SunPower® Solar FAQ

Frequently asked questions about solar for your home or business.

+ What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

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.

+ What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?

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

+ How do I find out how much I pay for electricity?

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. A Harvest sales representative will be happy to walk you through how to read your bill.

+ What is net metering?

Net metering 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 – from Massachusetts to California to Hawaii – so make sure to do your homework ahead of time.

+ How does solar impact my property values?

Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. And in the area Harvest operates, rarely are leases even available. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.

+ How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels absorb the sun's energy throughout the 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.

+ Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?

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.

+ What happens if there is snow on solar panels?

Solar panels convert sunshine into power, so if your panels are covered in snow they can’t produce electricity. However, when the sun comes out the panels will begin to heat up and shed snow quickly and start producing energy again. 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.

+ Can I go off grid with solar panels?

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.

+ Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?

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.

+ Do solar panels work in a blackout?

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 you can buy that provide backup power in a blackout when paired with a battery.

+ How much will solar panel maintenance cost?

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, you don’t even need to clean your solar panels regularly. If something does happen, most equipment manufacturers include warranties, and Harvest will take care of the service side of these inquiries and get the system fixed up.

+ What solar energy rebates and incentives are available?

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. Additionally, businesses can depreciate the solar like a normal investment in equipment.

+ What are my solar financing options?

With Harvest there are two solar financing options for home and business: you can purchase your system in cash or take out a solar loan to buy your system. There is also the opportunity to enter into a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) as a method to finance projects for non-profits. Contact Harvest for specific financing options as these vary by territory and application.

+ What is the difference between secured solar loans and unsecured solar loans?

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. To understand which financing option is best for you, contact a Harvest representative.

+ How do I choose the best solar loan?

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, compare options from a few different financing providers. Contact a Harvest representative for more information.

+ Can I afford to go solar?

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

+ Is my roof suitable for solar panels?

Southerly-facing roofs with little to no shade and enough space to fit a solar panel system are ideal for installing solar. However, in many cases there are workarounds if your home doesn’t have the ideal solar roof – east and west facing roofs can still produce enough power to make it worth it.

+ What size solar energy system should I get?

The size of your solar energy system will depend on how much electricity you use on a monthly basis, as well as the weather conditions where you live. Harvest will take a look at your electric bill going back 12 months and estimate a custom-sized solar array that fits your specific needs based on annual production and usage.

+ Do I need to replace my roof before installing solar?

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 maintenance within the next 10 or so years, you should complete it before you finish your solar installation.

+ How long will my solar power system last?

In general, solar panels are very durable and capable of withstanding snow, wind, and hail. Your system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years with very minor (if any) maintenance issues during that period.

+ What happens if I sell my solar house?

If you own your solar energy system, your solar house will sell at a premium: studies have shown that solar increases property values.

Are there other things you’d like to know about solar?

Contact our solar advisors today for more information.

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