Frequently asked questions and answers about Solar energy systems

FAQ’s about Solar PV Systems (Solar Photovoltaic Systems)
Based on our experience, we have compiled a list of frequently ask questions about Solar. Please contact us with your questions or for amplification of those given below.

Q: What does PV stand for when talking about solar panels?
A: PV stands for Photovoltaic, the process by which the panel produces energy.

Q. What is a kWh?
A: A kWh is “kilo watt hour” which is the standard used in all electricity bills as a “unit”. All electrical appliances have a rating in kWh; an appliance rated at 1kW, will consume 1kWh (1 unit) for every hour it is on.

Q. How does the electricity generated get into my property?
A: As part of the system installation, we will connect into your property; this can only be done by a licensed electrician. The electricity generated will then be passed into the internal electricity system, to be used wherever it is needed.

Q. What is the difference between mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline PV panels?
A: Mono-crystalline panels have a higher output per kW rating but tend to be more expensive than polycrystalline panels; mono-crystalline wafer is black, polycrystalline wafer has a dark blue color.

Q. How much space on my roof do I need for a solar PV installation?
A. Grid connected systems start from around 1kW rating: this occupies approximately 5’x12’ (60 sq. feet) of your roof.

Q. How much electricity does a PV system output?
A. Depending on the module used, an estimate is that for every kW rating installed on a South facing roof, the system will generate approximately 800 kWh per year.

Q. Are there any grants available to cover the cost of installation?
A. Yes, there are financial incentives available; please check under the Finance tab above. Also, customers of TVA have incentives that are not offered by Alabama Power.

Q. Can I export any of the electricity I generate?
A. Yes, all electricity will automatically be exported provided you are served by the TVA service. Your electricity company will fit an export meter and you will be paid at the same rate you are being billed from the company. Hopefully the Alabama Public Service Commission will require Alabama Power to offer this capability in the future.

Q. If there is a Federal Law requiring utilities to provide “Net Metering” why can’t I get it from Alabama Power?
A: That is a great question.  SouthEastern Solar doesn’t have any explanation other than the Alabama Public Service Commission hasn’t required them to.

Q. How much will I be paid for electricity I export?
A. TVA affiliates pay you at the same rate they charge you for your grid supplied energy. This is what the Federal Law mandates.

Q. How do I know what size system I need?
A. Every appliance should have a UL label on it stating the kWh. Contact us for a FREE Solar Estimator to help you determine your need.

Q. Should I not wait to install my PV systems as they will be dropping in price over the next few years?
A. No. As with any form of technology, there are always developments taking place in the PV industry. As a result, we would expect prices and performance to change gradually over time. Panel prices have come down over 80% in the last 10 years and further reductions will be small. The Federal and State tax credits reduce in the future, the majority of price reductions for PV modules have already taken place, and Alabama Power raised their rates by SIX PERCENT (6%) on January 1, 2017.

Q. How efficient are Solar PV panels?
A. SouthEastern Solar uses PV panels which operate on available daylight not simply sunlight, this ensures that you get the maximum efficiency. With proper positioning and allowances for shading, our installations will generate the expected output.

Q. What guarantees will I receive?
A. All the Solar modules we use have a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years. You will also benefit from the SouthEastern Solar first year cash guarantee – this means that should your system not generate what we’ve said, we will write out a check for the difference immediately; we do it because we are confident in our products.

Q. Will my roof be strong enough?
A. Our contractor will check this prior to installation; however, most roofs are strong enough to take a solar installation without any reinforcement.

Q. How long will the installation take?
A. This depends on the type of installation, ground mount or roof mount, and the number of panels. Installation for a roof mounted system normally takes 1 day.

Q. Are the solar PV panels fragile?
A. No, Solar PV panels are very robust and are engineered to withstand the normal stresses of nature.

Q: How reliable are solar panels?
A: Most manufacturers provide a warranty that their solar panels will still be producing 80% of their design power output after 25 years. Our projections factor in a 1% per annum decrease in solar panel output after that. Major utilities, including Alabama Power, are building “Solar Farms” that feed solar generated power into the grid.

Q: Do the solar panels require regular maintenance?
A: Solar panels have no moving parts and should run trouble free for years. However, as with most things, annual cleaning that includes tightening of fittings and attachments is recommended. SouthEastern Solar provides regular maintenance for their installed systems for two years after installation.

Q: How much does a solar panel system cost?
A: This depends on the size of the system and the respective quality of the components. Your choice of solar panels is likely to be the most significant factor in determining the overall cost of an installation.

Q: Can solar panels be temporarily removed for roof maintenance / retiling situations?
A: Yes. They will however need to be electrically disconnected from the inverter and removed from the mounting frame by a suitably qualified electrician as they remain ‘live’ while exposed to sunlight.

Q: How is the roof impacted by the installation / how is weatherproofing retained once mounting brackets are installed?
A: The installation will be done in a manner that has no deleterious impact upon the weatherproofing of the roof covering or impact upon the structural integrity of the roof.