Western PA, Pittsburgh, Solar FAQs, Truth About Solar, Net Metering, Duquesne Light, Battery Backups

Does solar really make sense in Western PA?

YES! It is no secret that our region tends to be dreary and overcast, but here’s the good news: solar panels do not require direct sunlight to generate energy! Just as it’s possible to get a sunburn on a cloudy day, solar panels can still produce lots of energy when the sky is overcast.

Take Germany as an example- Germany gets significantly less sunlight than our region, yet they are still the highest per-capita solar producer in the world. Facts!

For more detailed information, check out our blog post about Solar in Pennsylvania.

How does solar work?

Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight with thin photovoltaic cells. The sun’s rays excite electrons in the solar cells, generating direct current (DC) energy. The DC energy is then converted into alternating current (AC) electricity with the use of an inverter.

This energy is then either used immediately by you, or transferred through your meter onto the grid for energy credits. This credit system is called net metering, and is one of the biggest incentives for people to invest in solar for their home or business.

What is net metering, and how does it work?

Net metering allows consumers who generate electricity to track and get credit for the energy they produce, regardless of when they use it. Over the course of a day, you may overproduce in the afternoon and use those credits at night. Over a year, you may overproduce in the summer months and use those credits in the winter. At the end of the year, you may even receive a check from your utility company for excess power you’ve produced. Net metering essentially allows you to use the grid as a battery for your solar system.

Am I still connected to the power grid if I have a solar system?

Generally, yes. Unless you have a means of storing large amounts of excess energy, it makes the most sense to stay connected to the grid. With the help of net metering, the energy you generate always has a place to go (like a giant battery), and you always have access to that energy at no additional cost.

Should I add battery storage to my solar system?

Batteries are becoming a more and more affordable and practical solution for energy storage in homes and businesses. Until recently, large-scale batteries have been too expensive to be practical for most applications. However, manufacturing improvements and technical advancements have brought this cost down and batteries have begun to penetrate the mass market. In the current local energy market, batteries are worth considering for solar producers who want an electrical backup system that does not rely on fossil fuels in the event of a power outage.

Some commercial and industrial applications also make batteries profitable, as they allow peak load reduction, which can reduce total energy costs significantly. A thorough analysis of energy usage and billing is required to determine if batteries can provide a financial benefit for your home or business.

Pennsylvania Solar Farm, Solar Panels, Durability, Inverter Replacement

Are solar panels fragile?

No. In fact, solar panels are are one of the most durable and reliable energy technologies in the world. While the solar cells themselves are very fragile, the glass and frame that surround them are incredibly sturdy. From 90+ mph wind, to medium-sized tree limbs, to hail the size of golf balls, solar panels are specifically tested and designed to withstand severe weather events and incidental impacts.

How long do solar panels last?

All solar panels degrade slightly over time (<1% per year). Depending on certain environmental conditions, solar panels can remain productive for anywhere from 30-45 years, or even longer in many cases. Inverters need to be replaced more frequently, with a projected lifespan of 20-25 years for current models. Inverter replacement costs are included in most financial models for solar installations, and represent a relatively small expense for decades of continued production from your solar system.

Are tax credits still available?

Yes, but not for long! At the end of 2019, the 30% federal tax credit will drop to 26%. We already see a rush to complete solar projects prior to this deadline. By accessing all available resources, Solbridge will find you a solution that will capture that 30% credit and maximize your payback. So don't delay!

How do you get paid?

In short, our company is paid by installation companies. For residential projects, customer acquisition is the largest soft cost to a solar installer. So shovel-ready projects have significant value to these companies. We also see that when a solar installer knows that they’re bidding against other companies, they generate more competitive bids. This added competition, as well as the confidence that our clients are not just kicking tires, creates space for our partners (the installation companies) to pay that acquisition cost to us in exchange for bringing them a new client. So you get the same product, at the same price, but with expert guidance and the utmost confidence that you’ve considered all of the options. Talk about added value!