SOLAR ENERGY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FAQMichael Kibirige
Below we have developed a list of frequently asked questions about solar installations to help guide you in making the most accurate decision for your renewable energy needs.
Every building contains a power meter telling you exactly how much electricity you generate and use, and when you are sending power back to the utility grid. If a grid tied system produces more power than the appliances in the building are using then the meter will spin backwards. AIT also offers a system monitoring device and service with every installation.
A data monitoring card is installed in the inverter providing real-time, web-based feed of system production. This data card allows for detailed monitoring with better than +/- 5% accuracy. The monitor card detects system interruption and data glitches while feeding instant email alerts to programmers, allowing them to maintain constant vigilance of installations and immediately dispatch an alert. System data/performance can be accessed through a high-speed internet connection and provides you with current weather conditions, AC output, lifetime kilowatt hours, system offsets/efficiency, and daily kilowatt hours produced. The AIT solar monitoring system also shows environmental offsets as a result of the system in tangible terms such as CO2 offset, trees saved and waste recycled rather than land-filled.
Crystalline Silicon (c-Si)cells are wafer thin slices of silicon crystals. There are two types: monocrystalline silicon cells are cut from a single uniform crystal and multicrystalline/Polycrystalline Silicon are cut from multifaceted crystals. There are three main types of thin film technologies commercially available today: Amorphous Silicon (a-Si), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) and Copper, Indium, Gallium, Serenade (CIGS). The technologies listed in order of power density are: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Crystalline modules are more expensive to manufacture and require rigid framing to support their fragility, while thin film modules consume far less resources and can be applied to a variety (including flexible) surfaces.
Yes. Advanced Green Technologies can help you determine which type of system is best for your high wind zone risks.
The typical components of a grid tied PV system include PV modules, an inverter, associated wiring, a combiner box, safety disconnecting switches and an interconnecting circuit breaker to tie the PV system to the existing electrical system. The PV module is the basis of the system. The number of PV modules determines the amount of power that will be produced by the system. An array is the arrangement of numerous PV modules. The modules are connected together in series to form groups called strings. String size, the number of modules connected together in series, is used to determine the DC voltage. The combiner box is used to take the paralleled strings and combine them into a single output to send to the inverter. The inverter’s function is converting the DC power, or Direct Current, into usable AC power, or Alternating Current. An inverter’s name plate rating is determined by the amount of power that it is able to output. A 5kW inverter is able to output a maximum of 5,000 W.
The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic technologies work. The word has two parts: photo, meaning light, and volt, a unit of measurement for electricity. . Thus photovoltaic literally means light-electricity.
These are generally deployed on ground-mounted utility-scale farms and are designed to follow the sun’s path during the day and through the different seasons to capture the maximum amount of sun. A tracker increases the annual production of a PV system at the cost of additional system complexity.
The PV cells themselves will work indefinitely and produce electricity as long as they have contact with sunlight. Manufacturers provide a twenty five year warranties on most products, however system owners report their systems continue production past the determined twenty five year lifespan.
Your system should go years, even decades, without problems. We recommend that the installer conduct a system check once a year, just to ensure everything is performing as it should. Otherwise, you can clean the modules two or three times a year with water to rid it of dust and debris. If your system includes batteries, they may need to be replaced every five to ten years.
No, as long as you use a certified roofer, your roof’s warranty will be carried over. But be wary of contracting an uncertified/untrained individual to install your solar system. Besides making engineering and electrical mistakes, if a roof leak or issue occurs after installation your roofer may not be liable for warranty or inspection if your roof experienced a faulty solar installation. All AIT authorized roofing contractors are certified to install solar systems as per our training programs.
Yes, your system will work on cloudy days, but it will produce less electricity. Through an overcast sky, panels produce approximately half as much as under full sun.
If you have any questions we did not answer, please contact us today and we will be happy to help you. We have friendly solar experts standing by ready to help.