Solar FAQ – Your Most Common Questions Answered

solar panel faq

Answers to common questions about solar panels:

Here are your most common questions answered. Feel free to submit more and we’ll add them to the list!

Solar Basics

Roof Related Questions

Prices, Savings, Incentives

Solar Technology


How much do solar panels cost?

The cost of solar panels varies based on multiple factors including geographical location, size of the system, incentives, etc. Thus, providing a specific cost without considering these factors is challenging. It’s advisable to consult a qualified solar installer who can evaluate your specific situation and provide an accurate cost estimate.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels are designed to withstand various weather conditions and typically last at least 25 years. Installers often offer warranties covering power production for 25 years, with additional warranties for workmanship.

Can’t I just get a ball-park price online?

While online tools may offer rough estimates, the complexity of solar installations necessitates customized proposals. Reputable installers utilize sophisticated software and consider various factors to provide accurate cost estimates tailored to individual homes.Consulting multiple installers ensures a comprehensive understanding of options and costs.

Is my roof suited for solar?

Several factors such as roof orientation, shading, and condition influence roof suitability. Consulting a qualified installer can provide an accurate assessment of your roof’s suitability for solar installation.

Do I need to have the roof renewed before the solar panels go on?

Ideally, roofing projects should be undertaken before solar panel installation to avoid disturbances. Installers during the site visit can assess and tell you if there is a need for roofing preparation for solar installation. Solar arrays add equipment to the roof, necessitating roof maintenance beforehand.

How will solar affect the aesthetics of my roof?

Solar panels can enhance the aesthetics of a home, raising its value and providing a modern look. Additionally, they have minimal impact on the roof’s appearance and don’t generate noise, even in windy conditions.

Isn’t solar expensive? How much do solar panels cost?

Solar has become increasingly affordable with prices dropping significantly over the past few years. While the initial investment may seem high, long-term savings on electricity bills make solar a cost-effective option for homeowners.

Are prices going to drop quickly in the near future? Is it better to wait?

While solar prices may gradually decrease, incentives significantly affect overall costs. Immediate savings from incentives outweigh potential price drops.

So, how do I save money with solar?

Solar installations provide savings by eliminating electricity bills with cheaper, more stable power from solar energy. Additionally, incentives help reduce the initial cost of installation, enhancing long-term savings.

What about my home value? Will solar have a negative or positive effect?

Solar installations enhance home value and may expedite home sales if installed correctly. Studies suggest solar adds significant equity, often exceeding installation costs. Proper installation ensures no long-term damage to the roof, maintaining property value.

When does the Federal Tax Credit for solar panels expire?

The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is set to continue at 30% until the end of 2030.

 Is a solar lease a good idea?

The decision to lease or buy a solar system depends on individual circumstances, including credit score, available cash, and desired long-term financial benefits. Both options offer savings but differ in terms of immediate benefits and long-term financial implications.

What incentives are available for me?

Incentives for solar installations include Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), state incentives, and utility/local rebates. These incentives vary by location and significantly impact the overall cost of solar installations.

What financing options are available (lease, loan)? Should I lease (or use a PPA) or buy my solar system?

Solar financing options include ownership (cash or loan) and leasing (or Power Purchase Agreements). Ownership offers long-term financial benefits but requires upfront investment and maintenance responsibilities. Leasing provides immediate savings and no maintenance worries but forfeits long-term financial advantages. Consulting installers helps evaluate cost-benefit analyses for both options.

How do I know if I qualify for a lease program?

Qualifications for a solar lease program typically include having an average electricity bill above a certain threshold, homeownership, intention to stay in the home for a specified period, and good to excellent credit. Local utility requirements may also apply, so it’s essential to clarify eligibility criteria with the installer.

Can you confirm that I would not need to put any money down to go solar?

Many states offer solar leasing or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) programs with $0 down payment options, making solar installations accessible to a wider range of homeowners. However, eligibility criteria and program availability vary by location, so consulting with a solar installer is necessary to confirm zero-down options.

What should my monthly Solar Lease or PPA payment be?

Monthly payments for solar leases or Power Purchase Agreements typically result in a 15-30% reduction in electricity bills on average, providing immediate savings to homeowners.

What happens after a solar lease or PPA agreement ends?

After a solar lease or PPA agreement ends, most providers offer three options: (1) Buying the system at ‘fair market price’, which is typically low at that point; (2) Having the system removed by the original installation company; (3) Extending the term of the lease period.

Should I wait for better technology?

While waiting for better technology is tempting, solar technology is already established and continuously improving incrementally. Significant short-term breakthroughs are unlikely, as solar technology improvements mainly result from small efficiency gains and manufacturing enhancements. Additionally, solar panels have already revolutionized the energy industry, making them a reliable and efficient technology choice.

Does solar work on cloudy days? What about cold or snowy days?

Solar panels continue to produce energy on cloudy days, albeit at reduced efficiency. They also work well on cold or snowy days, with snow having only a minor impact on production. Solar energy has been widely adopted in regions with varying climates, including Germany and certain US states. While snow may temporarily cover panels, their dark surface absorbs sunlight, causing the snow to melt quickly.

What are the most efficient solar panels?

Solar panels come in three main categories: Mono-Crystalline, Poly-Crystalline, and Thin-film. Mono-Crystalline panels are the most efficient but also the most expensive. Poly-Crystalline panels are widely used due to their balance of efficiency and affordability. Thin-film panels offer even coloring and lower costs but require more roof space. Regardless of type, solar panels are proven to last and produce power for at least 25 years.

Should I buy American made solar panels?

While supporting the American economy is commendable, solar panels are manufactured globally. Many factors influence panel manufacturing, including the headquarters of the company. Choosing American-made panels may not significantly impact job creation, as the solar industry creates jobs through installations. Ultimately, going solar benefits the economy, environment, and energy system, regardless of panel origin.

Will I be ‘off the grid’?

Solar installations typically remain grid-connected, allowing homeowners to draw power from the grid when needed. While solar production offsets electricity costs during the day, net metering ensures credit for excess energy sent to the grid. This arrangement maintains grid reliance for consistent power supply, with solar serving as a cost-effective and sustainable energy source.

What is net metering?

Net metering credits homeowners for surplus solar energy produced during the day, offsetting nighttime electricity usage. This accounting method balances energy production and consumption, resulting in lower overall electricity bills.

Do I need batteries for storage?

While batteries are not required for solar installations, declining costs are making them a viable option especially after NEM 3.0 implementation. Battery backup systems are beneficial for areas with frequent blackouts or where uninterrupted power supply is critical.

Will my solar work if the power goes out?

Solar systems deactivate during power outages to safeguard maintenance crews. Batteries or backup systems can provide limited power during blackouts. 

Do I need a battery backup system for my solar panels?

Grid-tied solar arrays typically do not need batteries, simplifying maintenance and reducing costs. Batteries provide backup power during outages but entail additional expenses and maintenance. While batteries are not required for solar installations, declining costs are making them a viable option especially after NEM 3.0 implementation.

Why would I want a phone call from a solar installer?

A phone call from a solar installer provides a personalized estimate considering various factors such as location, roof shade, and incentives. Professional evaluation ensures accurate cost estimates and system suitability, enabling informed decision-making. Multiple quotes allow comparison, helping homeowners choose the best option for their specific needs and budget.

What happens if I move?

If you move, options vary based on lease or ownership. For leased systems, options include transferring the lease to the buyer or buying out the lease. Homeowners typically benefit from increased home value with solar installations, facilitating home sales. While solar may present challenges in some sales, proper disclosure and understanding can mitigate concerns, making solar an asset in most home sales scenarios.

  • by Clayton
  • |
  • October 8, 2014