Below are some of the questions we are asked most often. If you have a question that is not listed below, feel free to Contact Us at any time.
How Solar Works
I hear solar referred to by different names, like Thermal or PV. Is there a difference? What is it?
Solar Electric Systems utilize Photovoltaic (referred to as PV) to convert light into electricity. Solar Thermal systems use the sun’s radiation to create hot water. Able Energy specializes in Solar Electric (PV) design and installation as well as Solar Thermal.
How big is the system?
Systems vary in size, but a common residential array, or series of panels, equates to 4 KW, which is about 288 sq. ft. This is slightly bigger than the footprint of an average U.S. family room.
How much power can I produce on my roof?
As a general rule of thumb, a 4 KW system will produce about 5,200 kilowatt hours per year. For a practical example, one 255-Watt panel can produce the power equivalent to that used to run 84 compact fluorescent light bulbs for 1 hour a day. Shading and orientation of the array will affect production. All systems are unique and each area offers a different daily solar energy availability level.
How do I know I have a good site for a solar electric installation?
A fairly unobstructed view to the south is a good start. Able Energy can conduct a site survey to discover the best system design for your location, and accurately predict energy harvest for the life cycle of your PV system.
What role does panel efficiency play in energy production?
Efficiency of panels as a selling point is often misleading, because efficiency plays no role in producing more power. Efficiency only reflects the physical size and price of a module. For example: compare a 200-Watt panel that is 15 percent to a 200-Watt 20% efficient panel both produce 200 watts, but the more efficient module is smaller. If space is not an issue, a less efficient panel array may very well increase your return on investment.
How does the array get attached to the roof?
The system is attached to the roof with industry-approved fasteners for the specific roof type. Each penetration by Able Energy is designed with a minimum of 2 fail-safe measures, eliminating leaks. All parts of a Solar Electric and Thermal system are UL listed and meet rigorous standards.
How much does a typical system weigh?
A typical system will weigh approximately 4 to 5 pounds per square foot.
Does a solar installation require maintenance?
No! Solar, unlike wind energy, requires very little maintenance. This is because it has no moving parts to break down from normal wear and tear. For optimum performance, some people clear their system of snow and leaves annually or as needed.
Do I need batteries?
No. While energy storage or self-sufficiency is possible, most systems don’t use batteries. Rather they are tied into the power grid. When the PV system is not producing electricity the grid will provide an uninterrupted power supply to your home or business.
Can I do the installation of my own system?
Under some state rebate rules homeowners are unable to install the system and take advantage of the state rebates that equate to 10 to 50 percent of the system costs. Able Energy provides NABCEP certified installers and will assist you in taking full advantage of rebate programs and in most cases provide a cheaper installation than a “kit” bought online.
What is the payback on a solar PV system?
A typical system payback is between 3 to 10 years. Many of our customers are seeing system paybacks less than 5 years. With our current financing program, in most cases, the systems are costing less per month than they would have been paying the utility company.
How much does solar panels cost?
System size does matter, residential systems typically run around $3-$4 per installed watt.
What is the latest on Solar Tax Credits and Rebates?
Beyond the 30 percent Federal tax credit, rebates and incentives vary by state. Able Energy can help you maximize these opportunities by filing the appropriate applications and forms. You can also find a wealth of information at dsire.org.
What is the warranty?
The production warranty on panels is 25 years, ten years on string inverters, and ten years on labor.
Does it affect my insurance rates?
Upon installation of the system, the owner should contact their insurance and there may be a small increase in their annual insurance premiums.
Does it affect my property tax?
Historically, PV systems have had no effect on property tax.
How much does solar increase my homes value?
A recent multi market study conducted by Berkley Lab and SunShot indicates a minimum of $3 per Watt increase in your homes value. So if you installed a 5kW system your home is now worth $15,000 more.
Does Hail damage solar panels?
Solar panels are rated to withstand a direct hit of 1-inch hail at 55 mph. It is very rare for hail to damage panels. Panel replacement would be covered under most insurance policies.
Do we have enough sun in our state for a solar electric system?
Yes. Germany is a world leader in Solar Electric installations and less sun than Seattle.
Does it work when it’s cloudy?
Yes. In almost all conditions during the daylight the systems produce electricity. However under heavy clouds, rain, & snow the harvesting ability or the array is limited.