Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

How do solar photovoltaic panels work?

Solar PV panels are primarily made of silicon, so there is no danger of leaking toxins or fumes. As sun shines on the panels, they convert the light into Direct Current (DC) electricity. The electricity then flows to an inverter, where it is changed to Alternating Current (AC) electricity. This AC power is used by the home’s regular electrical systems. 

What happens to my solar array if I sell my house?

Just like the other utilities, the solar pv system is considered part of the home. All power agreements will be transferred to the new homeowners. We can provide you with the proper paperwork and documentation to help the process go smoothly.

Are there financial incentives to go solar?

Yes! For now, you can get money back from solar rebates.  For existing homes and new construction (no rentals), there is currently a 30% federal tax credit, with no upper limit. This is supposed to sunset after the next three years. Other credits and rebates may be available if you have your system installed by a certified installer. In central Illinois the most common incentives are Net MeteringResidential Renewable Energy Tax CreditSpecial Assessment for Solar Energy SystemsUSDA Rural Energy for America (REAP),Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS), andGreen Energy Loans.
It's important to take advantage of these incentives now before they disappear!

Will snow reduce solar energy intake? Should I remove excess snow?

Because of safety concerns, we do not recommend sweeping snow off your solar array, especially if they are on the roof. Solar panels attract sunlight and are more slippery than roof shingles, so any snow that accumulates should melt off fairly quickly. 

Sometimes there can be situations where enough snow will fall and the temps will drop so low for a long enough time that you may experience some loss of production for a time. But even in these conditions, getting up there to remove the snow is still too risky in most cases and the amount of produced energy lost to snow cover is generally very small. 

There are specially designed devices called “solar panel snow rakes” that some folks like to use, but they are still made to be used in mostly one-story situations. The best and safest thing to do is be patient and just wait for temperatures to rise and the sun can do its job and melt any ice or snow off.

Stay alert, though, if you have entryways directly under your solar array! 
After heavy snowfall, you could experience snow sliding off the panels in that area. 
 

How long does Utility commissioning usually take? 

Commissioning can take between 2 days and 2 weeks. After the install (1-3 days for roof work + 1-2 days for wiring) and proper inspections, we will need some paperwork from you, and then we can submit your final application to Ameren and request commissioning. 

Paperwork commonly needed for commissioning:
1. Homeowner's Insurance Declaration Page
2. Signed Certificate of Completion
3. Invoice
 

 

What do I do if the power goes out? Will my array still provide power?

Unless you have back-up batteries, you will NOT have power from your solar array if the power goes out. If you are tied to the grid, there is an important safety reason for this -- if electrical workers are working on the lines and your array is dumping extra electricity into the system, it could be deadly! Unless your system is specifically set up to provide emergency power, do NOTHING if the power goes out! Wait for the electric company to get everything back online. 

Check your monitoring systems after the electricity is back on. If you find your panels are not performing properly, give us a call at 217-344-5131. 

How would I know if there is a problem with my solar system? 
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Monitoring systems provide early warning that your solar system is underperforming. If any fault or error occurs, an alert notification will be generated to the monitoring system through the inverter. Check your online monitoring platform  or inverter display periodically to make sure your array is running at top production. We also provide weekly monitoring checks for all our systems for the first five years.

Do I need to inform my electrician about my solar system before electric work is performed in my home? 

The circuits should have been marked with warning labels. If you find these warning labels have come off, or are otherwise missing, call us immediately.

What the heck is an SREC?

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates have not been easy to fully understand in Illinois but in very general and basic terms, SRECs (or often simply RECs) allow generators of renewable energy to sell credits to businesses like utilities who need them to comply with government regulations. These credits accrue automatically to solar panel owners and often can be traded and sold like stocks on the stock market. However, because of how complicated they truly are, most folks choose to go with a 3rd-party aggregator that their installer already has a relationship with and can handle all the extra paperwork and complexity of each State’s individual rules and standards.

Here is a fun video that can help demonstrate the general ins and outs of SRECs, if you are more a visual learner.  https://youtu.be/UcFytW1q1I8

 The 3rd-party company we work with currently is Carbon Solutions Group who are a Project Development, Environmental Asset Management and Advisory Firm based in Chicago, Illinois to Lima, Peru as well as many other places worldwide. We have worked with CSG since 2015 and feel very confident in their ability to manage the complicated process of Illinois SRECs. 

Here is their website for more detailed information about Carbon Solutions Group. 
http://www.carbonsolutionsgroup.com/index.html