Frequently Asked Questions

Yes you can use solar energy or wind energy wherever you may be living. There are new smaller options available which allow you to utilise any amount of energy generated freely.

Most suggestions on this site are for people who are not technically minded, however there are details for those who wish to know more. Most solutions are simple effective and logical to use and understand.

Its not difficult at all, we are in a rented apartment and manage to use solar energy to power many of our devices. It has helped me to understand that I can increase the amount of solar I currently have so that I can power up heaters for next winter, reducing my energy bill even further.

As energy prices are rising, reducing your energy consumption from the grid reduces your bill amount. Any investment on renewable energy is offset over many years (on average 20-25 years) This future proofs your commitment to the environment and each month saves you money. No compromise needed, just a new perspective on energy use.

What matters in winter is feeling warm but not breaking the bank balance. Using renewable energy, you can keep warm and use the renewable to power other items in your home.

Yes absolutely possible and we do it. See the above response.

Great, not many people are and this is not a site designed with DIY projects in mind. Just acquire the suggestions and plug in and enjoy.

Yes in most cases if you are living in accommodation which you may move away from, then consider all the mobile and portable versions of the solutions so that they work for you at your current place and in most cases will be perfectly usable in a new home.

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells made of silicon. When the sun’s rays hit them, these cells convert sunlight to electricity. Individual cells are wired together to form a solar panel. Panels are typically three feet by five feet. They are coated in tempered glass, which allows them to withstand harsh weather. The electricity produced by a single solar panel is not enough to power a home or business, so multiple solar panels are needed. The number of panels varies by installation, but every solar system (also called an “array”) will include a series of panels mounted and wired together. This array may be installed on a roof (“rooftop solar”) or on the ground-level (“ground-mounted solar”). The electricity generated by solar panels takes the form of direct current (DC). However, most appliances and electricity-consuming objects (called “electric load”) require alternating current (AC). To convert the solar electricity from DC to AC, an inverter is needed. You will need to choose between two types of inverters: a central inverter and microinverters. While both perform the task of converting electricity from DC to AC, they differ in critical ways. A central inverter receives all of the electrical output of your entire solar system and converts it from DC to AC at a single, central location. A single central inverter is required for a solar system. It is often mounted on the side of your home or building next to your electric meter. Central inverters are steadfast and affordable, but they are susceptible to variations in panel performance. If one panel is shaded and produces less electricity than the others, the total electrical output will drop. If shading is of concern, microinverters or DC optimizers can help maximize production. Unlike central inverters, microinverters and DC optimizers individually mount to the backside of each individual solar panel. They capture the electricity that flows off of each panel. DC optimizers work with a central inverter that converts DC to AC. Microinverters convert DC immediately to AC right under the panel. With either DC optimizers or microinverters, if one panel is shaded, it will not affect the output of the whole array. By design, both DC optimizers and microinverters help maximize the conversion of electricity and are useful in situations with variable shading. What’s more, because they allow each panel to operate independently of one another, both make it easy to add more panels to a solar array in the future. Once electricity is produced by the solar panels and converted from DC to AC by the inverter(s), it will flow through your electric meter and into your home or building. It will be used on site the moment it is created. Any excess will flow back out through your electric meter and onto the local grid.

Think of your solar array as a 25-year investment. Solar panels will produce electricity for at least 25 years. Panels will continue to generate electricity after 25 years, but at a decreasing rate. While microinverters will likely last for the duration of the PV system, you may need to replace central inverters after 15 years.

The size of your optimal solar array will be influenced by many variables. Before analyzing those variables, you should understand how solar is sized and measured. The electrical capacity of solar panels is measured in watts (W). The typical solar panel is rated at 250-300 W. To get the total power (in watts) of your solar array, add together the wattages of each panel. Let’s say you had 10 300 W panels installed. The total wattage of your system would equal 3,000 W. 1,000 W is equal to 1 kilowatt (kW), so another way to describe the size of that system would be 3 kW. The average size of a solar array is 5 kW. Your installer will estimate how many panels can fit on your roof given its footprint and shade susceptibility to determine the ideal size of your system. If the size of your roof is limited (meaning fewer panels can be installed), installers can compensate by offering high-efficiency panels. These panels will have a higher power rating (typically 300-350 W), and therefore will produce more electricity per panel. Installers will also use geospatial data to determine the optimal system size for your property, as roof orientation and climate factors will affect how much electricity your system produces. While sizing your solar array, installers will consider how much the solar electrical output will offset your electricity needs. While the power capacity of solar panels is measured in watts (or kilowatts), the amount of electricity produced by the panels is measured in watt-hours (or kilowatt-hours).

Solar is a simple, minimum-maintenance technology. Unlike other energy technologies, solar PV contains no moving parts. This means it’s not likely your equipment will fail. You should not have to replace your panels at all during their lifetime. Wiring is the part of solar PV that most commonly requires maintenance because squirrels and other animals may tamper with it. Depending on your inverter type, you may also need to have your inverter replaced 10 to 12 years after installation. Extended warranties can cover this equipment replacement cost. In most cases, solar panels do not need to be washed, as rain and snow naturally clean them. In areas with less rain and lots of dust or pollutants in the air, occasional cleaning may improve performance. We do not recommend climbing up to your panels to wash them. If you live in an area where cleaning is needed, contact a solar professional. Even though solar is low maintenance, we recommend asking your installer or another qualified solar professional to inspect your array every 3 to 5 years to make sure things remain in good operating order. They’ll do a visual inspection of all equipment, check for things like wire damage from critters, and make sure your system is performing properly.

Solar water heaters use the sun’s rays to generate thermal energy, or heat. The thermal energy heats up water, which flows into the home or building for later use. This can preheat your water for use in the house for showering, bathing etc. or can be used to preheat the water for heating your home. As a major part of your energy bill I used for heating, then the option to preheat your heating water is the best use for free energy.

It typically takes one to two months for an installer to design your solar array and secure initial permits (from your municipal government) and interconnection agreements (from your electric utility). Depending on your exact solar permitting office and utility interconnection team, this could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Once initial permits and interconnection agreements are in hand, your installer will typically need only one to two days to physically install your array (panels, inverter, racking system, and wiring).

It is common for systems to produce more energy than a home consumes. This happens during the day when no one is home. However, it is uncommon for systems to be sized to produce more energy than you will consume over the course of a year. If you produce more energy than you consume on an annual basis, you will be compensated in different ways depending on the state policies in place. We do not recommend that you install a system that will produce more than 100 percent of your energy consumption, because you are often compensated for the excess electricity at a lower wholesale rate.

Battery banks in a home serve the same purpose as a traditional generator that runs on diesel, gasoline, propane, or natural gas. Unlike a traditional generator, a battery backup system does not require you to buy and store fuel or rely on fuel delivery during an outage. When paired with a solar array, the battery will be charged with the solar electricity you produce. If you do not pair your batteries with solar, the battery will charge and recharge only from utility-supplied grid electricity. This limits its usefulness for backup power purposes during a utility outage as it will only be able to discharge once before needing the utility grid to be restored for it to recharge. Powering your entire home with a battery system can get expensive. This is why many homeowners install a smaller battery bank to power select “critical loads”, such as medical equipment or a refrigerator, in their home during the event of a grid outage. If you feel strongly about powering your entire home during an outage. There are power walls and similar battery systems available.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are two different parts of our electricity system. Energy is what the electrical loads in your home consume over time in order to operate. It is measured in Watt-hours (Wh). A thousand watt-hours equals one kilowatt-hour (kWh). It’s the total amount of (electrical) work that can be done, and it’s what we pay for every month on our electric bills. Power, on the other hand, is instantaneous and measured in watts (W). One thousand watts equals one kilowatt (kW). It’s the ability to do (electrical) work in a given moment. For example, if you took a cup of tea and placed it in a 1000- watt microwave for two minutes it would be just as hot as if you’d placed it in a 2000-watt microwave for one minute. Each time you used the same amount of energy (kWh) to heat the tea.

Your installer will help you to determine how much energy your key appliances will use over the time period you want to keep them running. To size your battery system, the installer will add up the required number of watt-hours per electrical load over the desired backup period and the maximum number of watts you’ll need at any given time during a backup period. Bigger loads like electric stoves, electric water heaters and whole-house air conditioners may not be able to be backed up, due to cost effectiveness.

Depending on the type, batteries may need to be located inside or outside. Your installer might need to adjust the size of your battery system to accommodate your available space.

A battery system that operates your appliances and lights for one day would be smaller than a system that can operate the same equipment for two days without being re-charged. Your installer will guide you through how long you want to be able to run your appliances, but for most battery backup systems the standard length of run time is one day, especially if you have solar on site to re- charge your batteries.

Because batteries can be expensive, most people size their systems to only power critical electrical loads while utility service is out. Your installer will help you decide which loads you want to power with your battery given your budgetary constraints.

EV Charging Technology How does EV charging work? Battery Electric vehicles (BEV’s) use electricity to power their motors. The electricity is stored inside a battery, which is recharged by plugging into an EV charger.

A level 2 EV charger runs on 240V electricity and an electrician or solar installer can install a 240V outlet and a level 2 charger. An electrician can tell you if you need a wiring upgrade to your electrical system (most homes do not need an upgrade).

An EV charger can be installed in a garage or house or on a freestanding pedestal in front or a home or next to a driveway. Chargers are small and don’t take up much space but do have a cord and must be connected to your power supply.

There are many websites and apps that can help you plan a road trip and find EV charging stations on the road or on a road trip. Tesla has information for Tesla vehicles which have a proprietary charger and other resources include PlugShare, ChargeHub and A Better Routeplanner.

There are many different types of EV chargers available. Some are standalone and others work directly as part of a solar inverter. Many homeowners choose to install an EV charger while they’re installing a solar system. Others choose to install an EV charger or solar system first and the other separately.

Community solar offers the benefit of solar to those who can’t, or prefer not to, install solar panels on their homes. These projects enable individuals, businesses, or organizations to purchase or subscribe to a “share” in a community solar project. Many folks own a vehicle but not a residence and may be able to purchase electricity from a community solar installation to help power their residence or EV. Even if you aren’t able to take advantage of Community solar in your area, owning an EV has many benefits including less frequent maintenance, savings from electricity generally being cheaper than purchasing gasoline, and fewer or no trips to the gas station. Also many types of EVs have large tax credits. If you are interested in an EV to reduce carbon emissions, there is a great tool here that uses your zip code and the different sources of electricity production in your area to tell you how much you are reducing your carbon footprint by driving an EV and plug in hybrid versus a gas powered vehicle.

What’s a smart inverter and do I need one? Smart inverters are a vital – yet overlooked – piece of the battery storage system. Smart inverters have the ability to manage when and how your batteries run. All battery storage systems require an inverter and will be programmed to run based on your preferences and needs. Some batteries come with an integrated smart inverter, designed to give the battery owner more programming control over when and how their battery is used. As opposed to standard inverters that are programmed to work in a predictable, static manner, smart inverters can be programmed via mobile apps and web portals to run when it makes the most sense, given physical, financial, or owner-preference signals. If your utility offers a rate structure that allows storage to provide you economic value, batteries can be programmed with their smart inverter to take advantage of these rates. However, in most utility territories there is not yet an economic incentive for storage and storage is only used for backup power.

What’s a smart inverter and do I need one? This decision phase includes more than the debate of whether you want solar panels or not. Here are some additional considerations:

Your rooftop solar system should be able to produce enough electricity to meet your average annual electricity needs. Review your utility bills for the past year (or more) to determine that amount. The American average is around 11,000 kWh per year, or 30 kWh per day.1

A kilowatt (kW) (or 1,000 watts) is a measurement of how much power a solar system can produce at any one time. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measurement of how much electricity you use over the course of one hour.

Calculating how many panels you'll need is easier than you think, but it depends on how much power your panels produce, how efficient they are at producing it, and how much sunshine hits your roof. If you need, for example, 30kWh per day and your roof gets five hours of sunshine per day, you'll need a 6 kW system (30÷5=6). If the panels you're going to purchase can produce 300 watts of power, you'll need 20 of them to produce 6 kW (300x20=6,000).

Not every American household gets enough sun to support rooftop solar. If your roof is shaded by a neighbour’s property, you may be able to negotiate a solar easement. If not, an affordable alternative is to join a community solar farm, which allows you to provide your home with solar electricity without installing anything on your property.

While a south-facing roof (in the Northern Hemisphere) will capture more energy from the sun, other orientations don't rule out solar. There can even be advantages to an east-west facing roof, depending on where you live. Solar trackers can change the orientation of your panels throughout the day, but they're usually too heavy for a normal roof.

There are federal incentives for installing solar panels. Keep an eye on federal legislation, as the amount offered may change—hopefully for the better. Many states also have tax credits and rebates as well.

Nearly every U.S. state has a net metering program, where solar customers get credit on their electricity bills for some or all of the electricity that they send into the grid. Over the course of a year, you'll get credit in the months when you produce more electricity than you consume (usually spring and fall) and use that credit during those months when you're consuming more electricity to heat or cool your home.

It depends on what you mean by “worth it.” Currently a solar plus battery storage system is financially uneconomical. But if having a resilient source of electricity during natural disasters or other power outages is important, there are many good options for battery storage that may make the extra cost worth it.

Depending on how big a job it is, the actual installation can take one to three days. What takes more time are all the inspection, permitting, and interconnection processes. It could be three months from the time you sign a contract until you have solar power running into your house.

Installing heavy solar panels on a slanted roof and connecting them to your electrical system has its challenges as well as risks to life and limb. That said, it is possible for two or three people to install a system over the course of a weekend. A licensed electrician may be required to connect the wiring. Doing it yourself can save you thousands of dollars, but an installer will be more familiar with navigating the inspection, permitting, and interconnections necessary to get your system up and running.

The standard warranty for a solar system is 25 years.6 Solar panels lose efficiency slowly, at roughly 0.5% per year, so a 20-year-old solar system can still generate 90% of its original output.7 In 20 years, your electricity needs may be greater or smaller than when you originally installed your panels.

It's far cheaper to charge an EV than it is to fuel a gas-powered car. Driving on sunshine makes it even cheaper. Your utility company is unlikely to allow you to plan for the future by installing a larger solar system than you currently need— unless you don't connect all of your panels to the grid right away. Ask your installer what options you have.

Solar panels have no moving parts, so there's little maintenance. It's wise to have the electrical systems inspected by your installer on an annual basis. As for cleaning, if you live in an area where it rains or snows regularly, the rain or snow melt will act as a natural cleaning solution. But it can't hurt to remove dirt, dust, or other obstructions from your panels to improve their efficiency.

Solar panels can protect your roof and allow it to last longer. That's good news, since replacing a roof once solar panels are installed is not easy or cheap, so It is recommended that you consider doing any roof repairs before you put panels up there. Your solar installer will determine if your roof is structurally sound enough to support solar panels. If it's not, consider community solar.

Rooftop solar systems can be an asset to selling a house. A recent study from Zillow found that a house with solar panels sold for 4.1% more than comparable homes without them. With the median American home price of around $350,000, that's around $14,350—almost the entire original cost of a solar system.

Yes this is possible depending on the size and type you choose will effect any planning requirements needed or not.

No not all need planning consent, there are newer vertical design turbines which are more compact, take less space and may not need a pole to mount on. They are generally less noisy and do not impact birds as well. A quick call to your local authority will ensure your have all the information current to your locality.

Yes these can be installed on a roof or any other space where there is direct sunlight. Solar water heating is very cost effective to have as it provides you with water at a higher temperature than from the faucet (tap). This ‘pre heated’ water reduces your energy bill as it is already much warmer going into your heating system than if used municipal water.

Yes they still raise the temperature from ambient as these panels can use all the energy from the sun eve if there is no direct sunlight due to clouds.

There are no current small hydrogen systems available, however there are many manufacturers already testing systems and electrolysers. These when available can allow you to make your own hydrogen. What final rules of placement and use will depend on each local authority and country regulation. Options look promising.

This depends on the regulations for each country and locality. In principal it should be possible to do this. There are now many systems which are designed for slow moving water and can generate a lot of energy. They are also designed to be friendly to fish as well.