Frequently Asked Questions

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How much does solar Cost?

Every home is different, but equipment costs have dropped significantly over the past several years. The average pricing for residential rooftop systems has been about $3.30 per watt. A large portion of the costs to install solar are “soft costs”. We are careful to run a tight ship to offer the most affordable price possible without compromising quality. Our goal is to get every home to save money beginning day one, with no money down.

How do solar panels generate electricity?

Solar panels absorb energy from the sun by way of a semiconductor (typically silicon) and generate a direct current electrical source. An inverter is used to convert the source to an alternating current source.

How do I get power at night when there is no sun?

While batteries are an option, most customers remain connected to the grid for access to continuous, reliable electricity at all times. Excess electricity produced during the day flows away from the home through the net meter and is counted and credited to the customer’s utility bill. At night, electricity flows to the home from the grid, just as it always has. The homeowner gets all credit for solar overproduction.

How does net metering work here in Maryland?

During the day when the sun is out, the panels produce DC electricity. It is converted to AC power at the inverter and delivered to the breaker box. Once there, any electricity actively being used in the home comes straight from the panels into the house and is used immediately. The excess electricity flows through the meter and into the grid. The net meter counts the kwhs of electricity that flow into the grid and the customer is given full credit for those kwhs. There is a constant flow of electricity back and forth between the home and the grid. At the end of the month the customer is billed (or credited) for the difference.

What size PV system do I need to power my home?

PV (photovoltaic) system size is directly related to how much generation you need and the available area you have. By analyzing your monthly and annual usage and the available roof space, one of our consultants will calculate your ideal PV system size.

How long do solar panels last?

Most solar panels are under warranty to produce 80 percent efficiency for 20-25 years. Many produce well beyond that, as some panels have been known to perform in excess of 40 years.

Who gets the tax credits?

When you own the solar panels, you are the only one eligible to receive the federal tax credit which is currently 30% of the total system purchase price.

There are also Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) in Maryland that can be sold to help offset the cost of solar. Some solar installation companies ask you to sign over the rights to these credits, but we recommend you keep them for yourself, as they have value

What are SRECs?

Electricity suppliers (utility companies) must purchase and retire Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs—equal to 1 MWh) in order to meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) compliance obligations under the law, or pay a Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP) for any shortfalls in SREC purchases. To help Maryland homeowners realize the benefits of solar energy, Maryland manages the SRECs program. Owners of solar PV systems can earn and sell SRECs on the open market, based on the amount of energy their solar system produces.

Will installing solar damage my roof?

Absolutely not. The mistake companies have made in the past, and some still do, is installing a system on a bad roof. As long as the roof isn’t in its last five to ten years of life, installation won’t be a problem. The panels are mounted using bolts, flashing and sealant. When it is done right, solar panel installations are more water tight than the shingles and roof vents you already have installed on the roof. People tend to overlook the fact that they already have thousands of holes in their roof (nails from the installation of the shingles). They aren’t an issue because they are layered and flashed. The only difference between that and solar installation is that we also use a healthy amount of sealant as a precautionary measure. Panels are also generally installed on the sunniest part of the roof, which is also the part that would wear the fastest from sun damage. The panels protect the roof from that damage, as well as wind, snow, rain and hail damage. The panels are durable and offer protection which can extend the life of the roof.

Is maintenance required for PV systems?

Since there are no moving parts, regularly scheduled maintenance is not necessary. It is recommended to clear snow or debris that can gather on the panels to maximize production (i.e. savings) but is not required. Usually a good rain storm takes care of just about everything that could gather.

What is the difference between a string inverter and a microinverter?

A microinverter is mounted on the underside of each individual panel and converts the electricity from DC to AC. If you have 30 panels, you then have 30 microinverters. This increases the overall cost of the system but can be worth it in some instances.

A string inverter is mounted on the side of the home. Electricity travels from the panels to the inverter and is then converted from DC to AC all at once. One string inverter can convert the electricity for a large grouping of panels and therefore can significantly decrease overall system cost. The downside is that a traditional string inverter causes all of the panels to work only as strong as their weakest link. If one panel is not functioning or is shaded, all panels will produce at that level.

A string inverter with power optimizers is like a hybrid of the two. Each panel has a power optimizer so that the panels produce and report independently, much like the microinverters, but is still converted by one central inverter to keep the costs lower.

Each option exists because they all have situations where they are the best option. Working with a company that can offer every option and advise you based on their expertise ensures you get the right system for your home.

Is a net meter the same as a smart meter?

While net meters and smart meters are both digital, they are not necessarily the same. A smart meter is simply a digital meter that can be read remotely. A net meter allows for the tracking of both the home’s energy production and use, making sure you get credit for any excess solar production.