What are some advantages to going solar?
- An investment with attractive, guaranteed returns
- Freedom from future energy rate hikes
- Increased property value
- Environmental stewardship
- Raise your profile in the community (marketability)
- Monitor your system from your smart phone or computer
- Solar works during peak hours (Great for TOU rate plans!)
- Support free-market in the energy sector
How does solar energy work?
Sunlight makes contact with a solar panel to produce direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity is then sent to an inverter and converted into alternative current (AC) electricity so it can be used in your home. The AC electricity can be used instantly on premises or transferred onto the grid.
Will my system produce energy on cloudy days?
Yes, but less than on sunny days. Depending on cloud coverage, your system may require a little more energy from the grid on cloudy days.
Will my system produce power if there is a blackout?
Without a backup power source such as batteries or generator, grid-tied solar PV systems will not operate when the power grid is down. This safety requirement, called “anti-islanding” allows utility linemen to safely repair power lines during a power outage. You may choose to add a battery backup to your solar system to keep the lights on during a blackout. Ask your our pre-selected installer for details on battery backup systems.
Where and how can solar be installed on my property?
Solar can be installed:
- on the roof (flat roof, pitched roof, shingle, metal, shake, slate and more)
- on the ground using a concrete foundation
- on a pole in a concrete foundation
- as a carport shade/weather canopy (can be sized for one car or hundreds of cars)
- as the canopy for a pergola or a breezeway
How do I know if my site is suitable for solar?
Solar panels work best when facing a southern direction. They can be ground mounted or roof mounted and there should be little or no shading from trees, buildings, or fixtures to optimize output. Your FRE sales representative will evaluate your site and help determine if solar is suitable for your location.
What size system should I install?
Your Francis Solar representative will provide a comprehensive assessment of your specific energy needs by taking a look at your utility bills and sizing a system appropriately.
What is net metering?
If your system generates more electricity than you use at a given time, the meter will “spin backwards” and the utility will provide a credit on your bill. Depending on your area and your utility, you may or may not be offered net metering, and your monthly credits may or may not roll-over, and you may or may not receive credit for negative bills.
Will I still receive a monthly electric bill?
Yes, you will still receive a monthly bill for any energy you use to supplement your solar array at night or cloudy days. The amount of your bill will depend on how much electricity you use and how much you send back to the grid.
Will solar increase the value of my property?
Typically, properties with solar will sell for a premium over homes without solar. This is due to the fact that unlike electricity rates, solar rates will never go up. Thus, a solar reduces the cost of owning and operating your property. Once the system has paid for itself, the electricity it generates is absolutely free!
Can my Homeowner’s Association prevent me from installing a solar array on my property?
Some HOAs may require prior approval from the HOA Board of Directors before installing a solar system on your roof – particularly if the system will be visible from the street. We recommend that you review your HOA’s covenants to determine if there are any restrictions in place.
Should I have solar panels installed on an older roof?
We don’t advise installations on a roof that shows signs of old age. The solar panels will provide a degree of protection from the elements but when it does come time to replace the roof the solar panels will have to be removed and then re-installed which will cost extra.
Can hail damage solar panels?
This has never been much of an issue for the solar industry. Standard tier-one solar panels use tempered glass and can withstand bombardment from billiard ball size hail at very high speeds.
What happens when I move and I have solar installed and how much does it add to property value?
Having solar installed will increase the value of your property, the amount of which is calculated based on the value of the electricity the system will produce over its warranted life. When you sell your home you may also elect to have the system removed and take it with you to your next home.
How long does it take to pay off?
ROIs (return on investment) vary depending on incentives available, if you are including home value increases, and the rate your currently pay the utility company. Typically, returns for residential ranges from 7-12 years but can be higher or lower depending on the site specifics. Returns for commercial range from 4-8 years, but can also be higher or lower on a site-by-site basis.
How long does the system last? What warranties are available?
- Panels: some of the very first solar panels made in the ’50s are still producing power after 60 years, and they’re still at about 80% of their original power ratings. Solar panel’s decrease in output over time but the effect plateaus around the 80% mark.
- Inverters: inverter types vary as well as their warranties. String inverters come with a standard 10 year warranty and can be extended to 20 or 25 years for a few hundred dollars. Micorinverters typically come with a 25 year warranty.
How much maintenance is required?
Very little. Solar systems are passive with no moving parts. Panels should be cleaned and electrical connections torqued every 5 years. You will be able to monitor the performance of your system in real-time on your computer or smart phone and will receive alerts should something go wrong.
Can I go off the grid?
Off-grid battery backup systems are achievable but it can get expensive. You may want to limit your consumption of electricity to the essentials e.g. refrigerator, freezer, well pump, lights, fan, etc. Francis Solar can add essential items to a separate distribution panel that will connect to the battery backup system.
Why doesn't solar provide any backup power without batteries?
When the grid power drops out the system is required to shut down production per the UL 1741 requirement which prevents inverters from back feeding the power lines during grid interruption. However with batteries and a transfer switch you can have reliable, sun-fueled power during a grid outage without back feeding.
If the panels get damaged will my insurance cover the repairs?
Typically your homeowner’s insurance will protect your solar array the same way it protects your home.