Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System Frequently Asked Questions
- SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) SYSTEM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Are there credits or incentives offered for users of solar systems?
Answer: Yes! There are credits for residential and commercial systems, the Federal Government has a 30% Tax Credit. And, the State of Hawaii has a 35% Tax Credit, up to $5,000 for Residential systems and $500,000 for Commercial systems. These credits are applied after calculating your tax liability. If you purchase a system for $15,000, then you would save $4,500 (30%) off of your Federal Income Taxes and $5,000 (the maximum) off of your State Income Taxes. So to have a $15,000 system installed, you only pay $5,500.
- How can I compensate long term rising energy costs?
Answer: The cost of electricity in Hawaii has increased an average of 6 % a year over the last 18 years. You own the electricity you produce, eliminating the need to purchase power from the power grid.
- If I sell my property, what effect does solar have on the sale price?
Answer: Energy conservation and power generation adds value to a home. On average for every $1,000.00 saved per year in utility costs, $20,000.00 is added to a home's value.
- How much solar power do I need to for my home?
Answer: Each home is different. The amount of electricity you use will vary depending on the energy efficiency of your lifestyle. How your home was built, as well as, the age and efficiency of your appliances, impact how much electricity you use. Prior to installing a system, we will do an energy assessment to determine what is best for you.
- Do I need batteries with the solar system?
Answer: Batteries are only required if you want back-up power for your home or business. Batteries are also required if you wish to be totally "off the grid." Without batteries, the system has no way to store power.
- How do solar cells generate electricity?
Answer: Photovoltaic cells can be thought of as solar radiation collectors. PV catches photons from the sun and pushes around electrons with them, this creates voltage. This voltage is then transformed by an inverter and fed into the existing electrical system to be used in place of utility supplied power.
- Are the solar panels fragile?
Answer: No, they strong. They pass hail tests, and are even used in Artic conditions!
- What is net-metering?
Answer: For owners of solar systems, net metering provides an opportunity to receive a credit for excess electricity produced and passed on to your local utility company, which then can be utilized at a later time. This means that if you are not at home or not operating your business, you are not consuming power the excess power will be sent back into the grid. When this happens your electric meter will spin backwards during the day. You are basically selling excess energy to the grid.
- How long will the system last?
Answer: Solar panels come with a 25-year power warranty from the manufacturer. Inverters typically have warranties for up to 10 years. The remainder of the system has a 5-year warranty on materials and workmanship. You can also purchase extended warranties.
- What does grid-tie mean?
Answer: This means that your solar system is connected to your local utility (HECO (Oahu), HELCO (Big Island), MECO (Maui), or KUC (Kauai). This allows you to trade electricity in the "grid." When your solar system is producing excess electricity, the power is automatically fed out to the local utility company (HECO, HELCO, MECO, or KUC), and your account is credited as if you sold the electricity to the grid.
- How long does it take to Install a PV system?
Answer: Typical residential systems take from 1 to 2 days to install. More complex systems, commercial systems, ground mounted systems and systems with batteries may take longer.
- Can I use solar systems to heat water?
Answer: Yes, however, solar thermal (solar hot water) is cheaper and more efficient. Solar hot water can cut your heating costs by 40%.
- What about storms? Will insurance cover my solar system?
Answer: Yes, when you purchase a solar system for your home or business, notify your insurance company, they are obligated to insure your system, just as they insure the rest of your household items.
- How long does solar systems take to pay for itself?
Answer: The amount of time varies. Typically this period is 6-8 years for Residential systems and 2-3 years for Commercial systems.
- Do solar hot water or solar panels have to be mounted on my roof?
Answer: Panels are most often mounted on the roof, but can also be mounted on the ground or upon other support structures such as awnings, parking lot covers, and lanai covers.
- What is the optimum way for residential customers to invest in solar systems?
Answer: The best thing for you is to purchase your system. However not all of us can do this. Other options do exist for finding the right system and financing options, please contact us for more information on how we can help!
- Where can I Learn More?
, SolarWorld: http://www.solarworld-usa.com
, Internal Revenue Service: http://www.irs.gov/
, Hawaii Solar Energy Association: http://www.hsea.org/
, Hawaii DBEDT: http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/energy
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