FAQs

DC: Direct current (produced by solar panels)

AC: Alternating current (used in homes, business and industry)

Efficiency: Measure of how much of the sunlight is converted to electricity (%)

Capacity: Total amount of power that a system produces (also referred to as system size)

Watt (W): Basic unit of power

Photovoltaic (PV): photo = light, voltaic = produces voltage

Kilowatt (kW): A unit of electrical power equal to 1,000 watts (most common solar system measurement)

Kilowatt-hour (kWh): Basic unit of energy equal to the use of 1,000 watts of electricity for one full hour (basic unit of electrical usage billing)

The basic unit of energy: Energy = Power x Time.

Example: If ten 100-watt lightbulbs are left on for one hour, the energy consumed is 1 kWh (100 w x 10 = 1 kWh).

Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert light directly into electricity using semiconductor technology.

Individual photovoltaic (PV) cells are connected to panels. Solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.

An inverter converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) for electricity in the home.

The utility meter records the net amount of energy generated through the PV system. When you’re creating more electricity than you’re using, your meter will “spin backward” and the excess electricity is sent to the electric grid. This helps to offset the cost of your electricity usage at night or on cloudy days when your system is not producing electricity.

Every site is different and the needs of the system owner vary. System size depends on several factors, including how much electricity (kWh) is consumed on-site, the orientation and tilt of the system, the available space and financial considerations.

Remember that you do not have to offset 100% of the consumption of your home or business. Offsetting any portion can be beneficial and a good way to get started with solar.

Always check with a licensed installer or contractor to determine the true optimal size of your system for the portion of your consumption that you wish to offset with solar.

It is not recommended. The process requires both licensed electrical and roofing skills to ensure the solar power system is safe and optimally designed for 25+ years of production.

With proper design and installation following industry best practices, your roof should maintain all of its pre-solar integrity. Northern Lights Solar trains and inspects all of our installers on these best practices so that you can rest easy knowing that your roof will be in great shape. Be sure to ask us about our warranty we offer on our installation quality.

With no moving parts and at least a 25-year expected life-span, solar panels require very little maintenance. In fact, their design ensures that they remain relatively clean as long as they are exposed to rain or a quick rinse with a garden hose every few months.

Yes. A general rule of thumb is that if you can clearly see your solar panels, they can produce electricity. In fact, given equal sunlight, a solar panel on a cold day will out-produce a solar panel on a hot day.

While snow will decrease production while it is on your panels, it should not damage your system when designed and installed properly. Given the angle of the panels and their tendency to produce some heat, the snow will melt off your panels faster than it would melt off your roof, quickly returning your system to its full potential.

The total costs will vary per system depending on the type and size of system you install. Government incentives and financing help make the entire project very affordable. One incentive to consider is the 26% federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy systems. The investment tax credit, also known as the solar tax credit, allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your Federal taxes. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems and there is no cap on its value. This is currently available through 2022.

Residential photovoltaic systems not only reduce electricity bills, they can also provide long-term savings and increase the resale value of your home. The exact electricity savings for Minnesota homes and businesses will depend on the owners consumption and the size of your PV Solar system. By installing solar you can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, this cost. This means that you will mitigate future utility rate increases.

Most homeowners see a $5,911 resale value increase per installed kilowatt, as noted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). That means if you install a 3.1 kilowatt system, you could improve your home’s resale value by nearly $18,000.

Solar panels on the roof also provide protection from the harsh Minnesota weather.  This can help extend the lifespan of your shingles. You’ll also receive efficiency benefits as the panels block sun from beating down on your roof. This keeps the house cooler on hot days and reduces your air conditioning demands.

Solar power is one of the cleanest alternative energy solutions. The most significant environmental impacts of going solar will be the reduction of carbon emissions. Electricity production is responsible for a large percentage of these emissions. By going solar you’re doing your part to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment. You’ll also be supporting jobs in alternative energy.

When you have a solar array installed most, or all, of your electricity will be generated by the solar panels.

No. For properties with ample land there are also ground-mounted panel systems.

Most solar panel systems come with 25 to 30 year warranty, although panels can continue to produce after this time before output begins to decrease. Solar panels will come with a product warranty to protect you from a panel with a material or workmanship defect. At Northern Lights Solar we provide comprehensive warranties on all of the products that we sell.

When the grid goes down so does your solar power system. The main reason for this is safety. If utility crews are working on the lines to restore power during an outage, and your system is sending power back to the grid, this poses a big safety issue. You can, however, maintain power to the house while the grid is down by installing a battery storage system. These systems act as a generator by storing excess power from your solar array. You can tap that power during outages. Unlike gas or propane generators, battery storage systems operate with no emissions and they are silent.