Frequently Asked Questions
The cost of a system depends on many variables, such as your individual demands for electricity, your available roof or ground space, and also the investment that you’re looking to make into your renewable energy power plant. A free solar site assessment allows us to discuss with you what makes the most sense for your needs, so we can help you achieve your goals of going solar and give you an accurate estimate. Contact us today to set one up!
Modern solar electric systems have stood the test of time. The companies that have developed the technology for the past 40 years know what they’re talking about when they provide a 25 year warranty. With stainless steel and anodized aluminum hardware, waterproof electrical connectors, and professional installation, the system is designed to easily weather our New England climate. Ok, but what is not covered under the various warranties? Damage, for example if a tree falls on the system, is not covered under the warranty. However, your homeowners or business insurance should cover this type of event. The panels have tempered glass, tested for hail and hurricanes. There are no moving parts, no pumps, no fans, no valves, no motors to replace or oil. The recommended maintenance: don’t do anything.
It all sounds good, but with no moving parts, how do you know it’s working properly? Our on-line monitoring service.
Yes, according to a recent study at the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida. They analyzed solar power capability throughout the United States. The result, this map shows that the Southwest is the optimal location, but Massachusetts and Rhode Island each have 88% of the solar capacity of central Arizona! If it is hard to believe, consider this fact: modern solar technology is more efficient when it is kept cool. Our cool climate and summer sea breezes actually make electricity production soar!
Beyond the fact that both receive energy from the sun, the two types of solar energy systems are completely different.
Solar hot water systems collect radiation from the sun to heat a food-grade glycol fluid inside collectors mounted on a roof. This heated fluid is circulated and exchanges heat into a holding tank. The holding tank feeds solar-heated water into your domestic hot water system.
Solar electric systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. This electrical energy is then converted to be compatible with your utility service. It is then interconnected to your existing electrical system to reduce the amount of electricity that you need to purchase from your utility.
A grid-tied electrical system produces alternating current (AC) which is fully compatible with the electricity supplied by the power company. So at times, when your electrical needs surpass your system’s production, the additional electricity flows to you from the grid and your meter counts forward as normal. However, when your system produces more than your electrical needs, you supply power back to the grid and your meter counts backward. At the end of the month, you only pay for the difference (net metering). This lets you produce, and get credit for, as much energy as possible without having to worry about batteries or other storage systems. It’s the clean, easy, and efficient way to generate your own power. Think of it as “What you don’t use, you automatically sell to your neighbors!”
A photovoltaic cell converts the energy from light (photo) to electrical (volt) in one step. The way the cells do this trick is complicated and it depends on the type of cell technology. But it can be thought of this way: as light is absorbed by the cell, a light wave kicks an electron up an electrical hill. This electron now has more energy since it can drop back down the hill later. A solar panel is made from many such cells, each of which has many electrons that have been kicked up the hill. These cells are all connected together and it adds up to a lot of electrons ready and waiting to fall back down that hill. So the photovoltaic panel is kind of like a big battery, with one side having electricity wanting to get to the other side. So there’s the power, but how is it changed from “a big battery thing” to the kind of electricity you can use to power a house? That’s the job of a gadget called an inverter.
A photovoltaic panel converts the light energy to electrical direct current (DC) energy, but the electrical power in your house is alternating current (AC). The inverter gets its name for the way it takes a direct flow of electricity and flips it up-side-down then back up-right. It does this in a nice smooth wave exactly 60 times every second. It’s the electrical equivalent of converting a river flow of water into waves; rivers and waves both have energy, just a different way of delivering it. Modern inverters are very sophisticated devices. They typically have 95% or better efficiency, they can report how much power they are converting, and they are reliable and maintenance free. My Generation Energy uses micro-inverter technology, where each panel has a dedicated inverter. This delivers optimal performance of the entire system and provides pinpoint reporting of electricity production.