Solar FAQs – Solar Energy Facts

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.”

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The S.U.N. Report

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