Solar Power Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of solar power?

Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun. Installing solar panels on your home helps combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduces our collective dependence on fossil fuel. Traditional electricity is sourced from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

Can I get off grid with solar panels?

When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all of the power that you need, and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes battery storage, but it will cost significantly more and is unnecessary for the majority of homeowners

How does solar affect my property values?

Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.

Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?

Unless your solar energy system includes battery storage and you are fully off the grid, you will still receive a bill from your utility. However, you can dramatically reduce your bill, or even cut the amount you owe to $0, with a solar panel system that matches your energy use.

Should I buy or lease my solar panel system?

The decision to buy or lease your solar energy system depends on your reasons for going solar. If you are interested in maximizing the financial returns of your solar energy system, buying the system is probably a better decision for you. However, if you prioritize an easy, maintenance-free way to reduce your energy bills and help the environment, you should consider a solar lease.

Is any maintenance needed for my solar PV system? How often should solar panels be cleaned?

With limited maintenance, your solar system will operate at peak performance for many years. Cleaning intervals will vary depending on site-specific factors such as annual rainfall, roof tilt  (some arrays mounted at steep tilt angles in locations with hard rains will somewhat self-clean), and proximity of factors causing dust or debris on the array (such as trees or a frequently-traveled dirt road). It is best to consult your solar installer for a recommended cleaning schedule. SolarWorld recommends annual servicing to inspect electrical and mechanical connections for cleanliness, tightness, possible damage, and to ensure that the PV system is operating properly.

What is the difference between system power output and system energy production?

he AC power output of a solar array, measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW), is typically given on inverter output displays or remote monitoring sites. It is an instantaneous measurement, determined by the rated DC power output of the solar array, inverter efficiency and system losses, and is proportional to solar irradiance on the array.

The AC energy production of a solar array, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), is measured over periods of months and years to compare with sizing and long-term performance expectations. Solar kWh energy production is also typically given on inverter output displays or remote monitoring sites and can be compared with a household.

Note that for grid-connected PV systems, power generated by the solar PV system will first offset any electrical loads in the house, reducing the amount of kilowatt-hours purchased from the utility.

Will my system still generate power during a blackout?

For the safety of workers attempting to fix power outages, solar systems that are connected to the electrical grid are required by utility regulations to shut off during blackouts. We recommend battery backup or traditional generators in places where blackouts occur regularly.

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