SOLAR ENERGY FAQ
Harvest Sun Solar strives to make switching to solar, easy, affordable and understandable as well. We hope to give you everything you need in order to have a clear and true understanding of solar energy. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you might have.
Why solar, why now?
Simply put – the sooner you get solar, the sooner you will start to enjoy its benefits! If you wait for some unproven technology down the road, you will have missed the opportunity to enjoy lower energy costs today. Increases in efficiency and decreases in costs have both flattened out in the typical way of "Technology" Bell curve. The cost and economic benefit of a system installed today also benefits from today's incentive structure which will decrease appreciably in a couple years.
Does my roof need to face directly south?
No. The ideal roof orientation is 196 degrees on the magnetic compass (known as ‘solar south’), but an installation of +/- 50 degrees (155 -245) is also fine. Within this range, power output stays seven or eight percent of maximum. More easterly and westerly roof installations are viable, especially on shallower roofs. For example, an 8/12 roof that is due east or due west still achieves 72% of a system’s potential performance. More important than angle, is shading. We don’t want to see any shading on a solar roof from 10 am to 3 pm, year-round. Technological improvements such as micro inverters, and more ideally DC optimizers can compensate for shading issues to great extent. The best way to know for certain if your roof is viable/ optimal for solar is to contact Harvest Sun Solar for a free solar evaluation.
Will the solar system eventually pay for itself?
Absolutely. Many customers feel the pride and peace of mind of solar that ‘pays for itself’ as soon as the system powers on. From a financial point of view, solar is immediately cash-flow positive if financed, whereas if the money is provided upfront the returns are magnified but reach positive cash flow at about 4 to 5 years. With multi-billion-dollar grid improvement projects already in place one thing for certain is that energy rates will continue increase. Meanwhile, with solar, you will be able to enjoy a significant reduction in the amount of money spent on energy.
What if my roof is shaded?
Shading directly affects solar generation. It is best to minimize the impact of any shading. However, this is where our design team earns its money. Just about everyone has shade, and they usually don't think so! Therefore, we have taken the initiative to become technically proficient and are equipped with the industry leading tools to diagnose, design and quantify production and resultant economics.
How much roof space do I need?
Every kilowatt of solar array equals about 75 square feet.
What is the average number of kWh’s produced per month?
Solar production is seasonal by nature. More power generated during the summer months, less power generated during the winter months. Production is typically evaluated on an annual basis.
What is a watt?
A watt is a unit of measure that represents electricity in a circuit. A kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. Let’s say that there were 100 LED lights and each one was rated at 10 watts. They total 1,000 watts. If all 100 lights are left on for one hour, they will consume 1 kilowatt hour (kWh).
Do I need to worry about solar panels in the snow?
No. Snow and ice are a reality of installing solar arrays in the Northeast and our systems are designed to withstand the toughest weather. The reality is, after a snowstorm, your solar panels will be covered in snow. Usually they ‘self-clear’ quite well on the next partially sunny day. Furthermore, they will continue to produce electricity, (though at a much lower rate, even when covered with an inch of snow)! On an annual basis, the amount of energy production loss due to snow is minor.
Will the solar arrays put holes in my roof or be too heavy?
No. Solar panels are typically mounted on a purpose-built aluminum or stainless-steel rail system that is fastened about every four feet by penetrations into roof rafters. On a standing seam metal roof, attachments are made directly to the standing seams, with no roof penetrations. On asphalt roofs, each mount is sealed with 50-year sealant to prevent any possible leaks. Roof work is guaranteed by Harvest Sun Solar to be free from leaks. As for the weight of the array, it is less than 4.5 pounds per square foot, so a typical framed roof is more than adequate to carry the weight.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels are warrantied for 25 years but will likely last beyond 35 years, albeit with some performance degradation.
What is net metering?
Net metering is an energy policy that allows solar homeowners and businesses to feed excess power into the grid (effectively spinning the meter backwards) and get a credit off their energy consumed at a future date.
Are there changes coming to net metering?
Yes. Net metering has been under attack across the country because it hurts profit margins for the big utility companies. Some areas have eliminated it. Others are considering changes. Regardless of which changes happen, they will not be in your best interests. Harvest Sun Solar doesn’t like being pushy when encouraging homeowners and businesses to act but it is important they understand the sooner they act the more likely they’ll get grandfathered in under current regulations. Your ability to be grandfathered in is based on one date, the day your solar power system is turned on. Please contact us Harvest Sun Solar as soon as possible so we can help you save the most money possible.
Can I get rid of the utility company and go “off grid”?
While the idea of cutting ties with the electric company may seem romantic, it is anything but practical except for very specific cases (generally when utility power is not available and prohibitively expensive to install).
Is there a timetable – how long will this take before we can have solar on our roof?
Harvest Sun Solar can work as fast as you will let us work. We typically can provide you with a free and detailed proposal within 24-48 hours after obtaining on site exact shading data and hand measurements.
Does solar work in foggy micro-climates?
Yes. Solar does work in foggy/cloudy locations. An initial proposal by Harvest Sun Solar will evaluate the weather conditions in your area including the impact of fog.
Will the panels be the most efficient available?
Harvest Sun Solar will assess and identify panels with the right mix of optimal efficiency/cost. It's possible to get slightly higher power panels (i.e. SunPower/Panasonic/LG), but the increased production may or may not be cost justified based on the facts and circumstances of the installation.
What solar panels and inverters meet the requirements of Harvest Sun Solar?
Approved PV panel manufactures
S Energy Sharp
Approved inverter manufactures
Does Harvest Sun Solar consider the reduced degradation for solar panels / modules in their design proposal with economic projections?
Yes, within the Design Proposal, Harvest Sun Solar lists a 0.2% degradation regardless of solar panels / modules manufacture.
How does a nonprofit fund the Solar Power Agreement (SPA)?
Funding the Solar Power Agreement (SPA) is flexible. Harvest Sun Solar in partnership with CollectiveSun can facilitate any one or a combination of these options:
- PACE solar loan
- Traditional bank loans, Wall Street investors, Program Related Investments (PRIs), Nonprofit Specialty Lenders, and others.
- CollectiveSun’s Proprietary CrowdLending Campaign – direct loan from supporters of the nonprofit or tax-exempt organization w/ principal and interest repaid annually using the savings from the solar project. Because it’s a direct loan between a nonprofit or the tax-exempt organization and supporters (investors), the interest rate can be set at discretion of the nonprofit or tax-exempt organization (0% - 8%).
Be aware, our experience is banks attach high interest rates to their loans, nonprofits quite often prefer to leave reserves for rainy days and use donations for other needs. Going to the community with the CrowdLending campaign provides a new and vibrant avenue to engage members. Lending doesn’t impact other charitable giving because it competes with investment options. For example, savings accounts, CD's and the volatile stock market. The proprietary CrowdLending methodology and dedicated campaign managers will assist you throughout the process to ensure a successful campaign. To date, CollectiveSun is proud that the CrowdLending campaigns have a 100% success rate raising funds needed! This is one of the main reasons Harvest Sun Solar enjoys so much working a combination of this partner and your nonprofit! (Knowing the effort will be rewarded).
What is Interfaith Power and Light?
Interfaith Power and Light is a national nonprofit organization that supports communities of all faith traditions exploring solar and energy efficiency. They partner with CollectiveSun and offer resources for communities of faith who are exploring the theologies related to solar power and climate change. Please visit their website at: http://interfaithpowerandlight.org
What is Creation Care?
Creation Care is a theological response to climate changes that embraces world religions and how their philosophies are applied to caring for the planet.
Do faith-based organizations or houses of worship support solar – Creation Care?
Most definitely. One faith leader, Pope Francis’s strongest statements on the environment: 1."We received this world as an inheritance from past generations, but also as a loan from future generations, to whom we will have to return it!”
—Remarks, meeting with political, business and community leaders, Quito, Ecuador, July 7, 2015 2. “God always forgives, we men forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives. If you give her a slap, she will give you one. I believe that we have exploited nature too much.”
—Press conference, flight from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, January 15, 2015 3. “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.”
—Speech, Manila, Philippines, January 18, 2015 4. “A Christian who doesn’t safeguard creation, who doesn’t make it flourish, is a Christian who isn’t concerned with God’s work, that work born of God’s love for us.”
—Meditation, Vatican City, February 9, 2015 5. “May the relationship between man and nature not be driven by greed, to manipulate and exploit, but may the divine harmony between beings and creation be conserved in the logic of respect and care.”
—General audience, Vatican City, April 22, 2015 6. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”
—Papal encyclical, Vatican City, May 24, 2015 7. “Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin.”
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