Frequently Asked Questions

How Solar Works

How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity must pass through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. After that, you can use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid. 

Do solar panels produce energy even when the sun isn’t shining?

The amount of power a solar system can generate is dependent on sunlight. As a result, solar panels will produce slightly less energy on cloudy days, and no energy at night. However, because of high electricity costs and financial incentives, solar can be a smart decision even if you live in a cloudy city.  

All of our proposals use average solar production numbers based on weather in your specific area.

Do solar panels work in winter?

It is a common myth that solar panels do not work during winter, but on the contrary, the cold temperature typically improves solar panel output. The white snow can also reflect light and help improve PV performance. Winter will only decrease solar production if the panels are covered with snow. 

Do I have to clean things like dirt and snow off the panels?

No, you don’t! During summer months rainfall acts as a natural cleaning process and prevents excess dirt from building up on your panels. Snow covered panels will produce less energy, but sunlight and wind help melt and blow snow off relatively quickly.  

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels are typically warrantied for 25 years, so you can expect them to last at least that long. Studies have shown that panels continue to operate (at reduced efficiency) long after their warranty expires.

Switching to Solar

What are the financial benefits of solar?

When you install a solar system on your home or business, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. Additionally, solar panels are proven to increase your home or business’ property value. It is a compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns. Every one of our customers now pays a lower monthly price for their electricity because they chose solar.

What are the environmental benefits of solar?

Solar power, like other renewable energy resources, has many environmental and health benefits. Going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, and also results in fewer air pollutants, which are known to cause health problems. Solar can also be one of the most effective ways to quickly achieve corporate sustainability goals. For example, installing an onsite commercial solar panel system can earn a commercial project more LEED® points than almost any other single green building initiative.

Why should I switch to solar now?

The Solar Investment Tax Credit will begin to decline starting in 2020 which provides an incentive to act quickly. Also, the sooner you install your system the sooner you get to experience savings on energy costs! 

Is my roof suitable for solar?

Both pitched and flat roofs can be ideal for solar. For pitched roofs, southerly-facing roofs with little to no shade and enough space to fit a solar panel system are ideal. Flat roofs with minimal shading and few obstructions like vents or AC units are also idea for solar. 

If your roof is old and/or is in poor condition, it may be a good idea to replace it prior to installing solar panels. This makes more financial sense since you probably wouldn’t want to remove and reinstall the panels in the case that the existing roof starts to wear out and requires replacement. The solar panel removal and re-installation can certainly be done, but a service fee will be charged.

A licensed roofing contractor can let you know how much life is left on your old roof and will give you a recommendation on whether or not you should get a new roof before you install your panels.

What is community solar?

In 2013, Xcel Energy was mandated to create a Community Solar program, which provides an opportunity for residents, businesses, and organizations to participate in solar energy.  We develop the solar arrays, and send all the energy to Xcel’s grid. Xcel then puts a bill credit onto the subscriber’s bill (you). The subscriber then pays us slightly less than the credit value, saving the difference on each kWh.  The program allows you to offset your energy with solar, without buying, investing, or having panels on your rooftop. When credits show up on your Xcel bill, you simple pay us our portion, and save the difference. 

Check out this video for a quick overview on the basics of community solar!

Solar Financing

What financing options are available?

Cash Purchase – A cash purchase is the simplest option for many homeowners and businesses. By buying your system outright, you are eligible for financial incentives like the federal investment tax credit (ITC).

Loan – Solar loans are a great solar financing option if you want to buy your system. With many solar energy loans, you can finance the entire cost of your system. These loans may be secured (using your property as collateral) or unsecured.

Leasing – Businesses and non-profits can now install solar arrays with no cost up front as well. IPS Solar and its investors install, own, and operate the system; your company agrees to buy power from the array at a discount to your current power rate.

PACE Financing – Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing allows commercial property owners to borrow money to pay for renewable energy improvements such as solar electric systems. The MinnPACE website is a great resource for more info.

If you want to learn more about your financing options fill out the contact form on our website or give us a call at 651-789-5305!

What tax credits and incentives are available?

Businesses and homeowners can currently receive a 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on the cost of a solar system. Further options include performance-based incentives in which customers are compensated at a solar rate nearly twice the retail value. For example, Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards program pays homeowners $0.07 and business $0.06 for each kilowatt hour of electricity they produce.  

How will my utility bill look different with a solar system?

Most importantly, it will be lower! Each month you’ll see a breakdown of how much energy your solar system has produced and how much you’ve consumed. Your utility will credit your account for the amount you’ve produced and charge you for the difference (Consumption – Production). If your system produces more energy than you consume your utility will actually pay you for the excess energy!