Our customers frequently have questions that are logical and well informed, so we've summarized the most frequently asked questions by satisfied customers, before they became customers.
Purchase, Installation & Use
Q. How heavy are Solar panels?
A. An average 250-280 watt panel weighs approximately 48 lbs each, and can typically be mounted with less than 4 lb/sf roof loading.
Q. How long do they last? Are they guaranteed?
A. Solar panels are designed to last for more than 30 years and we guarantee the power output for the first 25 years of operation. 97% of power during the first year; and afterward, the power will not decrease by more than 0.7 percent of the rated power per year. So at year 3, the Panels capacity is guaranteed to be at least 95.6% of the nameplate as opposed to the industry standard guarantee of 90%. And at year 20, it's still at least 83% as opposed to the industry standard 80%.
Q. Do these solar panels break easily?
A. No. Solar panels are made from tempered, shatterproof glass and are designed to withstand up to 1" diameter hail strikes at over 50 mph as well as wind and snow loads up to 112 psf.
Q. How many do I need for my house?
A. This depends on how large your energy bills are. Most residential installations are between 2 kW and 10 KW, the average installation size in CA is about 5kW and provides between 60-90% of the household's energy.
Q. How much energy can it produce?
A. Energy production will vary based on the size of the system and its location. For the best estimate of what your home can produce, request a free solar consultation from a SolEnergy Consultant.
Q. How much space does this require on a roof?
A. Solar panels are modular by nature, so your system can be sized to fit your roof as well as your electric bill. As a rule of thumb, each kW of PV will take up about 100 square feet of roof space.
Q. Can I install a solar system myself?
A. While technically possible, we do not recommend that homeowners install their own systems. Most city and state building codes require a licensed electrician to connect the system to the grid and a trained solar installer can help to ensure that your system is well designed and qualifies for the maximum possible rebates and other incentives.
Q. Do they work on cloudy / foggy/ rainy days?
A. Yes, you will get some power on cloudy days, but it will not be the maximum output.
Q. Are these systems difficult to operate?
A. No. Once installed, solar PV systems are fully automatic; no user operation required.
Q. What kind of maintenance is required?
A. You may wish to clean the solar panels if they become dirty, but no other regular maintenance is necessary.
Q. Can you mount solar panels on the ground?
A. Yes. There are a variety of ways to ground mount solar PV systems. Consult a SolEnergy expert for more information.
Q. Does it take more energy to manufacture these solar panels than they produce in their lifetime?
A. No. In a typical installation, a Solar panel will provide "energy payback" (produce more energy than was required to manufacture it) within 1 to 3 years.
Q. Can my city (or HOA, or neighbors) prohibit me from putting a solar panels on my roof?
A. This depends a lot on where you live. Many states, including California and Oregon, have passed laws that dissolve any HOA rules or CCRs on your deed that effectively prevent you from putting up a solar installation. See state-by-state incentives and regulations for your state. (www.DSIREUSA.org)
Q. Do I need a city permit to install a solar panels on my house?
A. In most cases, in the US, yes. Every country & state is different. We take care of all permits with the city and HOA applications.
Q. Will the system provide me back-up power if the utility grid power goes out?
A. Typically, no. Most solar PV installations are grid connected and have no batteries to store energy or appropriate switches to legally operate while the grid is down. While battery banks and switchable inverters are available, these add to the cost of your system and batteries require significant maintenance.
Q. What is the largest size system that I can buy?
A. The maximum size of system you can install will depend on the amount of appropriate roof and/or ground space available and how much you want to spend. Most of our installations are sized for optimum savings, rather than maximum size and most incentives will only cover up to the amount of electricity your home or business actually uses on an annualized basis.
Cost & Financing
Q. How expensive is a solar installation?
A. The cost of a solar installation depends on many variables, including the application, the site characteristics and the available incentives. Generally, our solar PV systems are designed to provide a substantial net savings in energy costs over their lifetime.
Q. How much money will it save me?
A. Actual savings varies based on system size, location, and your electric rate structure. A typical solar PV system is designed to reduce your energy bill by 60-95%.
Q. What is the financial Pay-Back period for a solar PV system?
A. Actual payback varies depending on the system installed cost, location, size, and electrical rate structure. Typical payback periods are between 3-6 years for residential systems and 3-5 years for commercial systems.
Q. Are there still any rebates to help pay for them?
A. Yes. See our incentives and rebates information for options available in your area.
Q. Can you provide financing to help make these systems more affordable?
A. SolEnergy has financing partners for most residential end. Users can finance the system with a home equity loan of some form. Visit our financing page for more information
Q. Are your Installation prices cheaper, or more expensive, than others?
A. Rather than focus solely on price, SolEnergy seeks to provide the best value - i.e. the best performance for your money, and the most optimized system. Our projects are always competitively priced, and often the cheapest, but more importantly, we design and distribute them to provide the best leveled energy cost in terms of dollars per kWh.
Q. What is a solar cell / module / array?
A. A solar cell (also called photovoltaic cell) is a solid state device that converts the energy of sunlight directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect. Assemblies of cells are used to make solar modules. The grouping of solar modules is referred to a module array.
Q. How do the solar cells generate electricity?
A. The solar cell works in three steps:
Photons in sunlight hit the solar panel and are absorbed by semiconducting materials, such as silicon.
Electrons (negatively charged) are knocked loose from their atoms, allowing them to flow through the material to produce electricity. Due to the special composition of solar cells, the electrons are only allowed to move in a single direction.
An array of solar cells converts solar energy into a usable amount of direct current (DC) electricity.
Q. Why should I use PV?
A. In recent years, more and more people are realizing the importance of renewable energy, particularly those who are environmentally conscious. PV can supply us with clean and sustainable electricity. It produces no toxic emissions, or greenhouse gases, and causes no hazardous waste. PV systems generate electricity using the Sun's energy, so the ongoing costs are minimal. Moreover, continued R&D means installation costs are gradually being reduced. Some people would rather invest capital on an energy-producing improvement to their property than continually sending money to a power company. Others like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from power utilities, because it makes they are less vulnerable to power outages and future increases to the price of electricity.
Q. How durable are the modules?
A. All SolEnergy modules have been subjected to and passed mechanical load testing according to standards for IEC 61215 and UL1703. However, we do not recommend stepping or placing anything directly on the modules.
Q. Will the solar system still work in bad weather?
A. Yes, bad weather will affect the maximum power output of your system, but it will still continue to produce electricity.
Q. How much electricity will it generate?
A. The amount of electricity your PV system can generate will depend on a number of factors, such as location, system size, solar resource and module orientation.
Q. How long will the modules last? Are they guaranteed?
A. The typical lifespan of a PV system is more than 25 years. SolEnergy offers a standard Product warranty of 10 years covering defects in material and workmanship. And a 25 year linear performance warranty. As an added security, SolEnergy's standard warranty is jointly insured by leading insurance companies (AAA rated) in Europe and USA.
Q. How can I learn more about SolEnergy?
A. Please visit our web site to learn more.
Q. Does SolEnergy produce modules according to customers' requirements?
A. Through years of experience, SolEnergy has established a highly experienced technical engineering team available to develop and meet all of our customer's needs, including developing PV modules/systems to your requirements.
Q. Where are the modules produced?
A. SolEnergy has PV modules manufacturing facilities located in China and Canada.
Q. How much space do I need for a PV solar system?
A. The amount of space you will require will depend on a number of factors. For instance, the amount of energy you wish to produce, the panel type and orientation. It will also depend on whether the PV system will be mounted on a roof or the ground.
Q. Do I need planning permission to install a solar system in my city?
A. Yes, generally a build permit is needed.
Q. Where can I install a PV system?
A. PV systems can be located on the ground, the roof of a building, or even into the buildings architecture.
Q. How do you fasten modules together?
A. Please refer to our installation manual available on or website. Click the following link: Installation Manual
Q. What direction should the PV system face?
A. Ideally, a PV system should have an unobstructed south facing view.
Q. What kind of maintenance is required on my PV system?
A. The only maintenance that is required is a periodical cleaning. Overtime dirt and/or debris could build up on the module limiting the amount of energy producing area.
Q. Can modules be recycled?
A. Because the PV industry is still relatively young, there are currently not many facilities that recycle PV modules. Please check with your local authorities to find out if this is available in your region.