Frequently Asked Questions - Solar

Will my system produce energy on cloudy days?

Yes, but less than on sunny days. Depending on cloud coverage, your system may require a little more energy from the grid on cloudy days.

Will my system produce power if there is a blackout?

Without a backup power source such as a Tesla Powerwall, grid-tied solar PV systems will not operate when the grid is down. This safety requirement, called "anti-islanding" allows utility linemen to safely repair power lines during a power outage. Some inverters offer stand-alone operation through a dedicated outlet while disconnected from the grid. You may choose at any time to add a battery backup to your solar system to keep critical appliances on during a blackout.

What size system should I install?

Your Francis Solar representative will provide a comprehensive assessment of your specific energy needs by taking a look at your utility bills and available space and sizing a system appropriately.

What is net metering?

If your system generates more electricity than you use at a given time, the meter will “spin backwards” and the utility will provide a credit on your bill. Depending on your area and your utility, you may or may not be offered net metering, and your monthly credits may or may not roll-over, and you may or may not receive credit for negative bills.

Will I still receive a monthly electric bill?

Yes, you will still receive a monthly bill for any energy you use to supplement your solar array at night or cloudy days, as well as any fixed costs associated to having the grid and meter installed at your home. The amount of your bill will depend on how much electricity you use and how much you send back to the grid and what those fixed charges are.

Can my Homeowner’s Association prevent me from installing a solar array on my property?

Some HOAs may require prior approval from the HOA Board of Directors before installing a solar system on your roof – particularly if the system will be visible from the street. We recommend that you review your HOA’s covenants to determine if there are any restrictions in place.

Should I have solar panels installed on an older roof?

We don’t advise installations on a roof that shows signs of old age. The solar panels will provide a degree of protection from the elements but when it does come time to replace the roof the solar panels will have to be removed and then re-installed which will add to the cost of the new roof.

Can hail damage solar panels?

This has never been much of an issue for the solar industry. Standard tier-one solar panels use tempered glass and can withstand bombardment from billiard ball size hail at very high speeds.

How long does it take to pay off?

When considering return on investment (ROI) it is important to remember that the solar installation itself still has value. In any other investment, the moment of ROI we are discussing would be when the initial investment has doubled in value. In this regard, a solar investment is similar to a government bond or CD, except that the dividends or returns are not taxable and are realized monthly in the form of savings on your energy bill. Most solar installations pay for themselves through incentives and savings alone in 5-12 years, but compared to traditional investments, solar sees an additional 30% return in year one through the Federal ITC and 4.5% - 8% returns yearly thereafter.

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