FAQ About Going Solar

FAQ for solar installation

Are you weighing your options about switching to solar? Let us help clear up any questions you may have. Below, we answer some common FAQs about going solar to help you understand the logistics of running this renewable energy source.

How Does Solar Power Work?

Solar power technology absorbs sunlight and converts it into usable electricity.

  • Sunrays activate solar photovoltaic cells, where their energy is then made into direct current (DC) electricity.
  • The power travels to an inverter, turning it into usable alternating current (AC) electricity.
  • The AC electricity is then used as an electricity source, stored for later use, or recycled back to the grid.
  • Performance monitoring technology tracks the data of your solar power, measures and displays optimal energy use, and alerts you to maintenance needs.

Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?

Solar panel systems require little maintenance. They should serve you for many years if securely installed on a sturdy roof. Contact a solar specialist for an annual inspection to ensure optimum electricity production.

You can also help the solar panels get maximum exposure to the sun by cleaning and caring for them. Hose them off about 2-4 times a year to remove any dust, leaves, heavy snow, or debris.

How Do I Know When My Solar Panels Need Maintenance?

The performance monitoring technology, often accessible via an app, can help monitor energy use and production. If you see a dip in electricity output from your solar system, try cleaning your solar panels to help correct the slow energy production. Your monitoring app can also alert you to any system failures.

What Is the Lifespan of a Solar Panel System?

A solar system's lifespan depends on many variables, such as panel quality and weathering. Routine maintenance will improve the longevity of your solar panels. With high-quality solar panels and optimum installation, you can enjoy the benefits of solar energy in your home for over 30 years.

Will Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Modern solar panel systems can still work well on cloudy days, although you can expect lowered energy production. Minimal production is still possible, as long as the sun is shining and sending energy to the solar cells. During rainy or completely overcast days, your home will draw electricity saved in the solar grid. It may also use energy from battery storage if opted to store power.

Plus, rainy days can be beneficial. The water can save you some work by cleaning and washing any dust off the slanted solar panels.

Will Snow Affect My Solar Panels?

If the snow melts quickly, you do not need to worry about buildup. However, heavy snow may require clearing to increase sunlight exposure. You can use tepid/lukewarm water, a soft broom, or a roof rake to clear the snow. Contact your provider for advice on solar panel care in your climate. They may be able to suggest tools that will help you get the job done.

Is Solar Electricity Wasted If I'm Not Using It?

Your solar energy will not be wasted if you have a net metering system installed. Most U.S. states offer net metering, which means that your electricity utility provider compensates your account for any excess solar energy produced. You can then use the net metering credits later when your home has a peak in electricity usage. Or, the credits can help reduce your utility bill.

What If I Cannot Subscribe to Net Metering for My Solar Panels?

Your utility provider may have another billing option if net metering is unavailable in your state. One alternative is for the excess energy to be exported to the electric grid to compensate for later electricity use at a lower rate. Your utility provider may consider other factors, including total monthly expenditure, solar system size, and general usage patterns.

You could also opt for a grid-tied with battery backup systems. These have a battery backup system that stores excess power for later use.

What Are the Risks of Solar Power?

Since solar panels conduct energy, they can pose a fire or electrical risk if not properly installed or maintained. The solar provider and installer you choose should have a good history with plenty of references. It's especially important for your installer to secure photovoltaic system (PV) wires from weather damage. Contact your provider to find out what to do in an emergency.

Will My Projected Solar Savings Match Actual Savings?

Projected versus actual savings can vary, so expect some discrepancy. Some things that can affect your actual savings include:

  • Shade covering due to fast-growing trees
  • Utility provider rates
  • A switch to net metering
  • Grid/battery savings

What Is the Timeline for Going Solar?

There are many steps needed to switch to solar. Hire a professional to do each step as efficiently as possible. Here are the steps you can expect:

  1. Site surveying (+/- 2 hours)
  2. Permitting with your local municipality (2-3 weeks)
  3. Solar system design and approval (1-2 weeks)
  4. Installation (1-5 days)
  5. Inspection and interconnection (+/- 3 weeks)

Is My Roof Good for Solar?

Your roof needs to be in good condition to support solar panels for many years. The orientation and pitch of your roof can affect sunlight absorption. The best roofs for solar have large, unobstructed spaces with south or southwest sunlight exposure throughout the day. Trim any nearby large trees so that maximum sun exposure is available for your solar panels.

Is My Roof Too Old for Solar?

If your roof is aging, it's best to have it inspected before solar panel installation. You can usually do this during the site surveying step as you prepare for solar. If your roof shows signs of deterioration, a professional may recommend you replace the roof when installing solar panels.

Does Roof Orientation Matter for Solar Power?

Yes. North-facing roofs in the U.S. will receive less sunshine than south-facing roof slants. You want to expose your solar panels to maximum sunlight so consider orientation, roof slant, and any possible obstructions.

What Happens to My Solar Panels If I Move House?

Some solar companies will transfer finances to the new homeowner of your property. Including the cost of the panels in your home sale is a good choice, as solar panels are a selling point for home buyers.Alternatively, you could move your solar panels with you and get them installed in your new home. You may want to discuss the options with a professional to decide whether installing a new solar system is more affordable than removing and reinstalling the old ones.

Will Removal of Solar Panels Leave Damage on the Roof?

Unfortunately, roof damage from the sturdy mounting hardware is possible. The mounting brackets screw directly into the roof, and removing them could leave holes. You may have to replace sections of the roof or fill and seal certain areas. You might also decide to paint the roof tiling to cover faded areas and get it looking beautiful again.

Can I Have Solar Panel Systems If I Rent?

Whether you're a landlord or renter, solar panels offer long-term savings and are a worthy investment. However, your landlord is not obligated to grant your wish for solar paneling. You have some other options:

  • Ask your utility provider if they offer green energy options or community solar.
  • Reduce your energy use by using small solar lighting and solar chargers.
  • Conserve energy and reduce your electricity usage in other ways: using LED lightbulbs, warming up and cooling down without electricity, reducing the water thermostat, sealing windows, etc.

Can I Have Solar Panels in a Multi-family Home?

Your solar installer will have to advise on the best way forward. If you're in an apartment, you'll likely need approval from your body corporate or homeowner's association.

Who Offers a Free Solar Evaluation?

Contact Swap2Solar for a free solar evaluation or to discuss any further questions you may have. Solar panels create clean energy that reduces dependence on non-renewable energy. You could incur massive savings with an investment in solar energy for your home.

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