Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common solar questions

Investment & Incentive Questions

Why should I install a solar energy system on my home or business?

Solar is a great investment opportunity. It is great for the environment and greatly reduces your carbon footprint. Solar modules, once installed will extend the life of your rooftop by protecting it from the elements such as snow and wind.

Why should I go solar now? Aren’t more efficient technologies coming to market?

This is an easy one because the sooner you get solar, the sooner you will enjoy its benefits. There are also Federal and State incentives currently in place that will no longer be available in the near future, so if you want to maximize your investment, it is important that you start ASAP! 

If you wait for some unproven technology down the road, you will have missed the opportunity to generate your own power now. Solar is like buying a home instead of renting- own your power!

Every year the federal and state incentives have been dropping and in MA, the SREC program is scheduled to be replaced by the less lucrative SMART program in June 2018.  

Should I buy or lease my solar system?

We strongly recommend that you purchase your solar system in order to take advantage of all the State, Federal and Utility incentives that are available only to those who own their solar power system.

Another advantage of purchasing your own solar power system is that once you buy it, it is yours! Unlike leased systems, once you have paid off any loans that you have taken out, you will own your power! You will still be able to reap the reward of little to no electricity costs while saving the environment.

When you lease your solar array, you must either pay to have it removed or purchase the system in full after the term of your lease has ended.

With a lease, you will have to sell the remainder of the contract should you choose to sell your home.

 Learn more here in our article explaining the difference between buying and leasing your solar system.

Will adding solar power increase the value of my home?
Absolutely! Several published studies have demonstrated that installing solar power will dramatically increase your properties value.

In one study from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab reports that homes throughout the country with solar power install sold for more money than those without solar power.

What happens to my solar array when the power goes out?
To prevent any accidental back-feeding of solar electricity to the grid which might endanger line-workers; when the grid power goes down, the grid-tied solar electric system goes down, too.

However, battery backup technology is now available and when installed, it will allow you to power your home with clean renewable energy even during a blackout. 

How much power will I be able to produce with a solar array?

The amount of electricity your solar array will produce depends on several factors; the size of the panel, the efficiency of the solar cells within the panels, the amount of sunlight vs. shading over the panels and the number of panels, so each and every installation is a little different.

The yearly production for residential solar arrays varies from about 6,000 kWh to upwards of 15,000 kWh. 

During your free solar consultation, we will use a professional sun survey tool to assess any shading or off-axis issues that will affect your system performance, and present an independently verifiable (via NREL PVWatts online tool) production estimate. 

I notice differences with lights and appliances when I run my generator, will this happen with solar power?
Solar electricity is identical to grid power, so you will never notice that the house is running on solar power. What you will see, of course, is a smaller electric bill and plenty of additional financial incentives!
How will my utility bill be different with a solar power system?

We aim to cover 100% of your electric usage with your solar array; so in most cases, your utility bill will be reduced to $0! 

With solar, your inverter and your household loads are all “behind the meter,” meaning that if the sun is out and you are using electricity via lighting/TV’s, Refrigerator etc; the power generated by your solar array will be consumed without it ever being registered by the utility company. This means that at the end of the month, your electric bill will say you’ve exported fewer kWh to the grid than your inverter says you have generated. 

When you are not using as much as your solar array is producing, the excess is exported to the utility company and will appear on your bill as credits. These credits will then be utilized at night or when you are using more than your solar array is producing. 

Though it can be a bit confusing, you can feel good about this situation because every kWh you didn’t export, is also a kWh you didn’t have to buy!

That’s putting your roof and the sun to work for you! Literally!

If I go solar, can I get rid of the utility company and go ‘off-grid’?

While the idea of cutting ties with the electric company may seem like a dream come true, in reality, it is anything but practical except for very specific cases (generally when utility power is not available and prohibitively expensive to install).  

Off-Grid systems require large battery backup systems and they are not eligible for most of the Utility and State incentives.

What happens to my solar array when the power goes out?
To prevent any accidental back-feeding of solar electricity to the grid which might endanger line-workers; when the grid power goes down, the grid-tied solar electric system goes down, too.

However, battery backup technology is now available and when installed, it will allow you to power your home with clean renewable energy even during a blackout. 

Utility & Production  Questions

Installation & Maintenance Questions

Will my roof be strong enough to support a solar array?

Solar panels weigh about 45lbs each, and they are mounted on an aluminum rail system. Combined, these amount to an average of 2.5lbs per sq ft of roof space; thus your roof will more than likely be strong enough to support solar. 

To ensure that your roof is indeed strong enough to support solar, every project begins with a thorough roof integrity inspection conducted by experienced solar installers and our dedicated carpenters. We take several pictures of your roof, rafters, and shingles which we then send over to our engineering team who further verifies the structural integrity. Should your roof need repair work prior to installing solar, we will provide you with a competitive quote for any work that must be done prior to beginning. 

Will my solar array be ok during a snow storm or hurricane?

We are no stranger to the fierce New England weather and  we can assure you that your solar array will be just fine during just about any storm that they endure.

Our freezing New England winters bring blizzards and ice then follow up with bouts of extreme heat in summer which ends in hurricane season.  Solar panel, racking and inverter manufacturers have factored this into their design and each and every part has undergone a plethora of testing procedures before coming to market. That said, we can confidently assure you that your solar array will be just fine in New England weather. 

Do I have to get up on my roof to shovel snow off my solar panels after a snowstorm?
After a snowstorm, your solar panels will be covered in snow. Don’t panic! Usually they ‘self-clear’ quite well on the next sunny day.

Only a single solar cell (there are 60-72 cells on every solar panel) needs to see the sun, this will “turn on” the array and the snow will soon melt off of all of the solar panels. On an annual basis, the amount of energy production loss due to snow is fairly minor.

What if i need a new roof first?
Not a problem! We have been in the construction business for over 26 years and we have a professional roofing team who is ready to repair and or replace your roof!

Every project begins with a thorough roof integrity inspection conducted by experienced solar installers and our dedicated carpenters. We take several pictures of your roof, rafters, and shingles which we then send over to our engineering team who further verifies the structural integrity. Should your roof need repair work prior to installing solar, we will provide you with a competitive quote for any work that must be done prior to beginning.

How long will an installation take?
Our typical residential solar power job takes us about 40 hours of installation time on the roof and about 10 hours inside the house. We typically send two technicians, so most jobs are completed in 2-3 days depending on the weather and roof type. That said, our installation queue is typically 6-8 weeks out, sometimes longer, so contact us as soon as you’re interested if you have a sense of urgency about your solar project.
Is my roof too small to support solar?

We can assure you that there are effective solutions for properties with minimal roof space. One solution involves high-efficiency solar panels that help to maximize the available space. The other option includes solar pergolas, carports and ground arrays.

will there be holes in my roof if i install solar?
We mount solar panels on a purpose-built aluminum rail system that is fastened about every four feet by penetrations into roof rafters. On a standing seam metal roof, these attachments are made directly to the standing seams, with no roof penetrations. On asphalt roofs, each mount is sealed with a 50-year Tripolymer sealant to prevent any leaks. We guarantee all roof work will be free from leaks.
Does my roof need to face directly south in order to go solar?
In Southern New England, the ideal roof orientation is 196 degrees on the compass (known as ‘solar south’), but an installation of +/- 50 degrees (155 -245) is also fine. Within this range, power output stays within seven or eight percent of maximum. Even more easterly and westerly roof installations are viable, especially on shallower roofs. For example, a 7/12 roof that is due east or due west still achieves 77% of a system’s potential performance. More important than angle, generally, is shading. We don’t want to see any shading on a solar roof from 9 am to 3 pm, year-round. Technological improvements such as micro-inverters can compensate for shading issues to some extent. The best way to know for certain if your roof is viable for solar is to contact us for a free solar evaluation.
Do Solar Modules Need To Be Cleaned?
In order to produce electricity, your solar panels must be exposed to the sunlight. With the exception of properties located in areas with high amounts of smog, dust, dirt or sand blowing around, your solar panels don’t need to be cleaned often or even at all. In many cases, occasional rain will be enough to naturally and safely keep your solar panels clean.

However, if you live in an area with heavy particulates in the air, it may be a good idea to freshen up your panels occasionally; every few years or so.

WHAT ARE SOLAR PANELS?

Solar panels are made of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon. The silicon molecules join together to
form photovoltaic cells. These cells are bonded to tempered glass and mounted in a metal frame forming a
durable, long-lasting renewable energy generator.

What is an inverter?
An inverter is a device installed with your solar panels that converts DC voltage produced by your solar array to an AC voltage that is used in your home. In most cases, the input DC voltage is usually lower while the output AC is equal to the grid supply voltage of either 120 volts, or 240 Volts.
HOW DOES A SOLAR ARRAY INSTALLATION WORK?

To recap, solar panels generate the DC current that is then converted to AC via an inverter that is installed within
your home. The eco-friendly electricity produced by a solar system provides the same amount of power as the
carbon emitting power options without damaging the environment. There are several features of a solar array
installation that vary greatly from state to state and depend upon existing legislation and renewable energy
incentives.

HOW DO SOLAR PANELS (AKA MODULES) WORK?

Solar panels capture the particles of light, photons, from the sun. These photons excite the silicon molecules
which shed electrons. The specially formulated silicon only allows the flow of electrons to move in one direction,
resulting in direct current (DC) power. The electrons that have been knocked free then flow through wires
connected to an inverter that converts the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) to be used within the
home.
Solar panels actually work much like a battery, where a battery uses chemicals to generate DC electricity; solar
panels achieve the same result with particles of light.

General solar questions