Solar Power FAQs

What is photovoltaics or “PV”?

Photovoltaics is a sustainable energy source that generates power by converting the sun’s radiation into Direct Current (DC) electricity.  This is usually accomplished using monocrystalline silicone or polycrystalline silicone cells.  Simply put, photovoltaics creates electricity from sunlight.

What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?

A PV system’s main components are: PV panels, power inverters, racking structures (which attach the system to the roof or ground), electrical disconnects, and a net meters (used to monitor production).

How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?

Typically, a solar PV system will last over 20 years.  Different PV component manufacturers have warranties that range from 15 to 25 years. The system will last longer if it is designed, installed and maintained correctly by a licensed professional.

What is the difference between photovoltaic and other solar power systems?

There are four main types of solar power systems that harness solar energy:

  1. Systems that use semiconductors to convert solar energy to electrical energy are Photovoltaic (PV) Systems.
  2. Systems that reflect and concentrate the sun’s rays into a central unit that creates steam, which generates electricity by turning turbines are know as Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Systems.
  3. A system that uses a collector facing the sun, and either heats water directly or heats another liquid that then heats the water are called Solar Water Heating Systems.
  4. Finally, systems which use the sun’s energy to preheat ventilated air in buildings are Transpired Solar Collectors.

Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my home?

PV can be used to power all of your home’s electrical needs. This includes electric stoves, air conditioners, pool heaters, microwave ovens, televisions, home entertainment centers, computers, and all other electrical appliances and gadgets.

Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my business?

PV systems can be used in almost any application. Provided there is space to put the system and minimal shading.

How can I tell if there is enough sunlight for a Photovoltaic system at our location?

If you have an open area on your roof or property for most of the day, chances are that you have enough sunlight.  The main thing to keep in mind is that a PV system needs unobstructed and direct access to the sun for all or most of the day. Any shading on your solar panels will drastically Shading on the reduce that panel’s energy output. Buildings and trees are the major sources of shade.  San Diego County is ideal for solar power PV systems because of the hundreds of sunny days.

How big a solar energy system do I need?

The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as: how much electricity you use, the size of your roof, and how much you’re willing to invest. Also, you should ask yourself if you want the system to supply your complete energy usage, or to cover a portion of your higher cost energy usage. You can contact a system designer/installer to determine what type of system would suit your needs.  Its important to have a history of energy usage prepared for your system designer in order to design the right size system.  Generally this is done with 12 months of electric bills which are readily available online with your electric company.

Why should I purchase a PV system?

There are many reasons people buy solar systems.  Some are looking to preserve the environment or prepare themselves for power outages.  We find most people do it to SAVE MONEY!!  This is the main reason behind most of our PV system installations.

How is a solar electric system designed, installed, and maintained?

You could install a photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric system yourself. Working on roofs is a dangerous endeavor so, you will probably want to hire a reputable professional contractor with experience in installing solar systems. PV systems require little maintenance except for occasional washing. The components are designed to meet strict dependability and durability standards so they can stand up to things like heavy wind and other elements. Solar installations are complicated electric systems, so installation usually requires the knowledge and experience of a licensed electrical equipment contractor, generally its preferable to hire a solar installer with a C-10 license (electrical contractor) as they will have a wider understanding of electrical systems.

How do I pick a solar installer?

We suggest getting at least 3 bids and ask lots of questions.  A solar installation is a large expense and it really pays to do your homework.  The cheapest isn’t always the best.  Look for a company that uses equipment from reputable companies that will be around to honor their warranties in the years to come.

How much does a solar energy system cost, and how much will I save on utility bills?

There are many factors that come into play when figuring the cost of a system, such as:

  1. How much energy do you consume annually?
  2. How much roof space do you have to build on?
  3. What type of roof is it (tile, composite, metal)?
  4. How many stories is your structure?
  5. Do you want to eliminate your bill completely or just lower it enough to get out of the more expensive upper tier rate scale?

These are just a few of the questions that need answering figuring cost.  Generally we aim to keep the cost per watt between $4 and $5 per watt.

What is net metering?

Net metering is a policy used by your local utility company that allows homeowners to receive the full retail value for the electricity that their solar energy system produces. Since solar energy is only produced during the daylight hours, net metering allows your meter to spin “backwards” while it is producing energy.

More Information

Find more information on Solar Energy and Mohler Solar’s Installation process.

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