FAQ

Have questions? We have the answers. To follow are the most commonly asked questions at-a-glance.  Then scroll down to the corresponding number with the question you would like answered.

1. How does a typical Photovoltaic (PV) solar system work?
2. Is solar electricity right for my business?
3. What government incentives are available in North Carolina?
4. What is the cost of a PV system?
5. Must my building or house face south to qualify?
6.  Must the PV system be installed on my roof?
7. Will storms damage a PV system?
8. How long will it take to install a PV system?
9. Can my roof support the weight of the solar system?
10. Can a PV system be expanded in size after installation?
11. Can I really sell electricity back to the utility company?
12. Are permits required to install a PV system on an existing property?
13. How do we get started?

1. How does a typical Photovoltaic (PV) solar system work?
A. Photovoltaic (PV) modules convert sunlight into electricity. The pure physics of PV solar systems is that energy in the form of photons of light strike a surface made of silicon, phosphorus and boron. Thus energy is transferred which causes electrons to move from a positive layer (P Layer) to a negative layer (N Layer). Through this photovoltaic process, the system generates Direct Current (DC) electricity, positive to negative just like a battery. The DC electricity is routed from the panels to an inverter which converts the electricity (inversion always results in a loss of power) into Alternating Current (AC) so as to be compatible with our nationwide electrical grid system.  The DC power generated can
be used directly to run many DC devises and equipment.

2. Is solar electricity right for my business? YES!
A. North Carolina Commercial or Industrial businesses have the greatest advantage when it comes to return on investments and shorter payback period.  Federal and State tax credits totaling 65% and MACRS Depreciation allow a business to pay for a Photovoltaic System in as little as 4.5 years and a ROI (Return On Investment) of 40-50%.  No other investment offers such low risk and high returns. With ever rising electric rates, solar electricity is right for every business. Not only does a solar system reduce energy costs, but can be an effective marketing tool, add to employee satisfaction, workplace pride and help increase sales.  Contact us today for a free estimate and payback analysis.

3. What governmental financial incentives are available in North Carolina?
A. Tax credit incentives are available on a federal and a state level. The Federal Investment Tax Credit for  solar systems is 30% of the system’s net cost.  There is no limit on the amount of  credit for a Business or a Residence. The State of North  Carolina Investment Tax Credit is 35% of the system’s net cost.  The amount of the credit is limited to $2.5 million for a business and $10,500 for a residence.

4. What is the cost of a PV System?
A. System costs are based on system size and are usually compared on a dollar per installed DC Watt basis. Solar system prices have decreased 36% in the last 3 years.  Prices vary from 3-4$/watt for a residential system (4 to 5kW) to 1.5-2$/watt for a 1 Mega Watt Solar Farm.

5. Must a Building or House face south to qualify?
A. NO – Since many Commercial and Industrial buildings have flat roofs, they are great solar candidates regardless of orientation.  If a structure has a roof slope that faces between a southeast and southwest orientations, the roof can be used with minimal loss of production.  The greatest hindrance for a Residence is shading by trees.

6. Must the PV System be Installed on my roof?
A. NO – While a roof is a great place for a PV System, it may have the wrong orientation or be shaded by trees or other buildings that prohibit the best solar result.  The good news is that PV Systems can also be Ground Mounted or Pole Mounted in sunny areas as an option.

7. Will storms damage a Photovoltaic System?
A. YES – No normal structures can withstand a Tornado or a Hurricane that exceeds the design wind speed for your area, but these occurrences are rare.  PV panels should always be attached to structures in a manner that will withstand the design wind loads at
your location.  All PV Panels are designed to withstand a 1” Hail Stone traveling at 50 MPH.  That is more than modern Composite Shingles can withstand.  Homeowners insurance will cover storm damage to PV Panels and if yours will not, you should change insurance companies!  This is very important!

8. How long will it take to put a PV System on my house or building?
A. The typical house with a Composite Shingle or Metal Roof should take 2 to 3 days installation time.  If you have a Slate or Cast Tile Roof or live on the side of a mountain the installation could take longer.  Commercial and industrial structures take longer due to increased size, ranging from a week to a several  weeks dependent on design, permitting requirements, type and scope of installation.

9. Can my roof support the weight of the solar array?
A. YES – Photovoltaic Systems add very little dead load to your roof. In most cases, 5 Lbs. or less. All modern houses are designed to support loads far greater than this. Some commercial and industrial buildings may have had additional loads added to roofs or hung from their structural system on their interior.  It is very important to have all Industrial buildings evaluated due to their typically greater distance (span) between load-bearing columns or walls.

10. Can a Photovoltaic System be increased in size once it is installed?
A. YES – There is no theoretical limit to the size of a photovoltaic system but there is a limit to the Electrical Service Provider ability to receive the generated power.  A properly designed systems Inverter should have very little extra capacity but many times some additional panels could be added without the expense of an additional Inverter.  But it is very easy to just add a separate additional system, Inverter and all.  Some system designers prefer multiple inverters so that if a problem occurs with part of a system the whole system is not down.

11. Can I really sell electricity back to the utility company?
A. YES – N.C. Statutes require all Electric Utility Companies to purchase any electric power generated by an individual at a minimum of at least their “avoided costs” which is usually half of what they charge you.  The arrangement you will have with your Electric provider and the options available to you will depend on whether your provider is an “IOU” Investor Owned Utility (DUKE Energy, Dominion Power or Progress Energy), a “Muni”, a municipality such as a City Electric Department or a “CO-OP” such as an Electric Membership Corporation.  In addition, all solar systems generate SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates) which may be sold to utility companies or on the open market to third party SREC aggregators.

12. What permits are required?
A. An Electrical permit is required in every Municipality or County in the state of North Carolina.  In addition some may require Building or Zoning Permits.  NC Statutes requires anyone installing a Photovoltaic System to file a “Report of Proposed Construction” with the N.C. Utilities Commission.  And you must seek permission, approval and come to an agreement with your Power Company. We as General Contractors have been working with Inspection Departments, and other government bureaucracies for thirty years. We have great expertise in this area and will handle all permitting, filings and any registrations needed and will include all needed permit and registration fees in our quote.

13. How do we get started?
A.
Just give us a call or send us an email.  We will need the address of your structure’s
location, your power bills and most important of all, your tax liability. We know that this is very confidential information but we strongly believe that a PV System should be designed around this information.  It is the best way to maximize your return on investment and make your payback time as short as possible.  We will treat this information with the confidentiality it deserves. We can then provide you with a FREE QUOTE and FINANICAL ANALYSIS based on our evaluation.