If you’ve ever been curious — or better yet, excited — about solar, chances are you’ve run into the same questions and concerns that most people have.
Today we’ve gathered seven of the most frequently asked questions about solar. If you have any more, we’re more than happy to answer — just ask in the comments below or sign up for a solar open house near you!
1. Do I have to be connected to the grid?
No, you can be off the grid with a battery system, but most people choose to install solar systems that are tied to the grid of their utility company with a net metering agreement.
Net metering is a billing system that credits you for the electricity your solar panels add to the grid. In the daytime, your PV system will often generate more electricity than your home uses. Net metering will run your electricity meter backwards to provide a credit against the electricity you’ll use at night or times when your consumption exceeds your system’s output.
There’s one caveat to grid-tied systems: your solar system won’t produce electricity if the grid goes down.
2. How much will my electric bill down down?
If you’re leasing your solar system, your monthly cost will vary depending on the (reduced) rate you’re paying times your usage.
If you purchase your system, your electric bill can (and often will) be eliminated. You will, however, need to pay a $15-16 standard service fee to your utility company.
3. Does my roof have to be in good shape for solar panels?
Yes. Many solar system components have warranties around 20-25 years and should reliably produce power many more years after that. It’s good to make sure your roof is in good shape, structurally sound and with ample open space to install a solar panels on it. It should also should face south, east, or west and not be too steep.
4. What will solar do to my roof?
Your roof will be fine if you select the right solar installer and solar panels — plus it looks cool! A good installer will minimize the holes being drilled into your roof by using high-quality flashing.
5. What if I live in a place that’s shaded or cloudy?
Your panels will produce power as long as UV rays are getting through, albeit at less efficiency (kind of like getting sunburned on a cloudy day). If you’re interested in solar, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with an installation company to assess your home’s solar potential. They will be able to recommend the system that’s best for your specific situation.
6. Do solar panels work at night?
No. However, thanks to net metering, any additional energy you generate in the day goes back into the grid and turns your meter backwards, earning you credits. You can then use these credits to draw electricity from the grid to power your home at night.
7. Isn’t it better to just wait until solar panels become more efficient to go solar?
No. Solar panel technology is not evolving fast enough to justify the savings you’ll get by going solar now. Not only that, the excellent federal and state tax incentives are set to expire in the next few years, so it’s much wiser to act now than wait until it’s too late.