FAQ

FAQ about solar

  • Five Solar Myths:  Click (FIVE SOLAR MYTHS.pdf)

  • Below is a list of frequently asked questions about solar for your home or business collected from various sources for your ready reference.

How to Understand

Your Electricity Bills

In Texas, electricity market is de-regulated to encourage competition.  Houston electricity market falls in this category. 

 

Here electricity generation, transmission & distribution, and retailing of electricity to the consumers users are done by different companies. 

 

A consumer’s monthly electricity bills therefore contain different charges.  It is confusing to read and understand them. 

 

SCS obtained a real electricity bill from a homeowner and analyzed various sections of this bill for your understanding.

 

Each Retail Electricity Provider (REP) may have their own versions.

Frequently asked questions

1.What are the financial benefits of solar energy?


When you install a solar energy system on your property, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. How much you can save depends on the utility rates and solar policies in your area but going solar is a smart investment regardless of where you live.




2. What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?


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 like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which can cause health problems.




3. How do I find out how much I pay for electricity?


The easiest way to find out how much you pay for electricity (and how much electricity you use per month) is to take a look at your utility electricity bill.




4. What is net metering?


Net metering is the system that utilities use to credit solar energy system owners for the electricity produced by their solar panels. With net metering, you only pay for the electricity that you use beyond what your solar panels can generate. In Texas, electricity market is deregulated except in certain cities (Austin, Bryan, etc.) and service areas (Electric Cooperative societies) .




5. How does solar impact my property values?


Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.




6. 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 is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.




7. Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?


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




8. What happens if there is snow on solar panels? This is Page 8 of 40 on PDF version


Solar panels convert sunshine into power, so if your panels are covered in snow they can’t produce electricity. Snow generally isn’t heavy enough to cause structural issues with your panels, and since most panels are tilted at an angle the snow will slide off. If snow does accumulate, your panels are easy to clean.




9. Can I go off grid with solar panels?


When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all of the power that you need and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes battery storage, but it will cost significantly more and is unnecessary for the majority of homeowners.




10. Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?


Unless your solar energy system includes battery storage and you are fully off the grid, you will still receive a bill from your utility. However, you can dramatically reduce your bill, or even cut the amount you owe to $0, with a solar panel system that matches your energy use.




11. Do solar panels work in a blackout?


If your solar panel system is connected to the grid, it will shut off in the event of a blackout. This is to prevent emergency responders and electricity utility repair-people from being injured by your panels sending power back to the grid. However, there are certain inverters you can buy that provide backup power in a blackout when paired with a battery.




12. How much will solar panel maintenance cost?


Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass and require little to no maintenance for the 25 to 35 years that they will generate power. In most cases, you don’t even need to clean your solar panels regularly. If something does happen, most equipment manufacturers include warranties, although warranty terms depend on the company.




13. What solar energy rebates and incentives are available?


Solar rebates and incentives vary depending on where you live. The most significant is the 26 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC), which allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of your solar energy system from your taxes.




14. What are my solar financing options?


There are three solar financing options: you can purchase your system in cash, take out a solar loan to buy your system, or sign a solar lease.




15. Should I buy or lease my solar panel system?


The decision to buy or lease your solar energy system depends on your reasons for going solar. If you are interested in maximizing the financial returns of your solar energy system, buying the system is probably a better decision for you. However, if you prioritize an easy, maintenance-free way to reduce your energy bills and help the environment, you should consider a solar lease.




16. Which is better – solar loans or solar leases?


Solar loans and solar leases each have advantages and disadvantages. Both options reduce your monthly electricity bills and your impact on the environment, but the terms and conditions of each type of agreement are different.




17. What is the difference between secured solar loans and unsecured solar loans?


The primary difference between secured and unsecured solar loans is that secured solar loans require that you promise an asset, usually your home, as collateral for the money that you borrow. Unsecured solar loans do not, but their interest rates are generally higher to compensate for the increased risk taken on by the lender.




18. How do I choose the best solar loan?


Many different institutions offer solar loans, including local and national banks, specialty financing companies, manufacturers, and credit unions. To choose the best solar loan for you, compare options from a few different financing providers.




19. Can I afford to go solar?


If you can afford to pay your electricity bill you can afford to go solar. $0-down solar financing options, including both solar loans and solar leases, make it easy for homeowners with good credit to start saving on their electricity bills by going solar.




20. Is my roof suitable for solar panels?


Southerly-facing roofs with little to no shade and enough space to fit a solar panel system are ideal for installing solar.




21. What size solar energy system should I get?


The size of your solar energy system will depend on how much electricity you use on a monthly basis.




22. Do I need to replace my roof before installing solar?


Solar energy systems can last for 25 to 35 years, and it can be costly to remove and reinstall them if you need to replace your roof. If your roof needs maintenance in the near term, you should complete it before you finish your solar installation.




23. How long will my solar power system last?


In general, solar panels are durable and capable of withstanding snow, wind, and hail. The various components of your solar power system will need to be replaced at different times, but your system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years.




24. What happens if I sell my solar house?


If you own your solar energy system, your solar house will sell at a premium: studies have shown that solar increases property values. However, if you lease your system, that is not the case. You will need to either buy out your lease before you sell your home, or work with your leasing company to transfer the lease agreement to the home’s new owner.




25. How do I choose a solar installer?


There are a few criteria that everyone should use when choosing a solar installer. Confirm that they are certified, licensed and insured, have relevant experience, and can provide references.




26. How about HOA objecting to roof top solar panels?


In Texas, Solar Access Laws of 2012 prevent Homeowners Associations from objecting to a homeowner to have solar panels. An experienced installer can easily navigate through their objections.




27. Do I need to install solar batteries with my solar power system?


Solar power systems that include solar batteries, known as solar-plus-storage, are increasingly popular, but can be pricey. Luckily, batteries are not necessary for most solar homeowners. If you are connected to the grid, your system does not need a battery: excess power goes back into the grid, and you can draw from the grid if you need more electricity than your solar panels can generate. In deregulated electricity markets (as in Texas) you must find out if your retails electricity provider offers solar electricity buy-back program. Texas Net Metering Laws don’t require Retail Electricity Provider to compensate for solar electricity that a solar-customer sends back to the grid!!!