Installing a solar panel, though daunting at first, can prove to be a solid investment that will save you energy and help the environment. Here are answers to common questions for those looking into using solar energy to power up their home.
Q: What is a solar electrical system?
A: A solar electric or photovoltaic system is a set-up which converts light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.
Q: What is involved in installing solar panels in my home?
A: The set-up for solar panels is pretty basic—panels are mounted on your roof or in your yard and connected to an inverter mounted near the main panel in your home, which converts DC to AC.
Q: How long will it take for me to get solar power once the panels are installed?
A: Though installation will take only a few days at the most, the state rebate process takes a bit longer. Many companies are quite flexible and can help you thresh out a specific timetable for your home panels.
Q: Will using these panels really help the environment?
A: Yes! Traditionally electricity is produced here by burning harmful fossil fuels, which release many contaminants into our surroundings. Solar panels reduce your reliance on such fuels, and thus reduce your carbon footprint on our planet.
Q: Will a photovoltaic (PV) system give me power during a grid power outage?
A: Yes, BUT only if your installation system has batteries.
Q: What are the differences between PV systems with and without batteries?
A: A common solar panel set-up uses a straight-tied grid system, which does NOT have batteries and will not produce electricity for you even on a sunny day when your set-up is generating power. Though battery installation is more complex, it is worth it to ensure a constant supply of solar power.
Q: Are batteries required?
A: No. The typical system is a straight-tied grid, which has no batteries but does not produce electricity during blackouts. It is, however, useful to have a battery to hold power for continuous use in the home.
Q: What happens with a PV system at night?
A: Since solar energy cannot be generated then, you won’t be able to use it. However, net metering is being encouraged by the government, which makes your electricity provider buy back your excess solar power from you at generation charge.
Q: How much maintenance is required for solar panels?
A: Panels only require a little wiping or dusting off. It is recommended that you place panels where they will remain free of debris and out of the shade.
Q: Does the size of my roof make a difference?
A: Most roof sizes are just fine—however, a “pitch” of 25-45% is considered ideal.
Q: How much space should my roof have so I can install solar panels?
A: A typical residential solar power system can be installed in approximately 100 to 500 square feet of your roof.
Q: How do I know what system size will work for my home?
A: A typical residential solar electric system will range between 1000 and 5000 watts and will produce between 1000 and 6000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity every year. It is best to get some outside consultation, however, to determine the ideal size just for your house.
Q: How long will my solar installation last?
A: Solar power systems are made to last over 20 years, and most systems will still be producing power even in 30-50 years.
Q: How can I tell if the solar installation is working?
A: To get optimum results, your panels should have little to no shade on them during 9 AM to 3 PM all throughout the year. Ideally, you should have a shade reading conducted in order to determine the amount of shade present at your residence for the whole year.
Q: What are RECs?
A: A Renewable Energy Certificate, or REC, as defined under R.A. 9513, can be considered a unit of value for the “green-ness” of the solar energy you produce. The government is promoting renewable energy usage in the Philippines, and thus promotes clean energy installations and usage, setting targets for solar and other green energy technologies. Hence you can sell the value of the solar energy you produce in your home in a market created specifically for RECs. So in addition to reducing your electric bill, your solar electric system can generate several thousands of pesos in tax-free income each year for ten years.
Q: How long does it take to pay off the investment in my solar electric system?
A: Under R.A. 9513, once the government approves your REC, it only takes about 4 to 8 years for your investment to pay off.
Q: Are there any other costs I should account for apart from installation costs?
A: If your main breaker panel is not big enough to accommodate the addition of solar panels, or if the wiring is old, you may need to have your wiring updated. Additionally, if your roof has less than 10 years of life left, it is highly recommended that you replace your roof before getting the system installed. A solar system will be in place for more than 25 years, so it is best to start with a roof that still has plenty of life left.