Solar power in simple terms
Q. How does sunlight turn into electricity?
A. Sunlight is made of many different types of radiation. Within the sunlight are particles (or waves) called photons. When a photon hits a solar panel, it knocks off electrons in the silicon cells of that panel. This causes the electrons to move through the wires and creates direct current (DC) electricity. Of course, many photons are hitting every solar panel and the production of direct current electricity is amazing.
Q. How does the sun-made electricity turn into power that my building can use?
A. The inverter is the part of a solar energy system which converts direct current electricity into the type known as alternating current (AC) electricity. That is what businesses and households use. Often the inverter is a separate box mounted near your utility meter, into which cables run directly from the panels. Other times, multiple smaller inverters are used underneath each panel.
What makes a property a good candidate for solar panels
Q. Are there requirements for going solar?
A. Yes. You must own the property and there must be enough sun exposure that it makes sense.
Q. Where can solar panels be placed?
A. They can be mounted on a roof or on a ground mounted structure.
Q. What must a roof be like in order to hold solar panels?
A. It must be structurally sound, and not due to be replaced or repaired within the coming 5 years.
Q. What happens to my property value when solar is installed?
A. Nationwide studies confirm that it increases in value. Real estate database company Zillow researched U.S. home sales from March 2018 through February 2019 and found that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more than comparable houses without solar systems. Source: https://www.zillow.com/research/solar-panels-house-sell-more-23798/
Q. Must I tell my property insurance company about my solar installation?
A. It’s a good idea to do so.
Solar panel costs of installing
Q. What does it cost to go solar?
A. Your Wind and Solar advisor will listen to your goals and propose one or more solutions, giving you an estimated cost for each. Obviously, the factors influencing this calculation are unique for each property. Take advantage of our free solar evaluation for information customized to your situation. I WANT A FREE EVALUATION
Q. When I receive an official quote from you, for how long is the price good?
A. It is usually good for 30 days.
Q. When does the cost get locked in?
A. When all parties have signed the contract.
Q. Do you offer financing?
A. Yes, we have arrangements with various finance companies. However, our specialty is providing cost effective renewable energy systems! We are not a financing company and you are free to shop around for the best financing deal you can find. Once financing is arranged, we will deliver a state of the art solar energy system that will provide you with decades of savings.
Q. Is there an advantage to paying cash for a system?
A. Yes. When you pay cash, you are not paying interest and loan-related fees.
Q. Are there any incentives, rebates, or grants from the government?
A. For everyone, there is a 26% FEDERAL INCOME TAX CREDIT EXPIRING DECEMBER 31, 2020. In 2021, that credit drops to 22%. For businesses and agricultural operations, there are deductions, equipment depreciation, and possible opportunities to receive grants.
Q. Do you have a referral thanks program if I recommend Wind and Solar?
A. Yes. Please talk with your Wind and Solar advisor about this program.
Saving and making money by using solar power
Q. How is going solar profitable?
A. In Pennsylvania, three situations give you financial advantages.
In extremely simple terms:
First, your system generates more power than your normal use and it is free. This means the system will eventually pay for itself and then provide cost-free electricity for decades. This return on your investment is huge.
Second, a program called net metering means that the electric utility tracks all the extra power that you send it over a year and annually pays you for that power.
Third, when your solar system begins operating, a vendor will offer to purchase your “SREC's” (pronounced ESS-rek.)
Q. What is an SREC?
A. It stands for Solar Renewable Energy Certificate/Credit. Some states require conventional electric utilities to purchase them from individuals like you. You have one when your solar panel system goes live. There is a marketplace for SRECs and most people sell to a middle-broker who then sells them to utilities in bulk.
Q. Will I be able to track how much energy my solar panels are producing?
A. Yes. If you want to track what your system produces, you have that option. You can receive data via an app. Also, you will have a new meter dedicated to showing how much total energy your solar system has produced.
Q. Can I lock in my energy costs for the future?
A. Absolutely! Once your system pays for itself, you have locked yourself in to free energy and big, lifetime savings over the cost of utility-provided energy.
Process of solar panel installation
Q. How does this work?
A. We think of our process as a three part stream:
1. Design - This is where we work with you to determine your energy goals and outline the perfect one-of-a-kind system for your property.
2. Construction - At this stage we finalize engineering plans and get all necessary permissions from authorities. Then installation begins. We attach the framework on your roof or set up your ground mounted structure. Next, we attach all the panels to that framework. After that we install and connect the inverters and meter to your system.
3. Activation - We turn on your system and do final checks and inspections, as well as interface with the utility company. We help you set up the wireless monitoring of your new renewable energy system and you begin harvesting sunlight!
Q. How long will you need to be on my property?
A. This depends on the size and scope of the project. Usually we are at a residence for 3 to 6 days.
Q. How long must you have my electric power disconnected in order to do an installation?
A. Electric power must be off as we make the connection to your utility company. This happens during the final steps of installation. For a residential installation, power is turned off for about an hour.
Q. How will I know my system is operating safely and properly?
A. A state-certified inspector will come to make sure that everything is Code compliant and operating properly.
Q. How noisy is the installation? I have employees, a family member, pet, livestock, etc. with high sensitivity to vibrations and loud noises...
A. The construction phase of attaching the frame to a roof is the noisiest one, followed by the tightening of the panels. For a residence, these two steps last about two days.
Q. Is there any preparation that I must do before your workers arrive on the site?
A. Please insure that we have clear access to your electrical breaker box and any area where equipment will be installed. If necessary, designating a parking/ storage area for construction vehicles and equipment on the property can be helpful.
Q. Are your workers bonded and insured?
A. Yes. Also, we use every safety practice for construction and electrical work while at your site.
Q. Do you carry away your construction waste?
Q. Is it hard to add more solar panels on outbuildings or other roof surfaces a few years after an installation?
A. No, BUT if you have any inclination that you’ll want to do this later, tell us during the initial solar design phase. This is one of the instances where Wind and Solar’s extensive power system experience and creation of your unique, customized design will save you money in the future.
Maintenance after solar
Q. Must I “do” anything to maintain my solar panels?
A. No. You will have reliable energy production and no work. What a no-brainer!
Q. How long do solar panels last?
A. At the end of the day, we are tempted to say “forever.” The panel manufacturers give a 25-year warranty for a stated performance level for all the panels we install.
Q. How tough are solar panels?
A. We install only Tier 1 products. They are meant to handle extremes of outdoor weather for your geographic area. For example, our solar panels can withstand 2-inch hailstones. This size hail is not a normal occurrence for central Pennsylvania, but we build systems ready to handle such an event.
Q. What if I need to replace the roof after I have had my system for over 5 years?
A. We give discounted prices for our customers who need to have the solar panels temporarily removed and then re-installed by us. We appreciate your business and will work with you to make the process as reasonably-priced as possible.
More reasons to go solar
Q. Does my going solar REALLY make any difference for the earth?
A. Yes! Solar power is clean. It does not create fossil fuel exhaust. Using a solar panel system to make 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity is equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions from 1729 miles driven by a passenger vehicle, or avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions from 79.6 gallons of gasoline used or 773 pounds of coal burned or 1.6 barrels of oil consumed. Many faith communities support responsible stewardship of the earth. Going solar could fit right in with your spiritual life.
Q. Save money, save the earth … are there any other good things about adopting solar power?
A. There are at least 3 more benefits:
1. It creates jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics states that solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians will be the fastest growing occupations in the United States through 2026.
2. If you are a business, having green practices such as solar panels, may tip the scales for customers to choose you. The number of beneficial B-corporations and evolved enterprises (ones with an extra social or charitable goal) are growing because consumers favor patronizing them.
3. Also, if you are a business or farm, your employees may be very appreciative and proud of your commitment to renewable practices.