Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Installing a solar panel system on a tile roof requires a different approach, but it is a common practice. Tiles must be removed, mounting brackets put into place and flashings installed. On a traditional asphalt roof, solar installation would simply require drilling into the roof and attaching your mounting brackets to the roof studs. The area around the mounting brackets is then sealed and a flashing is installed to prevent water infiltration from the roof penetrations.
Solar energy systems are tied to the electric grid and do not require batteries to store power. At times when your system produces more electricity than you use, you receive credit for the electricity you send to the grid; if you need more electricity than your solar energy system is producing, you can draw it from the grid. If you would like to disconnect from the grid, you will need batteries to do so.
Most locations in the U.S. get enough sunlight to produce sufficient electricity from solar panels. The most important factors to consider are the rates you pay for electricity and the rebates and incentives available to you.
Knowing how much energy a solar panel system will provide your home first starts with understanding the production of a single solar panel. Production depends on three important factors: the amount of sunlight the panel gets, the efficiency of the solar cells inside and the size of the panel.
The amount of electricity a solar panel can harvest depends on average sunlight over the course of a year. As every home gets a different amount of sunlight throughout the year, we figure this out by first determining where your home is located on the planet. Next, high-resolution aerial imagery and 3D models of your home and surrounding objects, help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential by analyzing factors such as shade, roof orientation and local weather patterns.
With yearly sun hours determined and usable roof space selected, designers begin the panel system design by selecting from a toolbox of different panels to find the right product for your project. To give you an idea, the average-sized solar panel takes up an area of 17.6 square feet and produces 265 watts under direct sunlight. Specifications like these help designers add the correct number of panels to the system design to provide your home with a predictable, energy producing system.
If you own your solar energy system, your solar house will sell at a premium: studies have shown that solar increases property values. However, if you lease your system, that is not the case. You will need to either buy out your lease before you sell your home, or work with your leasing company to transfer the lease agreement to the home’s new owner.
In general, solar panels are very durable and capable of withstanding snow, wind, and hail. The various components of your solar power system will need to be replaced at different times, but your system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years.
Solar energy systems can last for 25 to 35 years, and it can be costly to remove and reinstall them if you need to replace your roof. If your roof needs maintenance in the near term, you should complete it before you finish your solar installation.
If you can afford to pay your electricity bill, you can afford to go solar. $0-down solar financing options, including both solar loans and solar leases, make it easy for homeowners with good credit to start saving on their electricity bills by going solar.
Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass and require little to no maintenance for the 25 to 35 years that they will generate power. In most cases, you don’t even need to clean your solar panels regularly. If something does happen, most equipment manufacturers include warranties, although warranty terms depend on the company.
If your solar panel system is connected to the grid, it will shut off in the event of a blackout. This is to prevent emergency responders and electricity utility repair technicians from being injured by your panels sending power back to the grid. However, there are certain inverters you can buy that provide backup power in a blackout when paired with a battery.
Unless your solar energy system includes battery storage and you are fully off the grid, you will still receive a bill from your utility. However, you can dramatically reduce your bill, or even cut the amount you owe to $0, with a solar panel system that matches your energy use.
One of the reasons you will still receive a bill is because you are still using your utility. Solar panels usually work within a system called net metering. Net metering is a solar incentive that allows you to essentially store energy in the electric grid. When your solar panels produce more electricity than you need, that energy is sent to the grid in exchange for credits. Then, at night or other times when your solar panels are underproducing, you pull energy from the grid and use these credits to offset the costs of that energy.
With the right size solar energy system, you can produce enough electricity to match your home’s electricity use for the entire year. However, the amount of electricity your solar panels produce will vary throughout the year. Net metering helps you account for these differences by crediting you for the excess electricity your panels produce so you can use it later.
While net metering is not the only way that utilities compensate homeowners for going solar, it is by far the most common: as of 2016, 41 states and Washington D.C. have mandatory net metering rules, and two more have utilities that permit the practice.
When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all of the power that you need, and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes battery storage, but it will cost significantly more and is unnecessary for the majority of homeowners.
Solar panels convert sunshine into power, so if your panels are covered in snow they can’t produce electricity. Snow generally isn’t heavy enough to cause structural issues with your panels, and since most panels are tilted at an angle the snow will slide off. If snow does accumulate, your panels are easy to clean.
Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.
When you install a solar energy system on your property, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. How much you can save depends on the utility rates, solar policies in your area and design of your solar system.
Solar panel manufacturers provide a range of warranties that guarantee you will have support and coverage in the unlikely event of an issue, such as hail or falling tree branches.
Power output warranties guarantee that panel performance won’t fall below a specified level over the term of the warranty (usually 25 years). For instance, a manufacturer might provide a warranty to guarantee that peak power output won’t fall below 85 percent for 25 years.
Some manufacturers will also include an additional warranty that promises a higher output level over a shorter period of time. As an example, a secondary warranty might guarantee no less than 90 percent of initial power output for the first 10 years.
Panels typically come with a workmanship warranty that protects consumers against defective panel parts, generally for the first five years of operation.
Inverters also come with warranties, usually for 10 years.