What is solar energy?
A solar energy system creates power from sunshine. There are two basic types of systems:
Photovoltaic or PV uses sunlight to generate electricity. It’s the same technology found on pocket calculators, just on a larger scale. PV systems can be designed to generate the majority of the electricity used in your home, or just a portion of it.

Thermal solar uses sunlight to heat water. A well-designed thermal system can be extremely effective and provide most of the hot water used in your home. Both kinds of systems let you do your part towards reducing greenhouse gases and improving the environment.

How does solar electricity work?
This technology is called “photovoltaic” or PV. Sunlight hitting silicon cells in a module generates a DC current. This current goes to an inverter in the house, which turns it into household AC. Grid-connected systems are linked to the regular electrical grid, and reduce the amount of current the house draws from the utility company. Off-grid PV systems are completely independent of the utility and require battery backup.

Does solar work only on sunny days?
Solar systems work even when it’s cloudy. Naturally, cloud cover reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the panels, but the system will produce some electricity and/or heat on all but the most overcast days.

How does a solar energy system benefit me personally?
It reduces your energy bill, and in many areas the utility will buy back any extra electricity you generate. It adds to the value of your home and allows you to gain energy independence. Perhaps the most
 important benefit is that it’s a good investment in a sustainable future for you and future generations.

How does solar help the environment?
Fossil fuels are a leading cause of global warming and air pollution. Solar energy reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is burned, thus reducing the pollutants and CO² that get into the atmosphere.

How can solar help the economy?
Right now the US has to import oil and natural gas to cover our energy needs. The cost adds up to many billions of dollars, and all of that money leaves the country. Solar energy is generated locally. The energy dollars stay at home, creating economic growth and benefiting your community.

How can solar improve national security?
Currently, the US depends on fossil fuels, especially oil, from potentially unstable or unfriendly countries. These supplies are vulnerable to political upheaval, trade disputes, embargoes, and other disruptions. Solar energy can help reduce this dependency, making our economy, our nation, and your family more secure.

Will a solar PV system give me electricity if there’s a power outage?
Only PV systems with battery backup will provide electricity if the power goes out. Systems are designed to shutoff during a power outage for safety reasons.

Is solar power for everybody?
Anybody who has a good site can benefit from a solar energy system. Once your system is installed, the power is free. Solar works in all areas with sunlight.

What’s the best place to mount solar panels?
Direct sunlight is the most important factor and for most people that means mounting the system on the roof. Ground mounted systems will substitute if there is no direct sunlight on the roof.

What regular maintenance do I need to do?
PV systems are inherently very low-maintenance, requiring the system owner only to wash the solar modules down with water when they get dirty so light can get through.

Why should I buy a system now rather than later?
The current photovoltaic market is quite volatile due to supply and increasing demand. Prices may increase or decrease in the near future. Prices have been trending downward, but there are many financial incentives available now and there is no guarantee that they will be available in the future.

How efficient are photovoltaic modules?
The current efficiency of solar modules is between 5% and 17%. The greater the efficiency the less space is needed to produce the same amount of electricity of a module with a lower efficiency. All modules produce electricity regardless of the efficiency.

How long will my system last?
If properly installed, it should last many years. We guarantee the performance of our PV modules for 25 years.

How will a solar energy system affect my home’s resale value?
Studies show that most Americans would pay more for a home with a solar system already installed. As energy costs rise, anything that lowers those costs will add to a home’s value.

Are solar energy systems vulnerable to weather?
Modules have tempered safety glass set deep into heavy-duty frames. If properly installed, systems are at least as strong as the roof they are mounted on, if not stronger.

How does electricity buyback work?
This is called “net metering” and is available from many utility companies. If you generate more electricity than you use, the excess goes back to your utility company, spinning the meter backward and giving you a credit for the electricity your PV system generated.

Where can I find out about federal and state incentives?
The US Department of Energy (www.dsireusa.org) has a database of federal and state
incentives for renewable energy.