Here are some commonly asked solar questions.

Solar 101


Can a solar water heater replace an electric or gas water heater?

Not completely. Conventional electric or gas water heating systems are still necessary as a supplement to the solar water heating system, largely because the sun might not shine in a particular area for several days at a time. However, because solar water heaters are designed to provide hot water directly to the tank of a gas or electric water heater, they reduce the need for the water heater to run on conventional fuels. And this in turn reduces your gas or electric bill. Depending on where you live, solar water heaters can provide up to 80% of your home’s annual water-heating needs.

SunEarth is one of the most experienced solar thermal manufacturers in the world. SunEarth has designed and built industry-leading solar hot water collectors, components and packaged systems.

Can I really eliminate my electricity bill?

OF COURSE! When you begin to generate your own solar power, your utility bill will drop significantly. How much you can save will depend on the size of your solar system and your electricity usage. When your solar system generates more electricity than your building can immediately use, your excess power flows back to the utility grid and your meter literally spins backward!

Can I use a solar water-heating system to heat my swimming pool?

Using a solar system to heat a swimming pool is the most common use for solar energy in the United States today. Solar pool-heating systems increase an unheated pool’s water temperature by 10 degrees or more, and they can extend the swimming season by two to three months.

Do I need a back-up generator or battery?

With solar panels, there is no need for a generator or battery because your solar energy system will be connected to your local utility grid, you can draw power from your grid whenever you need it.

Do you have financing available?

Yes. Natural Energy offers 2.99% financing as well as many flex loans. Now you can start experiencing the benefits of solar power immediately with no initial out of pocket expense— and lock in a lower cost of energy for decades. We install and maintain the equipment on your site and you get the power it produces. You just pay a low monthly payment.

How do I get a free solar quote?

Contact a Natural Energy Specialist today to get a free energy consultation! We will discuss your options and savings over the phone and set up your on-site inspection.

How do I know if solar will work on my home?

While solar is universal, there are some locations and homes where it will work better than others, depending on sun exposure and whether or not there is shading. The biggest factors in determining how well solar panels will work on your home is the size of your roof, the amount of sunlight on your roof throughout the day, and the direction your roof faces- south-west facing would be ideal but not required. In an effort to make going solar simple, Natural Energy can provide a quick solar consultation at no cost over the phone, and can assess these factors for you using state of the art satellite imaging. We are able to determine this before going out and giving you a more in depth consultation.

How do rebates and tax credits works?

Rebates and credits are used to reduce your payments and maximize your monthly savings. Natural Energy will handle all of the benefits from any local and state rebates. Please contact your tax professional for more information on how a 30% tax credit can benefit you.

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.

How long would it take to install a solar system on my home?

While every home and roof is different, most residential installations take between 3 to 5 days. A more accurate installation time will be determined after reviewing your home and property. Also can depend on the county/city permitting process and inspection.

How much does a solar water-heating system cost?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. The cost of a solar system depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the system and the particular system manufacturer, retailer, and installer. However, any solar rebates and other incentives available in your area will reduce that total cost.

For solar water heaters and space heaters, you will also be taking into consideration the price of the fuel used to back up the system. In most cases, you will have to add in the cost of supplemental natural gas or electricity to get a fairly accurate estimate of how much you can expect to pay for a solar system.

How much money will a solar water-heating system save on my utility bill?

It is difficult to say how much you will save with a solar system. That depends on several factors, including how much you already pay your local utility for electricity or natural gas. You can ask your solar system professional how much heat your new system will produce on an annual basis and then subtract that number from your current annual consumption—the total amount of electricity and gas you use—to get an idea of how much you will save. Data on your current annual consumption should be available from your utility.

Other solar companies talk about leasing solar systems. Do you have a lease? If so, how does that work?

Natural Energy is able to offer several financing options through your personalized Plan. We have a $0 Down, Flex Plan and Max Save selection that allows our customers very flexible terms. We also provide for a traditional solar system purchase. Your Solar Consultant will explain the benefits of each and find a savings solution that works best for your situation.

What are solar cells?

Solar cells are devices that convert light energy directly into electrical energy. You may have seen small solar cells on calculators. Larger arrays of solar cells are used to power road signs, and even larger arrays are used to power satellites in orbit around Earth. Solar cells are also called photovoltaic cells.

What are solar panels?

Solar panels are different than solar cells. Solar panels do not generate electricity. Instead they heat up water directly. A pump pushes cold water from a storage tank through pipes in the solar panel. The water is heated by heat energy from the Sun and returns to the tank. They are often located on the roofs of buildings where they can receive the most sunlight.

What are the benefits of using solar energy to heat water in my home?

First, the fuel is free! Once you recover the initial costs of a solar system through reduced or avoided energy costs (that is, lower utility bills), your solar system will require expenditures only for maintenance. And when you include the cost of a solar water heater in a mortgage on a new home, the system often provides a positive monthly cash flow from the first day of ownership.

Second, solar water heaters and other solar technology applications do not pollute. They do not add to the carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other air pollutants and wastes produced by most of today’s power plants, even those that run on natural gas. And they allow you to burn less natural gas in your home, as well.

What are the 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.

What happens at night, or when the weather turns cloudy?

Since the amount of power your solar system generates is a direct result of sunlight, it will produce slightly less energy when the weather is cloudy. Your system will not produce any energy at night.

What happens if there is a black out?

What do we mean by photovoltaics? 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.

A solar energy system creates usable power from sunshine. There are two basic kinds of systems: Photovoltaic or PV uses sunlight to generate electricity. It’s the same technology found on pocket calculators, just on a larger scale. PV systems can be designed to generate the majority of the electricity used in your home, or just a portion of it.

Thermal solar uses sunlight to heat water. Typically this is used for a home’s hot-water supply. A well-designed thermal system can be extremely effective, and provide most of the hot water used in your home. Both let you do your part towards reducing greenhouse gases and improving the environment.