Frequently Asked Questions
I am interested in Solar for a residential home, what options are available?
For home owners and builders, there are many solar solutions available on the market which range from fixed glass modules based on silicon technology installed with on roof metal mounting structure, to residential solar shingles designed to replace tiled asphalt roofing.
What do I need to consider when selecting solar for my home?
With such a wide selection of available solar systems, home owners and builders must consider available systems which are compatible with their homes, neighborhoods, and region. The selection process should include criteria such as:
- Is proposed system allowed in my neighborhood?
- Does my local community codes allow my desired solar system?
- Does my home provide an acceptable surface for mounting the solar to maximize power generation?
- How much power do I need/desire to produce?
- Do I have the roof space to install the solar system?
- Do I have to invest extra money to reinforce my roof to handle the weight of the solar system?
- How much financial credit is available from the Federal Government, State Government, City, and Utility to offset the purchase price of my system?
- When considering the time to payoff the system, remember that most utilities have tiered pricing and that your system will initially be producing energy at your highest usage rate.
- What warranty is being offered for the system?
- Does the warranty include not only the Solar panels but also the power converters?
- Who will honor the warranty after the installation is finished?
- How do I make a warranty claim? Do I have to work with the module manufacturer or installer?
- Silicon is the most common technology and predominately supplied by foreign manufacturers. Silicon Modules often require heavy rack mounting and very specific module slopes and directional installations.
- Amorphous silicon – a light weight flexible module which produced significantly lower power per square foot leading to limitations in amount of power which can be installed. Available in select systems. Provides greater installation flexibility in weight and mounting hardware.
- Cadmium Telluride – primarily produced for large utility field installations and not generally available for home use.
- CIGS – leading technology providing high power in a light weight solar system. Provides the installation flexibility of Amorphous silicon but with power generation levels nearly 50% greater. CIGS produces power over a greater daylight period than silicon based systems.
- Which of these technologies will produce the most power on my home and give me the best return on my investment?
What systems are commercially available to me today for my residential home?
Numerous installers offer solutions from various module suppliers. For residential homes, Dow Solar Solutions is launching an asphalt replacement system called PowerHouse™ which offers both the advantage of a light weight system and is generally accepted by home owner organizations. Visit www.dow.com/solar for more information.
Why does my solar system not generate as much power as originally purchased?
A solar system generates power based on the amount of solar illumination (hours and intensity of the sunlight), the ambient temperature, cleanliness of the panels and any shading effects. It is typical that solar output varies not only daily but also seasonally. It is best to evaluate your system over an extended period of time, for example based on the number of kWh generated per month.