Get answers to your frequently asked questions about solar energy.
Contact us at 919-833-9096 for more detailed answers to your questions and see if solar is right for your home or business.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy refers to power harvested from natural sources, such as the sun, wind, or water, which are not in danger of being depleted. The five renewable energies are:
Solar: power absorbed from the sun and converted to usable electricity through photovoltaic technology.
Hydropower: power created by channeling water to generate turbine-produced electricity.
Wind: power created by harnessing wind energy to generate turbine-produced electricity.
Geothermal: power created by harnessing the steam given off when water is pumped onto underground rocks naturally heated by the earth’s core.
Biomass: power created by harnessing the steam and heat given off by processing wood, green waste, garbage, or manure.
What are photovoltaics (solar electricity), also known as PV?
Photovoltaic (PV) devices generate electricity directly from sunlight through an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material, called semiconductors. Electrons in these materials are freed by solar energy and can be induced to travel through an electrical circuit, powering various electrical devices or sending electricity to the grid.
How does solar photovoltaic (PV) work?
Photovoltaic cells are comprised of a semiconductor material such as silicon. Added to the silicon are the elements phosphorous and boron which create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons. The electrons move across the cell when activated by the sunlight’s energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel.
What size solar power system do I need?
The size of the system will depend on how much electricity your household uses. Two homes that are the exact same size can use different amounts of electricity. AC units, electric heaters and pools are some examples of appliances that carry major electrical loads. An average home solar system is about 5 kW, which can be enough to generate virtually all the electricity for the home on an annual basis. At NC Solar Now, we customize each solar system based on your needs, energy use and lifestyle.
How much solar energy can a rooftop system produce on my home?
Not all systems are created equal. It depends on your exposure, for example, southern exposure will make your panels work optimally. However, when you install a solar PV system, every kilowatt-hour that your panels produce is one kilowatt-hour you don’t have to buy from your energy company. So if your system produces 80 percent of power you use, then you only have to pay that 20 percent difference. With a correctly sized system, you can produce as much power as you want to reduce your monthly bill by 20 percent, 50 percent or even 100 percent.
Are you a good candidate for solar?
Do solar panels have to face south?
South facing roofs are the best for solar, however, panels installed facing east, west, southeast, or southwest still can generate a very high percentage of power. We will not install solar if you only your only option is north facing. It is more effective to install the solar panels in the same plane as the roof direction instead of building special mounts to angle them.
Are there any special requirements for the roof?
The companies we use that supply the mounting systems have designed and engineered for almost type of roof in all environments. We don’t recommend you put solar on a roof that will need to be replaced or repaired in the near future. However, we work with roofing companies that can take care of any fixes prior to our installation. If your roof is in good shape, it’s important to realize that solar panels will actually add years to the roof’s life by protecting it from the sun, rain, snow and other elements. Also if your roof is generally flat it is better for solar efficiency than a roof with a lot of peaks. Roof peaks add to shading issues that will decrease the efficiency of the panels.
Do solar panels have to be mounted on my roof?
No, solar panels just need a clear view of the sky, which many times is on the roof, but you can also install a ground-mounted solar system or a pole mounted one.
Another consideration is that solar panels need to be wired to where your electric service comes into your home. The roof is often the closest place on your property, making it the most cost efficient place from which to wire.
What happens if the panels are shaded?
Photovoltiac (PV) panels should be installed where there they will get significant shade-free sun every day. The most common example of rooftop shading includes trees, chimneys, roof peaks, neighboring structures and utility poles. A little amount of shading, perhaps from a vent pipe or utility pole, will not have much impact on the overall system output. However, trees and other structures can have a big impact. A good rule of thumb is the object creating shading should be twice as far away as it is higher than the solar panels. For example, if the object creating shade is 10 feet higher than the panels, it needs to be at least 20 feet away from them. Keep in mind, trees grow over the years, so it’s hard to calculate the impact of shade from trees into the future.
It’s also import to consider all times of day and all seasons of the year when figuring out solar output and shading impact. When our solar technician does a site visit, he will take many measurements that will calculate the expected energy output for your system during all times of day throughout the year.
Do solar panels work when it’s cloudy or raining?
Photovoltaic panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, but they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.
How much solar electricity do I need to power my home?
Every house is different and the amount of electricity you use depends on your lifestyle, how efficient your home and your appliances are. Residential electricity consumption in North Carolina averages 1,077 kilowatt hours per month in 2012, which is 19.27 % greater than the national average. The average sized system is anywhere from 2.0 kW to 10.0 kW.
What is net-metering?
During the day, your solar PV system is produces energy and feeds it directly into your home. When your system is not producing electricity at night, you will receive electricity from the grid as normal. Any excess energy generated during the day for a given billing period is sent back to the utility company, which gives you a credit. This excess energy is reflected on your monthly bill as a credit which further reduces your bill.
How much does solar energy cost to install?
Since every customer’s needs are unique, the exact solar panel system cost will depend on system size, ease of installation, and rebates and incentives. We make sure each installation is custom built depending on the unique power needs of each residence.
What rebates and incentives are available for solar energy?
Homeowners in North Carolina who install a solar system on their home are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit on their investment from the Federal government. This is part of the Energy Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and was recently extended until 2020. There is no limit to the amount you can claim.
What happens when the power goes out?
Our solar systems are grid-tied, which enables you to sell your excess power back to the grid. It’s not safe to push power onto the grid when the power is out because workers may be working on the lines at that time. So your solar system will automatically turn off until power is back up. If power outages are a large concern, the best solution is to have battery storage back up or to purchase a generator.
What if I live in an area with an HOA? Can I still install solar panels?
This depends on the HOA you have. By law, an HOA cannot prevent you from going solar, however, many HOAs apply rules about uniformity, for example, to try to prevent solar from being installed on the front of your home. We can help you every step of the way when dealing with your individual HOA. The past few years NC Solar Now has installed solar on hundreds of homes that have HOAs.
How long do solar panels last?
Our solar panels have a warranty for 25 years, but have a lifespan of 35-40 years.
Does solar PV affect the price of my house if I decide to sell my property?
Any renewable energy and conservation additions add value to a home. Studies show that for every $1,000 saved each year, $20,000 is added to a home’s resale value. Solar energy is one of the best home improvement investments you can make. Homes with solar sell faster than ones without. And unlike common home renovations which depreciate in value, solar will only increase in value.
If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 919-833-9096.