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Step 1: Solar Q&A

Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have as they consider whether solar is right for their home.
Step 1

Step 1: Solar Q&A

Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have as they consider whether solar is right for their home.

Q: What are photovoltaics or “PV”?

A: Photovoltaics can literally be translated as light-electricity. Photovoltaic materials and devices convert light energy to electricity.

Q: What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?

A: A PV system is most often made up of:

  1. PV modules (groups of PV cells), also known as PV panels
  2. An inverter for a utility grid-connected system
  3. Wiring
  4. Mounting hardware or a framework

Q: What parts of my home can solar be used to power?

A: Solar can be used to power anything that draws power within your home, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances.

Q: What size system do I need?

A: The solar system you need will depend on your annual electricity usage and any future loads. Other factors that need to be considered in designing your solar system include the size of your roof and how much you are willing to invest. Contact a qualified contractor to determine what type of system would suit your needs.

Q: Does my roof need to face south for a solar system to work?

A: No question, southern exposure is best, but it’s not an absolute requirement. East and west-facing roofs still allow you to produce enough energy to lower your electricity bills, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint. An eligible contractor can help you determine if you have sufficient exposure for a solar system to be effective.

Q: Will my roof be able to support the panels?

A: Most panels weigh 2 to 3 pounds per square foot, which isn’t a problem for most roofs. Municipal building departments may require an engineering stamp certifying that your roof can support the system. Remember to discuss this with your contractor.

Q: What if I need roof work done?

A: Your solar contractor should be able to assess your roof to advise you if work is needed. Roof repairs should occur before installation with a roofing material that has at least a 25 year life cycle, to match that of your solar equipment. This is to prevent the cost of removing the system in the future to address roofing issues.

Q: What if my solar panels get damaged?

A: One of the reasons that consumers choose to lease their solar system is that the third party owners often include an insurance and warranty bundle to protect the value and performance of the solar system. But your homeowners insurance should cover physical damages even if you purchase the system, and extended warranties often cover technical issues related to system components.

Q: What is net metering?

A: Net metering allows consumers to receive full retail value for the electricity that their solar system produces.

With net metering, a meter installed as part of your system will monitor the electrical power you use as well as the power generated by your system. The “net” difference is calculated by subtracting the energy sales from purchases on your electric bill.

Learn more about net metering in Connecticut. Click here if you are an Eversource customer or click here if you are a United Illuminating customer.
Content credit: Courtesy of EnergySage, the online Solar Marketplace.

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