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Are Solar Panels Right for You? Solar Power FAQs!

 
Are Solar Panels Right for You? Solar Power FAQs!

Posted: March 31 2021

Common Solar Power FAQs!

We've simplified the most common solar panel questions, to help you determine whether solar panels are right for you! Keep reading, clean energy this way!


1. How reliable is solar power? 

Solar power is very reliable. It has proven to be a dependable source of energy for large office buildings, retailers, government entities, industrial operations and homeowners. Some of the largest companies in the world have solarpowered buildings, including WalMart, eBay and Google. 


2. How do solar panels work? 

It’s quite simple actually. Photons from the sun strike the panel and cause silicon molecules to release their electrons. These electrons generate direct current (DC) electricity that flows to an inverter, which converts it to alternating current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is used to power your household appliances. 


3. How much sun is needed to produce electricity? 

In short, any amount of sun light will produce electricity. However, the amount depends on the intensity of the sun light. In the morning, when sun light is low, your production will be modest. However, at midday and in the early afternoon, when sun light is brightest, your production will be highest. Production will drop again in the evening as the sun sets. As well, production will be lower on cloudy days compared to sunny days. 


4. Will solar panels work when they’re covered in snow?

This is dependent on a few factors. Average snowfalls of a few centimeters allow enough sun light to penetrate the snow and activate the panels. Once activated, the panels create some heat that will melt the snow or help it slide off. If we receive a large snowfall, it may take longer to melt the snow (timelines will also vary depending on the intensity of the sun). We do not encourage homeowners to go on the roof to brush off the snow. 


5. Will solar panels provide electricity during a power outage? 

In the event of a power outage, your system is designed to turn off. This is a safety requirement by the utility company and the governing bodies of Canada (so technicians can safely repair fallen electrical lines). The solar system will restart automatically when power is restored. 


6. How resilient are solar panels?

Solar panels are incredibly strong. They’re designed to handle large hail, high winds and extremely cold temperatures. The use of safety glass and builtin flexibility adds to the overall durability. In fact, it’s been shown that panels on your roof actually strengthen your roof as a whole (e.g. after a hurricane, it was reported that the portion of roof that stayed intact was the portion that had solar panels installed – whereas the rest of the roof was destroyed).


7. Do solar panels require cleaning (from dust, dirt, bird droppings, etc.)? 

Panels do not require regular cleaning. Seasonal rainfall is usually enough to keep the panels clean. However, if your panels do accumulate excessive dirt, Landmark strongly recommends using ONLY WATER sprayed from a hose or pressure washer from ground level to remove debris. 


8. If I produce more electricity than I need, can I sell the excess?

Yes! In Alberta, and other provinces, you are allowed to sell excess electricity back to your local electricity retailer (after your home’s electricity demand has been met). When your solar system generates more electricity than you need, your excess flows back to the grid and your meter, literally, spins backward! 


9. Can I sell excess electricity to ANY electrical retailer? 

Yes! In Alberta, there is a regulation that says every electrical retailer must purchase your excess solar energy that’s injected into the grid at their retail rate.


10. I understand I have a choice of electrical retailers. What do I need to know before I sign anything? 

As a homeowner, you need to inform your electrical retailer that you own a solar system and tell them you have a “bidirectional meter” installed. The retailer will handle the rest.


11. How do I know if the system is working correctly and how much electricity I’m producing?

All Landmark Homes include solar Energy Monitoring Unit (EMU) that monitors your solar system’s production. This means you can watch a live feed on how much electricity your system is generating on your smart phone!


12. What’s the make and model of the solar panels installed on my home? 

The make and model of devices can vary per system. Landmark selects the best quality solar power products for its houses. A SingleLine Diagram mounted beside your electrical panel board will have this information on it.


13. Should I get extra insurance from my insurance company? 

When receiving a quote for home insurance you should let the agent know you have a solar system installed on your roof. This will guarantee that it’s covered in case of an incident. Most insurance companies do not raise your premiums for this except to cover the replacement cost of the solar system.


14. How am I connected to the grid? 

Your solar system is linked to the utility grid through your home’s electrical panel board.


15. Were there any changes to my home in order to accommodate solar power? 

Your home has had two adaptations. First, your roof trusses have been engineered to handle the extra weight of the panels (your home plans include these documents). Second, wiring has been installed from your attic to your utility room.


16. What size solar system do I need?

Every home and owner is different, so the size of your system will depend on your energy needs, roof space and solar goals. Residential solar systems are typically 2 – 15 kW (approx. 6 – 45 solar panels). We custom designed our solar packages to accommodate 25%, 50% or 100% of the electrical needs of the average Albertan. We even design NetZero homes that produce all the energy required to heat and power a home on an annual basis.


17. How long will my solar system last? 

Most of your solar system carries a manufacturer's warranty of 25 years. However, inverters typically carry a 10 year to 25year warranty. In addition, Landmark offers a new home warranty. Most solar systems will far outlast their warranties – many of the first solar systems installed more than 30 years ago are still going strong. 


18. What type of maintenance is required? 

Our solar systems require very little maintenance – largely because they don’t have moving parts. There are two main types of solar systems: Microinverter and String inverter:

  • Microinverter (inverters installed under each panel): no maintenance required for the inverters 

    • String inverter (inverters installed in mechanical room): DC disconnects need to be switched off for five minutes and then back on, twice a year (this cleans the contacts in the switch). Also, a little dusting of the unit helps keep the heat down – and performance up.
Both systems require an annual visual inspection. We suggest you keep an eye on trees that may shade your system and keep them trimmed.

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