Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy

We have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions. In addition you may want to look at our news section for more information.

Please contact us with any additional questions.

Click here for 2016 Coastal Style Article with top 8 Q & A.


How does a homeowner take care of the shingles and how can they be replaced when underneath the solar panels?

To replace shingles the solar panels need to be removed by a professional. Most solar companies will not sell you a system on a roof needing replacement or close to it. The panels themselves will prolong the life of the shingles underneath they will be covered by the panels.

What are solar cells made from?

Silicon wafers make up the individual solar cells. This type of solar panel is called “Photovoltaic” or PV. Groups of solar cells are made into panels or modules. Modules are then arranged as an array.

What is net metering?

Net metering is an agreement with the utility provider that allows for customers to only pay for the net amount of electricity they use after they subtract the amount of electricity they create. The spirit of this arrangement is to allow homeowners to be energy independent in the sense that they can create as much electricity as they use. A start date is established and at the end of one year, the meter is read and a bill is generated.

The goal for a solar sytem owner is to produce as much energy as possible with their solar arrays without producing more power than they use.

Why is figuring out the price so confusing? How much do they cost?

The reason it appears to be difficult is that the systems are subsidized in different ways for people who live in different locations and have a variety of factors.  Maryland rebates work in one way, Delaware in another, and some counties have additional information to be considered.

Green Street Solar takes care of the entire process for you, so our quotes will involve everything spelled out in a professional and honest manner.

If you were considering getting "heat" for your house, there would be a lot of factors in determining the price. The same can be said for a solar electric system.

Why don’t you offer wind or thin-film solar?

Green Street Solar specializes in residential and small-business photovoltaic solar arrays. In most cases, these are the most cost-effective way to produce clean energy out of the technologies mentioned.

Thin-film solar is an emerging technology, but it works much better in places with more intense sunlight. As it becomes a better technology for the price, we will offer it to our customers.

Despite some windy days, most of Delaware and Maryland are not good candidates for home-based wind applications.  We would be happy to introduce you to a company that specializes in wind systems should you be part of the small percentage where wind makes sense.

If I have a solar array on my roof, does my home electricity work when the power is out?

There are two main types of solar systems, regular "grid-tied" and those that charge batteries and use that power stored in the batteries. For most homeowners, there is no reason to use a system with batteries. Batteries are expensive, require maintenance and replacement, and are extremely toxic to the environment if not disposed of properly.

A typical grid-tied system without batteries will still generate power during an electric outage, but the system is designed to shut off, as to not send power into the lines where utility workers are working to restore the grid.

What is the worst "enemy" of a solar electric system?

While the orientation of the array, tracking devices, and proper angling certainly help make solar arrays efficient, they do not play the role that one might expect. Because of the solar module’s design, shading over even a small section of the array can cause a dramatic decrease in the array’s productivity.

Do solar panels lose their efficiency quickly?

No. Solar modules tend to lose less than 1% of their efficiency every year. They are durable and should last for 30 years or longer, still producing a large quantity of electricity.

Is it true that for the average house, solar modules need to become much more efficient than they currently are?

False. Efficiency is needed when fuel and/ or space is limited. The fuel for the solar arrays is the sunshine. Modules only need to be as efficient as space allows. For most houses, there is ample roof space available for an adequate solar array.  In cases where space is at a premium, such as a spacecraft or sailboat, new technologies continue to evolve, making them more efficient.

If I wait until next year, will my system be cheaper?

It depends. While the price for a system is going down slightly, demand is going up and grant programs are being exhausted.  Grant programs and subsidies are currently generous, making solar arrays more affordable for most adopters. As more people use solar, the less grant money will be available. The industry is working hard to make less expensive products to allow for a cost-effective energy solution that does not depend on subsidies.

If I need power when the grid is down, is a battery-based solar system is always the best option?

No. Batteries are expensive, require maintenance, and are extremely toxic if not disposed of properly. If you have critical need for continuous power, a backup generator is a cost-effective solution in comparison to battery back-up for your solar array.

What about the weight of the panels especially in the winter with snow and how about wind?

Both Snow and wind loads are calculated in the design of the system.

You comment about the negatives of battery systems but didn't really answer the if solar power is available for night time usage?

Grid Tied PV systems do not store energy for use later like a Battery system. The energy created during the day is "send" back to the grid. At night the panels (and inverter) shut off and the regular power grid supplies your electricity.

If I want to sell my house, how do solar systems affect my home value?

Studies have shown that Sellers more than recover their initial investment in grid-tied solar arrays. To be fair, this does not take into consideration the aesthetics of the system, which some people are not accustomed to seeing. Keep in mind that if you choose to lease your system you will need the new owner to take over your lease payment.

What have electric rates done over time?

Historically, electric rates in the United States have risen just under 7% per year. Buying a solar array for your house is one way to protect yourself from future electric price increases.