Q: How long does it take to install a solar PV system?
A: Including rebates, utility connection agreements, and permits, the turn around time on a residential system is 4‐8 weeks after permit approvals. A commercial solar electric system will depend on the overall size of the system, location, and other variables.
Q: How much power does the solar PV system produce?
A: The output is determined by the type and number of PV modules used. The typical system size is determined by the amount of roof area available. The average home system is between 5 kW and 10 kW which is usually enough to produce 40% to 70% of the electric needs of the home.
Q: What is Net Metering?
A: Net Metering is when your PV system feeds more power into the electric utility grid than your house uses, and your house will pull power back from the grid at night when you PV system is not generating power. During the day your meter can actually run backwards! You only pay for the net amount of kWh you use. For example, if your home uses 3 kWh during the day and 2 kWh at the night and your system produces 5kWh, your net power from the electric company that day is 0kWh. Net metering even applies to months. If your system generates more power than you need in June, July and August, you will have a credit balance on your bill. This credit will apply to September, October, November, etc until it is used up. If you generate more electricity than you need for the full year the electric company will buy it back, however they will pay a lower price for excess power over a yearly basis.
Q: How much roof space is needed to power my house?
A: Allow 100 sq. ft. per every kilowatt (kW) of electricity the system produces. A typical residential solar electric system will require approximately 700 square feet.
Q: How are the solar panels attached to the roof?
A: The mounting system is composed of racks that attachthrough the shingles to the roof rafters with stainless steel screws. The attachment areas are sealed with a high‐quality polymer sealant for a water tight seal. Mounting systems are made from anodized aluminum and stainless steel.
Q: Should I replace my roof before the solar panels are installed?
A: Not necessarily, however, solar panels have a lifetime of over 25 years so the roof should be in good condition before installation. If the roof is going to need replacement within the next 8‐10 years we recommend replacing the roof before installing the system.
Q: Do the solar panels need to face south?
A: South is best, but panels installed facing south east or south west still generate a very high percentage of power. A site evaluation is done to determine how efficient the system will be including shading from trees or other roof sections.
Q: What is an inverter?
A: An inverter converts the DC (direct current) power produced by the solar panels into AC (alternating current) power. The Inverter outputs 220 Volts AC which is split into two legs of 120 Volts AC used in the house. There are two types of inverter systems. The first type is one large inverter installed on an exterior wall, basement or garage which all the panels feed into. The second type is a small module that is mounted underneath each panel and daisy chained from one panel to the other so each panel has it's own inverter. Shaded roofs are less susceptiple to voltage fluxuations with the smaller inverter modules.
Q: Do solar panels store energy from the sun?
A: No. The electricity generated by your system is used as it is produced. Any excess power generated is fed into the utility grid. This establishes a credit that is used to buy back the utility's power at night, or any other time that your home's demand is greater than your system's production.
Q: Does the sytem require batteries?
A: No. Batteries are only needed if you want a backup system if the grid goes down. Batteries have a limited life, require maintenance and are expensive. A backup generator is usually a more cost‐effective solution in those situations when the grid goes down. Battery backup systems are more beneficial in off-grid situations such as a mountain cabin.
Q: If the power goes out, will my solar system continue to produce electricity?
A: No. You will not have electricity if there is a utility power failure. While we could offer you a storage solution, the cost of batteries combined with their short lifespan and maintenance requirements makes them a product we choose not to offer. Unless you're in an off‐the‐grid situation, batteries rarely make sense.
Q: What happens if there is a utility power outage?
A: With grid‐tied solar PV systems, when the utility grid goes down your PV inverter will automatically shut down and you will experience a loss of power. This is for safety reasons to prevent utility workers from being electrocuted while working on the lines.
Q: How long will my solar system last?
A: Most solar panels come with a 25-year power output guarantee and thier lifespan can last up to twice that long. The power output guarantee on the solar panels is provided by the manufacturer of the panels and states that at the end of the 25th year, the solar panel will still produce a minimum of 80% of their original power output.
Q: What is the current PA Sunshine Program rebate amount?
A: The PA Sunshine Program rebate is now at it's forth tier at .75 per watt up to a maximum of $7,500. This will remain in effect until 10 MW of rebates have been allocated.
Q: How do I get the Rebates?
A: Renew America Energy will prepare the forms and applications for the PA rebate program. The PA rebate takes 4 to 6 weeks to process. The PA rebate is sent to the customer. This reduces the cash needed by the homeowner. Renew America Energy will also provide the paperwork necessary for you to take advantage of the Federal Income Tax Credit.
Q: What if I sell my house?
A: Typically, a solar PV system will increase the resale value of your home. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a home's resale value rises an average of $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills. For an 8 kW system, this would equate to an increase of about $33,000 in home resale value. It isn't advisable to move the system to your new home since that home will need to be properly evaluated for it's own system.
Q: Is my PV system covered by my homeowners insurance policy?
A: In most cases, PV systems are covered by your homeowners insurance as a dwelling extension. Check with your insurance company to make sure that the system is covered.
Q: What about cloudy and foggy days?
A: Your PV system will produce electricity at a reduced rate on cloudy and foggy days. The solar analysis performed on your site to generate this proposal takes into consideration the average amount of the sun's radiation that reaches your system and accounts for days that are cloudy, rainy, foggy, snowy, etc.
Q: What's the effect of rain?
A: Rain is great for cleaning your solar panels but as mentioned in the previous answer your energy production will be reduced while it is raining.
Q: What about Snow and Ice?
A: There will be times when snow and/or ice covers the panels. While this doesn't harm the panels, it will reduce energy production. Once the sun is shining the panels will warm up and melt any snow or ice buildup. Reflection off the snow on the ground and the roof will actually increase the energy production of your system.
Q: What about sleet and hail?
A: The solar panels are made of tempered glass with a silicon filler and PVC backer which will absorb the impact of large hail. The panels are designed to withstand hail up to 1 inch in diameter at speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
Q: Are the solar panels fragile?
A: No. While the panels are made of tempered glass, they are quite strong. They pass severe wind and hail tests, and are regularly installed in areas prone to hurricanes as well as Arctic and Antarctic conditions.