FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

QUESTION: what are benefits of using solar energy?

ANSWER: There is NO COST to install the solar system. Yes, it’s true – $0 up-front cost to you to install the system. All you need to do is read a simple contract and sign, we will do the rest from permits to inspection and installation, and you get the benefits:

Save money
Stable energy prices – Lock in your utility rate
Increased property values – Solar homes sell faster and more attractive to buyers
You will be able to receive a 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar systems on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties
Improved public health and environmental quality.

If it’s designed correctly, a solar system might be able to provide power during a utility power outage, thereby adding power reliability to your home. Finally, some individuals live in areas where the cost of extending power lines to their home is more expensive than buying a solar energy system.

QUESTION: Will a solar PV installation damage my roof or property?

ANSWER: If designed and installed properly, a solar photovoltaic (PV) array will not damage your property and may even have protective characteristics. In the early phases of site evaluation, a structural engineer and a roofing consultant will evaluate your roof and building structure to ensure that the roof and structure is capable of accommodating a solar

QUESTION: How can we get electricity from the sun?

ANSWER: When certain semiconducting materials, such as certain kinds of silicon, are exposed to sunlight, they release small amounts of electricity. This process is known as the photoelectric effect. The photoelectric effect refers to the emission, or ejection, of electrons from the surface of a metal in response to light. It is the basic physical process in which a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) cell converts sunlight to electricity.

Sunlight is made up of photons, or particles of solar energy. Photons contain various amounts of energy, corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a PV cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. Only the absorbed photons generate electricity. When this happens, the energy of the photon is transferred to an electron in an atom of the PV cell (which is actually a semiconductor).

With its newfound energy, the electron escapes from its normal position in an atom of the semiconductor material and becomes part of the current in an electrical circuit. By leaving its position, the electron causes a hole to form. Special electrical properties of the PV cell—a built-in electric field—provide the voltage needed to drive the current through an external load (such as a light bulb).

QUESTION: How does the power get from the solar panels to my house?

ANSWER: Let’s start at the beginning, because that’s where the confusion starts. If we put solar panels on your house (e.g. on your roof), the power does not go to you. That’s right: the power goes into the utility grid, not to you.

One reason for this is that your solar panels produce most of their power at a different time from when you need power. For example, your solar panels may be close to maximum output at 11am, but you are at work and your house hasn’t heated up enough to switch on the air conditioner. If your solar panels were just for you, this power would be wasted.
Now, you might think, “Well, then store the power in some batteries!” That’s a good idea in principle, but in fact there are two drawbacks. Batteries big enough to store this extra power cost a lot of money, making solar power much less financially attractive. And the batteries waste a lot of power, so you need even more batteries and more solar panels (for which you may not have the roof space).

QUESTION: How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?

ANSWER: A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.

QUESTION: Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my home?

ANSWER: PV can be used to power your entire home’s electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances. PV systems today can be blended easily into both traditional and nontraditional homes. The most common practice is to mount modules onto a south-facing roof or wall. For an additional aesthetic appeal, some modules resemble traditional roof shingles

QUESTION: Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my business?

ANSWER: PV systems can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. You will find PV being used outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters, generating power at the same time.

QUESTION: How big a solar energy system do I need?

ANSWER: The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity or hot water or space heat you use, the size of your roof, and how much you’re willing to invest. Also, do you want the system to supply your complete energy usage or to supplant a portion of your higher cost energy usage? You can contact our system designer/installer to determine what type of system would suit your needs at 1-800-991-8619

QUESTION: How much space does the system need?

ANSWER: The space required for a solar electric or solar thermal system will vary depending on your energy usage and needs. The installer will be able to customize a plan that is suitable for the space available.

QUESTION: Do the solar panels need to be mounted on my roof?

ANSWER: Panels are often mounted on the roof, but can also be mounted on the ground if the space is available. Keep in mind, wherever the panels are located needs to be free of shade. Roof mount systems are most common in residential installations.

QUESTION: Do the panels need to face south?

ANSWER: Panels should be oriented geographically to maximize the amount of daily and seasonal solar energy that they receive. In general, the optimum orientation for a panel in the northern hemisphere is true south. However, your modules can face up to 45º east or west of true south without significantly decreasing its performance.

QUESTION: How much power does the system produce?

ANSWER: Systems come in many sizes. The solar installer will review your current and average energy usage to design a system that will produce the optimal amount of power to suit your needs.

QUESTION: Do I need to install a new roof before the solar panels are installed?

ANSWER: If your roof is older and needs to be replaced in the near future, you will want to replace it at the time that the PV system is installed to avoid the cost of removing and reinstalling your PV system.

QUESTION: What happens if the panels are shaded?

ANSWER: It is very important that your array is properly mounted to maximize output. Shade free panels will produce the most electricity. Partial shading of a panel will significantly reduce that panel’s output.

QUESTION: Financing Types?

ANSWER: We offer a variety of financing programs, including: No Interest, Deferred Interest, and Long Term Installment which provide low monthly payments.

QUESTION: Is this like a credit card or HELOC?

ANSWER: No. This is an installment loan, not a revolving line of credit or HELOC. It is for a fixed finance amount with a fixed term.

QUESTION: Is there a pre-payment penalty?

ANSWER: No.

QUESTION: Will I get statements?

ANSWER: Monthly statements will be sent approximately 15 days before each payment is due by US Mail.

QUESTION: When is my first payment due?

ANSWER: Your first payment will be due 30 days after the installation is completed, and your first monthly statement will arrive approximately 18 days after the work is completed. It will arrive by US Mail.

QUESTION: What are the payment methods?

ANSWER: Check, ACH, Money Order or Cashier’s Check.

QUESTION: How do I make my payments?

ANSWER: You may send in your payment with your monthly pre-printed coupon, use the secure online borrower portal.

THE UNITED SOLAR, INC