Q: what is solar energy

Solar power is energy from the sun and without its presence all life on earth would end. Solar energy has been looked upon as a serious source of energy for many years because of the vast amounts of energy that are made freely available, if harnessed by modern technology.

Q: what are the advantages of solar energy?

1. Solar energy is free although there is a cost in the building of ‘collectors’ and other equipment required to convert solar energy into electricity or hot water. 2. Solar energy does not cause pollution. However, solar collectors and other associated equipment / machines are manufactured in factories that in turn cause some pollution. 3. Solar energy can be used in remote areas where it is too expensive to extend the electricity power grid. 4. Many everyday items such as calculators and other low power consuming devices can be powered by solar energy effectively. 5. It is estimated that the worlds oil reserves will last for 30 to 40 years. On the other hand, solar energy is infinite (forever).

Q: If there is a power outage, will I still have power from my solar electric system ?

That depends upon whether or not you are using a grid-tied system or an off-the-grid system using batteries. If you are using a grid-tied system you will lose power but could switch to a generator as a backup. If you are using an off-the-grid system or a hybrid system with batteries for storing your electricity then you won't lose power. This is the main advantage of an off-the-grid approach.

Q: How many solar electric panels would I need to completely power my house or farmhouse or factory or institution ?

The obvious answer of course is it depends on how much energy you use. Another big factor is whether or not you are trying to supplement your energy supply with a grid-tied system or if you are off the grid and trying to cover all of your energy needs. Probably the easiest way to look at it is to consider a range based on the amount of roof space you have available for placing the solar panels. An installation with about 14 panels would probably provide about 40-%-50% of your energy needs. If you have a large roof area you can probably fit about 24, 125 watt solar panels and cover 75%-100% of your energy needs. If your roof is not south facing or if it is partially shaded the energy output will be somewhat lower. A reputable solar installer can help you determine what is practical for your home and the amount of power you can practically generate from the space you have.

Q: What is the lifespan of the solar modules ?

Most experts believe solar electric modules have a lifespan of at least 25 to 30 years and most manufacturers provide a warranty for this period. However, the truth is that we don't really know for sure since most modern solar panels have not been in existence that long. Many experts believe the actual number could be much higher, possibly as much as 50 years. What is very clear is that solar modules are extremely durable and lose very little of their energy generating capacity over time. This is one of the reasons that they make sense as a long-term investment.

Q: When it is cloudy or foggy, will my solar electric system still work ?

Yes. The solar electric system will continue to operate under fog or cloud cover but its output will be reduced. The solar electric system’s power output is relative to the “depth” of the cloud cover and how much light gets in, but typical coastal fog only reduces power output by 50%. Winter storm clouds will cause substantially greater reduction but the system will still produce energy.

Q: Can you put solar on a flat roof ?

Yes. Most commercial solar electric systems are installed on flat roofs. The solar panels are usually mounted on “tilt-racks” which put the panels at the optimum angle and face them in the right direction.

Q: Is the weight too much for my roof ?

No, solar modules are very lightweight. The combined weight of the rails and solar modules is only 3 lbs per square foot (approx. may changes as per brand).

Q: How much does a solar module weigh ?

23 pounds (approx. may changes as per brand).

Q: How durable are the solar panels? What about hailstorms ?

Solar modules are very durable, and constructed with strong aluminum frames and high strength tempered glass designed to withstand moderate hailstorms.

Q: How long does it take to install a solar electric system ?

Solar electric systems usually take between two to five days to install, depending on the size and complexity of your solar electric system. However, in our experience the actual calendar time is usually longer because there are often delays waiting for the local energy company to install the electrical meter (in a grid-tied system) or waiting for local electrical inspectors or waiting for system to arrive at your home.

Q: Are there any disadvantages to using solar energy ?

Solar energy technologies often have a higher "first cost." This means that a person is likely to pay more money up front to purchase and install a solar system. Still, in nearly all cases, the high initial cost is recovered through substantial fuel savings over the life of the product. Another disadvantage is that solar energy approaches do require some direct access to sunlight. If you live an a very shaded area and do not have the ability to remove trees or other impediments to sun access it may not be an option for you.

Q: Do I need to install a new roof before the solar panels are installed ?

Solar panels are very durable and most will last at least 25 years. Therefore, you definitely should consider the age of your roof before you install them. If your roof is more than 20 years old and in bad shape you will definitely want to consider replacing your roof before installing them. However, if your roof is in reasonably good shape go for it. I