Frequently Asked Questions About Solar
How many solar panels can fit on a typical roof?
The number of panels that can be installed on a roof varies depending on the available square footage after allowing for a number of factors, including:
- The slope of the roof.
- The number and location of chimneys
- If there are skylights or dormers, and how many
- The direction the roof faces
- If there are areas of the roof shaded by trees
These are some of the main factors that affect the total number of available square feet and the total number of panels that can be installed.
The only accurate way of determining the size of the solar array your roof can accommodate is by scheduling a site evaluation and taking measurements. For most straightforward roof designs, we can get accurate measurements easily from the ground. For more complex roof designs, accurate dimensions will require a more detailed measurement.
If you’re interested in understand the best way to install solar on your home, you can contact us for a free estimate and we’ll make arrangements to come out and measure your roof.
How many solar panels are needed to power my home?
The number of panels you need to power your home is determined by your annual power usage, which we obtain from your electric bills. If your available square footage is larger than needed, we can install up to the total number of panels required. Not over-building the system helps keep your initial investment down.
The available square footage on your roof determines how many panels can be installed, which will determine how much power you can generate. If the space available is smaller than what you need to cover your annual usage, we can then determine what the offset of power consumption would be. This will provide you with the estimated amount of power you’ll still have to buy from the power company.
Keep in mind that no 2 homes are alike. For example, two families with 2,500 square foot homes could be right beside each other, with one occupied by a couple who travels often for work and doesn’t have many major electrical loads, and another with a family of 6, with a pair of electric vehicles, a pool, a hot tub, and multiple refrigerators. The second home would require a much larger system to cover their consumption needs.
Assessing your current and future needs is essential to ensuring a system that’s provides the energy you need now, and well into the future.
If I generate more power than I need, can I sell it back to the utility company?
Yes, it’s called net-metering. With net-metering, you are essentially a micro power plant. Each month you’re going to be buying and selling power to your power company. The amount of power you’ll sell to the power company is determined by a number of different factors, including the number of cloudy days vs. sunny days, and the amount of power your house is consuming.
On a bright sunny day when you are creating more energy than you’re consuming, that energy needs to flow somewhere. So, it ends up getting pushed back onto the grid. When this happens, you’ll notice your meter spinning backward, which results in you receiving a credit on your bill. At night, when the solar is not producing and you have the lights on, you are going to be drawing power from the grid.
At the end of the month, the power company is going to look at what your sales are (the amount of power you put back on the grid) versus what your purchases are (the amount of power you took off the grid) and determine the net difference. If your sales are higher than your purchases, you’ll see a credit on your electric bill.
Can I use solar to charge my electric vehicle?
Yes. A Level One EV charger is 120V. A Level two is 240V and charges much faster and is more efficient. It’s less expensive to install one at the time of your base system installation.
How much power will my solar system produce?
It depends on your system size and sun exposure to your roof, ground, or shade structured solar array.
Do I qualify for Federal Tax Credit?
Homeowners are eligible for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. The tax credit is available for 30% of qualified expenses for a solar PV installation. The tax credit is applicable for the year the system is installed, and can be carried forward, if needed. Visit Energy.gov for further information.
How does the Federal Tax Credit work?
The Federal Tax Credit is a reduction in the amount of taxes owed, and is currently 30% of the cost of your solar energy system. This includes solar panels, inverters, mounting equipment, permits, fees, installation, etc. As long as the system was purchased outright or financed, the system would qualify. If the system is acquired through a solar lease, the leasing company would take the tax credit since they own the system. For a system that was installed in 2022, the Federal Tax Credit is 30% of the cost of the installation.
Can solar systems increase my property value?
Yes, a solar system installation will add value to your home. Most owners notice a healthy increase in the value of the home, and homes with solar systems are more desirable and sell faster.
How long does a solar system last?
New equipment lasts about 20 to 30 years before there’s a noticeable difference in output. Solar panels typically come from the manufacturer with a 25-year warranty, and the associated inverters, racking, etc. typically have the same warranty.
Is my roof strong enough for a solar system?
Solar panel installations weigh approximately 3 to 4 lbs. per square foot. They’re aluminum-framed solar panels with wiring and accompanying equipment, constructed with aluminum racking. This provides a very light load, when considering a roof is made to withstand many times more than this weight.
Does a solar system really save you money?
Solar systems are designed to produce a certain amount of energy in a year. It’s very important to make sure you have the best design from an experienced professional to ensure you’re in agreement with the amount of power required, future energy needs, solar panel location, dealing with any shading concerns, roof condition, additional equipment (EV chargers, whole house fans, etc.).
Providing that you have a quality design and installation, you should expect a payback for the solar install in 6 years or less, if purchased outright. Many people also choose to finance. If you go this route, you’ll start saving right from the start by having a lower payment than your current energy bill, while putting that money towards the principal of the loan.
Can solar systems withstand harsh weather?
Quality solar panels are designed to withstand heavy rains and approximately golf-ball-sized hail. Many panels can also withstand hurricane-force winds without issue. If any extreme weather damages your system, that would be something for your homeowners insurance policy to handle, along with any other damage to your home.