Frequently Asked Questions
Knowing if Solar is Right for You:
Is my home or business a good candidate for solar? When it comes to knowing if your home or business has potential as a good site for a solar installation there are a few things that should be taken into consideration. A few of these being climate location, shading from parapet walls or trees, square footage of your roof, the type of roof, the roof pitch, southern exposure, azimuth, and the electrical panel location. These factors will affect the efficiency, installation costs, and possible size of the system. Generally, you want to install a solar electric, or PV, system in a location that is free from shading and is oriented facing south, west, or east.
What if I am in need of a new roof or am building a new house? This is actually the ideal situation if you are thinking of installing solar. Before laying the roof, you can install flash-able mounting brackets that provide the maximum protection from leakage. Also the pitch of the roof can be designed to allow the solar installation to be at maximum efficiency. KC Green Energy’s parent company, Kautz Construction, is also a roofing contractor and would be able to combine both jobs as one at your convenience.
How much power do I want to produce? Systems vary in size, based upon the number of panels that you may need. Every location is unique with varying amounts of energy consumption. Two homes the exact same size will use different amounts of electricity and therefore require different size systems. Major electrical loads within a home are components such as air conditioners, electric heaters, pools, and other heating elements or motors. A good way to better understand how much energy your home or business uses is to look at your monthly or annual electricity bills from your utility company. Typically the amount of roof space available is enough to generate a close match to your energy consumption. Depending on your wants out of a system the size can range dependent on if you want to simply decrease your electricity bill or attempt to eliminate it. Sometimes it is also a good idea to slightly over-size a PV system install to account for possible things such as a growing family or building additions that may increase your energy consumption. When a system overproduces electricity, the unused portion is fed back into the grid and will actually be credited back to your utility account in a program called net-metering.
Is there a minimum installation size I must meet? No there is not. However, not all size systems and setups can be cost effective. Our team will directly work with you to figure out the best system for your needs and within your budget.
What other options do I have if the system cannot be mounted on my roof? If a roof-mounted system proves to be impractical in any way, ground-mount (stationary or tracking) installations are also ideal applications used to generate solar power. In many cases these types of mounts are even more practical because they can be installed in open, shade free areas and be positioned at the properly cited azimuth and pitch allowing for maximum efficiency to be obtained.
Do I need to get any sort of approvals?Some Homeowners' Associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds. If you belong to a homeowners’ association, consult your covenants for details. As far as permits are concerned, KC Green will always contact and obtain the necessary permits from your local jurisdiction.
What are the steps in the process of going solar?
Step 1: Call into our office and speak with a sales representative. He or she will take your basic information and answer any questions that you may have. You may then schedule an appointment for an on site assessment.
Step 2: A sales representative will travel to the job site and provide you with a full site analysis. Any more questions may be asked and a basic financial plan can be developed based upon your energy consumption rates from past electricity bills. From here, after the information has been gathered and plan has been made as far as sizes and locations are concerned, a contract will be created.
Step 3: After reviewing and signing the contract then things can get under way. KC Green Energy will handle getting all of the engineering plans created, initialize net-metering with your utility company,and also obtain all of the necessary permits for the job.
Step 4: When all of the necessary paperwork has been filed construction can then begin. Our crew of professional installers and electricians will begin construction on your property. Overall system installation will take less than a week with the number of days depending on the size of the system.
Step 5: After installation is complete the entire system will be professionally inspected to ensure all proper and standard regulations have been met.
Step 6: After the system has been validated then net-metering is initiated with the utility company. Once this has all been completed you will immediately begin to see savings on your electricity bill starting from day one.
Step 7: KC Green will educate you on how to monitor your system if you would like to do so yourself. Our representatives will have your system under constant surveillance in order to immediately detect any system faults that may occur.
Step 8: Refer us to all of your friends and family and tell them how much you enjoy your system and why KC Green Energy is their number one choice as a solar contracting company. Share our page on Facebook or other social media sources. For every referral that you get you will receive $250 thank you from us, and your referral will receive a $250 cash card once their job is complete. Marketing is expensive, so we pass on our marketing cost onto you!
How Does Everything Work?
How does Solar Power work? Solar power systems simply, and with no moving parts, convert sunlight into electricity for your home or business. Solar cells within the modules capture energy from sunlight and directly convert it into DC power free of any emissions that may be harmful to the environment. This is all done very quietly and consistently. A component called an inverter then converts this DC power into AC power which is used in your home. The system then goes through your meter and also gets interconnected with the electrical grid. During the day, if your solar system produces more electricity than your home is using, your utility may allow net metering, or the crediting of your utility account for the excess power generated that is returned to the grid. Your utility would provide power as usual at night and during the day when your electricity demand exceeds that that is produced by your solar system. Systems can also be available with a battery backup energy storage system. Part of the power produced by your solar system during the day is used to charge the batteries, which would then provide power for your critical loads at night and in the event of a power outage.
-What is it?
Net-metering is a term for the agreement between the utility company and the system owner allowing the interconnection of the solar system to the utility grid. It measures the difference between the electricity you buy from your utility company and the electricity you produce with your solar energy system. When a system is producing more energy than the building’s demand, the excess energy will be sent back to the utility grid. The utility meter spins backwards creating a credit for the customer; often referred to as "banking" electricity. At night or when the buildings demand for electricity is higher, the customer will draw this power from the electric grid. Essentially the customer is drawing against the credit they created from excess solar production. Net-metering is observed in total over the course of the year. When you build up excess credit over a month’s time, you will receive an electricity bill of $0 and that additional credit will carry on to the next month and so on. If at the end of the year you have a net positive credit, having created more electricity than consumed, then the utility company will actually write you a check, purchasing the excess energy which you had produced.
-How is it done?
Net-metering is done using a bi-directional meter that measures the flow of electricity both to and from the grid. This meter can spin both forward and backward based upon if the electricity is being produced or consumed.
-Why is Net-Metering necessary?
Net-metering is necessary for your utility company to measure the amount of electric your system produces vs. what you consume. What you end up paying for electricity is the net difference between what you produced through solar, and what you draw from the grid. If you produce more energy than you use, your public utility will pay you for the balance at the "price to compare" at the end of the year.
Will I have to do any time consuming and confusing paperwork? No you will not. KC Green Energy does all of the paper work and provides a full turnkey solution for your solar project. We perform every task including: performing a structural and electrical engineering analysis including stamped plans, obtaining the building permit, submitting the interconnection application to your utility, and setting up your system to sell SRECs. The most that is required of you is a few signatures on these completed documents.
What is the difference between solar "electric" and "thermal"? Solar Electric Systems utilize a process called Photovoltaic, or PV, to convert sunlight directly into electricity through the use of the solar cells within the panels. Solar Thermal, or Heating /Cooling systems harvest the sun’s radiated heat and then transfer it to a fluid that is flowing through the pipes or tubes of a panel, thus heating it up. In many cases it is to create hot water which can be used for many things such as swimming pools and your homes hot water supply.
What role does panel efficiency play in energy production? Efficiency of panels as a selling point can often be misleading, as efficiency plays no role in producing more power. A 200W 10% efficient panel and a 200W 40% efficient panel both produce the same rated 200W. In this case the 40% efficient panel would just create the same amount of power over a smaller area. Efficiency only reflects the physical size of a module & the price at which it would cost. The efficiency of a solar panel is the percentage of the solar energy to which the panel is exposed to that is converted into electrical energy.
Will my system work at night? No, it will not. Sunlight must be present in order for your solar modules to produce power. During the night you would be drawing power from your current utility company.
Will my system work on cloudy days? Yes, though it will produce less electricity than on a perfectly sunny day. Think of it as a cloudy day that you go to the beach. You think it is for some odd reason a good idea not to put sunscreen on. You then, however, end up getting extremely burnt. This is because even though it may not be visible, the sun is still producing UV rays through the clouds. This energy is captured by your solar panels and turned into electricity.
What happens during a power outage? Unless you have an off-grid battery back-up supply or a hybrid system installed then you will not be receiving power along with everyone else. The utility company will actually stop pulling power from your system back to the grid to ensure the safety of any electrician that may be working on the power lines. A backup generator is another great alternative to have installed for the case of emergency power. KC Green can also supply and install both commercial and residential back-up generator systems to suit your needs.
What do the terms on-grid, grid-connected, grid-tied and off-grid mean? On-grid, grid-connected, and grid-tied all mean that your system is connected, or tied in to the utility electrical grid. The typical solar electric system is designed as an on-grid system, meaning that it is interconnected with your existing utility service. Off-grid refers to systems that are not connected to and are independent from the utility electrical grid. These types of systems require a series of battery back-up sources to store electricity for night time use. These systems are typically tend to be more expensive.
How can I tell how my system is performing? We provide a digital power meter with the install of your system. This meter will tell you exactly how much electricity you generate and use, and when you send power back to the utility grid. This will allow you to be able to manage your household usage like never before. The production of each individual panel can also be monitored through our provided software.
Can I be totally independent from the utility? If you are currently connected to a utility company it is best to remain connected with them. This has many benefits to it such as net-metering and having an energy source during the night. Off-grid systems are best suited for those who are without a current connection to the utility company.
What are the differences between using micro-inverters and string inverters?Depending on your application, both inverter technologies have their pros and cons. When using a system comprised of micro-inverters each individual panel will have its own micro-inverter which immediately converts the obtained DC power to AC. These are then all connected by being wired together in a parallel circuit and then send the AC power through the electrical box. Micro-inverters allow you much more freedom with your installation as they take up no additional space. They are mounted under each panel staying concealed and plug directly into the panel's junction box. When one of these inverters goes out you will only lose power from the panel in which it is attached to, therefore it will not have a major impact on the system. The only negatives about micro-inverters are that they are a little bit more expensive than a string inverter in total and you also have a lot more points for system failures having one at each panel.
String inverters, can either mounted on the outside of your home or inside in an area like your garage. They produce a slight humming sound when operating due to the large amount of power they handle. However micro inverters outperform string inverters when the solar array experiences shading or snow cover. This is because when a solar array experiences shading with a string inverter the whole string or row of panels becomes limited to the output of the shaded solar panel or panels. However, sites with limited shading are usually a great application for string inverters, as they are more cost effective and have in production for many years.
How does solar get installed to the roof? The solar system will be attached to the roof with UL listed and approved mounting hardware specific for your type of roof. Every necessary penetration is designed to meet several code required fail safes ensuring your roof will not leak. KC Green’s solar installations along with our many years of roofing experience can guarantee you a safe and worry-free install. A professional inspection is performed on every installation upon completion.
Can I do the installation of my own system? We do not sell equipment through distribution. There are kits available online for those looking to install their own system, however, the products are available to the public are usually overpriced and of less quality. The installation of solar requires working with DC electricity, which can be dangerous. Additionally, a system that is design improperly will costs you much more in the long run, even if you are saving a few dollars upfront. It is best to go with trained professionals and ensure your system will work properly and last many year.
How long will my solar install take? After a contract has been signed it typically takes around 4-6 weeks to obtain all of the necessary engineering schematics along with permitting contracts. Once all the necessary paperwork has been obtained on-site installation and inspection to have your system up and running will take anywhere from two days to a week depending on the system size.
30% Federal Tax Credit:
How much money will I receive?
The federal tax credit is equivalent to 30% of the total cost of your system, including all labor and material. For example: If your system cost was $20,000 your tax credit/grant would amount to $6,000 (30% of the total system cost).
What is a tax credit and how is it different than a tax deduction?
A tax credit is a dollar to dollar reduction on your income taxes and does not rely on what tax bracket you are in. If your tax credit is $9,000 you will pay $9,000 less in taxes for that year.
How long will this program last?
The federal tax credit for solar will be in place until 2016.
Will I receive the full tax credit in my first year of filing?
This will depend on how much you pay in taxes to the federal government. We recommend speaking to your accountant or checking your tax return from the previous year to determine the actual amount you paid to the government. If you have large deductions that reduce your taxable amount or you have a low to moderate income level, you may not exhaust the entire credit in the first year. You are allowed to carry any remainder of the credit forward to future tax years.
Equipment Depreciation (commercial systems only)
What is a tax deduction?
A deduction reduces the amount of money that you are taxed upon each year and is based on the tax bracket you are placed in. For example, if you made $700,000 in a given tax year and have a $300,000 tax deduction, your taxable income would be reduced from $700,000 to $400,000.
So, if you are placed in the 30% tax bracket and received a $300,000 tax deduction, your taxes will be reduced by $90,000.
How will the tax deduction for my solar electric system affect my bottom line?
This depends on a number of factors including your tax liability, tax bracket, and the amount of other deduction your business may have. By reducing your amount of taxable income, you will save a significant amount of money when you file your taxes. If you end up in a 30% tax bracket, this deduction is essentially very similar to a 30% tax credit.
Will the 50% bonus depreciation from 2013 be extended?
There are talks in Washington currently about extending the 100% bonus depreciation that was in the tax law in 2013 The most common method for the remainder of the deprecation would be to depreciate the remaining basis of the system over a 5 year MACRS schedule.
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs):
What are SRECs?
The term SREC stands for Solar Renewable Energy Credit. A SREC is a way for home and business owners to recoup their investment and is based on the actual production of your system. One SREC is created for every 1 megawatt hour (1000 kWhs) of energy production. These credits are then sold on the open market like a commodity. Utility companies are required to purchase an increasing number of SRECs every year. The sale of these SRECs is income in addition to the power you are saving on your electric bill. Even if you are using all the electric your system produces, you will still receive SRECs because you are a green energy provider.
What is the market value for SRECs?
Prices vary per state. To see the current value of the SRECs for the state you live in, visit www.srectrade.com
How many SRECs will my system produce?
This depends on the size of your system. An average system will probably produce about 1.2 credits for every installed kW of system size. A 10kW system (~36 panels) would produce about 12 credits per year, where a 100 kW system (~350 panels) would produce about 120 credits per year.
How much will my solar system cost? This is very case specific and will vary based on how much electric you consume, and how much available space you have for a system. Talk to one of our
Will solar increase my property value? According to the Appraisal Journal, any energy enhancement to your property adds a value by a ratio of 20:1. This means that every dollar that is saved on electricity expenditures on an annual basis will increase your property value by $20. So, if you are saving $1000 a year on electricity expenditures with your solar power system, your property value will increase by $20,000.
Do you have financing options? Yes, we do... We have a variety of finance options based on your needs.
- Wells Fargo Home Improvement Financing
- 12 months "same as cash" financing (no interest, no payment for 12 months)
- Long term financing with Keystone Help Home Energy Loan Program
- We accept Credit Cards!
Another popular financing mechanism is a Home Equity Line of Credit, if you have equity in your home.
Will my system be able to withstand hail and high winds? Our solar panels are internationally rated to survive a direct hit of 1” hailstone at wind speeds in access of 50 mph. Industry wide there has been little report of failure due to hail storms. The panels are supported by a mounting system that has been designed and tested to withstand up to125 mph winds and can work on almost every type of roof. If damaged by weather conditions, panel replacement would be covered under most insurance policies. For further proof of our panel manufacturers tough durability check out the video on the following page:
How long will my solar power system last? Having no moving parts and being comprised of very inert materials, our solar systems are durable and long-lasting. Our Solar World PV panels are backed with a 25-30 year performance warranty depending on the type of panel you decide to go with. Our Enphase micro inverters come with a 25 year parts and labor warranty and String Inverters have a 10 year warranty extendable up to 20 years. KC Green Energy also offers a 5 year no hassle warranty on your system. For more information on the standards in which the panels meet please visit the following links:
What maintenance does the system require? Solar Power is a unique renewable energy in the fact that it requires very little to no maintenance, as it has no moving parts. Rainwater is enough to clean the panels if they collect pollen or debris, but you will need to maintain any sort of growing vegetation or trees around that may cause shading issues. We are constantly monitoring your system and if any parts of your system stop functioning properly KC Green will come out and replace them for free as long as they are still under warranty. If you have an off-grid system the batteries may need replacement every five to ten years, but other than that you should be able to go for many years without a problem.
How do I get started? Call our office at 717-290-6094 to answers to additional questions or set up a free site analysis. We can usually give site specific information over the phone with satellite imagery.