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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an AC and a DC solar energy system? Which is better for my house?

All photovoltaic solar energy systems are DC (Direct Current). In order for the power generated by the panels to be used in our homes, it must be converted to AC (Alternating Current) through an inverter. DC systems have one or more large inverters that are typically installed near the home’s main electrical panel. In contrast, the systems known as AC use one “microinverter” for each panel installed. Unless a home has significant shading issues, DC systems are usually more efficient and cost-effective.

What is Net Metering?

Net Metering is a billing mechanism that credits homeowners with solar power for the electricity they send to the grid. For example, a home’s solar system may generate more electricity than is used during daylight hours. The excess power is returned to the grid and the homeowner is credited for it. At night, or during times when system output does not meet a home’s energy requirements, the home draws its power from the grid. Customers are billed only for their “net” energy use. On average, only 20-40% of a solar energy system’s output ever goes into the grid. This exported solar electricity serves nearby customers’ needs.

Some utilities bill homeowners monthly while others do it on an annual basis. Homeowners who use more power than they generate will receive a bill. If they generate more power than they use, they will earn a credit from the utility or in some cases a check. Each utility is different. Please ask your energy consultant to explain the Net Metering options for your utility.

Should I lease of purchase my solar system? What is better for me?

In almost all cases, it is better to purchase a solar energy system rather than lease. Most purchase programs require no money out of pocket with interest rates as low as 2.99%. When you purchase a solar energy system, even if you finance it, you are eligible to receive a 30% federal tax credit on the total cost. You are not eligible to receive this credit when you lease the system. If you have questions regarding the tax credit, please consult your tax professional.

Owning a system also increases the value of your home. If you purchase the system with cash, the payback period will usually be between five and seven years. If you finance a system, you will typically have a monthly payment that is significantly lower than what you pay your utility. Most homeowners choose a term from 12 to 20 years. With modern solar systems expected to last 30 to 50 years, your solar energy system will continue to provide your home with power for years after you have paid it off.

The only scenario in which leasing a system makes more sense than owning it is if a homeowner has no tax liability. This could be because they are on a fixed income or are not a US citizen. Even if a homeowner has only a small tax liability, it makes sense to own.

Is the quality of a solar panel really that important?

Some solar companies try to sell homeowners on the idea that one brand of panel is as good as any other for installation on their home. This is because their own products are inferior, and usually from China. Despite what they may tell you, product quality is critical to the performance of your installation and your rate of return on investment.

The best measure of the quality of a solar panel is in its degradation rate. Initially, most solar systems are able to generate the power that they are designed to produce, but all solar panels degrade over time. The rate at which they degrade is what separates high-quality panels from those that are less so. Why does this matter? As the panels degrade, they will produce less power. To compensate for this reduced production, the homeowner will be forced to buy more power from the utility — and buy it at higher prices every year. FreeVolt’s degradation rate is an industry-leading 0.14% per year, meaning that after 25 years, a FreeVolt solar energy system will still be producing 96.5% of its nominal power.

All solar energy systems should also come with a strong warranty. Most solar installers offer a warranty for a fixed period of years on their workmanship and roof penetrations while component manufacturers warrant the modules, inverters, and hardware. Since FreeVolt is the manufacturer and the installer of its systems, they cover the workmanship and roof penetrations as well as the panels and mounting equipment.

What is offset and why is it important?

Offset is the percentage of the homeowner’s energy needs that are covered by their solar system. Most systems are designed to meet 100% of the homeowner’s needs, beginning with their historical usage and adjusted according to a thorough evaluation of any expected future changes. The system is sized accordingly. While it is impossible to predict exactly how much power will be used from year to year, it is important to get as close as possible. If the system is too large, the homeowner pays more than necessary for solar power. Conversely, if the system does not produce all of the energy required, the homeowner ends up buying power from the utility — at rates that are rising every year.

In case of a power outage, will a solar system keep my house powered?

Yes, if you have battery storage. All grid-tied solar systems must shut down in case of a power outage. A solar system without battery storage is tied to the grid and must be shut down in case of a power outage. The electricity meter works both ways (inflow and outflow of energy) if a utility worker works to fix the lines without power and if the PV system does not shut down, energy will come back to the grid and the utility worker can get shocked.

With battery storage, when the power goes out, the battery starts working outside of the grid.

What is the cost of a solar system with FreeVolt?

It depends on the system size.

Our engineering department will consider factors like the orientation of the house, shading, available areas, roof inclination, yield, production, etc. Some homes are restricted by their HOA to place solar modules in certain areas of the house.

Similar houses may each require different amounts of wattage – one may require a 6 kW PV system and the one next door may require a 10 kW PV system.

Solar system costs vary by module quantity, inverter configuration, roof type, etc.

How is the PV system size I need determined?

Every home is unique. We design each PV system size and investment individually, depending on the amount of energy that is needed to power that specific home. At your free consultation, we gather important information like yearly electricity usage. With this data and other factors, we can tailor the solar system size.

In case of a hailstorm, how does the warranty work?

Nature is unpredictable – one house can be devastated by a hailstorm and the one right next door can appear unscathed. In either case, we inspect the solar modules for microcracks and study production before and after the storm. If the solar panels are damaged, we will replace them with new ones.

The solar system survived the hailstorm but my roof didn’t. What can I do?

We know that although our solar modules will resist a hailstorm, a roof may not. Each case will be assessed individually, however to help our clients we will remove the solar system and replace it after the roofing company repairs the damaged roof.

How does the 30 % tax credit work?

2019 is the last year for this incentive. The ITC or federal solar tax credit will deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar system from your federal taxes. Present your solar installation bill to your accountant. If you don’t have enough tax liability to claim the entire credit this year, you can roll over the remainder of the tax credit in next year’s tax filing.

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Now is the time to gain freedom from your utility and receive predictable rates for years to come. There’s a reason solar energy companies are so hot right now. Imagine locking in low electricity rates. Sounds pretty great, right? No wonder every six minutes someone installs a PV SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM. That means hundreds of thousands of happy customers benefiting from clean energy and lifetime support. Together, we’re creating a planet run by the sun. Now’s the time to go solar!

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