Solar FAQs

To put it simply, when sunlight hits a photovoltaic (PV) cell (today generally made of silicon) its energy knocks loose electrons, causing an electron flow that creates an electrical current. That current then travels along tiny metallic strips, on the PV cell, to a junction box which is typically located on the back of a solar module. Several solar modules can then be wired together to create an array. Array wiring is then run to an inverter where the DC power, which was created by the solar cells, is converted to AC power. Once the electricity has been converted to AC, it can be interconnected into most electrical distribution panels (breaker box) and thus feed the building with power or backfeed to the utility for a credit.

Did you know cloudy areas are great for solar energy? It doesn’t matter much where you live, whether it’s the Northeast or Southwest. What matters more is your roof orientation (or property, if you’re thinking of a ground mount or pole mount system) and solar access. As long as your roof is free of shade and faces South, East, or West, you’ll get plenty of sunshine for solar modules to produce power. If you think your roof might be a good candidate for solar, contact us to get a free solar quote.  Or, try our Solar Cost Calculator tool.

A Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA) is a financial arrangement in which a third-party developer owns, operates, and maintains the photovoltaic (PV) system, and a host customer agrees to site the system on its roof or elsewhere on its property and purchases the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period. This financial arrangement allows the host customer to receive stable, and sometimes lower cost electricity, while the solar services provider or another party acquires valuable financial benefits such as tax credits and income generated from the sale of electricity to the host customer.

With this business model, the host customer buys the services produced by the PV system rather than the PV system itself. This framework is referred to as the “solar services” model, and the developers who offer SPPAs are known as solar services providers. SPPA arrangements enable the host customer to avoid many of the traditional barriers to adoption for organizations looking to install solar systems: high up-front capital costs; system performance risk; and complex design and permitting processes. In addition, SPPA arrangements can be cash flow positive for the host customer from the day the system is commissioned.  For more information on SPPA’s, please contact PPC Solar.

System costs can vary depending on the size, location, site specifics and interconnection requirements. Current installation prices range from under $3 per watt up to $5 per watt.

Curious about the costs of solar?  See our simple solar cost calculator tool to figure out what your price range might be.

To get a more accurate (and free) quote, contact us.

The major components of a solar electric system are:

  • Photovoltaic Modules

Photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight energy into electricity are combined, laminated and framed into one module.

  • Racking system

Racking systems are used to attach PV modules to a roof structure or ground mount application. Racking systems are typically set at a fixed tilt but some also provide tracking to follow the sun throughout the day.

  • Inverter

This device is used to convert direct current (DC) power produced by PV modules into alternating current (AC), the type of electrical current we find at our standard electrical socket.

  • Monitoring System

A key device which monitors power output to ensure that the system is operating properly and reliably. This data can also be displayed on a website and/or a screen at your facility.

Net energy metering is a special billing arrangement that provides credit to customers with solar PV systems for the full retail value of the electricity their system generates. Under net metering, the customer’s electric meter keeps track of how much electricity is consumed by the customer and how much excess electricity is generated by the system and sent back into the electric utility grid.
 
Over a 12-month period, the customer has to pay only for the net amount of electricity used from the utility over-and-above the amount of electricity generated by their solar system (in addition to monthly customer transmission, distribution, and meter service charges they incur).
 
At any time of the day, a customer’s solar system may produce more or less electricity than they need for their home or business. When the system’s production exceeds the customer demand, the excess energy generation automatically goes through the electric meter into the utility grid, running the meter backwards to credit the customer account. At other times of the day, the customer’s electric demand may be higher than the renewable energy system is producing, and the customer relies on additional power needs from the utility. Switching between solar system’s power and the utility grid power is instantaneous-customers never notice any interruption in the flow of power.

One of the best features of a solar system is that it requires little to no maintenance once it is operating as there are no moving parts. The accumulation of normal amounts of dust and dirt will not impact system performance in a noticeable way and rain will usually provide more than enough cleaning. The only occasion when regular cleaning may be required is if the system is located in area with lots of pollution that can accumulate, or areas with lots of birds, or if you have trees leaving leaves and particles on the module faces. A regular visual inspection of your system is recommended to ensure that nothing is out of place. Battery based systems do require more maintenance as batteries do require regular servicing schedules.

Direct grid-ties systems will not produce power when the grid fails. For safety reasons, your home solar power system will automatically shut off if the power goes out. This is to protect utility workers who might be working on damaged or downed power lines during an outage from being exposed to live electricity. If you need power during times of grid failure battery based systems are available, although costly.

It doesn’t have to be entirely sunny for your panels to produce electricity. In bad weather, your power production won’t be 100%, but your panels will still be producing power. On a cloudy day, your panels might produce only 30% of what they normally would. The exception is a snowstorm. If it snows enough for there to be a significant accumulation on your panels, your panels will not produce electricity. However, snow usually slides easily off the face of the modules, and your modules tend to be located where your roof gets the most sun, so the snow on your panels will melt quickly, and your modules will resume producing electricity. If you live in an area that gets snow in the winter, snow days are likely and will be factored into your system’s projected production.

Most home solar power systems are predicted to last between 25 and 35 years. However, systems that we installed in the 1980′s are still cranking out power. The industry standard for module warranty is 25 years, although Sandia National Labs released a study claiming that PV modules will continue producing electricity for 50 years. PPC Solar offers an industry leading 10 year warranty all their installations. Get started now.

PPC Solar offers financing from through various lenders, we will help you pick the best lender for your system. Interest rates are as low as 2.99% and will create a positive cash flow for you from day one. For more information, please contact PPC Solar at (877) 736-5896 and speak to our Administrative Director.

There are three main categories of incentives; federal, state, and utility. Federal incentives apply throughout the US (although some government, nonprofit and school entities may not be able to claim them) and are typically in the form of tax benefits. State incentives vary from state to state in the amount available and the structure through which they are awarded. Utility incentives also vary from utility to utility and apply only to a given utility’s service area. To find what incentives and rebates are available in your service territory visit here.

Current Federal tax incentives are 30% for solar, and credits are available for eligible systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2016.

The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, with no maximum credit. Eligible solar energy property includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity, to heat or cool (or provide hot water for use in) a structure, or to provide solar process heat. Hybrid solar lighting systems, which use solar energy to illuminate the inside of a structure using fiber-optic distributed sunlight, are eligible. Passive solar systems and solar pool-heating systems are not eligible. For more info, see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

Most importantly, every home is unique, and our experts recommend homeowners to get a free accurate quote to see how much you can save.