FAQ

Is my roof suitable for solar?

We use satellite images to check for shading as well as orientation; contact us to assess your roof

What size system do I need?

We can estimate how many panels could fit on your roof, and compare this to your current usage. Contact us with your address and a recent electric bill (or usage data).

How is a solar project sized and priced?

Generally, if space allows, the aim is to install a system that will generate the same amount of electricity as you use in a year. Though you’re billed for electricity use in kilowatt hours (kWh), solar projects are sized in kilowatts (kW), and priced by the watt ($/W). Generally, the larger the system, the lower the price per watt due to economies of scale. We’ll help translate for your project.

What am I getting when we commit on a solar project?

You typically get solar panels, racking and an inverter – installed. You also get a warranty from the installer, typically for 10 years on the equipment and labor.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels are considered a 25 year investment. Though they continue to operate well past that, they generate less and less energy over time.

How do I maintain solar panels?

You don’t. In our region, dust & pollen gets washed off by rain and snow.

What’s the warranty for these systems?

The manufacturer of each component typically warranties them for 20 years. The installer warranties their work for about 10 years. There’s also a warranty for the power produced by the system, about 80% of the system’s original capacity for at least 25 years.

What if the power goes out?

Most installations are grid-tied, meaning you lose power when the grid power goes out, even if the sun is shining. This is to protect nearby workers repairing the downed power lines. If you want electricity when the grid is down, you’ll want to ask for a battery backup system as part of your quote.

Although new inverter technology is emerging. Some companies make special solar inverters that are designed to automatically disconnect from the grid in the event of an outage, while still providing power to your home from your solar panels.

What if I generate more than I use?

Since most systems are grid-tied, any excess power is fed back to the grid. The utility compensates you via a concept called net metering, because our combined added power helps them during periods of peak demand.

Do you recommend solar when it produces less than total yearly cost?

You can consider energy efficiency to reduce your usage. We recommend you contact PECO for a home energy assessment. In the complete walk-thru of your house, they’ll look at the building envelope (where energy could be leaking), the installed equipment and the current energy usage and make recommendations. They’ll even swap out most bulbs with LED bulbs. The team can be reached at 888.573.2672 or peco.com/assessment. It’s well worth the $49 cost (free for income-qualified customers). And reducing energy use is a key first step to transitioning to renewables!

What would the ball park cost be to install?

I’ll have to walk you thru some math. Assuming the 20 panels have a capacity of 315 watts per panel, your system size would be 6300 watts (20 x 315); systems are priced by the watt. Using a regional average price of $3.15 per watt, your system would cost about $19,000. This would be for a turnkey system including all labor and materials, and all permitting. Please note that installers don’t like us giving this, since we don’t do the work, they do! So take this as a very rough number. (and see tax credit info below)

Are there maintenance costs going forward?

Not really. You’ve basically pre-paid your electricity for 20+ years.

Do you purchase or rent the panels?

Purchase. It’s easier that way if you need to sell the house.

Is there a local group I could join to make the total cost less expensive?

Yes, that’s us! We’re educating and organizing households in Southeast PA.

How long does installation take?

Residential installations take a couple of days. Getting a permit from the township, and interconnection approval from PECO takes longer; it could be a few months from the date you sign a contract with an installer.

If we decided to go ahead with it, would there be time to take advantage of the 26% tax rebate?

To qualify for the 26% federal credit, work must be started by 12/31/2022, thanks to the December 2020 COVID-19 Relief package and U.S. Federal government Omnibus spending bill. Find more details about the federal tax credit and future deadlines for solar (and storage) at REC Solar.

There are no Pennsylvania tax credits at this time.

Is the electric grid infrastructure in my neighborhood able to support distributed energy generation (rooftop solar)?

Look up your address on PECO’s map for interconnection viability. If it shows a green dot, you’ll likely not have any issues obtaining an interconnection approval from PECO.

What are SRECs and how much will I save if I register and sell mine?

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) is a mechanism where solar generators can earn credits for the renewable energy supplied to the power grid. 1 SREC = 1 Megawatt-Hour. The program enables Pennsylvanians to sell the SRECs that their panels generate. As of late 2019, the going rate for these credits was about $24. At this rate, a 5-kilowatt (kW) system that generates 5 MWh per year could make an extra $120 per year from selling credits in the SREC market.

You can also choose not to sell your SRECs. An owner that retires (or does not claim) it’s SRECs can boast that their home runs on solar energy.

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last update: May 29, 2020