Solar frequently asked questions
As a solar installer servicing Washington and Oregon, we answer a fair share of frequently asked questions about solar. We look forward to answering these questions because we know that going solar should be an informed decision.
On this solar FAQ page, you’ll learn about solar energy incentives, solar financing, as well as solar in Oregon and solar in Washington.
If these solar energy questions spur an inclination to know more, then consider reading about what questions to ask solar companies.
Also, check out our other solar FAQ pages:
Absolutely. The Pacific Northwest’s long summer days were made for solar.
Thanks to all that sunlight and utility net metering programs, we can build energy credits in the long summer months and work off of them in the shorter winter months.
Solar panels also operate more efficiently in our cooler summer weather, which means more efficient power than hotter climates, not less. Solar energy systems keep on working on cloudy days too, collecting scattered light and focusing it into energy.
Sure, we don’t produce as much power as the southern deserts, but we still generate enough to make solar a financially viable solution. In fact, our solar resource is similar to Germany’s, which leads the world in solar energy installations.
Yes! Congress has extended and restored the federal solar tax credit to its full, original rate. This means that homeowners and businesses who install solar and/or battery backup systems between 2022-2032 will receive a 30% tax credit. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar credit on the income tax you owe. Businesses can receive an additional 10% tax credit if they use American-made products and materials, and battery storage systems no longer need to be paired with solar to qualify for the credit.
In addition, Washington and Oregon have various state and local incentives.
Do you want to have solar and battery storage help you become energy independent? You can offset 100 percent of your energy usage and without having to completely cut the cord from your electrical utility. Having all of your electrical needs provided by solar energy means that you are net zero.
In other cases, people have cabins or RV setups that aren’t connected to an electrical utility. This is really what off-grid means. A&R Solar doesn’t install off-grid systems.
Unless your home is in a remote area not served by an electrical utility, we highly recommend stay connected to the grid. As freeing it sounds to completely cut the cord, here’s why we would remain grid tied:
- Homes and businesses that aren’t connected to the grid aren’t eligible for financial incentives, including net metering, which allows you to build up credits with your utility during the long days of summer and use them during the dark winters. You don’t need a separate battery storage system to be net zero.
- If something goes wrong with your system or if you aren’t producing enough electricity with your solar panels to cover your energy needs, you will be in the dark until the sun rises. On dark, cold, stormy days, that could feel like a long time.
- Even with a battery, you might not be able to produce enough electricity every single day to cover all of your needs. This is especially true during the winter months.
- Having solar power feed back into the grid stabilizes it and helps the community.
Net metering is an agreement between you and your utility where you are allowed to bank credits whenever your system is producing more energy than your home is using.
Typically, this occurs in the sunny summer months, when your system is most productive. In the winter, you can draw from those credits, keeping your bills low.
There is a net metering fiscal year, which runs from May-April. On April 30, you will forfeit any credits that you may have with the utility. The year resets on May 1, coinciding with the long summer days to start building up credits again.
In Oregon, the fiscal year runs from April-March. If you still have kWh “in the bank” at the end of March, the utility may credit you or transfer those credits to customers in their low-income program. Having extra credits is rare: Systems aren’t usually designed to produce more than 100 percent of your annual consumption.
Yes they do. There is evidence that homes with solar sell faster and for more money than comparable homes without.
A study out of California concluded that the premium for which solar homes sell is about the same as what the homeowner paid for the system in the first place. Zillow reported a 4.1% average lift in home appreciation on homes with solar over those without. In the meantime, you’re saving money on your bill every month.
One exception is if the solar system is leased, in which case the home value may not increase, and buyers may be hesitant to assume the lease payments.
So, unlike stainless appliances in the kitchen or a new tile backsplash in the bathroom, the investment of purchasing a solar energy system is preserved by permanently increasing your home’s value.
Find out how it might increase your home’s value at pvvalue.com.
No. State law in both Washington and Oregon prevents homeowner associations from outright prohibiting the installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities.
We’ve had dozens of customers over the years who belonged to an HOA. We’ve found that many times, the design that we include in our quote is enough to soothe concerns. We are also happy to meet with the HOA board, answer any questions, and go through the state law to show how our system will comply.
Ask us for more information.
This shouldn’t happen. The whole goal of a solar panel is to absorb, not reflect, sunlight. In fact, solar panels incorporate anti-reflective glass that’s rated for installation at airports where glare is a serious concern for pilots.
Since solar panels tend to last more than 25 years, your roof should be in good condition before you get a system installed.
Panels have additional benefits—once they are in place, they will actually protect your roof by blocking UV rays. Solar panels are surprisingly sturdy and can withstand hail and extreme environments. We recommend replacing your roof before installing solar if it has less than 10-12 years of life remaining.
Depends on the technology and the climate the system is placed in.
Generally, solar electric panels will produce power for 30-50 years. Manufacturers usually warranty the power output for 25 years, but most people agree they’ll continue producing well beyond that.
Some balance of system (BOS) components may need to be replaced before the solar panels lose their effectiveness, including the inverter, which typically has a 10-year or 25-year warranty.
Thanks to our mild weather, we should see extended lifetimes on our systems. A&R Solar also takes care to use best practices developed in our climate. That means you’re getting a system designed for you.
A&R Solar offers an industry-leading 10-year craftsmanship warranty on all our residential solar installations.
The installation piece is fairly straightforward and usually takes between one and three days, depending on system size and installation complexity.
No. Our team does all of the permitting paperwork and engineering for those structures that require them.
For our system installs, we only use our in-house employees, including licensed electricians and installers.
In certain situations, we might contract out non-solar related work like installing membrane roof flashings or drywall repair.
We really recommend that you hire experienced professionals to add a solar system to your home (remember, your system will need to pass inspection with your local permitting jurisdiction).
If you have an old-school analog meter, it really will.
When your PV system makes more power than your home uses, your electrical service meter reverses — you can watch it go backward.
However, most utilities have moved to digital metering. These will not give you the same level of satisfaction of watching the meter spin backward, but the blinking reverse arrow is still satisfying.
Short answer: The energy that goes in to making a module “pays for itself” as it generates energy in the field over time, depending on where it was manufactured and where it’s installed.
Longer answer: A 2016 study concludes that the energy payback for solar modules is now two years or less, and declining as efficiencies improve.
Much depends upon where and when it was manufactured. A panel made in China, for example, costs nearly double the greenhouse-gas emissions of one made in Europe because China relies more on fossil fuels for generating power. However, the environmental benefits of installing solar panels will be greater in China than in Europe, as the clean power they produce replaces electricity that would otherwise be generated largely by burning coal or gas.
As more panels are made, the manufacturing process becomes more efficient. The team found that for every doubling of the world’s solar capacity, the energy required to make a panel fell by around 12% and associated carbon-dioxide emissions by 17-24%.