Solar FAQ and Resources

Solar Resources

The following links are a great source for anyone interested in the technology, industry, or looking to install systems.

http://pveducation.com — Looking for some good educational information about solar electric systems and components please check out PVeducation.com

http://www.SEIA.org – Solar Energy Industry Association. Information surrounding the solar industry and other helpful reports.

http://www.mseia.net – Mid-Atlantic chapter of SEIA.

http://www.ases.org – American Solar Energy Society. Membership includes subscription to Solar Home Magazine.

http://www.greentechmedia.com – Daily news on the world of green energy.

http://www.pv-tech.org – in-depth articles and documents on solar products and the industry.

http://solarprofessional.com – great source for solar installers.

http://www.solarenergy.org  – Solar Energy International website. Hands-on workshops, online courses, and certification tools.

http://www.nabcep.org – North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. The standard for certification in solar installations.

http://www.irecusa.org – Interstate Renewable Energy Council. Offers classes that are NABCEP accepted.

http://pvwatts.nrel.gov  PVwatts -solar power performance calculator for grid-tied systems

http://www.dsireusa.org – state by state account of incentives and policies for energy efficiency and renewable energy.


Photovoltaic FAQ

What is PV?

PV stands for photovoltaic, otherwise known as light-energy. Photovoltaic materials convert light into energy.

 

What are typical components of a system?

The typical solar system will include solar modules that produce DC power, inverters to convert DC to AC power, mounting hardware, wiring and disconnects.

 

Will the solar system work at night?

Typical grid connected solar system only work during the day as there is no battery storage for the power produced.

 

Will the solar system work on cloudy days?

Yes, the system will operate on cloudy days, it will simply produce less power.

 

Will the solar system work covered in snow?

Yes and No, while sunlight does pass through the snow and the solar modules will produce a voltage there is very little power produced in most cases. We do not recommend ever cleaning the solar modules of snow as the possibility of damage to the solar module glass front cover is great. Just allow the modules to heat naturally and the snow will quickly melt away.

 

Will the system work with the utility power fails?

Yes and No. A specific type of grid connected inverter is needed that can produce power when the utility fails.  Most inverters do not include this feature so if this is important to you please let us know and we can help select the best inverter for your application.

 

How long do the solar systems last?

Solar modules have a 25 year warranty based on their output power and have a life expectancy of 40 plus years. Inverters will typically have a 10+ year warranty. With the inverters being the electronics and the central brains of the solar system it is the weak link. A well designed inverter will exceed its warranty but in the end will need to most likely requirement replacement before the solar modules stop operating.

 

What kind of maintenance is required on the system?

PV systems are typically low maintenance units. Throughout the life of the system very little time is actually spent working on the system. The contractor will walk through what indicators (output, voltage, etc) the owner should look for to make sure the system is operating smoothly and to its full potential. Dust, dirt, and leaves can create solar absorption issues, so cleaning the panels annually often will help. The main concern is to keep any objects from blocking sunlight from reaching the cells.

 

Can I install a system by myself?

DIY installations are not recommended. In most areas you need to be a licensed electrician to pull the electrical permits needed to connect your solar system to the utility grid. An experienced solar installer will know how to properly design and install the solar system to ensure the long life of the system.

 

What happens when I need to re-roof?

Typically installers will encourage homeowners to re-roof before installation if the roof is older than ten years. Due to the long life of the solar system ideally the roof should have the same long life. While this may not always be possible, if a re-roof is needed the solar system will have to be removed and reinstalled with the exception of CertainTeed Roof integrated solar modules. Roof integrated solar modules are installed as the roof and the roof is flashed around the modules. If a re-roof is needed these modules stay in place with the roofer works.

 

Please contact us for pricing and system design support:
Email: SolarGroup@UnitedElectric.com
Phone: 302-324-3217
Toll Free: 855-787-9748