Q. What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

A. Installing solar energy saves you money on utilities while protecting you against the rising costs of energy in the future. Savings vary depending on utility rates in your area and local solar policies. Some homeowners see a drastic reduction in their energy bills, while others are able to completely eliminate theirs. Regardless of location, going solar is a wise investment for your home. Energy prices will never go down, and solar allows you to know exactly how much money you will spend on utilities for years to come.

Q. How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

A. Solar panels contain photovoltaic (PV) cells that collect sunlight during the day. These cells take the photons from light and convert it into energy by way of direct current (DC) electricity. However, homes run on alternating current (AC) electricity. That’s where inverters come in. DC electricity passes through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. This energy is then used in your home or sent back to the electric grid.

Q. What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

A. Installing solar energy saves you money on utilities while protecting you against the rising costs of energy in the future. Savings vary depending on utility rates in your area and local solar policies. Some homeowners see a drastic reduction in their energy bills, while others are able to completely eliminate theirs. Regardless of location, going solar is a wise investment for your home. Energy prices will never go down, and solar allows you to know exactly how much money you will spend on utilities for years to come.

Q. How do I find out my average electric expense to compare my savings?

A. Your utility company sends a monthly statement that not only shows your energy consumption, but how much you pay for that energy. Take a look at your kilowatt history and how much you pay for those kilowatts. Speak with your solar representative; they can go over the difference in what you will pay for solar monthly. These price differences can depend on whether you choose a lease or loan, and what you are currently paying for utilities. Often your solar energy repayment will be less than your utility bill.

Q. How does solar impact my property values?

A. Homebuyers are looking for energy-efficient homes. Many homebuyers would prefer to purchase homes with solar panels already installed, rather than go through the hassle of installing them after they buy a home. Real estate experts note that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. One thing to consider is that solar only benefits your property value if you own the panels, rather than lease them. However, if you are planning to upgrade your home to put it on the market, it’s a better investment to install solar than to remodel your kitchen or bathrooms.

Q. Will I still get an electric bill after installing solar panels?

A. You will still receive a bill from the utility company unless your solar energy system includes battery storage, which takes you off the grid. However, these bills may amount to zero if your solar energy use matches your current energy use. At the very least, you will likely see a drastic reduction in the amount you owe for energy each month.

Q. How many solar panels do I need to install?

A. The number of solar panels needed is particular to your home based on energy usage, solar exposure, and the square footage of your home, plus a few other factors. Your solar energy installer can provide a detailed estimate for your personal needs. A survey in 2019 indicated that the average number of solar panels installed for a home was 25.

Q. How much will solar panel maintenance cost?

A. It’s a common myth that solar panels cost a lot to maintain. When properly installed, solar panels require little to no maintenance. Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass that lasts 25 to 35 years without needing additional expenses to keep them going. If something does happen, most equipment manufacturers include warranties. These vary from company to company, so check with your solar installer to go over any warranty terms.

Q. How long does it take to install a solar panel system?

A. Depending on your location and city policies, installation typically takes one to two months from start to finish. Your installer needs to design your solar panel system, and secure initial permits from local government offices and interconnection agreements from your electric utility company. Much of the wait time is based on how quickly your local government offices and utility companies process approval. Once initial permits and interconnection agreements are in hand, your installer typically needs only one or two days to install your entire system physically.

Q. Does a solar panel system affect my homeowners insurance?

A. Most rooftop solar systems are covered as part of your standard homeowner’s insurance policy. Talk with your insurance provider if you decide to install solar panels. They can let you know whether the cost to replace solar panels in the case of a disaster would exceed your current coverage. Your homeowner’s premium should not increase when you add solar to your home. If it does, you may want to find an insurer that provides discounts to customers who make environmentally-friendly changes to their homes.

Q. Will my appliances and lighting run differently with solar?

A. The only difference you will see is a lower electricity bill. Solar energy is the same as grid power, so your house will run precisely the same.

Q. Is going solar the same as going off the grid?

A. Installing solar panels isn’t the same as going off the grid. You may still need to rely on your utility company during times when sunlight is low such as cloudy days or winter months.

Q. What are my solar financing options?

A. The most popular solar financing options fall into three categories. Those include cash purchase, a solar loan where you own the system, or a solar lease/power purchase agreement (PPA). Learn more here.

Q. Should I buy or lease my solar panel system?

A. Buying or leasing solar panels is a case-by-case decision, and often depends on your situation. If you purchase solar panels, you own the entire system, whether you buy it with cash or a loan. This option helps maximize financial returns and adds value to your property. However, if you are looking to reduce your energy bill without the responsibility of maintenance, leasing is a good option.

Q. Can I get solar rebates and incentives for installing solar panels on my home?

A. Many states offer different solar rebates and incentives. The most common incentive is the 26% federal investment tax credit (ITC). This tax credit allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar energy system from your taxes. Check with your state to see whether it offers additional tax credits. Also, check with your municipality and utility company to see if they provide cash rebates or other incentives.

Q. How do I know if my roof can handle solar panels?

A. It is ideal to install solar panels on a southerly-facing roof with little to no shade, and enough space to fit a solar panel system. You’re not doomed if you don’t have this situation. Solar installers can find ways to install solar for your home regardless of your roof. The best way to find out how solar can work for your home is to contact a solar installation expert to arrange a home visit.

Q. What size solar energy system should I get?

A. Two things determine the size of your solar energy system: how much energy your home uses and the surrounding weather conditions. Your past electric bills can help you calculate how much electricity you use. A local solar installer can go over how weather conditions in your area affect the size of your solar energy system.

Q. How long will my solar power system last?

A. Solar panels are durable and can take harsh weather and heat conditions. Systems typically have warranties of 25 to 35 years and consistently produce energy for that period of time.

Q. What happens if I sell my house after installing solar panels?

A. Solar panels add value to your home if you own them. Owning solar panels can increase the price your home sells for—and if you use a solar loan—it will get paid off when your home is sold. If you lease panels, you need to either buyout your lease before you sell your home or ask your leasing company to transfer the lease to the new homeowner.

Q. What are the different types of solar panels?

A. Solar installers offer three types of panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film amorphous. Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline are solar cells that are made from crystalline silicon. You can learn more about types of solar panel options by checking out our blog.

Q. Do I need to install batteries with my solar power system?

A. Batteries are not necessary for most solar homeowners. When you connect to the grid, excess power goes back into the grid, meaning you can draw from the grid if you need more electricity than your panels generate. Solar power systems that implement solar batteries are known as solar-plus-storage. They are gaining popularity, but cost a great deal more at the moment.

Q. Can I produce enough energy when it's cloudy or when we have less light during the day?

A. Your solar energy system relies on sunlight to work. The solar panels produce less energy when weather conditions are not optimal. However, because of high electricity costs and financial incentives, solar is a smart decision regardless of your local weather conditions.

Q. Do my panels work less if it snows?

A. Panels cannot convert sunlight to energy when covered in snow. That being said, it’s easy to clean snow off panels. Since most panels are tilted, snow will slide off.

Q. Do my panels work if the power goes out?

A. Solar panel systems are connected to the grid and will shut off in a blackout. This is a safety protocol put in place to protect emergency responders and electricity utility repair personnel while they restore power. However, there are specific inverters you can buy to provide backup power in a blackout when paired with a battery.

Q. What is Net Metering?

A. Net-metering allows utilities to credit solar energy system owners for the electricity produced by their solar panels. This means you only pay for the power that you use beyond what your solar panels generate. Net-metering policies differ from state to state, so ask your solar installer for more details.

Q. Is shared solar beneficial?

A. Shared solar refers to when you buy into a community solar project. You receive a portion of the energy generated by an extensive solar panel system located in an area off your property. Community solar and rooftop solar both result in net savings on your electricity bill, but each offer different benefits. Ask your local utility about community solar options in your area.

Q. What's the benefit of adding a solar energy system now if new technologies are underway?

A. Like people in any technological field, solar energy manufacturers are always looking to improve their products and make them more cost-effective. Still, the sooner you install a solar energy system the quicker you benefit from it. Installing solar energy now means you start saving money right away—and reduce the environmental impact of your home. Think of solar energy as a savings plan. The sooner you start saving, the longer you benefit from the decision.

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