Solar Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for being curious about this growing technology. While there are countless questions to be answered, here is a list of the most frequent asked solar questions we have heard throughout the 8 years being in business.
What Financial Incentives Are Available?
The financial incentives available for solar energy are different depending on the state in which you live and whether you are installing solar for your home or business. Please be aware that incentives are subject to change over time and are not permanent. To get the most up-to-date information, please contact us.
Oregon Home & Business Incentives
Washington Home & Business Incentives
How Much Does Solar Panels Cost?
A typical price for home solar panels starts at $12,000 before incentives and tax breaks. System sizes for business owners tend to be larger systems, therefore, the typical starting price for a commercial solar electric system is $15,000.
The location of your array, the size of your roof or ground-mounted system, the age of your electrical panel, the type of roof you have and the distance between your electrical panel and the solar installation all play a role in the final cost of going solar. As a result, an exact price is only possible with a free site evaluation.
How Does Solar Panels Work?
Whether it’s a new solar panel installation on your neighbor’s roof or the growing number of solar-powered businesses solar energy is talked about a lot these days. It’s an exciting time for solar energy.
Unlike energy created from a wind turbine or even a traditional power plant, solar does not have any moving parts. So how exactly is energy being created?
Solar panels are made of silicon and other conductive materials. When the sunlight, or photons, hit the conductive materials it shakes an electron free. This electron is direct current (DC) and will need to be converted to alternating current (AC) through an energy converter before your home or business may use this energy.
How Efficient are Solar Panels?
At Sunbridge Solar we only use American-made solar panels which are known for their higher quality and power production compared to their international counterparts. The American manufacturers we source our panels from are Sunpower and SolarWorld. Sunpower solar panels convert 21% of sunlight into DC energy while SolarWorld panels convert sunlight to energy at a rate of 17%.
Please keep in mind that when selecting your solar panel with the highest efficiency isn’t always the winner. Depending on your solar system size and the amount of available space for the installation it may be more cost-effective to go with a cheaper solar panel.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Solar panels installed by Sunbridge Solar come with a 25 year manufacturer warranty or better. For manufacturers, 25 years is a time frame they feel comfortable standing behind even if the panels are installed in extreme weather conditions that will affect the longevity of an installation. With a warranty double that of the pay-pack, your solar panels come with a wide variety of environmental and economic benefits.
This is an important point. 25 years is the time period that assuming the absolute worst in treatment and installation, not the average. 25 years of solid performance is a “worst case scenario” in their view.
However, a warranty is only as reliable as the company that stands behind it. At Sunbridge, on top of the 25-year manufacturer warranty, we offer a 10 year, full-service craftsman warranty and only use top of the line, made-in-America solar equipment that has undergone rigorous reliability testing.
What is Net Energy Metering ?
Net energy metering, or more commonly known as NET metering is a utility rate plan for their solar customers. When you install solar on your home or business you will enter into an agreement with your electric provider. This agreement will allow you to bank credits whenever you are producing more energy than you are using.
In the summer months, you will build up a bank of energy credits because your solar system is most productive at this time. During the winter months, you will then draw those credits that you built up over the summer. This keeps your electric bill low, all year round.
Do My Energy Credits Reset?
There is a NET metering fiscal year that runs different depending on hat state you live in. In Oregon, the fiscal year runs from April to March. At the end of March, any credits left remaining will be forfeited and go towards assisting your utility’s low-income support program. Oregon systems tend to be sized to reduce 100% of your annual electric bill or less, therefore, having extra credits is rare.
Washington state runs on a different schedule. The fiscal year starts on May 1st and ends on April 31st coinciding with the long summer days in the Pacific Northwest.
How Long Will It Take To Install Solar?
Installation of solar panels is a streamlined process. Depending on the size and installation complexity (i.e., solar plus batteries), a typical system will take between 1 to 3 days depending on the expertise of the solar installer. Make sure you avoid these 5 things when installing solar.
The longest wait of installing solar is the local and utility inspections. After installation in complete expect 1-3 weeks until every inspection is finalized.
Does Solar Work in the Cloudy Pacific Northwest?
Though we don’t get as much sun as Arizona or Southern California, our cooler climate and long summer days make solar an excellent option. Like any technology, the hotter it gets the less efficient it becomes and in turn the less power the panel will produce. Our lovely Pacific Northwest rain is actually a benefit to solar! Your solar panels will be cleaned each time it rains enabling it to produce power at its fullest potential.
In addition, the generous mix of financial incentives offered by the state, utility companies and the federal government can make the investment especially attractive.
Will My System Cause Glare for My Neighbors?
Solar panels incorporate anti-reflective glass that is rated to be used at airport installations where glare can be a serious issue for pilots. Plus, the goal of a solar panel is to absorb as much sunlight as possible, not reflect
Do I Need to Obtain My Own Permits?
Not at all. Sunbridge Solar does all the permitting and engineering in-house, as well as all the state incentive paperwork.
Can My HOA Ban Not Allow Me to Go Solar?
No. It is the state law in both Oregon and Washington to prevent homeowner associations from banning you from installing solar panels on your home as long as the system meets all safety, health, and performance standards required by the state or local jurisdictions.
While HOAs are not permitted to ban your solar installation, they are allowed to set neighborhood guidelines, such as using all black solar panels instead of the standard blue and silver frame.
Throughout assisting dozens of homeowners belonging to an HOA, we’ve found that our solar quotes provide enough information to bring comfort to any possible HOA concern.
Want to learn more about solar energy? Check out these 10 cool solar facts you might not have known.