Questions and answers about your solar energy system
You’ve got solar panels on your house. The inverter is humming along. Now what? We’ve compiled some of the questions we get asked most about our systems after they’ve been installed.
Check out our Service page to find our video series on troubleshooting and how your system works.
Nearly half of our business comes from referrals!
It’s simple—tell your neighbors, friends, and family in both Washington and Oregon about us. Make sure they mention your name when they contact us. If they get a system, you both get a cash bonus of $500 after their project is complete.
There are four ways to check to see if your solar PV system is working:
- If you have a central inverter, you can look on the screen and make sure you don’t see any yellow or red LED warning lights.
- If you have a monitoring system such as eGauge, you’ll be able to track your production.
- Your production meter will show how much power you are generating.
- Your utility bill will show how much power your system has generated since the last billing cycle.
Production depends on a number of factors.
While it would seem obvious that hot, sunny summer days would result in the most production, that isn’t always the case. In the summer months, the sun is directly overhead, which isn’t always an optimal angle for production. Additionally, solar panels operate more efficiently at cooler temperatures. For these reasons, some PV systems have their best days in May and September when the sun is angled better to pitched roofs and the weather is relatively cool.
A&R Solar submits all of your paperwork, including those for certification for state incentives, local permitting requirements, and interconnection with your utility. See information below about the federal tax credit.
There are a lot of different inverter manufacturers out there, and they all provide–or the majority provide–some sort of monitoring.
Monitoring is the ability for you to see the performance of your system remotely. That’s either going to be on a website or on an app on your phone. Typically you’re going to be able to see the total production of the system, and there are micro inverters or DC optimizers, which will allow you to see the individual performance of the modules.
It depends. If you live in an area with frequent power outages or want to be prepared in case of an earthquake, you may want to consider investing in a battery-backup solar system.
This would allow you to power some of your house with solar energy during an outage. A&R Solar has experience designing and installing battery systems throughout Washington and one of our design consultants can help you determine whether one is right for you.
Learn more about battery storage.
Not much. Even if you slack off, your solar energy system will operate effectively.
If you want your system to soak up its maximum potential, hose off the panels and collectors once or twice a year, preferably in the morning while your panels are still cool. This can boost performance, especially if pollen, dirt, or debris has accumulated. If there is buildup on your panels, use a soft brush like the one you would use to wash your car along with a mild detergent. Do not pressure wash your panels and never run cold water over a hot array. If you’re not sure about doing this yourself, we offer cleaning and maintenance services in some areas. Otherwise, many local window and gutter cleaning companies can perform this work.
In addition to keeping your system clean, you should always keep an eye on your system’s production and look for any significant changes in output. If you notice anything that might be out of the ordinary, please give us a call and let us know.
No. Most PV systems will automatically shut off when the power goes out to ensure no energy is back-fed to the grid during an outage.
The reason for this is to protect utility workers from potential shock or electrocution who may be working on the lines to restore power. The only way to be able to run your home from solar when there is a power outage would be to have a battery backup system. Contact us today to learn more about battery backup system options and how to keep your lights on during an outage with solar energy.
The federal government allows you to claim a 26 percent tax credit off of your solar power system costs.
If you do not expect to owe enough in taxes this year to claim the full credit, you can roll over your federal solar tax credit to the following year. You should consult your tax accountant with any questions, although most online e-filing services allow you to easily record your system cost and claim the tax credit. You don’t need to provide any payment receipts or supporting documentation unless requested specifically by the IRS. IRS Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, and instructions are located here.
After your system is installed, we notify your utility to install your production meter.
Every utility varies in the time it takes them to come to your home and install it. Wait times can vary from a few days to more than a month. Some utilities allow your system to be turned on before the production meter is in place, while other utilities will not. The utility does not usually communicate to us if the meter has been placed, and you will often hear our project team ask to let them know when it is installed.
Some utilities in Oregon do not require production meters. We will let you know if you will be getting one or not.
The nameplate rating of your system has to do with equipment that was tested in a controlled environment under standardized conditions.
Generally, your solar panels will produce no more than 80-90 percent of their rated output, even on their most productive days. Don’t worry, we’ve taken this into account! The production you are seeing today is different from the overall production that your system will produce throughout the year. Like any good solar installer, we include this variance in the design and estimation of the performance of your system.