How does a solar electric system work?

~  Solar cells in the modules mounted on your roof convert sunlight directly into DC power. A component called an inverter converts this DC power into AC power that can be used in your home. The system is interconnected with your utility. During the day, if your solar system produces more electricity than your home is using, your utility may allow net metering or the crediting of your utility account for the excess power generated being returned to the grid. Your utility would provide power as usual at night and during the day when your electricity demand exceeds that produced by your solar system. Systems are also available with a battery backup. Part of the power produced by your solar system during the day is used to charge the batteries, which provide power for your critical loads in the event of a power outage.


Will my system work at night?

 ~  No. Sunlight must be present for your solar modules to produce power. At night, you draw power from your utility or your battery backup supply.


Will my system work on cloudy days?

 ~  Yes, though they produce less electricity. Under a light overcast sky, panels might produce about half as much as under full sun.

What happens during a power outage?

 ~  We offer two types of solar residential systems. One type of system powers your home during daylight hours, but does not provide power in an outage, even on a sunny day. Another type of system powers your home during daylight hours, but also has a battery backup designed to provide power to your home’s critical loads during an outage, day or night.


What do the terms on-grid, grid-connected, grid-tied and off-grid mean?

 ~  On-grid, grid-connected or grid-tied means connected to the utility electrical grid.  Off-grid refers to systems that are not connected to the utility electrical grid. 


How do I know if a residential solar electric system would work on my home?

 ~  Solar electric power works for most homes. Our systems are engineered to work with most roofing materials, in most locations where direct sunlight is available.   Shading from trees or other obstructions can reduce the practicality of a specific installation. A south-facing roof area is optimal, but solar electric panels can be mounted on west- or east- facing roofs and still produce substantial electricity from the sun.


Why is shade a problem?

 ~  Because of the wiring design of a solar module, all of the individual solar cells on a module must receive full sunlight for the module to work properly. If any portion of the module is shaded, the entire module power output-even those sections still exposed to sunlight-is lowered.


What if I need a new roof or am building a new house?

 ~  This is the ideal situation for installing solar. Before laying the roof, you can install flashable mounting brackets that provide the highest level of protection from leakage.


How many solar panels do I need to produce enough electricity to run my house?

 ~  The array size you need depends on your average electrical usage, roof angle, shading problems and many other factors.  We offer site evaluations which will give an accurate approximation of what size system would be appropriate for your needs, your budget and your site dimensions.


Will a system produce enough energy to cover all my electricity needs?

 ~  It is important to understand that a solar electric system does not need to provide all of the electricity you need to be of great value. A small system that displaces an average of one-quarter to one-half of your average demand reduces your electric bill. With battery backup, it can deliver uninterrupted power to critical loads during utility outages for days or weeks. We are happy to provide you with a system that supplies 100 percent of your energy needs, but cutting your electricity by 40 to 50 percent is typically the most common approach for home solar power.


What other options do I have if the system cannot be mounted on my roof?

 ~  If a roof-mounted system proves impractical, a ground-mount, pole-mount, or trellis application may be an option.


What is net metering?

 ~  Net metering measures the difference between the electricity you buy from your utility and the electricity you produce with your solar energy system. Under net metering, any excess electricity produced by your solar energy system is delivered back into the utility grid, effectively spinning your meter backwards. Your meter spins forward when your solar energy system is not producing all of the electricity you are currently using. Your electric meter keeps track of this net difference as you generate electricity and take electricity from the utility grid.


Are government incentives available to reduce the price?

 ~  Yes. State agencies and municipal utilities offer rebate and incentive programs for homeowners and small businesses to promote the installation of renewable energy equipment. Incentives can cut the cost of your system in half, saving you thousands of dollars.  Contact us or view our up-to-date Rebates and Incentives page on our website.


How long will my solar power system last?

 ~  With no moving parts and made of very inert materials, solar modules are tough. Most of the related system components should also last for many years without problems. The batteries in a residential system may need replacement every five to 10 years.


How can I tell how my system is performing?

 ~  We offer a variety of options with each system. Located in your home or online a meter tells you exactly how much electricity you generate and use, and when you send power back to the utility grid. You will be able to manage your household usage like never before.


How much does the maintenance cost?

 ~  Since the maintenance required is very low, your cost should be minimal. Most of the related system components should last for many years without problems and most component manufacturers offer substantial warranties.


Do I need permission from the local utility to connect my solar system to the grid?

 ~  Yes. GCEA has rules and procedures that must be followed to connect any generator to the grid safely and legally. These rules are generally based on national standards with which our systems comply. We can help you with the documentation and procedures.


Do I need approval from my homeowners’ association?

 ~  Some homeowners’ associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds, but Colorado prohibits homeowners’ associations from restricting solar devices.


Can I be totally independent from the utility?

 ~  If the utility is available near your property then we generally recommend you connect to the utility for a variety of reasons.  If your location is far removed from the existing grid infrastructure and connection is cost prohibitive, then an off-grid system may make more sense logistically and financially.

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