Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, or simply “solar systems,” harness sunlight to generate heat. While not a new technology, more homeowners are only recently adopting its use, given the steadily-increasing energy costs. Read on as solar and HVAC contractor Cosmic Renovation & Roofing answers frequently-asked questions about solar systems.
How Do Solar Systems Work?
Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic cells, which absorb sunlight and convert it to direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter then converts DC to alternating current (AC) electricity and is fed into the grid.
Contrary to what many people think, solar systems are not backup generators; they don’t kick in during a blackout. Rather, a net metering system “stores” the energy, which offsets the energy that your home consumes. If the energy you feed into the grid is greater than what you consume, then you get credits on your energy bill. An optional battery system can be installed onto the inverter if you wish to have backup energy in case of blackouts.
How Long Does Installation Take?
A typical installation takes about two days on the roof, and about a day for integrating it with a home’s existing electrical setup. There may be a waiting time between the initial consultation and the installation date, which can vary depending on the queue, the complexity of the solar system. Your solar contractor may need to coordinate with the roofing contractors who installed the roof to make sure the roofing warranty isn’t accidentally voided.
How Long Do Solar Systems Last?
With proper care and maintenance, solar systems can reliably provide electricity for up to 40 years.
What Solar System Size Should I Get?
The size of your solar system will depend on several factors: your average monthly energy consumption, the size of your roof and your budget.
Should I Have My Solar Systems Installed on the Ground? Or on the Roof?
A roof installation is ideal because it costs less, does not require support structures and it gets the most coverage for most types of buildings. The solar panels also provide shade that helps reduce heat absorbed through the roof. Ground installations should only be considered if your roof has limited coverage or if you need solar panels that can be tilted as needed.