Solar Electric Systems FAQ

Why should I invest in a solar electric system?

  • The ability to produce your own electricity for free
  • It will fight global warming through reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Tax credits reduce the overall cost.
  • The system offers protection against future electric rate hikes.
  • Equity in the home is increased, but the increase is not taxed.
  • Renewable energy credits will likely be sold soon for additional revenue.

Will solar work efficiently in the DC area?

Yes, and it does so very well. We receive about 70% of the solar energy that sunny San Diego does due to our weather patterns. Our area receives about 4.5-4.9 watts per square meter of irradiance in our region. To put it another way, Germany is the world #1 producer of solar electricity, and it compares to Alaska in terms of solar irradiance.

What direction must my roof face?

Southeast to southwest facing roofs work best but many east west roofs can be utilized as well.  An on site survey to evaluate your location is recommended.

If you install panels on my roof, will it leak?

Not if CES does the job. Our parent company enjoys 20 years of roofing and gutter experience working on residential and commercial roofs. We include a 5 year warranty for penetrations as a standard part of our Solar warranty.  Our experienced installers take all necessary measures to maintain water tightness.

What components are needed for a grid tie system?

The components of a grid tie system are: Panels, Utility Interactive Inverter, DPST – a locked disconnect switch that the utility company can clearly access and is labelled as such, and connections to the main AC panel and utility meter.

What components are needed for a battery backup system?

The components of a battery back up system are: Panels, PV Disconnect, Charge Controllers, DC Disconnect, Batteries, Intertie Inverter, 2 AC Disconnects, and an additional AC Sub Panel. These are connected to your main AC panel and utility meter.

What size system do I need?

A comparison of roof space and annual electricity expense by our solar consultant can help you determine what size system is right for you. In most cases, 2-7 kWs will be the maximum size a residential roof can will have the space for. Technically, the line between Residential and Commerical lies at 10kW.

What happens when my system produces more electricity than I am using?

During the day when home electric use is lower excess electricity will flow back onto the grid and spin your meter backwards. The backward spinning of the meter is protected by a law called Net Metering and is the law in most states. Systems are sized so that you do not produce more energy than you consume, as credit is given only even with energy usage. (You cannot produce extra electricity and expect a check from the power company!)

What is time of use metering?

Utility companies charge more during the peak times in the middle of the day when demand is highest. This is when solar is producing the most electricity and the power company must buy our electricity at this higher rate. A credit is earned during this higher rate period and in the evening the meter spins forward during the lower rate period.

Do solar panels work when it is cloudy?

Yes, electricity is produced when it is cloudy, however they are most efficient in clear sunny conditions. Rainy days will lower their production.

Will my solar electric system operate during a power outage?

Grid tied systems stop producing power when the electric grid is down for safety reasons. If they didn’t, the repairman could be seriously harmed by your arrays production. Battery backup systems have a special system using a sub panel that allows you to continue producing and using power from your solar array.

How much space will I need?

Each 1,000 watts (1KW) of solar modules occupies about 100 square feet. A 6,000-watt system would need a 20’ x 30’ space (600sf) to accommodate it. Most residential systems are 2-7kw.

How long will it take to install the system?

Once you’ve signed a contractor, you can expect a solar PV installation to take 60-90 days for hardware ordering/delivery, licensing/architectural paperwork, permitting, scheduling and commissioning/completion. The on site installation part of the process usually takes just 2-3 days. Solar Thermal installations will usually take 6 weeks for the entire process, start to finish.

What are the benefits of investing in a solar PV?

You can:

  • Eliminate up to 100% of your electric bill
  • Increase the equity of your home without additional taxation
  • Know that your $$ enriches the local economy and supports local trades people
  • Receive added $$ from time-of-use metering
  • Receive added money in the form of checks from future sales of your renewable energy credits
  • Own your own power station
  • Change from depleting natural resources to using a free unlimited supply
  • Change from polluting to a non-polluting energy source which will improve the health of you and the planet
  • Be a good steward of our planet and make a difference
  • Educate your family, friends and neighbors on how they can enjoy the same benefits

Will my PV system increase the value of my home?

YES, and the increased value will not increase your property taxes. PV systems increase the value of the home by a factor of savings in your utility costs. An article in the Appraiser’s Journal estimated that for every $1,000 in annual operating costs reduced, a home’s value is increased by $20,000.

What rebates or tax credits are available?

The federal government offers a tax credit of 30%, with no cap for solar hot water and photovoltaics. Currently, this credit is available through 2016.

Virginia, Maryland and DC all have their own incentives in place, with funding available on a first come first served basis, when funds are available.

Is financing available?

Yes, we offer very cost effective financing tailored to your specific needs. Check out our financing page for more information.

What is the warranty on the system?

Continuum Energy Solutions offers a 20-year warranty on our systems and is transferable. Manufacturers warranty their products for 25 years. The panels in your array have a life expectancy of 40-50 years, and the inverters of about 12-15 years.