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  FAQs
  1. Why should I consider buying a photovoltaic (PV) system?

  2. What is a solar electric (photovoltaic) grid-tied PV system, and how does it work?

  3. What is required for installation? That is, do I have a good site for PV?

  4. What can I expect photovoltaic startup costs to be?

  5. How efficient and effective is solar (photovoltaic) power?

  6. How much energy will a PV system produce?

  7. What should the size of my PV system be?

  8. How much of my electrical usage will a PV system offset?

  9. What do I need to know about connecting my PV system to my local community's electric grid (utility)?

  10. How long can I expect it to take for me to get a return on my investment?

  11. What state and federal grants, rebates, or other incentives are available that encourage the use of renewable energy?

  12. Is it possible to finance a PV system for my home?

  13. Glossary link

  14. Department of Energy FAQ website

  15. Contact us

  Answers
 
    1. Why should I consider buying a photovoltaic (PV) system?
    • A PV system reduces or eliminates the amount of electricity you purchase from your utility (electric service) provider.
    • A PV system can save you money on your electric bill and act as a hedge against future prices increases.
    • The electricity generated by a PV system is clean, renewable, and reliable.
    • You can reduce the load on your community's utility grid.
    • You can provide additional electricity for the grid when you generate more than you use during the day, when electricity demand is highest.

    2. What is a solar electric (photovoltaic) grid-tied PV system, and how does it work?

    • Photovoltaic (PV) technology produces direct current (DC) electricity by collecting electrons freed by the interaction between sunlight and the semiconductor materials in a PV cell.
    • The DC power from the PV modules (panels) is converted to AC power by the inverter, which is then back-fed to the AC load panel.
    • Depending on the PV output and household load, the power is either used by the house and/or back-fed to the utility grid (for a credit).
    • See CBS TV News Video Coverage (Click on Play-> Local Homes, Businesses Use Solar Energy To Cut Costs)

    3. What is required for installation? That is, do I have a good site for PV?

    • An unshaded area with clear, unobstructed access to the sky
    • Buildings, trees, or other vegetation should not shade your site.
    • South-facing roof exposure is best, but roofs facing east and west may be OK.
    • Modules can be mounted on the roof (8/12, 34o pitch is optimal for grid-tie), wall, pole, or ground rack.
    • If a rooftop is not available, your PV system could be mounted on the ground. 
    • Access to electrical load (breaker) panel
    • Interconnection agreement with utility company

    4. What can I expect photovoltaic startup costs to be?

    • Grid tie system (roof mount) costs about $9/watt, installed, or $18.000 to $20,000 for a 2 kW system.
    • Grid tie with battery backup costs about $13/watt, installed.
    • Off grid with battery backup costs about $13/watt, installed.

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    5. How efficient and effective is solar (photovoltaic) power?

    • PV modules vary in efficiency from approximately 8 to 18%.

    6.  How much energy will a PV system produce?

    • For most areas of northern Illinois, a roof-mounted PV system on an 8/12 pitch (34o) will produce approximately 1300 kilowatt-hours per kilowatt of installed PV.
    • Other production estimates can be found using PV Watts Estimation Tool  on the NREL website.

    7.  What should the size of my PV system be?

    • You can match the size of your system to your electricity needs and budget.
    • Modules produce approximately 12 to 15 watts/sq. ft.

    8.  How much of my electrical usage will a PV system offset?

    • Add up your total kilowatt-hours used per year from your monthly electric bills.
    • Divide this amount either by 1300 kWh/yr for northern Illinois or by using the PV Watts Estimation Tool  on the NREL website to determine the amount of PV watts required.
    • Example:
    Annual Usage 1kW System Output System Capacity

    3,900

    /

    1,300

    =

    3 kW installed

             ... or 3 kW installed PV for approximately 100% of your electrical requirements.

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    9. What do I need to know about connecting my PV system to my local community's electric grid (utility company)?

    • You will need to enter into an Interconnection Agreement with your local utility, which will address the terms and conditions under which your system will be safely connected to the grid.
    • The agreement will specify the metering arrangements (called Net Metering), which will allow you to "bank" any surplus electricity your system generates on the electric grid.
    • Excess electricity might be generated during the day when your system produces more electricity than you need, in which case your meter will run backwards to record the amount of electricity banked on the grid. You can also use an equal amount of electricity later without incurring any additional cost.
    • If you use more electricity from the grid than you have banked, your utility will charge you annually for the difference.

    10. How long can I expect it to take for me to get a return on my investment?

    • Simple rate of return varies upon system cost, incentives applied and green tag credits, and range from approximately 15 to 30 years.

    11. What state and federal grants, rebates, or other incentives are available that encourage the use of renewable energy?

    12. Is it possible to finance a PV system for my home?

    • The best way to finance a PV system for your home is through a mortgage loan that includes a primary mortgage, second mortgage, or home equity loan secured by your property.
    • If mortgage financing is not available, look for other sources such as conventional bank loans.

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  Additional FAQ websites
   Glossary -- Photovoltaic Systems Research & Development

   FAQ about Photovoltaics (PV) -- U.S. Department of Energy, National Center for Photovoltaics

  Contact us...

   Tom DeBates, Owner
   524 Summit St.
   Geneva, IL  60134

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