How Solar Panels Work

Solar Energy and Solar Panel FAQs

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Solar FAQs

What is solar energy?

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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.

Do solar panels only work on warm and sunny days?

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Solar panels 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.

Shading is another issue altogether. For more information on that click HERE.

How do solar panels help the environment?

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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 panel 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?

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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 energy improve national security?

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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 energy help the economy?

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Solar energy is generated locally. The energy dollars stay at home, creating economic growth and benefiting your community. In addition, solar jobs are growing at more than 20 times the national average. Every 4 minutes, another American home or business goes solar and every solar panel is installed by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.

What regular maintenance do solar panels require?

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

How long will my solar energy system last?

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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?

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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 (Net-Metering) work?

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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 solar panel system generated. In simple terms, net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid.

Net metering’s billing mechanism then credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a PV system on the home’s rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods where the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output. Customers are only billed for their “net” energy use. Exported solar electricity also serves nearby customers’ loads.

 “My husband saw our meter run backwards for the first time, and got all excited. We love our solar panels!”  Candice Stankus, Rockville MD, Solar Energy World Customer

“Each year we get a check from BGE for the excess energy we produce – can’t beat that!  Robyn Knopf Needel, Reisterstown MD, Solar Energy World Customer

“I really enjoy watching the BGE meter spin backwards.”  Rich Lechner Pasadena MD, Solar Energy World Customer

If there is a power outage, will my solar system keep making energy?

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Many people considering going solar ask if a solar system works during a power outage. If you have a solar battery system as well as a solar PV system, your power will continue to work. However, since your system is grid-tied, for safety reasons, if there is a power outage your solar system will automatically shut off when the power goes out. 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.

Should you wait to go solar until battery back-up is less expensive? Why wait? You can start saving money right now, without battery backup. None of Solar Energy World’s 2000+ Maryland customers have solar battery back-up and they still save 20-100% on their electricity. Homeowners who own their solar systems are  generating extra income  and making profits from the excess energy their system produces. Typical ROI is 125% in 5 years and just keeps going up after that.  Homeowners who choose a Solar PPA, pay $0 for solar panels and installation to lock in an electricity rate that is lower than their utility.

Battery storage will definitely come down in price as manufacturers perfect the technology, and when that day comes, you will be able to add a solar battery back-up system to your current solar PV system – so really, there is no logical reason to wait for battery costs to go down to go solar.  The longer you wait to go solar, the more money you give away to your utility company with no hope of ROI or savings since never-ending utility rate hikes are a fact of life.

IF YOU ARE A MARYLAND OR WASHINGTON DC  HOMEOWNER WHO IS INTERESTED IN GOING SOLAR, CHECK OUT OUR SPECIAL OFFERS: CLICK HERE!

What is a kilowatt hour?

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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 installing solar panels?

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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.”

For details concerning solar access rights in Maryland click HERE.

Is a PPA transferrable?

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If you sell your house, you may transfer the Agreement to the new homeowner or purchase the system. You may prepay the remainder of the payments due under the Agreement to make the transfer even more attractive to the new homeowner. Whichever option you choose, Solar Energy World will guide you through the process.

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Phone: 410-579-2009 • 866-856-4580