Solar Energy FAQs

How does solar work?

While the science of converting sunshine into electricity is complex, the idea is pretty simple. Solar electricity is generated by a group of solar modules, called an array, that are installed on your roof or land. When sunlight falls on the solar modules, a DC electrical current is created instantly. The DC electricity is fed into an inverter that changes it to standard AC electricity, the same kind your business already uses.

How much solar energy will I produce?

This will depend on how much roof space you have as well as your system size. This also depends on the orientation and angle of the solar modules; a proper solar design will yield a stronger output.

How do I know if solar will work on my business?

It is ideal to place a solar system on a south facing roof, but you could also have a system produce on an east or west facing roof. It is important that your system will not be shadowed by trees, buildings, or other obstacles for long periods throughout the day. In addition, a structural engineer will need to evaluate if the building can handle the extra load (weight). Solar systems can be installed on any kind of roof; there are also options to install arrays on the ground or top-of-pole mounts.

Will extra electricity I produce during the day be stored for use at night?

Typically, any surplus electricity you produce is fed back into your utility’s power grid. Your electric meter will run backwards, and credit you with the electricity produced. This is called net metering. During the night, when the sun isn’t shining, you will use electricity from the utility. At the end of the month, if you generated more electricity than your facility used, the utility will pay you the full value of your generation. The actual amount will vary, depending on your rate class and market values for electricity.

What are other financial benefits to a solar system?

An AEC is an “Alternative Energy Credit”. Act 213 was signed in 2004, stating that by the year 2021 8% of all the energy sold in Pennsylvania has to come from renewable energy sources. As a result, energy credits were created. An AEC is earned every time a qualified system generates 1000 kWh (Kilowatts per hour) of electricity. AEC’s are earned based on your total production from your solar system, whether that power was consumed on-site or fed back into the utility grid. This is completely separate from your net metering. An AEC can be sold or traded separately from the power. In other words, credits are worth money! In addition, commercial applications are eligible for 5 year MACRS accelerated depreciation.

What is renewable energy?

The United States currently relies heavily on coal, oil, and natural gas for its energy. Fossil fuels are nonrenewable, that is, they draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. In contrast, renewable energy resources – such as wind and solar energy – are constantly replenished and will never run out. (American Solar Energy Society)

Is there maintenance required to keep a solar system operational?

Once a solar system is installed, there generally is no maintenance necessary other than occasional cleaning of the solar modules to remove dust or debris, which will increase efficiency.

Will a solar system ruin my roof?

If installed properly, with proper airflow, solar systems have no negative effect on the roof. Our systems meet all applicable building codes, and all roof penetrations are water tight.

Will solar systems be damaged by bad weather?

The racking system and solar modules are designed to withstand up to 100 mph winds. Solar modules are also designed to withstand 1-inch hail.

What kind of warranty does a solar system have?

Solar modules are warranted for 25 years and inverters usually carry a 5 year warranty. Solar modules are designed to last 40+ years, however after 25 years they are expected to lose about 15% of their output capability due to system degradation. MVE Solar has a 5 year installation warranty. After inspection, the system becomes a part of the home or business and is covered as a ‘fixed structure’ under your insurance in case of ‘acts of God’ or unforeseen events.

How much does solar cost?

The cost of a system depends on a wide variety of factors including the type of roof, system complexity, system size, and more. An approximate installed cost is $3-$4 per watt for commercial systems (before incentives).

Is solar cost effective?

Very much so! If you look at solar as an investment, a solar system has low risk with a high return over the 25 year+ lifetime.

What is the payback period?

The payback period will vary depending on your electric rates, the cost of your installation, and the amount of financial incentives received. Typically, payback periods range between 5-10 years for commercial systems and 8-14 years for home systems.

Why does solar make sense?

Solar generates electricity during the daytime, or “peak hours” when prices are the highest, and the grid is under the most stress. In addition, its location is near the point of use, rather than miles away. To avoid building additional peak power plants, utilities are offering incentives and rebates for those who are able to help reduce demand. Utilities benefit because they yield substantial savings in generation, transmission, and distribution costs if demand is lowered during peak hours. For this reason, PV Solar makes “electric-grid sense”.

Are there any disadvantages?

Systems that are grid-connected will not supply power to a building if an electrical outage occurs. Non-supply of power during outages is incorporated as a safety feature to protect your equipment from overloading. Also, you will need to consider the life expectancy of your roof as you install a 25 year+ system.

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