Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does solar work?
How the Technology Works
Solar electricity works exactly the same as the electricity you buy from the utility company. You turn on lights, plug in lamps and power appliances the same way you do right now. In fact, if you didn't see solar modules on the roof, you'd never notice any difference—except a lower electric bill. While the science of converting sunshine into electricity is complex, the idea is pretty simple. Solar electricity is generated by a group of solar modules called an array that's installed on your roof or in your yard. When sunlight falls on the solar modules, a DC electrical current is created instantly. The DC electricity is fed into an inverter that changes it to standard AC electricity—the same kind your home already uses.
You know that meter in your yard that tracks your electricity usage? The dial spins forward as you use electricity. How long and how fast it spins ultimately determines your bill. But did you know that it can spin in either direction? Whenever your solar electric system produces more electricity than you use, the surplus is channeled back to your utility's power grid, making your electric meter spin backwards. It's called net metering, and it means you’re earning credits on your bill. Net metering is available in nearly every state including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
According to the American Solar Energy Society, the amount of sunlight hitting the earth in just one hour is enough to provide the world's energy needs for an entire year. With that much potential, why isn't everyone using solar electricity?
2. How do I know if solar will work on my home?
AIR SUN, INC. offers more than one way to go solar. With so many options to choose from, we at AIR SUN, INC., your SUNPOWER Premier Dealer, will help you decide what's right for your home and your family. Much of the decision is based on the amount of roof space you have and which direction your home faces. South-facing roofs produce the highest annual output; however, east and west-facing roofs can also harvest good results. It is important that your system will not be shaded by trees, buildings or other obstacles for long periods throughout the day. Call us for a free evaluation.
3. Does solar work on cloudy days? Or when covered in snow?
Yes, solar modules produce electricity on cloudy days, it is just less electricity. If the solar modules are completely covered in snow, they will not produce electricity. As a rule of thumb, if there is enough sunlight to cast a shadow, then solar panels can produce electricity. Of course, in areas where there is abundant sunshine—like California—a smaller solar electricity system will provide as much power as a larger system located in Maine or Washington. But, solar works just about anywhere and makes a difference on your utility bills.
4. How much does solar cost?
The cost of a system depends on a wide variety of factors including the type of roof, system complexity, geographic location, system size and more. An approximate installed cost is $6.00-$10.00 per watt before incentives. The federal government and several state governments offer generous rebates for purchasers of solar systems.
Solar modules are warranted to produce energy for 25 years. Over that time period, the cost of electricity from the utility continues to increase, while the solar system produces energy for free. Additionally, a solar electric system can increase a home's value by reducing its annual operating costs.
Contact us for a free estimate.
5. Are solar modules dangerous?
Solar systems should be installed by a certified and licensed solar installer. Additionally, all systems will be inspected by an inspector before being activated as per code.
6. How long does it take to install a solar system?
It only takes 1-3 days for the average residential rooftop system to be installed. One should expect 3-6 weeks for the entire process, which includes everything from a site evaluation to the switch being turned on.
7. Is there maintenance required to keep a solar system operational?
Occasionally, a solar array should be rinsed off with a hose to clear the dust or debris that blocks sunlight and reduces efficiency. That’s about all that's required. There are no moving parts to wear out. SUNPOWER solar modules are covered under limited warranty for power output for 25 years.
8. There are a lot of solar companies in the market, why should I go with AIR SUN, INC.?
These are our babies, we really care! With over three hundred photovoltaic systems installed, the team at AIR SUN, INC. has the experience and will not settle for mediocrity. We build them to last. On tile roofs we use double-lagged 1.5" posts, not all-thread. We do not have ugly conduit runs going across your roof. All conduit runs are installed in conduit running through the attic. This costs more and takes more time but that is how we have done it on our homes. Our lead installer, Kevin Renard is a reserve in the AIR NATIONAL GUARD. He does maintenance on F-15's and other aircraft. Pilots put their lives in his hands. He has the same dedication to all of our installations. We oversize the wire not because we have to but we because we want to squeeze all the production out of every sunbeam for our clients. After seeing other companies installations, building inspectors choose AIR SUN, INC. to install their systems.
9. How do I get electricity at night? Can my solar system store energy for use at night?
While sunlight is required for solar modules to create electricity, unless you have a battery back up system, your home will draw power from the utility grid during nighttime hours. While batteries are helpful during blackouts, this option is really only necessary for remote homes and cabins that are not connected to the utility grid.
10. Will a solar installation ruin my roof? Or will it look unattractive?
No, saving money never looked so good!
11. How can I get an installation estimate?
We will be happy to provide an estimate! We are available to come to your home or business to determine your energy needs with a free consultation. All you have to do is contact us. We'll do the rest.
12. Where can I find more information on local and federal incentives to help me afford my system?
The federal government and many state governments are supporting solar by offering incentives for homeowners to switch to solar. Homeowners may claim a federal tax rebate that is equal to 30% of their system cost. We can explain what savings are available to make your system even more affordable. For rebate information, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.
13. How does using solar electricity help the environment? Does solar help offset climate change?
Coal-fired electrical power plants are responsible for most of all sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. On the other hand, solar electricity produces absolutely no pollution. By using more solar electricity, fewer greenhouse gas-producing power plants need to be built. This is one major step to reducing climate change.
14. What is your warranty?
We only use manufacturers who offer a 25-year limited warranty on power output for all modules. When a system is leased the system is covered 100% for the term of the lease. SUNPOWER warrants material defects and workmanship for ten years from the date of purchase. They also warrant power output for 25 years from the date of purchase. The first 12 years are at 90% of the minimum rated power output and the remaining 13 years are at 80% of the minimum rated power output.
15. What if there is a black out, will I have power?
If you have a typical residential system, then you will lose power during a black out. This is due to safety precautions. Electrical workers need to know if electricity is running through power lines when working. If they believe there isn't electricity in the lines, because of the blackout, but your system is adding electricity to the grid, this could cause safety issues.
You can still produce electricity when there is a black out if you have a battery back up system. Batteries add a significant cost of the overall system. Installing a battery back up system is not necessary unless you are in an area with severe black out issues, or intend not to connect to the utility.
16. How big of a solar system do I need?
The size of your system depends on how much electricity your household uses on a regular basis. You can figure this out by looking at the last 12 months of electric usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) on your utility bills.
The most efficient use of your money is to offset your highest rates if you pay based on a tiered rate schedule. Instead of attempting to offset 100% of your use, you may consider offsetting a portion of your consumption.
One of the main constraints for a system size is roof space. On average 10 watts take up 1 square foot. Therefore, a 4kW system would require approximately 400 square feet of roof space.