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FAQ

General

What is solar energy?

A solar energy system creates usable power from sunshine. There are two basic kinds of systems: Photovoltaic or PV uses sunlight to generate electricity. It’s the same technology found on pocket calculators, just on a larger scale. PV systems can be designed to generate the majority of the electricity used in your home, or just a portion of it.

Does solar only work on warm and sunny days?

Solar systems work even when it’s cloudy. Clouds don’t stop the solar UV rays from getting through and power production from Photovoltaic solar panels actually works most efficiently in colder temperatures. Optimum temperature for power production is around 43 degrees Fahrenheit

How does solar help the environment?

Fossil fuels are a leading cause of global warming and air pollution. Solar energy reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is burned, thus reducing the pollutants and CO² that get into the atmosphere. Solar energy systems that are recommended by Solar Energy World have the added benefits of very high efficiency, durability, and service life – they’re engineered for sustainability. This means fewer replacements and repairs, saving even more energy and precious resources

How does a solar energy system benefit me personally?

In many ways: It reduces your energy bill and the utility will buy back any extra electricity you generate. Federal, state, and utility financial incentives are also available in many areas. It adds to the value of your home. You gain energy independence. It’s a good investment in a sustainable future for yourself and your loved ones.

What regular maintenance do I need to do?

With systems that we recommend, very little. PV systems are inherently very low-maintenance, requiring the system owner only to wash the solar modules down with water when they get dirty so light can get through.

How long will my system last?

If properly installed, it should last 30-40 years. Systems that were installed in the 1970’s are still fully operational today. Technology has evolved so the systems from the 1970’s may not be as efficient as today’s technology.

How much does a solar energy system cost?

It is impossible to give a simple answer, since this depends on system capacity, home layout, and other variables. Certainly the cost has gone down dramatically in recent years, and now there are many tax breaks, electricity buy-back programs, and incentives. Please contact us for pricing and more information.

What is a kilowatt hour?

This is what you pay for when you buy energy from the local utility company. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit for measuring energy. It is, as its name suggests, one kilowatt of power used over a period of one hour.

What is the minimum equipment I'll need?

The basic components required to produce electricity from the sun are: One or more Solar Panels, a Charger Controller, a Power Inverter, and of course, Batteries.

Power Inverters

Do I need a Power Inverter?

Actually, no. This is the only component of a solar energy system that is not absolutely required. However, if you don't use one, you will not have 120 volts AC and will have use battery power alone. This might be acceptable in a small RV or cabin, but most people want to use normal AC appliances

What's the difference between 12, 24, and 48 volt inverters?

This refers to the input voltage from the battery bank. The main consideration is that at higher voltages the current is less so that you can use smaller wires between your solar panel array and your battery bank. Of course, when you decide on a system voltage, the Solar Panels, Inverter, and Battery Bank all need to use the same voltage.

What is a Grid Tie inverter?

If you are connected to normal Utility company power and just want to add some Free Sun Power electricity to reduce your electric bill and you do not need a independent system, it is possible that a Grid Tie inverter will suit your needs. With a Grid Tie inverter, whatever electricity that your solar panels produce will reduce the amount supplied by the power company, in effect lowering your bill. For this setup a large battery bank to store the power for later use is not needed. Unless you have frequent power company outages, you will not need any batteries at all.

What's the difference between a pure sine wave inverter and a modified sine wave inverter?

The AC sine wave of a pure sine wave inverter is just as good as the utility company's AC power. A modified sine wave inverter is not as close, but is still quite satisfactory in most cases. Certain motor control circuits don't like the modified wave. Modified sine wave inverters are also much less expensive.

Storage Batteries

What is meant by Flooded batteries?

Flooded batteries have those little caps on top and you must add water (distilled) to them from time to time as the charging process boils off some of the water as hydrogen gas. They should be installed in vented boxes and not used indoors or near spark or flame.

What is a sealed battery?

Not to be confused with maintenance free, a sealed battery has no service caps and water is never added. They also do not out gas during the charging process and are safe to use indoors. This usually means that the temperature of the battery will be more constant which translates into more efficient operation.

Should I use Flooded or Sealed batteries?

While you can safely use sealed types indoors, they are more expensive than flooded types. So, cost factors and where you plan to locate the batteries are the main deciding factors.

Correct Cables & Wire sizes

Why is wire size so important?

In order to obtain maximum energy transfer from your solar panels, the wires running to your equipment centre need to be large enough to carry the current. Also, if they are too small, it is possible they could overheat & even catch fire. Just like water in a pipe, if the pipe is too small, then not enough water can pass through it. And, if you try to force the water through with more pressure, the pipe will begin leaking from the excess pressure just like the wire will begin to overheat with too much current passing through it.

What about the rest of the system?

The wires between the Charge Controller and the Batteries can be the same size as the wires from the Solar Panels. However, all the batteries and the inverter need to be connected with very large cables. These cables will usually be 2/0 or 4/0 gauge cables like the large battery cables in cars. The size of your battery bank and inverter will determine the minimum size and should be covered in detail in the instructions that come with your inverter.

What if I need a new roof or am building a new house?

This is the ideal situation for installing solar. Before laying the roof, you can install flashable mounting brackets that provide the highest level of protection from leakage

How many solar panels do I need to produce enough electricity to run my house?

The array size you need depends on your average electrical usage, climate, roof angle, shading problems and many other factors. To approximate the array size you need, multiply your average daily electrical demand in kilowatt-hours by 0.25. The result is the approximate size of solar array, in kilowatts, needed to meet your electrical demand.

Will a system produce enough energy to cover all my electricity needs?

It is important to understand that a solar electric system does not need to provide all of the electricity you need to be of great value. A small system that displaces an average of one-quarter to one-half of your average demand reduces your electric bill. With battery backup, it can deliver uninterrupted power to critical loads during utility outages for days or weeks. We are happy to provide you with a system that supplies 100 percent of your energy needs, but cutting your electricity by 40 to 50 percent is typically the most cost-efficient approach for home solar power.

What other options do I have if the system cannot be mounted on my roof?

If a roof-mounted system proves impractical, a ground-mount, trellis or pergola application may be an option

How much power will a residential system produce?

The amount of power produced by a system varies depending on the size of the system, your geographic location and climate and whether the system has a battery backup.

How long will my solar power system last?

With no moving parts and made of very inert materials, our solar modules are tough. Most of the related system components should also last for many years without problems. The batteries in our residential system may need replacement in five to 10 years.

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