FAQs

Solar FAQs

What is solar energy?

A solar energy system creates usable power from sunshine. There are two basic kinds of systems: Photovoltaic or PV uses sunlight to generate electricity. It’s the same technology found on pocket calculators, just on a larger scale. PV systems can be designed to generate the majority of the electricity used in your home, or just a portion of it.

Thermal solar uses sunlight to heat water. Typically this is used for a home’s hot-water supply. A well-designed thermal system can be extremely effective, and provide most of the hot water used in your home. Both let you do your part towards reducing greenhouse gases and improving the environment.

Does solar only work on warm and sunny days?

Solar systems work even when it’s cloudy. For instance, Germany isn’t known for being a warm and sunny place but its solar power plants produce between 20-30% of all its energy daily. New Jersey and Massachusetts aren’t nearly as sunny as California or Arizona yet New Jersey now ranks 3rd in the country for solar capacity and Massachusetts ranks 4th. Clouds don’t stop the solar UV rays from getting through and power production from Photovoltaic solar panels actually works most efficiently in colder temperatures. Optimum temperature for power production is around 43 degrees Fahrenheit.

How does solar help the environment?

Fossil fuels are a leading cause of global warming and air pollution. Solar energy reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is burned, thus reducing the pollutants and CO² that get into the atmosphere. Solar energy systems that are recommended by Solar Energy World have the added benefits of very high efficiency, durability, and service life – they’re engineered for sustainability. This means fewer replacements and repairs, saving even more energy and precious resources.

How does a solar energy system benefit me personally?

In many ways:

  • It reduces your energy bill and the utility will buy back any extra electricity you generate.
  • Federal, state, and utility financial incentives are also available in many areas.
  • It adds to the value of your home.
  • You gain energy independence.
  • It’s a good investment in a sustainable future for yourself and your loved ones.
  • Learn more about other benefits of solar energy here!

How can solar improve national security?

Currently, the US depends on fossil fuels, especially oil, from potentially unstable or unfriendly countries. These supplies are vulnerable to political upheaval, trade disputes, embargoes, and other disruptions. In 1973 we imported only about 34% of our oil, and yet the 1973 oil embargo was a serious blow to the economy. Today we import over 53%, and are more vulnerable every year. Solar energy can help reduce this dependency, making our economy, our nation, and your family more secure.

How can solar help the economy?

Right now, the U.S. has to import oil and natural gas to cover our energy needs. The cost adds up to many billions of dollars, and all of that money leaves the country. But solar energy is generated locally. The energy dollars stay at home, creating economic growth and benefiting your community.

What regular maintenance do I need to do?

With systems that we recommend, very little. PV systems are inherently very low-maintenance, requiring the system owner only to wash the solar modules down with water when they get dirty so light can get through.

How long will my system last?

If properly installed, it should last 30-40 years. Systems that were installed in the 1970’s are still fully operational today. Technology has evolved so the systems from the 1970’s may not be as efficient as today’s technology.

How much does a solar energy system cost?

It is impossible to give a simple answer, since this depends on system capacity, home layout, and other variables. Certainly the cost has gone down dramatically in recent years, and now there are many tax breaks, electricity buy-back programs, and incentives. Please contact us for pricing and more information.

How does electricity buyback work?

This is often called “net metering”. If you generate more electricity than you use, the excess goes back to your utility company, spinning the meter backward and giving you a credit for the electricity your PV system generated.

If my power goes out, will grid-tied solar system keep making energy?

No, for safety reasons, your solar system will automatically shut off if the power goes out. If you have a solar battery system as well as a solar PV system, your power will continue to work. However, solar batteries can add as much as 30% to the cost of a solar system presently, so most homeowners do not go with this option.  The good news is that battery storage will come down in price as manufacturers perfect the technology, and when that day comes, you will be able to add-on a solar battery back-up system to your solar PV system.

What is a kilowatt hour?

This is what you pay for when you buy energy from the local utility company. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit for measuring energy. It is, as its name suggests, one kilowatt of power used over a period of one hour.

Can my homeowners association stop me from going solar?

No it cannot. According to DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency)

HOAs are barred from restricting a homeowner’s right to install solar panels. States which have laws that override any HOA contracts seeking to deny the right to install solar PV systems include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.”

Solar Thermal

How much money will solar thermal save me?

It will save you plenty, as you won’t need as much gas or electricity to heat water for your home: the sun will do most of the work. Sunlight (always free) heats your water from a regular temperature (less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit) with a heat rise in temperature of 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (max total of 140 degrees). This drastically reduces your water heating costs.

How do solar thermal systems work?

Imagine water moving slowly though a system specifically designed to heat and store water – that is the essence of solar thermal water heating. People have for centuries used water heated by the sun and stored it for bathing, hand washing, cleaning clothes, heating homes and much more. The solar thermal systems used today combine the most efficient techniques for capturing the sun’s heat with modern plumbing systems to produce cost effective hot water and reduce the need for gas or electricity to heat water.

Energy Audit FAQs

Why would ANYONE hire a “solar” company to do their Home Performance project?

Fair question! There are many reasons to choose Solar Energy World for your home performance and energy service needs. First of all, our field audits are among the most comprehensive in the industry, going above and beyond BPI (Building Performance Institute) protocol. In addition to checking items related to energy efficiency, we do a quick fire safety check, humidity levels check, and other items related to indoor air quality. We even check the temperatures of your refrigerators and freezers, often saving our customers up to $100 / yr. by making a simple adjustment!

Our field audits allow us to write some of the best reports of any home performance company.

What makes your Energy Audit reports THE BEST?

They are thorough of course. But beyond that, they are easy to understand. Customers who have no prior building science knowledge can easily grasp the information contained within. We actually provide no less than two reports:

1) an overview that includes their energy usage graphed over a year, and 2) a quick read of WHAT we found in the home. This is the basis for a true evaluation, as it gives the customer a ‘snapshot’ of how their home uses energy through 4 seasons. This is important because some homes (and families) use more energy staying comfortable in winter or summer. Our complete report includes pictures, infra-red images, explanations, and recommendations. They typically run 10-12 pages.

Aren’t you REALLY just trying to sell something?

Honestly, no. We are there to gather information about YOUR home. We have performed MANY audit/evaluations where we did not put forth any proposal at all. If it’s not broke, we won’t try to charge you to fix it.

Do you do ALL work in-house?

No. We are partnered with some of the best subcontractors in Maryland. These include Aeroseal of Maryland, Devere Insulation, and a few select others that we have had a good relationship with for years. HOWEVER – We ARE on-site at all times providing quality control, communication with the customer, and YES, we do quite a bit of the DETAIL oriented work in-house.

Ok, so you can insulate a house, big deal, what else can you do?

The Energy Services Division of Solar Energy World is a FULL SERVICE, ONE STOP SHOP for anything related to home performance. In addition to insulation we also provide

  • Air Sealing
  • Duct Sealing
  • HVAC Evaluation
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) monitors
  • Smoke Alarms
  • Lighting change outs (residential and commercial)
  • Chimney balloons (very beneficial for homes with fireplaces no longer used and or with broken dampers)
  • Dense packing of exterior walls, cantilevered ceilings
  • Insulation and moisture barriers of crawl-spaces

What is Solar Reflective Screening?

It is a material that we install in southern and western facing windows that GREATLY cuts down heat gain in the summertime. We replace the insect screen material in a window frame with a material that reflects up to 90% of the heat gain normally coming through a window in the summertime (customer needs to take them out and store the frames prior to winter).

So bottom line, what can your company really do?

By combining renewable energy systems such as Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal along with sustainable products and practices (making the home more efficient year-round), we are able to take a typical home closer to net zero than any other company in the state!

Why should I take your word for it?

Don’t. See what our customers have to say. Read reviews of Solar Energy World at the Maryland Home Performance website.http://www.mdhomeperformance.org/contractors.php?contractors_id=85

Most other companies provide most of these services also. Do you do anything the others don’t?

Glad you asked. Yes we do. We are the ONLY company in MD that installs ICE COLD. ICE COLD is a catalyst that greatly improves the performance of central air conditioning and heat pump systems.

We are also the only company in MD that installs Solar Reflective Screening.

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The S.U.N. Report

Analyst: US Residential Demand Could Approach 1 GW Annually

Residential solar just keeps soaring but what about the other markets? Find out next week at Solar Power International. Renewable Energy World Editors October 15, 2014  New Hampshire — The outlook for the residential solar market in the United StatesRead More >

Hear from Our Customers >

“No company has ever invited me to choose anyone from their customer list at random to call for an unbiased, unprepared reference, but Solar Energy World did. They also have invested in their own solar system for their headquarters. None of other local solar installation companies I called had done that. Solar Energy World’s commitment and level of integrity is impressive.”

Homeowner, Rockville, MD


Headquarters - 5681 Main St., Elkridge, Maryland 21075
410-579-2009 • 866-856-4580