Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Your Questions

Solar power is a clean, safe and efficient way to power your location. However, it is unlike how most of us have been used to providing electricity into our lives. We're sure you have many questions and this page provides answers to our most commonly asked ones.

Please select a question to expand the answer: If you don't see the question/answer that fits your needs, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to discussing your project in detail.

Shading will generally cause decreased power output. Typically any amount of shading will have some impact on power production – no matter what technology is being utilized. Ideally a system is designed and installed to avoid any occurrence of shading. However, more often than not shading cannot be avoided entirely, and is even to be expected at certain times of day and year. A properly designed and installed solar electric system will anticipate shading issues and then take steps to minimize its impact. This can be achieved in a number of ways, ranging from the electrical configuration of the array, to selection of specialized power conversion hardware in the most challenging circumstances. The “ideal” is no shade, but the reality is “shade happens”.

Most homes and businesses are connected to an electrical power distribution system, aka the “Grid”, so batteries are not required. If you are looking to provide backup electrical power during a power outage, or in an “off-grid” application, such as a remote cabin, or an RV for instance, then batteries are required.

Batteries, or the more generic term “energy storage”, are becoming more popular for various reasons, but primarily for those seeking to have backup power during a grid outage look to energy storage options, with or without solar electricity generation. Energy storage also provides an alternative to commonly used fossil-fuel based generators. Energy storage can also provide financial advantages in markets that recognize the “time-value” of electricity usage. The emerging focus from new and existing companies dedicated to improving and developing novel forms of energy storage offer evidence to its evolving importance in the future “grid”. In fact, the developing “Smart Grid” anticipates all new solar electric system installations will have an energy storage component by the year 2020.

In most solar electric system installations a power outage will result in the solar power system shutting down and ceasing to produce AC power. The results will be the same whether it occurs in the darkness of night, or in the middle of the day under an abundance of bright sunshine. The reason for this is purely a safety consideration. The system cannot continue feeding power to a circuit that has been intentionally or un-intentionally de-energized if someone is working to make a repair or modification on that circuit. For this reason the equipment is required to sense the presence of power on the circuit to which it is feeding power. Once power is restored, the Inverter will sense its presence and automatically begin its normal operation of feeding power to its output circuit.

Energy storage combined with specialized power conditioning equipment is the only option that allows a solar electric system to continue functioning and producing usable power during a power outage.

Each solar electric system is engineered and installed based on a number of factors that are very different from one location to the next. The basis on which a solar electric system is specified comes from the energy usage it is designed to offset or eliminate, and the measure of that energy usage is kilowatt-hours (abbreviated “kWh”). Because energy usage varies from day to day and seasonally, the best approach to answering the question is to arrive at an annualized average of kWh consumed daily. Conveniently, your utility bill contains the necessary information, which can be reviewed (one-full year) and extracted quite easily. Once the number (annualized average of kWh consumed daily) is determined, a system is designed to match that number in Kwh generated over the course of one year.

As previously mentioned, there are a number of factors that influence the amount of solar power needed to produce a given amount of power. Many of these factors are environmental and site specific. Two identically sized systems can produce as much as 35% more or less power due to these site specific conditions.

Solar electric systems are designed for the specific site conditions in which they operate. A solar electric system can generate as much power as needed, provided there is sufficient space in a suitable location. The average New England home would require about 600 kWh a month, which can be offset 100% from a 6 KW solar system.

You can rest assured that your roof will maintain its integrity. Solar Source is a division of The Melanson Company, with over 80 years of success it is perhaps the most reputable roofing company in New England. For most pitched roof applications all attachment points are fully integrated with your existing roofing system. These system components are professionally engineered, high quality metal flashings that feature fully sealed and integrated mechanical attachment points, to which the support rails and PV modules are attached.

Most New England homes, including older homes are designed and built to carry heavy loads. However, the additional load (weight) added by installation of a solar electric system is always a consideration that is analyzed during the design process. In some cases a licensed structural engineer may be consulted to perform the analysis, providing the final “seal” of approval when a particular project requires it.

A properly installed and maintained solar electric system can continue to produce power for decades. Quality solar modules carry a power production warranty of 25 years, guaranteeing they will produce at least 80% of their rated power at 25 years, but will continue to produce power well beyond the warranted term.

“Net-Metering” is a term commonly used to describe a tariff classification offered by electrical service providers in connection with small-scale power generation, such as solar electric systems owned and operated by residential and commercial utility customers. A “Net-Meter” is nearly identical in appearance to the traditional electrical meter used by your power company to measure and record the electricity provided to your home or business. The primary difference offered by a Net-Meter is the ability to measure power flow in two directions. That is, energy delivered to your home or business by the utility (debit to your account); and, energy delivered to the utility from your home or business (credit to your account). Ultimately what is being recorded by the meter, for purposes of billing the customer, is “the net result” of debits and credits - thus the term “Net-Metering”.

Yes. Currently there are financial incentives available for residential and commercial Customers from both State and Federal sources. The Federal tax credit, known as the Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”), extends to at least the end of 2020, and provides 30% of the installed system cost as a tax credit. Combined with State rebates at various levels, the financial return on investment provides a very strong incentive to go solar. However, the resources that fund State rebate and incentive programs have been under perpetually higher demand as consumer adoption continues to increase rapidly. While these incentives are expected to continue for some time, the programs that administer them are evolving quickly to adapt to, and meet demand. The specific amount of any available incentive is time-sensitive and subject to market dynamics. There are additional financial benefits as well, such as the creation and sale of Renewable Energy Credits (“REC’s”), for instance.

Apart from the financial incentives, generating your own clean energy from a renewable resource imparts an overall societal benefit that many consider equal to, if not more important, than the financial benefits. Yes, there are incentives.