not require a new roof prior to PV installation. Back to top
PV panels should be installed in areas where they get significant direct sunlight every day. Even small amounts of shade can significantly reduce the output of your system. Our designs and installations also seek to minimize the impact of any shade issues through selection of the proper equipment and good engineering. Part of our service during a Solar Site survey is to provide a full shading analysis for your location which will help us determine the best placement free of shade.
DC to DC power optimizers are another good way to mitigate the effects of shade and other system losses in a solar PV system. We will incorporate these into designs when applicable.
Most of our customers do not clean their panels. However, you will see a performance gain from cleaning the panels if you are willing to invest the time and effort. If necessary, usually a wet cloth or gentle water stream are sufficient for cleaning. Do not spray water under high-pressure, on PV wiring connections or on the panels when they are very hot. Do not use chemical cleaning agents. Back to top
Yes, solar works very well for commercial buildings. We install solar on office buildings, retail buildings, schools, and government facilities, airports - anywhere electricity is used. For commercial solar applications, please visit our Grid-tied Commercial solar systems section. Back to top
Energy conservation and renewable generation adds value to a home. Surveys have shown that for every $1,000.00 saved per year, $20,000.00 is added to a home's value. Solar energy can be one of the best home improvement investments you make. Back to top
Typical residential systems take from 2 to 5 days to install while commercial systems may take several weeks to over a month to install.
Systems mounted on the ground are more complex as ditching and pole foundation construction are required, and may take longer. Most of the installation work is done outside of your home, so there is little disturbance to you.
The total time from application to your Utility company and County entities to when they complete their final inspections and we energize the solar system varies. The application process usually takes several weeks to obtain approval for the project. If an engineer review and stamp are required it may add a few days.
After that the installation takes place when all system materials are available.
The final inspection from NMCID is next. The inspection department will inform the Utility that the system has been inspected and the REC meter will be installed by the Utility field crew at that point.
The Utility will then schedule and perform and anti-islanding test and the system can be energized for use at that point.
REC credits start from the moment the system is turned on.