Frequently Asked Questions
How do solar panels work?
How do solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity? The sun transmits energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. When this radiation is absorbed by the solar cells, a chemical reaction occurs, causing rapid electron movement. Because of the way the cells are manufactured with layers of material with differing atomic structures, the electrons are forced to move in one direction, creating direct current, or DC. It then flows into an inverter which converts the DC into alternating current, or AC, to be usable in your home or business. And the best part is that sunlight is abundant and infinite, unlike fossil fuels which are definitely limited, not to mention are subject to rate changes.
What are the benefits of installing PV solar panels?
- Economic benefits: Sunlight is free, abundant, and dependable. Unlike power from the utility company, solar energy is not subject to rate hikes. PV systems also allow for energy storage that can be used when needed (such as during a power outage) if installed with a battery backup. As far as the savings of installing a PV System, the payback on a loan will be significantly less than your current electric bill.
- Environmental Benefits: Solar energy is clean energy: no CO 2 emissions and no cleanup. Because solar energy is renewable, it can help slow down global warming and its negative effects.
Which solar panel is right for me?
With so many choices on the market and an ever-growing list of companies offering solar panels for your home or business, which solar panel system meets your needs in making the switch to solar? In answering that question, it’s important to get as much information about the product you are purchasing or leasing. Panel efficiency differs between manufacturers and so do product warranties.
Solar power systems are designed and warrantied to produce a certain amount of energy, usually stated in kilowatt hours (kWh). As technology develops, this will require a smaller and smaller physical area, but it will produce exactly the same results. So, the best solar panel for you is one that uses the space you already have and greatly reduces or even eliminates your electric bill from day one.
What kind of maintenance do solar panels require?
Solar panels generally require very little maintenance since there are no moving parts. A few times a year, the panels should be inspected for any dirt or debris that may collect on them. Always make sure you are safety conscious when inspecting panels and don’t take any needless risks! If your panels are too high up on the roof to see very well from the ground, use caution with ladders.
For a general cleaning, simply use a standard garden hose to wash the face of the panels during either the early morning or in the evening. Avoid spraying cold water onto hot panels or you could risk cracking them!
There are also automated cleaners that work similar to sprinklers, such as the Heliotex system, which can be programmed to clean your panels as needed – a good choice if you are in an especially dusty area.
Synergy Power offers solar panel cleaning services with one of our professional cleaners. This is a better choice for panels that are too high to reach well with a garden hose or if you want a more thorough cleaning. Standard solar panel maintenance is the best way to make sure they are always producing efficiently.
How much does solar cost?
SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM COST
Since every customer’s needs are unique, the exact solar panel system cost will depend on system size, ease of installation, and state or local rebates or incentives. Each installation is custom built depending on the unique power needs of each residence.
We’d be happy to provide you with a free quote over the phone: 866.447.9637
FINANCING SOLAR POWER
- SOLAR FOR HOMES
When purchasing, most people decide to finance a solar power system. However, you are welcome to pay cash, find your own financing solution, or use our lending program. Synergy Power offers several different lending options that are designed to meet your economic situation. If you do decide to finance, it is important to use a lender that understands what you are buying; this will allow you to get a better loan. Our in-house Financial Advisor can assist you in choosing the best method to purchase your solar power system.
- SOLAR FOR BUSINESS
There are even more great benefits for our commercial clients. And there are extra incentives for most commercial businesses – including an accelerated depreciation, tax credits, and state or local rebates – which makes this a great time to explore solar for the long-term benefit of your company.
What are some basic solar terms?
BASIC SOLAR TERMS
albedo – ratio of light reflected from a surface.
alternating current (AC) – an electric current that reverses direction at regular intervals.
altitude – height of the sun above the horizon.
ampere (amp) – unit of electric current (refers to flow of current); one ampere corresponds to a certain number of electrons passing a fixed point each second.
array – photovoltaic modules connected together to provide a single electrical output.
azimuth – horizontal angle measured clockwise in degrees from a reference direction, usually the north or south point of the horizon, to the point on the horizon intersected by the object’s line of altitude.
cell – basic unit of a photovoltaic panel.
diffuse insolation – solar radiance that is scattered or reflected by atmospheric components, such as clouds, dust, etc.
direct current (DC) – an electric current in which electrons flow in one direction only.
direct insolation – solar radiance that directly hits the earth’s surface.
electrical efficiency – useful power output divided by the total electrical power consumed.
electric circuit – complete path of an electric current, including the generating apparatus, intervening resistors, or capacitors.
electric current – rate of flow of electric charge, measured in amperes.
electrical grid – interconnected network for distributing electricity.
energy – any source of usable power, as fossil fuel, electricity, or solar radiation.
gigawatt (GW) – 1,000,000,000 watts.
insolation – measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given time.
inverter – device that converts DC electricity into AC electricity.
junction box – protected enclosure for electrical wiring.
kilowatt (kW) – 1,000 watts.
kilowatt-hour (kWh) – measure of kilowatt production of power in kilowatts and time in hours.
load (noun) – (1) the power consumed on an electrical circuit. (2) a power-absorbing device, such as a blender, light bulb, etc.
load (verb) – to add a power-absorbing device to an electrical circuit .
megawatt (MW) – 1,000,000 watts.
module – interconnected assembly of solar cells; also called a panel.
monocrystalline – single silicon crystal; monocrystalline panels are made from one large, single silicon crystal making it rated the most efficient solar technology available.
ohm – unit of electrical resistance.
photovoltaic (PV) – technology and research that relates to the application of solar cells for energy by converting radiant energy directly to electricity.
photovoltaic efficiency – the ratio of power produced by a solar cell at any instant to the power of radiant energy striking the cell; certain factors such as temperature can cause the efficiency rate to vary during the day.
photovoltaic system – a system which uses solar cells to convert light into electricity; consists of multiple components, including solar cells, mechanical and electrical connections and mountings and means of regulating and/or modifying the electrical output.
polycrystalline cell – solar cells produced from processed liquid silicon; when solidified, multiple silicon crystals are formed. Less efficient than monocrystalline cells.
radiance – light from the sun; also called solar radiance.
remote system – photovoltaic system not connected to the utility grid.
silicon – a chemical element from which semiconductors are made.
solar – (1) of or pertaining to the sun. (2) utilizing, operated by, or depending on solar energy. (3) manufacturing or providing solar power.
solar constant – the average density of solar radiation measured outside Earth’s atmosphere and at Earth’s mean distance from the sun, equal to 0.140 watt per square centimeter.
solar energy – energy derived from the sun in the form of solar radiation.
solar power – energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy.
solar spectrum – distribution of energy emitted by the sun arranged in order of wavelengths.
solar thermal – method of harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat).
thin film – a thin layer of semiconductor material, such as amorphous silicon, which is deposited directly onto a plate of glass. Least efficient of all solar cells.
tracking array – a solar array that follows the path of the sun to maximize the solar radiation incident on the photovoltaic surface.
transformer – a device used to transfer electrical energy from one circuit to another; with an alternating current, a transformer will either raise or lower the voltage as it makes the transfer.
volt (V) – standard unit of voltage; one volt produces one ampere of current when acting a resistance of one ohm.
voltage – potential energy that makes the electrical current flow in a circuit by pushing the electrons around (pressure).
watt (W) – the unit of electric power, or amount of work (J), done in a unit of time. One ampere of current flowing at a potential of one volt produces one watt of power.
What is net-metering?
Most utilities in California currently offer net metering, which effectively allows you to bank your energy until you need it, virtually eliminating your electric bill.
Net metering lasts for a whole year, so you can build credit in the summer for those darker winter days. It measures the difference between the electricity you buy from the utility and the electricity you generate with your solar panel system.
When you are making more electricity than you are using, such as on summer days, your extra electricity automatically gets metered back (sold) to the utility grid. You receive credit for this power at the same rate that the utility sells it to you.
Net metering allows you to use the electric utility grid like a bank account. You can put electricity into it that you don’t use immediately and you can withdraw the same amount later (such as at night) at no net cost to you.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy refers to power harvested from natural sources, such as the sun, wind, or water, which are not in danger of being depleted. The five renewable energies are:
- Solar: power absorbed from the sun and converted to usable electricity through photovoltaic technology.
- Hydropower: power created by channeling water to generate turbine-produced electricity.
- Wind: power created by harnessing wind energy to generate turbine-produced electricity.
- Geothermal: power created by harnessing the steam given off when water is pumped onto underground rocks naturally heated by the earth’s core.
- Biomass: power created by harnessing the steam and heat given off by processing wood, green waste, garbage, or manure.
What size solar power system do I need?
It depends on how much electricity you use. Two homes the exact same size will use different amounts of electricity and therefore require different size systems. Major electrical loads within a home are air conditioners, electric heaters, pools, and other heating elements or motors.
That being said, an average 2,500 sq. ft. single-family home uses about 5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. A 3 kilowatt (AC) system will generate nearly all the electricity required for such a home on an annual basis. Sometimes a PV system can be installed that is slightly over-sized to allow for the possibility of a growing family or other factors that may play a part. When a system overproduces electricity, the unused portion is fed back into the grid and will actually be credited back to your utility account in a program called net-metering.
The actual amount of electricity produced is dependent on how much solar energy reaches your site. An optimally located array would face south and have nothing obstructing the sun’s rays from reaching the solar panels, such as trees or other structures that produce shading.
Think too about your energy goals: are you interested in completely eliminating your monthly electric bill (minus standard utility connection fees) or just make a dent in the bill? System size will then vary on how much electricity you intend to produce.
Businesses are also very unique in their energy needs so everything must be factored in to calculate the size of system needed.
Actual system production can easily be calculated by a Solar Consultant with a free site analysis, or we’d be happy to provide you with a free quote over the phone: 866.447.9637.