Solar FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about solar for your home or business.  If you have a question that is not listed here, please drop us a line and we will provide you with an answer right away.

Why should I go solar?

When you install a solar energy system on your property, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. How much you can save depends on the utility rates and solar policies in your area, but going solar is a smart investment regardless of where you live.

Solar power, like other renewable energy resources, has many environmental and health benefits. Going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, and also results in fewer air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which can cause health problems.

No.  You see many Solar ads these days which seem to claim that you can get solar panels for free.  That is just not true.  There are no programs, government or otherwise, that gives you a free solar system.  The claim is just a come-on to get you to contact the company, so they can convince you to purchase solar through them.

The easiest way to find out how much you pay for electricity (and how much electricity you use per month) is to take a look at your utility electricity bill.  The price per kilowatt, along with taxes and access charges are listed there.

Most home Solar Systems are Net metering, which is the system that utilities use to credit solar energy system owners for the electricity produced by their solar panels. With net metering, you only pay for the electricity that you use beyond what your solar panels can generate. Net metering policies differ from state to state – so make sure to do your homework ahead of time.

Not in Oregon!  The county or city assessor is not allowed to include the added value of your solar panels when calculating your property tax basis.

Am I ready for solar?

If you can afford to pay your electricity bill you can afford to go solar. $0-down solar financing options, including both solar loans and solar leases, make it easy for homeowners with good credit to start saving on their electricity bills by going solar.

Southerly-facing roofs with little to no shade and enough space to fit a solar panel system are ideal for installing solar. However, even if you have east or west facing roof surfaces, you can still install a very productive solar system.

The size of your solar energy system will depend on how much electricity you use on a monthly basis, the cost of that electricity and the weather conditions where you live. We will do the analysis for you and prepare a system that will best fit your needs. 

Solar energy systems can last for 25 to 35 years and it can be costly to remove and reinstall them if you need to replace your roof. If your roof needs or will need maintenance in the fairly near future, you should complete it before your solar installation. We will evaluate your roof and let you know if it should be replaced prior to your solar installation.

In general, solar panels are very durable and capable of withstanding snow, wind, and hail. The various components of your solar power system will need to be replaced at different times, but your system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years.  Some systems have been in service for more than 50 years.

If you sell your home, your solar energy system will sell with it.  Your house will sell at a premium.  Studies have shown that solar increases property values.

How do solar panels work for my home?

Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an Inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.

The amount of power your solar energy system can generate is dependent on sunlight. As a result, your solar panels will produce slightly less energy when the weather is cloudy, and no energy at night. However, because of high electricity costs and financial incentives, solar is a smart decision even if you live in a cloudy city.

Solar panels convert sunshine into power, so if your panels are covered in snow, they can’t produce electricity.  Snow generally isn’t heavy enough to cause structural issues with your panels, and since most panels are tilted at an angle the snow will slide off. If snow does accumulate, your panels are easy to clean.

When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all of the power that you need, and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes battery storage, but it will cost significantly more and is unnecessary for the majority of homeowners.

If your solar panel system is connected to the grid, it will shut off in the event of a blackout. This is to prevent emergency responders and electricity utility repair-people from being injured by your panels sending power back to the grid. However, there are certain inverters and battery systems you can install that provide backup power in a blackout.

Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass and require little to no maintenance for the 25 to 35 years that they will generate power. In most cases, it takes little more that hosing them down occasionally and keeping leaves and twigs and other debris off the panels.

Do I Still Have an Account with my electric company?

Unless your solar energy system includes battery storage and you are fully off the grid, you will still receive a bill from your utility. However, you can dramatically reduce your bill, or even cut the amount you owe to $0, with a solar panel system that matches your energy use.

The easiest way to find out how much you pay for electricity (and how much electricity you use per month) is to take a look at your utility electricity bill.  The price per kilowatt, along with taxes and access charges are listed there.

What will a solar system cost?

Solar rebates and incentives vary depending on where you live. The most significant is the 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC), which allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of your solar energy system from your taxes. Some states offer additional tax credits, and certain municipalities and utilities also offer cash rebates or other incentives.

There are two solar financing options: you can purchase your system in cash or take out a solar loan to buy your system.  We can help can help you assess the costs and 20-year savings of each solar financing option; its calculations are based on your roof plus usage.  Obviously the most cost-effective option is cash.

The primary difference between secured and unsecured solar loans is that secured solar loans require that you promise an asset, usually your home, as collateral for the money that you borrow. Unsecured solar loans do not, but their interest rates are generally higher to compensate for the increased risk taken on by the lender.

If you choose to finance your project, many different institutions offer solar loans, including local and national banks, specialty financing companies, manufacturers, and credit unions. To choose the best solar loan for you, we can help you compare options from a few different financing providers.

We will provide you with a proposal that shows your savings using cash and a variety of loan options.

How do I evaluate solar quotes?

There are a few criteria that everyone should use when choosing a solar installer. Confirm that they are certified, licensed and insured, have relevant experience, and can provide references.  All Solar Peak personnel have the necessary licensing and training to do an excellent installation. We are happy to meet with you in person before you sign an agreement to ensure that you are comfortable working with us.

While every solar panel brand and product has unique specifications, Solar Peak has evaluated all the most popular modules and only installs top tier panels for its customers.

Power inverters convert the electricity your panels produce from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) power. There are three types of inverters: string/centralized inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers. Like solar panels, Solar Peak has rated solar inverters and again, only uses top tier inverters.

The first step to going solar is to decide what type and size system best fits your needs.  We will evaluate your energy usage and home roof characteristic to generate the best, most productive system for your personal needs.  Once you sign up, we will conduct a site visit to assess your property. Then we will generate a customize, engineered set of plans you’re your project and obtain the necessary permits from the local AHJ and approvals from your Electricity provider.  Once we have those, we schedule your installation as soon as it is convenient for you.  The actual installation takes a day or two to complete.

Please call us, day or night; weekday or weekend.  We will answer our phone.

We strive to complete the process – from your acceptance of the proposal to final inspection – within 30 days.  Occasionally, we run into unexpected delays and it can take a few weeks longer.  We will keep you updated every step of the way.

Call us up and we will get your system back in perfect working order as soon as possible.

If you are interested in receiving detailed information about how much energy your solar panel system is producing, you can ask your installer about solar monitoring system options. Solar Peak offers Monitoring with every installation, at no additional charge.

Solar power systems that include solar batteries, known as solar-plus-storage, are increasingly popular, but can be pricey. Luckily, batteries are not necessary for most solar homeowners. As long as you are connected to the grid, your system does not need a battery:  Excess power goes back into the grid, for which you are credited and you can draw from the grid if you need more electricity than your panels can generate.  Some people opt for an emergency generator instead of batteries, which can be mor cost effective.