Solar FAQs

Home solar can be really hard to understand if you’re new to it. But because solar is such a great solution to so many problems, there is a world of resources to help you navigate the subject. The short FAQ below is a good starting point with many links to other sites and services.

How much does a rooftop solar system cost?
The average cost of a system for a 2 bedroom home of is about $20,000… but in many cases, installation might be as cheap as $0. The difference is how the system is financed—or who owns your solar system. See the next question/answer to understand the two primary ways of financing your solar rooftop.
Should I lease or buy my solar system?
Before we get into the “it depends” answer to this common question, it should be said that either way you go, you will be doing yourself and Mother Earth a big favor. Either option will save you money, and there is no better time to go solar. So on what does your decision depend then? A number of factors that include your credit, your tax liability, how comfortable you are with maintaining your system, whether you'll be selling your house soon, and a lot more. The folks at EnergySage have the most comprehensive answer to this question we've seen, so you might want to have a look there.
The cost of solar has plummeted, so why shouldn’t I wait another couple of years until it’s even cheaper?
Logical question. The cost of solar hardware has certainly fallen through the floor. This why many integrators are offering PPAs and offers of free installations that pay the entire cost of your system for you. You can’t get any cheaper than free, right? But while you’re waiting to see if the cost of solar will drop even lower, you’re still paying an unnecessary electricity bill. When you go solar, your bill disappears and putting that money towards payment of your monthly solar loan payment puts you in the driver’s seat sooner. An added benefit of solar ownership is its effect on your home’s value and its desirability at the time of sale.
Will carrying a solar lease or a solar loan complicate the sale of my home?
Research shows that in the majority of cases, home buyers are more interested in purchasing homes with solar than without. And And the same studies show homebuyers willingly pay a high premium for a solar roof. The only known complication that may arise relates to the homebuyer's credit. If their credit is poor, they may not qualify with the solar loan/lease owner to take over your arrangement. This is an extremely rare case, however, as home ownership inherently requires quality credit. Overall, it's safe to say that one's investment in solar as an asset is worth the slim chance of complication. If you’re concerned about complications in the home sale, you might want to pay close attention to the transfer of ownership clause of your solar contract.
How can I learn about state rebates and incentives for solar?
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency or DSIRE is the go-to for up-to-date per-state information about solar rebates, tax credits, and other incentives. SolarPowerRocks is also a very cool resource.
Is there some kind of a glossary for all these solar acronyms?
Ha, we hear ya! It’s hard to learn about solar its written into an abbreviated code! We like the solar glossary over at the Solar Energy Industries Association’s website. Not surprisingly, they’re better known as SEIA!
What is the solar investment tax credit (ITC) and is it true that it’s going away?
The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30% tax credit for residential or commercial solar systems. The credit reduces the owner's tax liability and had done remarkable things for solar adoption since its inception in 2006. It's said that the 30% ITC will be going away after December 31, 2016. All is not lost, though: from January 2017 (until further notice), the Investment Tax Credit will be set to 10%.
please click here if you know this answer to be out of date!
What can I do if my credit precludes me from getting a solar loan or solar lease?
Most solar lease and loan companies are looking for a minimum credit score of 700… but if you don’t qualify, don’t give up on solar. Consider looking into shared or community-owned renewable energy programs in your area. These increasingly popular community solar projects are how people in multi-tenant buildings or apartments are beginning to go solar and they are typically more lenient with regards to credit. The Clean Energy Collective is now running programs in 8 states and maybe you're in one of them. If not, maybe you'd like to learn about organizing a community solar project in your area. To learn how, check out NREL's A Guide to Community Solar.
Is my roof suitable for solar?
One easy way to find out is by requesting a free estimate. One of SolarFeeds’ solar integration partners will use magic (satellite and software magic) to determine your roof’s suitability. What they look at primarily  is 1) which direction your roof faces and its pitch 2) possible obstructions like neighboring buildings or tree shading and 3) things like roof contours and skylights. A north-facing roof with lots of skylights situated on a forest floor? Probably not suitable. Your roof? Hopefully!
Should I go with a big, national solar installer or my local guy?
While the big guys might have a sweeter deal that can’t be beat, there’s a lot to be said for supporting local solar. SolarFeeds encourages everyone to do their homework and go with their gut. Similar to the lease vs. loan quandary, what is more important than how you go solar… is going solar. Whomever you chose for your solar provider, you win.
How long does solar take to install?
There are a couple ways to measure. The actual installation of a small to mid-sized residential system should take between one to three days. From the time you decide to go solar to the time of "lights on" can vary a lot based on the time it takes to get permitted, then installed, then inspected. If you're concerned with having the system completed by a certain date, you may want to ask your installer if they can provide a guarantee, in writing, for a date of completion.
What are Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (or SRECs)?
SRECs stand for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, but let's take a 1/2 step back before we get into the definition. SRECs don't exist in the absence of Renewable Portfolio Standard programs, so it's important to understand what RPS programs are first. Simply put, an RPS is a regulation that requires that utilities produce a minimum amount of power from renewable energy each year. To meet their requirements, utilities rely heavily on energy-generating residential solar.  If your solar PV roof is sending power to the grid in a SREC state, you can earn one SREC for every 1000 kilowatt hours (kWhs) generated. An average sized home might earn about six SRECs per year. The value of each of these SRECs can vary depending on your state, the period when the SREC was generated, and what is currently happening in the volatile SREC market. The complexity of the SREC market has given birth to a cottage industry of transactional companies like Flett Exchange and SRECtrade.
Do I even need the grid?
The vast majority of people interested in residential solar probably need a grid-tied system—either by energy necessity or by law. Storage for solar energy (for when the sun isn’t shining) is becoming more popular and less expensive, but even where storage systems are employed, there is most often still a grid tie. You can think of the grid as your storage system.
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