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Frequently Asked Questions

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Solar production vs Consumption depends on system size, but the larger and more efficient system you install the smaller your electric bill will be.  By producing your own power you are decreasing or eliminating your need for the utility company.  Some customers have been known to have negative electric bills with solar.  Ask your solar expert to explain to you the different system sizes and options available. Most companies will provide you with an estimate showing your electric bill before and after solar along with an annual production estimate for their system.

Both leasing and buying solar panels is worth it in terms of long term savings.  However, leasing or taking on a PPA or Power Purchase Agreement is basically just switching your current utility company with a new utility company (the solar company or leasing company).  It is better to buy your system since you own your own power and have the control.  Also, once your system is paid off, there is no solar or finance payment. As your utility bill would have gone up with your utility company, you are still saving that payment every month with no payment for your solar since you paid it off. Many homeowners and business owners will finance their system for a lower payment than their utility bill was before they went solar.  This saves them monthly, they own the system, they receive a tax credit for their system and they save money right away.  Other homeowners like to buy the system out right to prevent from paying interest overtime.  Both options are better than staying with your utility company, since you pay 100% interest with the utility company by renting your power and not having much control on increases and charges overtime.  Buy over Lease.

Solar panels do not produce power at night.  Energy can be pulled from the grid utilizing energy conserved during the day onto the grid.  This is known as using the grid as a “virtual battery”. During the day, your system overproduces and you receive credits through programs like Net Metering to receive back credits or KWH’s back at night as is needed. Another option is to install battery backup technology alongside your system to offset or eliminate usage from the grid.  If you install enough battery power in stride with your system, you can in some cases have an off-grid solar system.  However, with most utility companies, this is not necessary since they generally offer a credit exchange such as Net Metering.

Sunlight hits the solar panel and the cells inside the solar panel convert the light into energy in the form of DC or Direct electrical current, which then flows into an inverter.  The Inverter converts your DC current into AC or Alternative electrical current, which is what most houses work off of.  Older solar panels used a string inverter about the size of a large toaster oven generally placed on the side of your home next to your meter box.  Today many competitors use a micro inverter.  These are individual smaller inverters placed on the back of each panel that convert the DC into AC at the panel instead of down by the meter box. The purpose for this is to keep production at peak on one panel when another panel in the same string set is not performing or not performing at peak. The new AC output solar panels bridge in the micro conversion on the line so you eliminate flat lining caused by micro inverters overheating and convert a stronger AC current altogether.

In 2017, the average cost to install solar panels in Illinois was $4.50 to $5.50 per watt. The average solar photovoltaic system Americans normally install in their homes is around 5KW or 5,000 Watts. At these rates, most homeowners can install a solar system on their homes for a cost of right around $15,750.

You get an option from your utility company to pay on an annual basis when installing solar.  You will still have a bill for any power that you use that you do not produce with your solar system unless you are able to offset this with credits gained by overproducing during the day with your solar system. Solar does not cover gas, so you will still get a gas bill from your utility company for your monthly gas usage just as you did before going solar.

Your cost per square foot varies by the brand and type of solar panel you use.  For example, SunPower solar and the other top-rated solar panels we recommend, actually produce as much as 60% more power per square foot overtime, whereas a Tesla Solar City solar panel will produce significantly less production per square foot because of lower efficiency, less time of use due to cell contact, higher degradation due to lack of durability and less wattage.  In general, the roof space needed to install a solar panel is around 100 square feet of roof space for every 1 KW of conventional solar panels.  Solar panels cost between $1.00 and $2.80 per watt for panels before parts, materials, planning, permits, labor, taxes and warranties or usually between $4.50 and $5.50 per watt out the door. In summary your cost per panel on a 350 watt rated panel should be around $700 for a quality panel and out the door with everything included, you should expect to pay around $1450 per panel.

The total installation time for a standard 5 KW solar system consisting of about 15 solar panels is usually somewhere between 1 and 3 days.  Average labor time is about 75 man hours, which can be further broken down into electrician installation labor in the amount of 49 man hours and non-electrician installation labor in the amount of 26 man hours.  However, some of the newer systems and more experienced installers can install a system in 1 day.  From sign up to installation and permission to operate, you are looking at around 1-2 months with an experienced installer and 3-6 months with less experienced or TOO-BIG-TO-CARE-ABOUT-YOU installers.

Most solar panel companies offer a 25 year performance warranty, but only a 10 year product guarantee. This means that if your cells breakdown and your system stops working correctly, it is difficult to collect on that 25 year performance guarantee.  This is because most conventional panels have high cell degradation or wear and tear rates, so they are not willing to cover uninstall, reinstall, shipping, delivery or flash testing of the bad panel.  A conventional panels lifeline can last anywhere from 10 years to 30 years depending on a variety of factors including but not limited to environment, care and overall quality of the panels and cells. The superior panels that we offer last up to 2-3 times as long as most of the conventional panels our competitors offer with much more superior warrantees. Each panel we recommend comes with a 25-year Product, Performance and Service or Labor Warranty along with our 5-Star Guarantee and Triple Warranty Coverage.

Net Metering is basically using the electric grid or utility company as a virtual batter at no or little cost to you.  You may be eligible for net metering if you are a retail customer of an electric utility company in Illinois, you generate some of your electricity using wind or solar energy and you meet the generating system’s peak output requirements.