FAQ 

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A consultation will answer most questions. Give us a call and we can set a time to look at your home. Before getting Solar consider the following information:


How you get electricity from solar

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How you get electricity from the grid

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Should I replace my roof before getting solar? Types of roofs  

Short answer, yes. Panels require that the roof be structurally sound to handle wind and snow loads. Try holding a panel on the ground during a windy day, you will find that it acts like a kite.  A roofer will tell you that a roof will last about 20-25 years. Panels will last about the same amount of time. It’s great to plan to renew them both at the same time. Before getting panels, consider an inspection and the lifetime left on your roof. 

What can I do if I can’t afford solar? What else can I do? 

There are a lot of things you can do if you feel like solar is too big of an investment. AEP has a great toolkit to get started. It’s called the Home Energy Profile. It considers a lot of variables: home age, insulation, age of furnace and AC, vent types, window types, smart home devices, appliances, and electricity usage. It will give you a good idea of how to conserve and how to save where you can. Even little things can add up.

 

What else can I do to make my home more energy efficient?

  • Consider getting new Energy Star Certified appliances

  • Insulate your vents, 

  • Get insulation for your basement walls and attic

  • Get a new water heater, consider the types, use less hot water 

  • Get a new AC unit

  • Get a new furnace, consider the types

  • Geothermal, consider age of home. This is better for new builds. 

  • Smart Home Appliances ie Nest Thermostat 

  • LED lighting 

  • New windows, this one can be expensive for more panes

  • New doors, storm doors can also help a lot

Can I make my home all electric?

Yes but it depends. I would suggest asking about this in a consultation. Homes that are all electric can be difficult to achieve. If you want your home to be powered fully by your solar array, it will have to be substantial. Average homes consume close to 10,000 kWh per year. Assuming your home can accommodate the solar for that load alone and more, then you can add on things like an electric water heater, geothermal, heat pumps and induction stoves. Consider the cost, it is more expensive to go this route than to use gas for those items. The good news is gas is very efficient and cost effective. Just ask!

I have an old home, can I still get solar panels?

Yes of course. There are two main things to consider here: 1. Is it historic and 2. Can your roof handle solar? Historic homes have to go through a committee hearing and be approved for the addition of solar panels. 

In Columbus, we have Historic Preservation. You can find more about that here:

https://www.columbus.gov/planning/historicpreservation/

In an old home, sometimes the roof has not been updated on a regular basis. In order to accommodate solar panels, your roof has to handle both the weight of the panels and the wind/snow loads that come along with it. Panels on a roof can have an uplifting effect. Additionally, making holes on an old roof can cause a lot of issues with water damage. Getting an inspection done is always a good thing to do before getting panels. As mentioned above, if your home is historic, making changes is subject to committee review. This includes replacing your roof. Your electric 

I’m a part of an HOA or my neighborhood has a lot of restrictions

It’s always good to review the rules in your neighborhood. Check with your local HOA if you think solar might be an issue.  Also, check with your area commission about your neighborhood rules. 

Is my home right for solar? 

https://www.google.com/get/sunroof#p=0   The link goes to Project Sunroof. Google uses Google Maps to identify the roof space you have to allow for panels.

The main things to consider when thinking about solar for your home are, home age, roof age, tree coverage, and the amount of roof space. The solar array will be most effective on south facing roofs, but can also be applied to east and west roofs. East and west are 25% less efficient than south facing roofs, but it can make the difference. 

Solar can be applied to your garage and to an open area of land. The thing to consider here is distance to your box. 

Financials:

-Policies, incentives https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/ohio/

How much does it cost?

Costs can vary. The average US home is 2000 sqft and consumes around 10,000 kWh. 

As of March 2019, the average cost of solar panels per watt in Ohio ranges from $2.98 to $5.25 per watt depending on the size of the array (different equipment can cause a shift in prices for weird array designs and inverter sizing)

How long does it take to pay itself back?

Savings is easy to calculate. Since your electric bill is mostly covered, the difference over time is what you’ll need. The cost of the whole array minus the savings is your answer. 

Example: $100 per month electric bill : $1000/year. 

  Solar array covers 80%, $800/year savings. 

  Cost of array $10,000

  $10,000 / $800 = 12.5 years.

Hardware/Components:

How long does the solar array last?

The average array is built to last 25–30 years. 

Tesla Roof, Tesla Wall  (**Can I mention this?) 

EV’s 

Solar panel (Photovoltaic module/PV) 

Photovoltaic solar panels absorb sunlight as a source of energy to generate electricity. A photovoltaic (PV) module is a packaged, connected assembly of typically 6x10 photovoltaic solar cells. Photovoltaic modules constitute the photovoltaic array of a photovoltaic system that generates and supplies solar electricity in commercial and residential applications.

How you get electricity from the grid

Electricity is generated through a power company. In Ohio, most of our power comes from coal, natural gas, and ethanol power plants. 

  1. If we use water as an example of how electricity works, voltage is the pressure, and amperes (amps) is the current. The higher the pressure, the more efficient the electricity is traveling long distances through wires. The first transformer station is where it increases the voltage produces by the power plant.

  2. Electricity flows through conductive (metals that allow for the easy flow of electrons in this case) wires across the city.

  3. The neighborhood you live in has a few transformers that will decrease the voltage.

  4. The power lines you see outside your home are transporting electricity from those transformers.

  5. The power lines connect to your home and goes to the electricity meter. 

How your house uses electricity

Your home is connected to the grid with your Electric meter outside your home. Some are completely digital, and others are standard, using a rotating disk. Columbus just recently started replacing the standard meters with the new digital ones. The meter is connected to your switch board/box and distributed throughout your home. 

The solar basically plugs into your home via the switchboard. The solar array creates electricity, called direct current (DC), then is transported to the inverter where it is converted into alternating current (AC). AC is the type of electricity your home uses. 

Battery/Storage technology 

Vermilion is an advocate for storage technologies. The huge advantage of installing a battery is the ability to make the most of the array you’ve invested in. Net Metering is subject to change: lawmakers can always enact polices that can change that agreement. If you have a way to store the energy you make, it no longer is subject to price change because you’re using all of it rather than giving it back to the grid. Battery prices are lowering every year and rapidly improving the amount of energy they store. If you don’t want to purchase one now, you can always integrate them later! 

Maybe mention wind? 

Wind power is a great technology, picking up slack where solar lacks. Wind power is a rare thing here in Central Ohio.  We lack the space needed, plus the height can be a problem in some neighborhoods. Wind is best used in Northern Ohio, next to the wind from the lakes. Small wind turbines are also something to consider, I can’t install them myself, but I always have references. 

Climate Change/Energy Independence 

-Climate change is a hoax

Solar doesn’t work in Ohio

It’s true that we get a lot more cloudy days than western states.  293 days on average here in Ohio. That doesn’t mean that panels don’t work here, it just means we have to do things a little bit differently. 

We’re not shooting for 100%. The goal is to come as close to Net-Zero as possible. Net-Zero means that we will try and size the array to average out your yearly electric bill to the lowest cost possible, hopefully $0.  The way this works is to produce enough in the summer to make up for the lack of sun in the winter. In some cases we can achieve off grid homes, but it comes with certain lifestyle choices and careful planning. 

Things to consider: the amount of south facing roof space, the amount of yard space you could put an array (and the distance from that area to the home), tree coverage, and storage technology. Also think about the possibility of changing policies. 

Snow, dirt, cleaning panels

Here in Ohio, we get about 22 inches of snow a year. The panels will be covered from time to time: you can clean them off yourself with something non-abrasive, or wait for the snow to slide off. Dirt can also affect the amount of sunlight that the panels absorb. In areas with a high amount of airborne dirt or pollution, it can reduce the efficiency as much as 25%. In Ohio, it is a much lower percentage. 

It is good practice to occasionally clean your panels. Today, we have a lot of tools to help diagnose issues, including dirt build up. SolarEdge, the monitoring software integrated with the inverter, will let you know if a panel is not performing as it should be. I will also be alerted if something is off. Panels can be cleaned like windows: with soap, water, and a soft towel. There are also services specifically for cleaning solar panels. 

How do panels work in the winter?

Yes, panels work 365 days a year. The cold weather actually makes the panels more efficient. The light reflecting from the snow also helps panels absorb more sunlight. We get a lot of cloudy days here in Central Ohio, and even then, light is absorbed through the panels. Panels are most efficient when the sun is directed straight overhead, but they still work great even with some clouds. The real challenge of winter is the shortened daylight. The sun is lower in the sky, therefore is not directly over the panels like in the summer time. The excess of energy is the summertime will make up for the lack of sunlight in the winter. 

Interestingly enough, snow can help your panels. 

Battery technology is unclean 

 

Definitions

Inverters

A power inverter, or inverter, is an electronic device or circuitry that changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Solar panels produce DC, and the inverter converts that into what your home uses, AC. 


Electric Meter

An electricity meter, electric meter, electrical meter, or energy meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, a business, or an electrically powered device.

Electric utilities use electric meters installed at customers' premises for billing purposes. They are typically calibrated in billing units, the most common one being the kilowatt hour (kWh). They are usually read once each billing period.


Calculator:

Average Solar Panel Stats:

Statistics for an average Solar PV Module: 

  • An average solar module is often called a solar panel, but technically it is a solar module. 

  • An average solar module has 60 solar cells connected in series. You can see the connections going from the front of one cell to the back of the next. (Usually the front is the negative side of the cell.)

  • The average solar cell is 6 inches (156 mm) in diameter. 

  • The average solar module is about 250 Watts (0.25kW, but can go all the way up to 435w) and it takes 4 average solar modules to make one kW

  • The average solar module is slightly less than 40 inches wide and slightly less than 66 inches long. 

  • A data sheet with the specifications of a solar module can be easily found by searching “250W solar pdf” on the Internet.

  • It takes a minimum 8 solar panels to make an array


References: 

Electric meter: wiki

Solar panel stats: Solar Basics Sean White 


Our Process

What all goes into solar installation?

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Consultation

We will come to your home or site for a free consultation and look at things like your home’s location, roof or land access to solar, and your home’s structure and electrical.

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Proposal

We will give you a proposal for the best course of action in accordance to your needs. This includes a layout of the panels, load calculations, itemized list of materials and cost, and savings projection.

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Planning or Permit Interconnection Agreement

After agreeing to a proposal, we will submit the plans for a permit and contact AEP to set up your contract for Net Metering and an Interconnection Agreement. This is so AEP can give you money in exchange for generating electricity. This will take a few weeks to complete.

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Installation 

We Install the panels and equipment. Size and scope can add or reduce the number of days this will take.

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Monitoring, Saving 

We will set up a monitoring service with SolarEdge. Once you have an account you can get alerts and see data incoming from your panels. We will have access to the monitoring service, and will get alerts if something goes wrong. This will be for the lifetime of the system. The only other thing to do is to enjoy the savings!