Questions you should ask your solar contractor – part 4

29. What happens during the solar power installation process?

The Solar power installation process consists of engineered drawing that is submitted for permit approval.  After permit approval and installation, a date is scheduled. Most installations for homes will take 1-2 days. After installation, it will be submitted for a final inspection.  After the inspection is completed your local power company is notified with an interconnection agreement which they will come out and swap out your meter for a bidirectional meter that will be able to monitor the power your solar power system will produce for the power company.  The total installation process takes 4-8 weeks depending on permitting, interconnection agreement and weather.

30. Should I ask for a solar monitoring system for my solar panels?

Yes.  Most solar contractors will not include the monitoring.  You would be advised to ask for it. You can always get your energy output readings from the inverter if it is a string inverter system.   However, you will have to go to the inverter and familiarize yourself with its report settings in order to get your solar energy production readings. It is a microinverter system you will need monitoring or you will just have to rely on the power companies tracking numbers.  If you have a string inverter system by SolarEdge w/ power optimizers you need to have the cellular chip upgrade to your system. Then you will be able to track the energy production from your solar panel system through an app you can download onto your phone. You will be able to see the day to day energy production, weekly, monthly and yearly solar energy output.

31. Do I need to install solar batteries with my solar power system?

In Orlando Florida, you are able to tie the system into the power companies grid nullifying the need for the solar batteries.  You might want to consider a Tesla Powerwall as a backup generator system. Keep in mind when you use a Tesla Powerwall it will not back up your entire system but rather provide power to critical energy sources during a power outage.  Mainly your main loads are what you are backing up. Refrigerator and stove with an outlet for a light and fan. If you wanted to back up for the entire house you would probably need 3 Tesla Powerwalls. I typically do not recommend battery backups where grid access is available.  There are a few reasons for this. First, off I feel a traditional generator is a better power outage backup then solar batteries, because when the power goes out it is usually accompanied by bad weather that will reduce the systems overall production and leave you with intermittent power outages.  Secondly, Solar battery solutions only last 7-10 years, meaning you will have to replace the batteries 3 times during the life of your solar panel systems life, more than doubling the cost of the system. Finally, solar batteries put off a strong magnetic field that I do not like putting near the home.  If you had a shed that was 100 feet from the home then I might put the batteries there. There are some great whole home generators that you can install for the same price that will actually give you enough power to power your entire home for a week.

32. Can the local Homeowners Association (HOA) stop me from installing a solar power system on my building?

It is illegal for an HOA to prevent you from installing solar panels on your home.  Some will have requirements such as they need to face the back of the house but even those are speculative.  Meaning if the performance of the system mandates that the solar panels need to face the front of the house for peak performance then they can not stop you from placing them there.  I do recommend checking with the HOA for any guidelines they request and whenever possible adhere to those requests. In cases when you cannot adhere to their guidelines then your solar company can send them a letter explaining why we must break there suggested guidelines.

34. How will Solar Panels be mounted?

Solar panels will be mounted to a racking system and it is that racking system that will be mounted to the roof.  More specifically to your homes truss system when available. That means no solar panels will be mounted directly to your roof.  This method reduces and potential leaking factors that may arise if the panels were installed directly to the roof.  Ironridge solar mounts are the most durable mounts on the market and graded to withstand 140 mph winds. For more Questions you should ask your solar company check out our ongoing series: Questions You Should Ask Your Solar Company – Part 1 Questions You Should Ask Your Solar Company – Part 2 Questions You Should Ask Your Solar Company – Part 3 Questions You Should Ask Your Solar Contractor – Part 4