Basic Fun Facts!  (BFF’s)

 

 


Do it yourself and SAVE! (do the math)

Here’s the situation: you can Do It Yourself and save (big), even if that means that you buy your equipment and farm out the labor with someone else. Below is why and how.  There are added costs to buying a full turnkey system from a full-service solar company.  These are not necessarily “hidden” costs or unreasonable costs – it is just the cost of doing business.  This cost must be passed along to the consumer through higher prices.  It’s normal and fair, but it’s also avoidable.

Our examples are based on a 6kW system or 6,000 watts.  This would be equal to 20 solar panels that are 300 watts each.  It’s a very average size system; and although we frequently do much larger systems, this one makes for a reasonable example.

 

 Full TurnkeyDIY w/ helpDIY (really by yourself)
Grand Total$21,700 $10,700$8,700
Cost of equipment$7800$7800$7800
Balance of system   $500$500$500
Installation labor $1000$1000
Electrical labor $500$500
Permit costs$500$500
Admin cost$500
Insurance $200
Rent, phones, ins, payroll, utilities, etc. $500
Sales commission$1800
Hidden finance fees$3500
Company profit $4000
Cost of free junk$500
Monitoring option$400$400$400
Cost per watt  $3.62      $1.78  $1.45

 

 

Numbers don’t lie, (high-pressure sales people do)

Ok, let me be clear.  I have nothing against sales people.  I’m a sales person or else I wouldn’t be writing all of this in order to try to get you to buy solar from me.  But buyer beware!  There are a lot of predators out there and they will play a hard and fast game to get you to close now.  If they tell you that your solar is free or if they do everything in their power to get you to sign up today – then you need to send them packing!  These guys are only concerned about the sale. They are not concerned about what happens after the contract or how satisfied you are at the end of the ordeal.  They can put you into predatory loans with extremely high penalties, or balloon payments, or just incredibly long-term loans – up to 20 or 25 years.  If you want a full-service deal from a local solar company, be sure to take your time and verify the claims that they make.  Shop around a little.  We do our best to take the drama out of the equation and to connect you with an extreme value in solar.  When installed properly, solar systems are very reliable and you may never have a need for service. This makes it a great candidate for a DIY project.

 

Solar is not free (it can pay for itself, but it’s not free)

Buying solar is not a whole lot different than buying a car, house, or anything else that you might consider taking out a loan for.  The one exception is that solar actually produces savings / income – tax free savings that can literally allow it to pay for itself.  It is not uncommon to take out a loan for your solar and have the payment on the loan be less than the amount you actually save on electricity.  Therefore, the solar system can literally pay for itself.

 

 

I want to go off grid! (no, you don’t)

To be honest, most people really don’t grasp the gravity of this concept.  Taking a traditional home “off grid” that might have an average electric bill of around $200 per month would likely cost you over $100,000, take 3 times more solar than what would fit on the roof, and would require $40,000 in battery replacement in about 5 years.  There are so many variables it’s not even funny.  Then, once you nail down the theoretical requirement for equipment to meet your usage, and peak demand, and the ability to recharge the battery bank within one a day period; you can now double that price if you want more than one day of autonomy.  Now factor in what you intend to do when the weather is bad for a sustained period of time.

If you are serious about going off grid, the first key is to levelize your daily consumption year-round.  This means your consumption is basically the same each day in the winter, spring, summer, and fall.  Then, you need to reduce this levelized consumption as much as physically possible.  This can be done by changing your stove and dryer to gas, changing all of your light bulbs to LED’s, change out your windows to highly insulated windows, add attic insulation, change out your hot water heater to gas or solar, and buy new air conditioners that are either solar or extreme efficiency.  This list honestly goes on and on, but realistically; if you can get your consumption down to about 500 kWh’s or less per month and avoid surges and high peaks, you might be able to pull it off.  We are happy to help. The reality ,however, is that most of these conversations euthanize themselves because people have unrealistic expectations and misinterpret what they have heard about the value of solar today.

 

Grid tied solar is a perfect fit in the middle; giving the customer the luxury of being on the grid with long term value and savings, while not having the excessive cost of batteries.
 

 

Why Solar Edge equipment?

This is simply an opinion.  Feel free to look at the performance data and comparisons online.  From experience; I can tell you that SolarEdge is the most reliable and productive equipment on the market, with many advantages over micro inverters and conventional string inverters.  When it comes to safety and code compliance; the Solar Edge equipment is always at the top of the class. Frequently, when a new code comes out, this system is already compliant while the competition is still trying to catch up.

 

 

Why is the inverter undersized?

You may have noticed, for example, that a 7kw system is equipped with a 6kw inverter.  The reason for this has to do with basic solar system design theory.  Ideally, a 7kw system has panels that are all facing due south for the most energy production possible (this is due to the most sunlight exposure possible throughout the day).  Making this assumption, the solar production will ramp up in the morning, peak out at noon and then wind down in the afternoon.  This means that the array is only producing peak power (7kw) for a very short time during the day.  Every inverter is different, but the general ‘rule’ is that an inverter can produce 120% of its nameplate rating for a short time.  So, in this example, the 6kw inverter can produce up to 7.2kw during peak production times. In many cases, the array is not facing due south or all one direction; so it is unlikely that an inverter will ever peak out over the full capacity. Even if it does peak, it will only be brief.  If, for instance, half of your array is facing east and half is facing west; then the east half would peak at around 10 am (and start to wind down), while the west array is cranking up and will peak out around 2 pm.  In an east / west situation like this, it is possible to oversize the array by 140% and likely never exceed the inverters capacity to process power.  This situation would be referred to as “clipping power”.

 

Grid-tied, Off-grid, Hybrid system overview.

 

 

Stop! You lost me at hello…

Ok, so mono is not a disease you get from kissing.  If you thought that it might be then you need some more help. Let’s face it – you’re lost, but you really want solar.  In keeping with the theme of keeping it simple, let’s get out in the weeds a little bit regarding what it is we are talking about. Here’s a bunch of basic definitions and explanations.

 

30% IRS Tax credits.

This is real money. There are a few stipulations, but a tax credit is different than a deduction.  Unlike an income deduction, a tax credit is a direct reduction in your taxes due.  The stipulation is that you must first have tax liability in order to take this tax credit.  If the tax credit exceeds your tax liability, then you may carry this remaining credit over to future years.  Some people confuse “no liability” with zero taxes due at the end of the year (after making weekly payments via payroll deductions).  In this example, let’s say you pay $100 a week in taxes, or $5200 for the year.  Your solar system cost was $10,000, and you have a $3,000 tax credit. If you would have normally paid just about what you owed; then this scenario would mean the IRS would now send you a $3,000 refund.  Now please keep in mind that we don’t give tax advice; we are just giving one basic example to give you an idea of how the tax credit works.  If you get a rebate from your state or local utility company; the IRS does require that you either claim that rebate as income if you deduct the full (before rebate) price of your system, or else you can take the tax credit on the amount after the rebate.

 

Can I also get a rebate?

This is entirely up to what local or state incentives are available to you outside of the IRS federal tax credit.  The quickest way to find this out would be to call your local utility company and ask if they have any rebates for solar energy.

 

 

How fast will my solar pay for itself?

This is not only a great question, but it is a very fundamental concept that should be considered when thinking about solar.  There are a lot of moving pieces to this puzzle such as; net metering, system design, shade management, etc. Ultimately, it comes down to 3 basic factors; a) how much does your solar equipment cost? b) how much power will that equipment produce? and c) what is the value of that power? One very cool thing about solar is that it is freakishly predictable. Assuming the system is designed and installed properly without shading issues, you can realistically project your annual production within a few percentage points.  This is, of course, using data from NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory,) which I fully endorse.  Anyway, let’s get back to the application.  Without filling in the value of X, let’s just stick with generalities and say that the cost of the equipment is the same in both Texas and New York State, which is essentially a true statement.  Now consider that the electricity costs are much higher in New York than they are in Texas.  Therefore, you would assume that your break-even or “payback” would be faster in New York, but then the third component comes in which is “how much power does your equipment produce?”  In this case, the same system in Texas will produce more power than New York so you just balanced the scales, and it is feasible that the break-even point could be about the same.

Reasonably speaking, if your solar can pay for itself in 10 years or less then you are getting a pretty good deal.  Less than 10 years is always better, of course, but if you consider that a quality grid tied solar system can feasibly perform for 25-30 years; this is a pretty good proposition.  Tax credits help to bring down the cost of equipment and so do rebates. These are significant factors in your break-even calculation.  Let’s look at a realistic comparison between what we have to offer and what you might expect if buying from a turnkey solar company at a fair price. For this example (and the one we use in all of our cost,) let’s say that this fair price is $3.50 per watt.  Many of our systems cost around $1.35 per watt and let’s also say you spend $.50 per watt additionally in professional help (with your installation). So, our comparison will be $1.85 per watt with Sol-Survivor and $3.50 for a fair priced turnkey installed system.  For the sake of simplicity; we will not add any moving targets like speculation on inflation, duration of solar production, etc.

 

Example 1 with turnkey installation company

6kw x $3.50 per watt = $21,000; which is $14,700 after the tax credit.

6kw may produce 9,000 kWh’s per year x a rate of $0.13 per kWh, which equals $1,170 in energy production.

$14,700 divided by $1,170 equals 12.56 years to break even.  This is a nominal example, but a real one.

 

Example 2, using a system by Sol-Suvivor

6kw x $1.85 per watt = $11,850; which is $7,770 after the tax credit.

Assuming the same $1,170, divided into $7,770 equals 6.64 years to break even!

 

As you can see in the example above, we truly do want to help you save money!  In addition, we used a reasonable example above to show you how much you can save. Please understand, however, that $3.50 per watt is a pretty competitive price and you can expect to pay much more with some companies.

 

Is module efficiency really that big of a deal?

Yes. No. I don’t know.  This again is an opinion thing, and my opinion does not have to be yours.  Ok, let’s say you have limited roof space or any space that you have allocated for solar, but you absolutely must get as much power on the roof as possible within your space limitations.  Yes, it’s important, but only if you are going to twist my arm on the matter.  If anyone is pressing you real hard on efficiency; it’s probably because they are charging a premium and that’s the only card they have to play to justify poking your eyes out.  So, let’s break it down and talk about the facts.  In general, a 6.5kw system (6500 watts) is going to produce the same amount of power whether it’s made up of 26-250 watt panels or 25-260 watt panels.  Do you really care if there is one more panel on the roof or not?  I would think not; especially if there is a big price difference from the guy who is trying to overcharge you for the 260-watt panels versus the guy who is selling you the 250’s and saving you some money.  In most cases, you can still find the higher efficient panels at a fair price.  There are two common dimensions for a residential/commercial solar panel.  The first is a 60 cell, and the second is a 72 cell.  There are many others, but these are the two most common and most competitively priced.  The 60 cell panel is 6 solar cells across and 10 rows of 6 up.  The 72 cell is basically the same layout with 2 more rows of 6 on top; so you have 12 rows of 6 instead of 10 rows of 6.  The 60 cell will be approximately 40” x 66”, and the 72 cell with be approximately 40” x 77”.  A real-life example of an efficiency comparison would be one 72 cell panel with a rating of 360 watts, which would be considered very efficient.  A 300 watt 72 cell panel, however, would not be considered that efficient.  If you just must have the latest greatest thing out there, that’s ok too; but you are paying for that and not necessarily the value and return on your investment.

Using the above line of thinking, a 7.2 kw system using 24 of one (300-watt panels), or 20 of the other (360 watt panels) is still a 7.2kw system; and both 7.2kw systems are going to produce the same amount of power.  Now, when you run into the guy who says “NO! this is not true because one panel is more efficient than the other” and that’s why he is so much more expensive, you need to take a brief pause and enjoy the moment.  Maybe ask him if one man can run a 6-minute mile does that mean that 3 men can run it in 2 minutes?  Ok, maybe that’s not very respectful.  Ask him this, “what is your PTC to STC rating ratio compared to the other panel that you are trashing that is not as efficient?”  If this guy was selling pest control a week ago then he will probably simply excuse himself.

Now that I have opened that can of worms, I guess I’m going to have to explain what a PTC rating is.  So, without getting in the deep end of the pool, here is a quick overview. STC is a flash test at the factory where a solar panel is briefly soaked in 1000 photons per square meter and then checked to see how many watts it is putting out (in a theoretical perfect situation).  For example, let’s say this flash test came back with a 301.2 w reading.  That panel would be grouped in the 300w bin and sold as a 300-watt panel.  The PTC rating is a more real life test that does not have ideal conditions, and this same 300w panel will have a PTC rating of around 267watts (or 89% of the STC rating).  Now, if you take the guy’s expensive ‘super duper’ 360-watt panel and check the PTC rating, it is probably around 320 watts (or the same 89%).  Remember, numbers don’t lie, but high-pressure sales people do.  Most quality panels will range between 89% and 91% on their PTC rating.  In my opinion, this is not a major factor, but it’s worth considering when people are trying to leverage efficiency to jack up the price on you.

 

 

Net metering. like opinions, everybody’s got one.

It would be nice if net metering policies were uniform, but unfortunately, they are not.  Net metering is basically the policy that the utility company employs that dictates how much credit you get for your surplus solar energy production.  One of the beauties of grid tied solar is that you don’t need batteries to store surplus power.  Therefore, anytime you over produce, your electric meter basically goes backward and you sell that power back to the utility company.  Unfortunately, once that power crosses the meter, you no longer own it or have control over what the utility company does with it. Policies on this vary in every way imaginable.  Some companies give you a fixed credit for all solar power produced (this is usually referred to as a “value of solar” credit).  In rare cases, a utility company will give you a full dollar for dollar credit for your solar, regardless of how much you produce.  In most cases, the utility company has some obscure formula for a discount over production of solar.  Sometimes this discount applies to all energy that is sent back and sometimes this only applies to the net over production, which means the total over the total billing period.  In rare cases, the utility company will say that they don’t give any credit for solar production.  If this isn’t illegal, it should be and I would protest if I were you.  If you have a choice in energy providers, choose someone else.

 
It is important to know your net metering policy because it will affect your savings and the return on your investment.
 

 

Heat is bad for solar!

Not necessarily a very interesting fact but many people are under the impression that solar panels work better in the heat.  Solar is about light, not heat and in very high heat environments your solar will produce less energy.  This effect is normally not very significant until temperatures reach over 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  As temperatures drop, the voltage will increase so in theory your most productive day will be the coldest day of the year assuming the skies are clear and your panel’s angle to the sun is viable.

 

 

What’s the math equation to forecast my solar energy production where I live?

I have no idea.  If you must know, I recommend you go to PVWatts, which is a web site designed and maintained by NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory).  That’s what we do, and they have a wicked database with decades of weather history data and freakishly accurate forecasts.

 

 

Why buy solar?

Why not buy solar is a much shorter answer.  So far, the only rational argument I cannot overcome is when someone simply doesn’t like the way they look. It’s tough to argue with that.  When it comes to solar, assuming you are getting a good value (i.e. buying from us), there are no losers in the equation.  I believe in three unavoidable factors in life; death, taxes and your utility bills.  This rationale is important to justify buying solar.  The money you spend on solar is money you are going to spend whether you like it or not.  Whether your system pays for itself in 5 years or 10 years, you are spending money that you will spend whether you like it or not.  That being said, you are simply prepaying for decades of really cheap electricity.  Not only that, but you are adding a lot of equity and sellability to your home even if you don’t stay there for the next 25 years.

 

 

Add a pool, we love pools.  But please don’t blame us when your bill doesn’t go down.

Ok, let’s be real here people.  If you install a solar system that produces $100 a month in electricity, and then you turn around and put in a pool that consumes $100 in electricity; the basic math dictates that your bill will not go down.  Please don’t yell at me because it did not go down. Solar is not a magic wand, it can only do what it can do.  BTW, we also like Tesla’s and hot tubs.

 

 

Does SolSurvivor help with commercial projects too? (Yes we do)

Yes, we do.  It’s almost that simple.  Reach out to us and let’s get started.  It is important to know the voltage of your building (240v, 208-3phase, 480v-3phase), and good pictures of the electrical service is also very helpful.  A copy of your electric bill and roof type will also give us a head start on designing system for you.

 

 

To flash or not to flash!

We are talking about a metal flashing used at the point of penetration.  This is intended to help prevent leaks and honestly, the industry is split.  I think the guys who swear by flashing are probably the flashing manufacturers.  I have seen poorly flashed penetrations cause more problems than a non-flashed penetration that was not installed properly.  I will leave this up to you. Our “Sol-Attach” brand racking system does not require flashing, but they are available if you wish to use them.

 

 

What is an embedded optimizer?

I guess maybe I should explain what an optimizer is first. Actually, please allow me to back up even one step further and cover the 3 most common basic inverter applications.

  1. First, you have a standard string inverter where several solar panels are connected in series which will take the voltage up to a range normally within 200v d/c to 500v d/c. If you have no shading or one simple plane for the array to lay on, then a string inverter is just fine and you may save a little money.  If you have NEC code enforcement that wants rapid shut down (RSD) you may want to reconsider and go to an optimizer, which has an RSD protocol built in.  The cost of adding an RSD if the string inverter does not come with one will end up costing you about the same.  Probably the biggest argument against string inverters is that if you have a string of say 10 panels and one of them is shading by a tree limb, chimney, telephone pole etc; then your entire string of 10 panels is hindered.  There are other benefits to the alternatives, but this is the biggie when it comes to energy production.
  2. Second is micro inverters. A central inverter will usually be mounted on the wall on the side of the building and lots of D/C power is wired to this central point to be converted to A/C power.  A micro inverter will have one small inverter per panel (sometimes 2 panels per micro) and the D/C power is converted on the rooftop at the module location.  This will often deal with Electrical codes that String inverters will not, but the main claim to fame for the micro inverters is that each panel processes power individually and therefore the shading issue is hit head on.  You may not have the luxury of having a perfectly clear roof without some shading challenges, so this would be a common motivation to go with a micro inverter system.
  3. Yay, optimizers! D/C optimizers to be specific.  If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about these things; to the extent that we are currently giving each customer who buys a complete system from us a free upgrade to the Solar Edge Optimized system.  My apprehension about the micro inverters are the history of warranty issues.  It stands to reason that if you have all the electronics required to convert d/c power to a/c power on the roof in extreme heat, then you will likely have more failures than a simple d/c voltage conversion, which is what an optimizer does.  In addition, you will have only one inverter to worry about possible warranty issues versus many little inverters. My experience is that Solar Edge has had minimal warranty issues and have been very responsive in the rare occurrence that there is one.  In addition to shade management here are a few other benefits, in my opinion.
    1. Miss-matching. This is when you have a bunch of panels labeled 300w but they are actually 301.5, 302.0, 303.4 and so on.  With a string inverter, you only get the production of the lowest ranking module in the string.  With an optimizer, you will get the most power possible from each module.
    2. Heat resilience. Unlike an inverter, the optimizer is a simpler component without all of the electronics on board that are on the roof at extreme temperatures.
    3. Code compliance. If there is new code relating to solar it seems like Solar Edge has been there for a couple of years, while everyone else is still trying to catch up which can cause delays and inherent warranty issues due to a hasty reaction.
    4. If there is a failure in the array, the system knows whether to shut down the entire system, or to just circumvent a failed optimizer. In fault mode, the Solar Edge system will only transmit 1v d/c to the inverter for communication and diagnostics.  This is a very safe feature.
    5. All of the stuff you have to add in later to other inverters to make them compliant (Rapid Shut Down for example) is already built into Solar Edge.
    6. If you want to monitor you panels’ production, they have one of the more reliable programs and you have the option of wifi or cellular.
  4. Finally! we get to embedded optimizers. These are not easy to find because most retailers, manufacturers, and distributors are wussies and are afraid to venture away from vanilla.  A non-embedded optimizer is basically bolted on to a conventional module, there are a lot of wires involved with this method, extra labor, more challenging wire management, and now more possible points of failure.  A conventional module has what is called a combiner box on the back of the panel.  This is where all the cell circuits come together and two main wires come.

 

With an embedded optimizer, this all becomes very tidy, streamlined, and it improves the warranty of the product.  In this case, the junction box is never installed and the optimizer becomes the junction box; so it now serves a dual purpose as an optimizer and junction box.  This is much neater and easier to install, but you also now get a 25-year warranty on the optimizer to match the solar panel warranty since it is installed at the factory.  Our custom made Boviet triple black 60 cell embedded optimized panel really achieves all that one could want in a solar panel; from efficiency to aesthetics, net production, wire management, and reliability.

 

 

Everything is by the watt!

This is a pretty simple concept, but it may need a little explaining if you are not familiar with solar programs.  Everything is priced and sold by the watt.  A turnkey system might go for $3.50 per watt and this would include everything; sales commission, profit, permit, racking, electrical supplies, solar modules, inverter, code compliance, etc. Systems are usually referred to in KW (KiloWatts) or a 1,000 watts.  So, a turnkey 6kw system would be 6,000 watts X $3.50 so $21,000.  Our desire is to get you into an installed system for around $2 per watt, or less even if you contract out most ( if not all) of the work.  A solar panel alone might be 300 watts and could sell for $0.70 per watt or $210.

 

 

All watts are created equal!

This is basically a repeat of what was written about module efficiency.  The fundamental argument is that a 6kw system will produce basically the same amount of power whether it’s made up of 20-300 watt panels, 30-200 watt panels, or 25-240 watt panels.  There are guys who are going to really split hairs on this one based on their brand of solar panel and a multitude of other arguments.  This is my story and I’m sticking to it.  If you want a deeper perspective on the matter please go back up to Is module efficiency really that big of a deal?

 

 

What is anti-islanding

This is a safety protocol that is built into UL approved grid tied inverters.  Basically, it means that your solar won’t work and will shut down automatically if there is a power outage.  Your house cannot run on grid tied solar alone without batteries.  There is no buffer to supply surges, and there is not a way to store or displace over production during low consumption times.  Grid tied solar is a supplementation to the grid power – it is not a standalone or backup system.  Hybrid systems are available if you want the best of both worlds, but brace yourself because they are not cheap.  The purpose of anti-islanding is so that when the power is out, your system won’t be sending electricity into the grid that is down (this can cause many hazards including electrocuting the poor guy on the pole down the road that is trying to fix the problem).  The first component involved in creating an emergency backup system is an ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) which automatically disconnects you from the grid during an outage.  This is a customary component for anyone installing a backup generator that is designed to come on when the grid is down.

 

 

More is more

I’m only suggesting that maybe you round up a bit on your system choice.  There are some certain fixed costs involved in a major project like putting solar on a house, so the bigger the system you put in the more bang for your buck you will get.  Let me give you just one example.  Let’s say you were looking at our 8.96kw system with Boviet optimized panels and your array will be east and west facing.  You could easily add 4 or 5 more panels to that 7.6kw inverter and never clip any power.  You have added 16% more power; but your inverter, freight, permit, and electrical costs are all the same.  You are only buying panels and a few racking feet and you have reduced your cost per watt and increased your solar energy savings.

 

 

Can I…why yes, you can!

We are here to sell you stuff, we are not likely going to say no so please ask.  If it’s reasonable and not illegal or immoral we want to say yes to whatever it is you would like to do.

 

 

Do you give referral fees? (yes)

If you refer a friend or family member; before they shop, and if they buy a complete system you will get either a $75 check or a $150 online shopping coupon.  With every 9th referral; you get a job offer to come sell for us and unfortunately W-9 for going over $600.

 

 

The 5 most frequently asked questions (not covered above)

  • Q: Will hail break my solar panels?              
  • A: It’s unlikely.  All of our modules are UL tested, which means they have passed a high impact test to simulate such things as severe hail.  It takes extreme hail to actually break quality solar panels.  If you do encounter storm damage which includes broken solar panels, it would be considered an insurance matter and not a warranty issue.  The solar panels are normally more resilient that your roof, windows, etc., so you probably already have an insurance claim on your hands.  Typical hail (even golf ball size hail) will probably not break panels.  I’ve seen it happen, but we are talking baseball size hail.
  • Q: Do I need to have batteries?
  • A:  NO, Our specialty is “grid tied” systems where there is no storage of electricity and therefore there is no need for batteries.  Although “off-grid” or “hybrid” systems can be installed, they are not as economical as a grid tied.
  • Q: Does it cost a lot of money to remove my solar energy system if I have to replace my roof
  • A: Yes, it can.  A Fair rate for an uninstall and reinstall of solar panels only (no electrical) would be around $.50 per watt, so $3,000 for a 6kw system.  this will likely be covered by insurance if it is a storm/insurance related matter.
  • Q: Do the modules (solar panels) have a warranty?  
  • A:  YES, any panel we carry is going to have a warranty on workmanship, which is likely going to be 5 to 10 years.  In addition, all of the panels we carry will have what is called a “linear power warranty,” which means they will warranty the long term performance of their module.  Most solar module manufacturers will warranty the output of their panels at 90% for 10 years and 80% for 25 years.  Some are higher, but this is an industry standard.
  • Q: Will I have electricity when the power goes out? 
  • A:  NO, not with a “grid tied” system.  Because there is no battery storage you will not have a place to draw power from, and even if it’s sunny out the system is designed to shut down automatically for safety reasons when the grid is down.  The high cost of having power during a power outage typically outweighs the inconvenience of a temporary power outage.  If this is a big concern for you we suggest you incorporate an emergency generator that will come on automatically when your power goes out.  Hybrid battery systems are available, but they are not cheap.  If you get suckered into a cheap one, then you will probably be disappointed.

 

 

Is shading really a big deal? (yes it is)  This is a stupid question, that’s why it’s at the bottom and not mentioned elsewhere.

Sorry to be so harsh here, but I can’t tell you how many times customers are convinced that it is ok to put solar panels in shaded areas.  A little bit of shade in a very small part of a single solar panel just kills its production.  If you have your panels strung in series then you just killed the production of the whole string.  I would not take this so personal, except every time it happens some guy is convinced the equipment is not working.  I get that people really want solar, and occasionally I meet that guy who understands that his shade is a problem and it going to impact his production and is ok with it; but this guy is rare.  Solar panels need unobstructed sunlight to perform properly.  If a panel is facing due south, it is only producing at full potential for about 3 hours, and this time period is critical to have no obstructions.  The time before and after that three-hour window the production is either ramping up in the morning or winding down in the afternoon.  If you have an array facing east, for example, and you have trees to the east causing morning shade on that array; you may see as much as an 80% reduction in energy production. This is because the window of productivity is between 9 and 11 am and you have your panels shaded at that time.  After 12 noon, your production is minimal.  Likewise, with a west facing array, you cannot have shading in the afternoon.  We are happy to work with you regardless of your shade challenges, but we want you to be pleased with your investment and not have unrealistic expectations.