Frequently Asked Questions
What are solar cells and solar panels?
A solar cell, or photovoltaic (PV) cell, is the smallest part of a solar array that converts sunlight into electricity. Each PV cell is made of treated silicon, which generates the flow of electricity when exposed to light. These PV cells are grouped together to form a single solar panel or module.
How do solar panels work?
Each panel converts sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. Inverters then invert the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity. A utility meter records the amount of electricity produced by the panels. When the solar panels produce more electricity than the building needs, the electricity flows back into grid. This causes the utility meter to “roll backwards.”
What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?
A kilowatt-hour is the amount of power (kilowatts) used over an hour. For example, a 200 watt fridge that is on for one hour uses 200 watt-hours of electricity, or 0.2 kilowatt-hours.
Will my system work at night?
No. Sunlight is needed for your solar array to generate electricity.
Will my system work on cloudy days?
Yes. However, your solar array will produce less electricity due to cloud cover.
Is Northeast Ohio sunny enough for solar?
Yes. Meteorologists report the area receives an average 4.2 hours of full sunshine per day. In comparison Miami, Florida receives 5.3 hours of full sunshine per day. Even during overcast days, your solar array will produce electricity. Another concern in NE Ohio besides the cloudy days are the winters. Cold weather improves the efficiency of solar panels and electric production. Better Together Solar design our solar arrays at an angle to allow snow to easily slide off. In addition to this angle, solar panels producing electricity heat up to 30°C above the outside air temperature and melt any snow cover.
Are there different ways to pay for a system?
Yes! There are four ways to pay for a PV solar system. Depending if your site is residential, commercial or nonprofit, funding may differ.
Aside from the different ways to pay for a system, we encourage all prospective customers to keep in mind that there are government incentives for investing in green technology.
For a small commercial building, Better Together Solar recommends a 50 kW system which would roughly cost $120,000. There is a federal tax credit that eliminates $36,000 form the system cost and a $21,500 tax benefit of bonus depreciation. With all these tax benefits the total cost for a $120,000 system would only be $62,500.
What is Net Metering?
Once your solar array is installed, a utility meter (called a net meter) is installed on your property. This measures the amount of electricity the solar array produces that is used by the building. When the solar array produces more than the building requires, the electricity flows back into the grid causing your net meter to spin backwards. This reduces the amount owed to your electric company each month.
Are solar arrays safe?
Yes. Solar panels are made primary of silicon, an element deprived from sand. Solar arrays do not produce pollution or toxic materials. The electricity flowing through the inverter is the same as electricity flowing through household wall sockets. All components are approved and installed according to the best construction practices.
Will my array work during blackouts?
No. Safety requirements prohibit your solar array from producing electricity during blackouts. There is a chance the solar array could feed electricity into the electric grid while electricians are accessing power lines. Every solar array is installed with a kill switch that automatically shuts down the system when there is a blackout. The solar array will restart automatically once power is restored.
Do I need a battery?
Depending on the use of your solar array, a battery may or may not be required. In most residential and commercial arrays, Better Together Solar recommends a grid tied system with no battery. If you desire energy when the gird is not available (remote locations or frequent power outages) we recommend a battery for your solar array. Instead of the solar array producing electricity for your site, it will be stored in a battery.
How long will my solar array last?
Solar panels are built to last for about 30 years. Each panel is covered with tempered glass making them deceptively rugged. In the unlikely event of any part of the system fails, we will send a representative from our team to repair or replace the damaged part.
How much maintenance do solar panels require?
Solar systems require very little maintenance. Snow will clean any dust collecting on the panels.
What are Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)?
For every 1000 kWh of electricity produced by a solar array, one Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) is earned. SRECs have monetary value that varies based on supply and demand of the open market. Better Together Solar monitors the production of your solar array and can be your representative in selling your SRECs on the open market.