Frequently asked questions
Why should I go solar?
1. What are the financial benefits of solar energy?
When you install a solar energy system on your property, you save money on your electricity bills and protect yourself against rising electricity rates in the future. How much you can save depends on the utility rates and solar policies in your area, but going solar is a smart investment regardless of where you live.
2. What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?
Solar power, like other renewable energy resources, has many environmental and health benefits. Going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change, and also results in fewer air pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which can cause health problems.
3. How do I find out how much I pay for electricity?
The easiest way to find out how much you pay for electricity (and how much electricity you use per month) is to take a look at your utility electricity bill.
4. What is net metering?
Net metering is the system that utilities use to credit solar energy system owners for the electricity produced by their solar panels. With net metering, you only pay for the electricity that you use beyond what your solar panels can generate. Net metering policies differ from state to state. Check with your Electricity provider on local policies.
5. How does solar impact my property values?
Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation
How do solar panels work for my home?
How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?
Solar panels absorb the sun's energy throughout the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid.
Do my solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
The amount of power your solar energy system can generate is dependent on sunlight. As a result, your solar panels will produce slightly less energy when the weather is cloudy, and no energy at night. However, because of high electricity costs and financial incentives, solar is a smart decision even if you live in a cloudy city.
What happens if there is snow on solar panels?
Solar panels convert sunshine into power, so if your panels are covered in snow they can’t produce electricity. Snow generally isn’t heavy enough to cause structural issues with your panels, and since most panels are tilted at an angle the snow will slide off. If snow does accumulate, your panels are easy to clean.
Can I go off grid with solar panels?
When you install solar panels on your property, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw from the grid when your system is not producing all of the power that you need, and send power back to the grid when you produce more than you use. It is possible to go off the grid with a solar energy system that includes battery storage, but it will cost significantly more and is unnecessary for the majority of homeowners.
Will I still receive an electric bill if I have solar panels?
Unless your solar energy system includes battery storage and you are fully off the grid, you will still receive a bill from your utility. However, you can dramatically reduce your bill, or even cut the amount you owe to a bare minimum, with a solar panel system that matches your energy use.
Do solar panels work in a blackout?
If your solar panel system is connected to the grid, it will shut off in the event of a blackout. This is to prevent emergency responders and electricity utility repair-people from being injured by your panels sending power back to the grid. However, there are certain inverters you can buy that provide backup power in a blackout when paired with a battery.
How much will solar panel maintenance cost?
Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass and require little to no maintenance for the 25 to 35 years that they will generate power. In most cases, you don’t even need to clean your solar panels regularly. If something does happen, most equipment manufacturers include warranties, although warranty terms depend on the company.
What is a Solar PV System and how does it work?
PV, short for Photovoltaic, derives its name from the process of converting light (‘photo’) directly into electricity (‘voltaic’). Simply put, a Solar PV system is a power station that generates electricity from sunlight.
The main components of a Solar PV system are:
Solar Panels or Modules: Solar panels consist of a group of small cells made from semiconductor material. When the sun’s light falls on the modules, it excites the electrons, thereby creating direct current (DC).
Solar Inverter: The DC electricity goes into an inverter that converts it into alternating current (AC). We use AC for running our household or office or factory equipment.
Storage Battery (optional): The best use of solar energy is to consume it while it is being generated. If the requirement is to store this power and consume it in the non-sunny hours, then solar energy can be stored in batteries for later consumption.
What is the difference between Solar PV and Solar Thermal?
The majority of solar energy, coming to our earth through the sun rays, is in the form of ‘light’ and ‘heat’. A Solar PV system uses the ‘light’ energy and converts it into electricity, which can then be used to run electrical equipment or charge batteries. A Solar Thermal system uses the ‘heat’ energy of the sun where a solar collector captures this heat or thermal energy and uses it to heat water or air.
Does a Solar PV system produce same energy output throughout the day?
Since Solar PV works on the basis of the intensity of sunlight it gets, your solar system typically wakes up at around 6am in the morning and goes to sleep at about 6 or 7pm in the evening. The energy output increases gradually and peaks at around noon and then gradually decreases as the Sun starts setting. But since the solar energy produced integrates either with your existing electrical connection or with your batteries, the running of your electrical equipment is not impacted. Moreover, if your Solar PV system is designed well, all your electrical equipment is totally safe.
What factors are important to consider when planning to go solar?
When planning to go solar, it is important to consider:
How much of your energy needs can you meet with solar?
How much can you save by going solar?
Do you have enough shadow-free space (land or roof)?
How much do you want to invest in your solar PV system?
Every Solar PV system is customized based on your site conditions. Therefore, you need a fair assessment of your energy requirements, site conditions and the solar energy generation potential at your site which would directly impact your savings.
How much space is required for Solar PV system?
A 1 kW rooftop system generally requires 10 to 12 sq. meters (110 to 130 square feet). Based on the space available, you can fulfil your entire electricity requirement through solar.
Solar systems are modular in nature and you can increase your system size anytime if your energy needs go up.
How much energy can be generated from my solar system?
Solar Power generation depends upon several factors like location, orientation of roof/ land, shadowing objects, ambient temperature, solar system quality, etc.
Considering all of the above factors, typically, in a sunny area, a 1 kW system generates 4.0 to 4.5 units (kWh) which can run 4 lights (4*20W), 2 fans (2*75W), 1 TV (80W) and 1 refrigerator (150W) for 10 hours.
Based on your installed capacity, you can easily calculate the generation of your solar system.
Do Solar PV panels degrade in performance with time?
Solar panels age with you, though at a much lower pace. It is usual to see a very small degradation in energy output with time which is due to the very nature of the solar module technology. Generally, annual degradation of modules is in the range of 0.3% to 0.5%. However, in the first year of your installation, this degradation may be higher.
Do I get any guarantees or warranties for Solar Panels?
The Solar PV modules are backed by suppliers’ guarantee of 25 years or more. In fact, the modules have been known to generate electricity even up to 40 years. Know more about Solar PV system guarantees & warranties.
Am I ready for solar?
Can I afford to go solar?
If you can afford to pay your electricity bill you can afford to go solar. Rs 0-down solar financing options, including both solar loans and home maintenance loans, make it easy for homeowners with good credit to start saving on their electricity bills by going solar.
Is my roof suitable for solar panels?
Southerly-facing roofs with little to no shade and enough space to fit a solar panel system are ideal for installing solar. However, in many cases there are workarounds if your home doesn’t have the ideal solar roof. Register your property on EnergySage to learn more about all of your options; all installation offers are based on images of your actual roof.
What size solar energy system should I get?
The size of your solar energy system will depend on how much electricity you use on a monthly basis, as well as the weather conditions where you live. Take a look at your past electricity bills and compare offers from licensed, pre-screened solar installers to determine the best system size for your needs.
How long will my solar power system last?
In general, solar panels are very durable and capable of withstanding snow, wind, and hail. The various components of your solar power system will need to be replaced at different times, but your system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years.
How do I evaluate solar quotes?
How do I choose a solar installer?
There are a few criteria that everyone should use when choosing a solar installer. Confirm that they are ISO certified, licensed and Quality Rated from CRISIL, ICRA etc and have relevant experience and infrastructure, and can provide references. At HiveSolar and its group of companies are certified and approved integrators and pre-screened to ensure that we meet these high quality standards. Meet with our solar installer in person before you sign an agreement to ensure that you are comfortable working with them.
How do I compare solar quotes?
If you have multiple quotes from different solar installers, comparing them can be difficult. Not all solar integrators use the same underlying assumptions and metrics when they provide equipment options to homeowners. At Hive Solar our Engineers can make easy side-by-side comparisons to ensure that you understand the costs and benefits of each options.
What are the different types of solar panels?
While every solar panel brand and product has unique specifications, EnergySage has rated solar panels on a five-tier scale, from Poor to Fair, through Good and Very Good, and ultimately up to Excellent. The classifications are displayed on each panel page in the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide, and are provided alongside every quote that is submitted through the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to help shoppers compare their options and choose the best solar panels for their needs.
What are the different types of power inverters?
Power inverters convert the electricity your panels produce from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) power. There are three types of inverters: string/centralized inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers. Like solar panels, EnergySage has rated solar inverters on a five-tier scale, from Poor to Fair, through Good and Very Good, and ultimately up to Excellent. The classifications are displayed on each inverter page in the EnergySage Buyer’s Guide, and are provided alongside every quote that is submitted through the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to help shoppers compare their options and choose the best equipment for their needs.
What happens during the solar power installation process?
The first step to going solar is to register on EnergySage to receive and compare multiple installation quotes. These quotes will include a variety of equipment choices, financing options, and solar company reviews. When you find one you’re happy with, your installer will conduct a site visit to assess your property. Once you accept a quote on EnergySage, your installer will file the paperwork necessary to have your system approved. The actual installation takes a day or two to complete.
Should I ask for a solar monitoring system for my solar panels?
If you are interested in receiving detailed information about how much energy your solar panel system is producing, ask your installer about solar monitoring system options. In many cases, solar lease agreements will include free programs to track your system’s performance. If you own your system you may need to pay for one separately.
Do I need to install solar batteries with my solar power system?
Solar power systems that include solar batteries, known as solar-plus-storage, are increasingly popular, but can be pricey. Luckily, batteries are not necessary for most solar homeowners. As long as you are connected to the grid, your system does not need a battery: excess power goes back into the grid, and you can draw from the grid if you need more electricity than your panels can generate.
About Solar Generation..
What is photovoltaics (solar electricity) or "PV"?
The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric technologies work. First used in about 1890, the word has two parts: photo, a stem derived from the Greek phos, which means light, and volt, a measurement unit named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity. So, photovoltaics could literally be translated as light-electricity. And that's just what photovoltaic materials and devices do; they convert light energy to electricity, as Edmond Becquerel and others discovered in the 18th Century.
How can we get electricity from the sun?
When certain semiconducting materials, such as certain kinds of silicon, are exposed to sunlight, they release small amounts of electricity. This process is known as the photoelectric effect. The photoelectric effect refers to the emission, or ejection, of electrons from the surface of a metal in response to light. It is the basic physical process in which a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) cell converts sunlight to electricity.
Sunlight is made up of photons, or particles of solar energy. Photons contain various amounts of energy, corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a PV cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. Only the absorbed photons generate electricity. When this happens, the energy of the photon is transferred to an electron in an atom of the PV cell (which is actually a semiconductor).
With its newfound energy, the electron escapes from its normal position in an atom of the semiconductor material and becomes part of the current in an electrical circuit. By leaving its position, the electron causes a hole to form. Special electrical properties of the PV cell—a built-in electric field—provide the voltage needed to drive the current through an external load (such as a light bulb).
What are the Typical components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?
A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; one or more batteries; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for a utility-grid-connected system and when alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.
How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.
What's the difference between PV and other solar energy technologies?
There are four main types of solar energy technologies:
Photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert sunlight directly to electricity by means of PV cells made of semiconductor materials.
Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, which concentrate the sun's energy using reflective devices such as troughs or mirror panels to produce heat that is then used to generate electricity.
Solar water heating systems, which contain a solar collector that faces the sun and either heats water directly or heats a "working fluid" that, in turn, is used to heat water.
Transpired solar collectors, or "solar walls," which use solar energy to preheat ventilation air for a building.
Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my home?
PV can be used to power your entire home's electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances. PV systems today can be blended easily into both traditional and nontraditional homes. The most common practice is to mount modules onto a south-facing roof
How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?
A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. Most PV modules are angled to catch the sun's rays,
The strength of the solar energy (radiation) available depends on the time of year, the time of day, and the latitude of the generation point. The amount of energy that the system generates can change due to the amount of dust and water vapour in the air, how much cloud cover, any shading of the solar panels and quality of the solar modules.
Does roof orientation really matter?
Most certainly. For example, a system with solar panels facing in a southerly direction will generate far more than one with a northerly aspect. However, east/west installations can be a adopted depending on the installation scenario.
Should I choose monocrystalline, thin film or polycrystalline solar panels?
Between monocrystalline and polycrystalline there isn’t a lot of difference. However, a polycrystalline panel is slightly larger than the equivalent wattage in monocrystalline. Thin film panels are larger again. That extra space can take up valuable rooftop real estate in terms of adding extra panels at a later date.
Can I add solar panels to my home solar power system later?
Yes, but that might be complicated because your system needs to be resized. This means that you will probably have to replace some (or all) of the main components – inverter, charge controller and battery bank. A smart idea would be to oversize your system a bit in the process of initial evaluation . Mind however , for oversizing you have to pay extra money which obviously will not match your energy needs at the moment of system start.
How much of a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will I achieve?
Using a comparison to a car, assuming a vehicle in India travels 20 000 km per annum, which is equivalent to 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide discharge annually. A 2kw grid connect system will prevent 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide being generated through coal fired power generation – so it’s the equivalent of taking a car off the road each year.
Can I get 100% power from my panels anytime during the course of an year?
This is very unlikely ...All Solar Panels manufactured are rated based on Standard test conditions (STC). The nominal power of Panel measured under Standard Test Conditions (STC), specified in standards such as IEC 61215, IEC 61646 and UL 1703, under the light intensity of 1000 W/m2, with a spectrum similar to sunlight hitting the earth's surface in the summer and the temperature of the cells at 25 °C.
Power output in real conditions - The output of photovoltaic systems varies with the intensity of sunshine and other conditions. The more sun, the more power the PV module will generate. The power a solar module generates in real conditions may exceed the panel rated power if the intensity of sunlight exceeds 1000 W/m2 .. which is very rare in india. A typical out put may be in the range of 80 to 90% of the Rated power of the panel .
Eg : 100W of panel may produce only upto 90W in the best of conditions .
About UPS and Batteries
What is a UPS ?
A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is a device that is installed between the mains power coming into a building or room and the equipment to be protected against power fluctuations or failures.
It is a system that provides backup power (usually derived from batteries) when the electrical mains supply fails or drops to an unacceptable voltage level.
Single phase and three phase systems are available.
Small UPS systems (that plug into the nearest power socket) usually provide back-up power for a few minutes from integral batteries; enough to power down a computer in an orderly manner.
Longer back-up times are available by using additional battery enclosures. Larger systems (depending upon the power rating) can have internal batteries and/or additional battery enclosures.
Batteries can be housed in matching enclosures or cladded battery stands. Open battery racks are also available.
For very long battery back-up times a generator can provide the input power to the UPS system and support air conditioning or lighting. This may provide a more cost effective alternative to batteries.
UPS systems can have the facility to alert file servers to shut down in an orderly manner when an outage has occurred or notify users by text/e-mail.
Which UPS technology should I choose?
There are three main types of UPS technology:
Offline/ Standby Technology
An offline/ standby UPS provides very basic protection against power problems. AC mains power passes straight through the UPS and only has RFI filtering and limited spike protection.In the event of a power failure the (battery powered) inverter starts providing power to the load. When mains power returns the load is switched back to the mains supply and the inverter shuts down. There is a few milliseconds break in power during transfer to/ from the inverter.
A Line-Interactive UPS provides improved power protection compared to an offline UPS. However, it does not provide protection against all power problems.
This UPS works in a similar way to an off-line UPS but has superior spike protection. They have a wider tolerance to voltage variations due to the incorporation of a voltage trimming transformer. This transformer increases or decreases the voltage to the load when the incoming mains voltage is low or high and prevents the UPS switching to battery power and draining the batteries.
In the event of a power failure the inverter starts up and provides power as described in an offline system.
On-Line/ Double Conversion Technology
On-line/ double conversion UPS technology provides the highest levels of power protection from mains-borne power problems and is often regarded as the most dependable type of technology.
The UPS converts mains AC power to DC, providing power to the battery and the inverter, which converts the DC back to AC and provides a clean, regulated and conditioned AC output to the protected load. The battery is always in circuit and therefore when a mains failure occurs the battery carries on supplying power to the inverter. There is no-break in the supply to the load and no switching is involved.
An automatic bypass circuit is incorporated into the UPS which provides AC mains to the load should the UPS be overloaded or in the unlikely event of an internal fault.
Depending upon the size of the load and the battery back-up time required we reccomend the following
• If you are not suffering from day to day power problems but are really concerned about a power failure, then a offline or inline-interactive UPS will be fine.
• If you are suffering from power problems, go for an on-line UPS.
• If you intend to power the UPS from a generator, go for an on-line UPS.
Why Do I Need a UPS?
There are a number of reasons you may want to invest in a UPS system but generally it is to protect your critical systems from the effects of power failures, voltage dips and power anomalies.
How do I know what size (VA) UPS I want?
Here are 2 key things to know when selecting a UPS:
The amount of power you want to draw from the UPS system i.e. the load AND any additional capacity you may want for future expansion.
The battery back-up time required in the event of a power failure
note : You will need to find out the power requirement of the equipment to be supplied by the UPS. The power requirements could be listed on your equipment in Volt-Amps (VA), Watts (W) or Amps (A).
How much battery back-up time do I get/need?
UPS battery back-up times can vary from 2 minutes, to many hours. It all depends on what you need. The main question to ask before deciding on the UPS backup time is:
In the event of a long power outage “what do we want to do”?
Simply shut down unnecessary equipments to reduce power consumed from the battery and help increase the time of critical devices..
What is the life of UPS batteries?
Small to medium UPS batteries generally have a 4-5 year design life, this can vary dependant on the number and depth of discharges together with the environmental conditions i.e. temperature.
For larger UPS systems batteries with an 8-10 year design life are generally used eg : Tubular Batteries.