Residential Solar FAQ

There are many reasons to install solar. Solar can help reduce your current electric bill, contribute to energy independence and help save the environment. With all of the current rebates and tax credits available to the consumer, installing solar today now makes more sense than ever.

Is there really enough sunshine in the Northwest?

Yes! Solar power works in the Northwest!

Although higher latitudes receive fewer annual hours of sunlight, solar panels operate at greater efficiency in cooler climates making the Northwest an excellent place for solar.  The Northwest additionally has long summer days with many months of high solar hours.  Even though the Northwest's winters are mostly overcast and shorter, solar still works in these conditions.  In fact, Germany has installed half of all the world's solar panels in their country but actually gets less sunlight throughout the year than the Seattle area!

The best part is that Washington has some of the best incentive programs in the country.  These incentives make solar more financially beneficial than in a majority of other states.

What size solar electric system do I need?

The recommended size of your system depends on your power consumption.  If you want to completely offset (replace) your current electrical usage (purchases) from the utility with a solar electric system, the first step is to review your annual energy consumption which can be obtained from your utility bill.  If you design an energy efficient home and use energy efficient appliances and lighting, you can reduce your electricity usage dramatically.  The majority of the Puget Sound area home systems range from 2,000W to 8,000W, or 200 to 800 square feet of solar modules.  Where you live, how you live and how you heat your water and house will dictate the size of your system and its total cost.

Will solar increase my property value?

Yes.  According to real estate appraisers, for every $1 of electricity that you offset through solar, it will increase the value of your home by $20.  This means that your home would increase in value immediately by about the total net cost of the system after rebates.

How much roof space will my system need?

A rule of thumb is that every 1,000 Watts of solar modules will require 100 sq ft of roof space.  Since most systems range between 2,000W to 6,000W the roof space required will range from 200 sq ft to 600 sq ft.

Will the surrounding trees be a problem?

Unless there are tall trees in the SE to SW window of your sites location, tree shading should not be significant enough to prevent you from exploring solar options.  A rule of thumb is to have no shading from 10AM to 3PM.  Since the sun is higher in the horizon during the summer, tree shading usually provides more obstacles during the winter than in the summer.  For regions that have overcast conditions and short days during the winter, such as the Puget Sound area, any but the worst shading issues can be worked with. S unergy Systems can provide a complete site analysis to determine the exact shading and impact that any trees will have on your system.

What is the best orientation of my roof?

The best roof orientation for the Seattle region is SE to SW with South being the best.  SE to SW orientations will result in only a slight annual energy reduction of 2% to 4%.  Even due West or East orientations are workable, but you can expect anywhere from 12% to 18% less production than a Southern orientation, if you have no shading issues then adding a couple more solar modules to your system size will compensate for these losses.  The best roof pitch or tilt angle is 15° to 45°, with only 2% to 4% loss compared to the "perfect" pitch.  Even a flat pitch will only result in about a 10% annual output reduction; however, we recommend to never have a flat array due to major soiling issues that will require unacceptable maintenance schedules and reduction of the system life.

Does it matter what type of roof I have?

Yes and no.  Yes in that different roofing materials require different methodologies which can impact the systems installation costs.  Never allow amateurs or un-experienced contractors to penetrate a torchdown (membrane) or flat roof, only experienced professionals should ever work with these difficult roofs.  If your roof will need to be replaced during the next ten years we recommend that you either replace it before having your systems installed or replacing it now.  All roofs can be installed with solar, with flat and wood shack being more difficult and standing seam metal and composition being easier.

How long will my solar electric system last?

Solar modules have been tested in controlled settings and in the field, with results showing module lifetimes in excess of 25 years.  Modules typically have 10 to 25 year performance warranties and 1 to 5 year workmanship warranties.

Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?

Sunergy Systems will handle every aspect of the installation from the filing of the rebate paperwork, to the permits, to the final inspections and Net Metering Approval.  Sunergy Systems is proud to offer a comprehensive turnkey package to every customer to ensure that installing a solar power system is an easy, pleasant experience for you.

Is there any system maintenance required?

Since there are no moving parts, the system is basically maintenance free.

Can the homeowner sell power back to their utility?

Yes, through net metering any excess electricity generated will spin your meter backwards which has the effect of selling your excess power to the utility at a full retail rate.  On a monthly basis, you pay only the net of what power you used.  If you generate more power than you use in a month your utility company will forward your excess solar energy credits to be used during the next month.  This allows any excess energy generated in the summer to be used during the winter when there is less solar energy and usually higher energy usage.