Does solar really work in Washington – isn’t it too cloudy here?

Solar works in all parts of Washington. Anytime there is daylight, the panels will produce power with more power produced on sunny days than on cloudy days. Because we experience very long hours of daylight and sunny weather in summer, power output in July is about six times greater than in December. Solar systems operate more efficiently in cooler temperatures than warmer. And, because of the way net metering works in our state, summer sunshine can be “banked” as bill credits to reduce a subsequent bill. The rain helps to keep the modules clean, too, which means less maintenance and higher production.

What is the right size solar system for me?

There are several different factors to take into account when sizing a solar array. The first and most obvious one is usable roof space. A good rule of thumb is that each module will take up about 20 square feet, so about 800 square feet of roof space is needed for a 40-module array. However, we also have to take into account setbacks and aisles for firefighter access, staying out of shaded areas or north-facing roof faces, and avoiding obstacles such as skylights. Second, your array should be designed so that the annual output doesn’t exceed your annual usage, which can be determined from your electricity bill.

Third is the state’s incentive program. Systems 12 kW or smaller qualify for the higher “residential” rate (even on a business property)—that’s about 40 of the average module we’re using today. Lastly, and most importantly, is your budget. We work with several lenders who have zero down loan programs that can help with that.

What factors affect the power output of a solar system?

The following factors determine the power output of each panel in the solar system. Sophisticated software is used to measure these factors and then forecast output.

 Azimuth – whether the roof faces south, east or west. South or southwest is best. We measure azimuth in degrees with 180 degrees as due south, east is 90 degrees, west is 270 degrees.

 Tilt – the pitch or angle of the roof.

 Soiling – Keeping the modules clean and free of debris keeps the production at its maximum.

 Shading – How much is the solar resource reduced from 100% due to trees, buildings, wires etc that shade the roof?

All these factors influence the number of kilowatt hours per year that a solar system will produce.

What happens when there is a power outage?

When the grid goes down, when there is a power outage, a simple grid-tied solar system automatically shuts down. This is a safety requirement for the utility workers trying to fix the lines. It means that a solar system is not a source of backup power during an outage. IF you add batteries, then you can rely

on battery power during a power outage. Ask us about Tesla Powerwall, a battery which functions much like a generator during an outage, but without burning a fossil fuel. Batteries significantly increase the total system cost but are not much different in price than adding an automatic turn-on stationery

generator at your place. In a power outage, the batteries supply the power and are re-charged during daylight from the solar system.

How long does it take before solar can be installed?

From the time you make your selection and sign the contract, it is often as little as 3 weeks until installation begins. After payment is received, we order materials, file permit and utility forms and schedule the installation dates with you. Installation typically takes two to three days with inspection occurring the day after completion. We need access to your main panel for at least one day of the installation and for the inspection. Most people choose to be present during the installation but it’s okay to leave a key or code for us as well. We will also need to shut off power to your entire house for a short time to complete the connection to the grid.

I’m not sure how long I will live here. What happens if I want to sell my house a few years after I go solar?

First of all, your house will be appealing to a buyer because with solar. It will always have a lower electric bill than a comparable house without solar. Second, the State Incentive passes to the subsequent owner; they will simply need to register their name etc with the WSU Energy Program that administers the incentive. It will still have the same end date as it would have if you kept the house. The best thing to do is to leave the solar on the house rather than try to take it with you. And lastly, you will already have received the 30% federal income tax credit so you’ve already received that incentive and earned back that portion of your upfront cost. If you have a personal loan to pay for solar, you will need to pay off the loan. A solar array adds more value to your home than it costs.

Do you offer a referral fee if I send friends to you? Can I get a discount if my next door neighbor and I both go solar at the same time?

We offer a referral fee of $50 per kW, up to $600. So, if you refer your friend and they buy a 12kW system from us, we will give you $600. We also are happy to look at group purchase discounts individually, especially when in the same neighborhood.

Once a solar system is installed, what maintenance is required?

One of the best things about a solar array is that it is no-to-low maintenance. Some regular cleaning, especially in the peak production months, helps output but, other than that, just keep an eye on your array online through your monitoring system to make sure there are no problems. Of course, call us if

you notice anything unusual. We also offer 3, 5, and 7-year maintenance/cleaning packages or will clean your modules “a la carte.”

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