Please click the questions below.
- What is solar energy?
- Solar energy takes advantage of the sun’s rays to generate heat or electricity. It is an infinitely renewable resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner.
- How do solar photovoltaic cells work?
Photo/Light + Voltaic /Energy = Photovoltaic/Light Energy
Photovoltaic (PV) systems use the sun’s energy and technology to make electricity. PV technology produces direct current (DC) electricity by collecting electrons that move across the cell when activated by the sunlight’s energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel. The interaction between sunlight and the semiconductor materials in a PV cell creates electricity within the cell.
- Why should I consider buying a PV system?
- A PV system reduces or eliminates the amount of electricity you purchase from your utility or electric service provider. A PV system can save you money on your electricity bill and act as a hedge against future price increases. The electricity generated by your PV system is clean, renewable and reliable. You help your community by reducing the load on the utility grid and you can provide additional electricity for the grid when you generate more than you use during the day, when electricity demand is highest.
- How much will I really save on my utility bills from a home electric solar power system?
- Of course this is a relative question. It depends, in part, on how much electricity you use and how efficient the appliances are that you operate. That said expect to generate excess electricity in the summer (when days are long) which can potentially offset the energy you use from the grid in the winter. A combination of energy efficient appliances and CFL light bulbs can help reduce your homes energy bill by over two-thirds.
- How much does a solar electric power system cost?
- Many factors affect the cost of an average PV system including solar panel prices, rebates, tax credits and other incentives. Ideal locations for installation will result in less expensive system cost. Please call Atlasta Solar for current pricing.
- What should the size of my solar electric system be?
To estimate the best system size for your home or business, examine your electricity usage for the last 12 months and apply this easy formula.
A system with a capacity of 1 kW can produce about 1350 kWh per year. Divide your annual electricity usage (in kWh per year) by 1350 kWh to get the system size (capacity in kilowatts) that would meet most of your electricity needs. If you want your PV system to meet half of your electricity needs, then you should size it to meet half of your annual electrical usage. Or you can offset only a small portion of your electricity bill with a single PV panel. If you size your system larger than your average electricity needs, for example to meet your highest electricity needs on summer afternoons, your system would generate more electricity than you could use during the rest of the year.
- Do I have a good site for PV?
- Your site must have clear, unobstructed access to the sun. Buildings, trees or other vegetation should not shade your site. South-facing roof exposure is best, but roofs facing east and west may be OK. If a rooftop is not available, your PV system can also be mounted on the ground.
- How much maintenance do solar electric panels require?
- Solar electric panels require little maintenance – no need to wash or dust. It is, however, important to place panels where they will remain clear of shade and debris. Thus you will have to wipe them off if too much snow or leaves fall on them.
- What components do I need to install a grid-tied solar electric system?
- You will need a photovoltaic array to capture the sun’s energy, an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) produced from the photovoltaic cells into alternating current (AC) used by your home, and a house utility meter – called a net meter – that can record both the electricity produced from your home’s power system as well as any power you may use off the grid. These three system components are then connected through a series of wiring. The photovoltaic panels are secured to your roof with panel mounts or are installed on poles or ground mounts that can be adjusted for sun angle.
- What is a net meter?
- Net meters look very much like other outdoor meters with one notable exception – they spin both forwards and backwards recording both the power produced and power used.
- Do I need battery backup for my solar panels?
Probably not – a backup battery bank can add as much as 25% in cost to a Residential Grid Tie Solar system. It’s not necessarily more efficient either – a same sized solar array will yield about 7-10% less energy if it’s battery-tied than its grid-tied counterpart.
Though you will remain connected to your local utilities’ grid, you will not have to worry about not generating enough power. You also gain the advantage of offsetting rising utility costs. Most solar photovoltaic experts do not recommend adding a backup battery system unless there is concern about a long utility outage or the residence is in a remote location.
- Can I use a financing system?
Yes. We recommend One Sun Leasing. They offer a great alternative to bank loans. Leasing a solar system allows customers to decrease initial investment and offers an option to purchase the system in a few years. Another option to consider is a home equity loan for the purchase and installation costs of a solar photovoltaic or solar hot water system to take full advantage of federal tax deductions.
Solar energy systems are viewed as a major home energy savings upgrade and there are financial tools out there that reward you for your efforts. Remember, installing a solar energy system is comparable to any other upgrade you might do to your home, such as installing a new deck or remodeling a kitchen. Find more information about ways to finance your home’s solar power system. Contact Us Today.
- Do I need special insurance requirements?
- Standard homeowner’s insurance policies usually suffice to meet electric utility requirements. Electric utilities usually require that homeowners who take advantage of net metering sign an interconnection agreement.
- When should I seek a solar professional?
- Although solar energy systems work in parallel with conventional residential electrical and plumbing systems, there are quirks in the process well suited to seeking out professionals who specialize in solar power installation. Solar installation professionals can help you determine the type and size of system most suited for your needs.
- What should I ask a solar professional installer?
- Solar professional installers can take the guess work out of installing a solar power system. Whether you are considering solar photovoltaic, solar hot water, or sustainable living products, our professionals can help you determine the type and size of system that will work best and guide you through the process. Contact Us or call 970.248.0057.
- Can I use solar electric to heat water or for space heating?
- No. Photovoltaic convert the sun’s energy into DC electricity at a relatively low efficiency level (15%-20%), so trying to operate a high power electric heating element from PV would be very inefficient and expensive. Solar thermal is the direct heating of air or water from the heat of the sun and is much more efficient for heating applications than photovoltaic.
- What is the difference between solar panels versus building integrated photovoltaic products?
- Solar panels are flat panels of photovoltaic arrays mounted on a roof or a pole to capture the sun’s rays. Building integrated photovoltaic materials are PV arrays that are integrated into the building material itself, primarily windows, roof tiles, or walls. Solar panels work well for retrofits or remodels while BIPV are appropriate for new construction or a major renovation.
- What’s the difference between solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems?
- While both types of solar systems capture energy from the sun, solar photovoltaic systems use photovoltaic panels to produce electricity. Solar hot water, or thermal, systems capture sunlight to heat water for domestic use, to heat a swimming pool, or for a radiant heating system.
- What do I need to know about connecting my PV system to the grid?
You will need to enter into an Interconnection Agreement with your utility. This agreement addresses the terms and conditions under which your system will be safely connected to the grid. The agreement also specifies the metering arrangements (called Net Metering). Net Metering allows you to bank any surplus electricity your system generates on the electric grid.
Excess electricity might be generated during the day when your system produces more electricity than you need. Your meter would simply run backwards to record the amount of electricity banked on the grid. You can use an equal amount of electricity later without incurring any additional cost. If you use more electricity from the grid than you have banked, your utility will charge you annually for the difference.