Most frequent questions and answers
Contrary to belief, solar energy is not only effective during the day or brighter seasons such as the spring and summer. Long sunny summer days from May to October provide plenty of sunlight, with daylight hours reaching from 5 AM to 10 PM. With Oregon and Washington’s excellent net metering programs, solar produced during the day is fed into the grid and during times of low solar solar production (such as at night), that energy will be implemented back into your system. Through improved technology and energy efficiency, panels can produce even on cloudy days. Thankfully, the Pacific Northwest has some of the best, most attractive solar incentives in the country.
Every rooftop is different, and we can help you determine what it will cost to go solar for your home or business. Most people find that the total up-front cost of solar is less relevant than the financing terms, return-on-investment, and cash flow calculation. Solar leases and other innovative financing models mean that many people can go solar for little or no money down. Some solar customers save more on their electricity payments than they’re paying for their panels, meaning that their investment is cash-flow positive from day one. Several factors influence the value of solar for your home or business.
- Your available, unshaded roof space. In the Northwest, roofs facing south receive the most sunlight.
- The current energy usage in your home or business. Your current energy costs will affect how quickly you recoup your solar investment.
- The net metering program through your power company. Net energy metering affects the value of the energy your PV system feeds back into the electricity grid.
- The federal tax credit for solar.
- State and local incentives.
- Net metering is an agreement between you and your utility where you are allowed to bank credits whenever your system is producing more energy than your home is using.
- Typically, this occurs in the sunny summer months, when your system is most productive. In the winter, you can draw from those credits, keeping your bills low.
- There is a net metering fiscal year, which runs from May-April. On April 30, you will forfeit any credits that you may have with the utility. The year resets on May 1, coinciding with the long summer days to start building up credits again.
- In Oregon, the fiscal year runs from April-March. If you still have kWh “in the bank” at the end of March, the utility may credit you or transfer those credits to customers in their low-income program. Having extra credits is rare: Systems aren’t usually designed to produce more than 100 percent of your annual consumption.
When installing a system, we fasten it to the building’s rafters, joists or trusses with lag screws rated for each specific project. Prior to driving the lag screws into the wood, we drill pilot holes to prevent the wood from cracking. We then fill the pilot holes with roofing sealant. Next we lay a bead of sealant in the shape of an upside ‘U’ around the pilot hole. This prevents any wind-driven moisture from getting to the penetration.
We then install aluminum flashing over the penetration. The flashing lies under two courses of roofing. Finally, we drive the lag screw into the building’s structural member through the waterproof entry of the flashing piece. In commercial applications we’ll waterproof our penetrations by re-roofing over the penetrations we make.
Before putting solar on your roof, we’d like to see that your roof has at least 10 years of remaining useful life. So, if you think your roof will need to be replaced fairly soon, it would be best to have it replaced before having a system installed.
The answer is not so simple as: Yes or No.
All commercial solar projects in Oregon will require structural engineering before we can apply for a permit, yet many homes do not require engineering. Ground mounted solar is exempt from engineering in our state, yet detached garages and pole-buildings may need it.
All of our solar panels carry a standard 25 year warranty. Our string inverters have a 12 year warranty and our micro-inverters have a 25 year warranty. We have one of the longest workmanship warranties in the Northwest at 25 years.
Both Washington and Oregon have laws restricting HOAs from disallowing rooftop solar installations. There are certain restrictions your HOA can place on the installation, however. Examples include:
- Requiring the panels and racking to be a certain color
- Requiring any exposed conduit to be painted
- Requiring the solar array match the slope of your roof
- Requiring the top edge of the solar array to be parallel with your roof ridge
- Prohibit the visibility of any part of a roof mounted array to be visible above the roof line
Your HOA is most likely concerned with making sure your solar array does not take away from the aesthetics of your home and neighborhood . At Premier Solar NW, we are in complete agreement. We not only want your system to function well but we also want it to look great on your home or property. Here are links to HOA statues pertaining to Oregon and Washington.
The biggest solar installations in operation are:
- Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in California – 392 MW
- Agua Caliente in Arizona – 287 MW
- Mesquite Solar 1 in Arizona – 167 MW
- California Solar Valley Ranch in California – 130 MW
- AV Solar Ranch One in California – 115 MW
- Sempra Copper Mountain II in Nevada – 106 MW
We carry many different brands but what’s more important than the brand is the quality of the panel. Each manufacturer must pass four important tests in order for us to carry their panel.
- 25 Year Warranty – The panels need to have an 80% power guarantee after 25 years of service. This means that after 25 years, the panel is guaranteed to be producing at least 80% of its rated power output.
- Longevity – The panel manufacturer needs to have been around a while. We don’t want new entrants trying to figure things out with our customers.
- Reputation – The panel manufacturer needs to have an excellent reputation for fixing problems. If we end up with a malfunctioning panel on your roof, we don’t want to wait long for a replacement.
- Financial Stability – The manufacturer needs to be in good financial health. The warranty offered won’t do much good if the company isn’t in business. As long as these four conditions are met, we’re not much concerned with the brand, though we will try to accommodate any brand requests when possible.
Solar panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt. With our strong net metering policies energy generated by your panels during sunny hours will offset energy that you use at night and other times when your system isn’t operating at full capacity. When we estimate the annual production of your system, we’ll take all factors into account, including our cloudy days. How long are the warranties?
We recommend you clean your panels once a year on a cool, cloudy day. Simply run a hose over the panels and use a soft cloth (similar to what you’d use on your car windshield) to wipe any dirt or grime off the panels. If you are unable to clean your panels yourself, we provide panel cleaning for a small fee. Just reach out to us via our contact page and let us know what you’re looking for.
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Premier Solar NW has achieved a recommendation rate of greater than 90% from our customers, who were surveyed through GuildQuality. Here are some actual reviews from some of our Portland clients: