Solar (PV) Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many do I need for my house?
A: This depends on how large your energy bills are. Most residential installations are between 2 kW and 10 KW.

Q: How much energy can it produce?
A: Energy production will vary based on the size of the system and its location.

Q: How much space does this require on a roof?
A: Solar panels are modular by nature, so your system can be sized to fit your roof as well as your electric bill. As a rule of thumb, each kW of PV will take up about 100 square feet of roof space.

Q: Can I really get paid for my extra energy production?
A: Currently, most of America is under a system known as Net Metering, which allows your net electricity cost to be reduced to zero, but no further.  In some places you can be paid for any excess electricity you create, in what is known as a Feed-In Tariff system.

Q: Can I install a solar system myself?
A: While technically possible, we do not recommend that homeowners install their own systems.  The process requires both licensed electrical and roofing skills to ensure the system is safe and optimally designed for 25+ years of production.

Q: Do they work on cloudy / foggy/ rainy days?
A: Yes, you will get some power on cloudy days, but it will not be the maximum output.

Q: Are these systems difficult to operate?
A: No. Once installed, solar PV systems are fully automatic.

Q: What kind of maintenance is required?
A: With no moving parts and at least a 25 year expected lifespan, solar panels require very little maintenance.  You may wish to clean the solar panels if they become dirty, but no other regular maintenance is necessary.

Q: Can you mount solar panels on the ground?
A: Yes. There are a variety of ways to ground mount solar PV systems.

Q: Can my city (or HOA, or neighbors) prohibit me from putting solar panels on my roof?
A: This depends a lot on where you live. Many states, including California and Oregon, have passed laws that dissolve any HOA rules or CCRs on your deed that effectively prevent you from putting up a solar installation. See state-by-state incentives and regulations for your state. (www.DSIREUSA.org)

Q: Do I need a city permit to install solar panels on my house?
A: In most cases, yes. Your contractor/installer will usually take care of this for you.

Q: Will the system provide me back-up power if the utility grid power goes out?
A: Most solar PV installations are grid connected and have no batteries to store energy or appropriate switches to legally operate while the grid is down. While battery banks and switchable inverters are available, these add to the cost of your system and batteries require significant maintenance.

Q: What is the largest size system that I can buy?
A: The maximum size of system you can install will depend on the amount of appropriate roof and/or ground space available and how much you want to spend. Most of our installations are sized for optimum savings, rather than maximum size and most incentives will only cover up to the amount of electricity your home or business actually uses on an annualized basis.

Solar (PV) Cost and Financing FAQ

Q: How expensive is a solar installation?
A: The cost of a solar installation depends on many variables, including the application, the site characteristics and the available incentives. Generally, our solar PV systems are designed to provide a substantial net savings in energy costs over their lifetime.

Q: How much money will it save me?
A: Actual savings varies based on system size, location, and your electric rate structure. A typical solar PV system is designed to reduce your energy bill by 30% to 90%.

Q: What is the financial Pay-Back period for a solar PV system?
A: Actual payback varies depending on the system installed cost, location, size, and electrical rate structure. Typical payback periods are between 5 and 12 years for residential systems and 2 to 8 years for commercial systems.

Q: Are there still any rebates to help pay for them?
A: Yes. Visit www.dsireusa.org for information in your area.

Q: Can you provide financing to help make these systems more affordable?
A:There are many options available when financing solar and Blake Electric would be happy to discuss those with you.