Solar FAQ

What kinds of permits are needed to meet local codes?

As part of our comprehensive service, Microgrid will obtain city and county permits and design your system to meet local codes. We’ll arrange all necessary inspections and be on-site to make sure that everything is up to code.

What is “net metering”?

With net metering, you stay connected to the utility grid and keep your current local utility company. On days when your home solar system produces more electricity than your home is using, your utility company will automatically credit your account. At night and on days when your home uses more electricity than your system is producing, you’ll use up those credits and draw electricity from the grid. Net metering happens automatically while you continue to use all of your electrical appliances as you always have. You’ll still have a bill from your utility, but it will be smaller.

Is solar energy stored for use at night?

There is no reason to store energy because Microgrid’s systems are connected to the electric utility grid.  The benefit of staying connected to the grid is to take advantage of “net metering”. Occasionally we have a customer in a remote area that does not have electric service to their property.  We can install a battery storage system in those cases; however, batteries are expensive and require maintenance.

What happens during a power outage?

In the event of a power outage, your system will be designed to turn off. This is a safety requirement for the utility company so their technicians can safely repair downed electrical lines.  The system will automatically restore itself once the power comes back on and the utility grid can once again accept the solar energy.

Can my homeowners’ association place restrictions on the installation of solar?

There are a number of states that have laws to prevent homeowners’ associations from interfering with improvements that save energy. These laws were enacted because legislators found that some homeowners’ associations were unreasonably restricting new forms of renewable energy generation.  Missouri just had a major legal ruling against restrictions on solar (call us for more details). In some states, homeowners’ associations are still allowed to have rules regarding the installation of solar on your roof or grounds.  If you belong to a homeowners’ association in one of these states, contact your homeowners’ association and ask about neighborhood guidelines.  In our experience, most homeowners associations decide in favor of solar system installations once everything is clearly presented to them.

Do solar electric systems work well in the cold?

Solar electric systems operate very well at low temperatures.  The amount of electricity they produce is based mainly on how much sun they receive, not how cold it is.

What happens when the weather turns cloudy?

Since your solar system generates power from sunlight, it will produce less energy when the weather is cloudy. Your system will not produce any energy at night. Your Microgrid power system will be interconnected to your local utility grid, so that you can automatically begin to draw power from the grid whenever you need it. You won’t experience any power interruptions—the switch between solar system power and the utility grid happens seamlessly, with no effort on your part.

What happens when it snows, sleets or hails?

If it snows enough to completely cover your panels, they will not produce electricity. However, snow slides easily off of panels, and your panels tend to be located where your roof gets the most sun, so the snow on your panels will melt and your panels will resume producing electricity. If you live in an area where snow days are common, snow days will be factored into your system’s projected production. Most solar panels are guaranteed to withstand large-diameter hail at fifty miles per hour.

Do the panels need to be cleaned?

Wind and rainfall should keep dust and debris on your solar panels to a minimum. Large debris like leaves and bird droppings should be hosed off. If you live in a desert environment with little rain, you can clean the solar panels with mild soap and water.

Do I need a new roof before installing solar?

Most existing roofs are fine for hosting solar.  Once the solar panels are installed, they actually help to protect your roof from the elements. If your roof is in bad condition and will need to be replaced within the next few years, then it makes sense to do it at the same time as your solar installation. Microgrid can help you get your roof replaced at a reasonable price before your solar system is installed. If you need to replace your roof after the solar is installed, the solar panels can be removed and re-installed. Microgrid offers this service for a reasonable fee.

Should I wait for new technology?

The sooner you get solar, the sooner you start saving.  Now is really the best time to invest in a solar system with the combination of technology and cost. There may be improvements in technology, but they are unlikely to outweigh the benefit of starting to save now. Right now there are generous financial incentives to assist early users of solar energy.  Ameren Missouri, Kansas City Power and Light and the federal government are currently offering homeowners generous incentives to go solar. However, these programs are designed to reward early adopters of solar power, and most incentives will eventually expire or be reduced.

I live in a condo, can I get solar?

As long as you have your own electric meter, you can have your own solar system. In some states there are laws preventing condo associations from interfering with solar based on aesthetics alone. In other states, approval from the condo association must be obtained.  We have found condo associations to be very reasonable when the facts and benefits are clearly explained.

What if I am building a new house?

If you are in the planning stage of a new home, we can offer suggestions.  If you already have house plans we can give you a quote.  Solar is a natural for new homes.  The California Energy Commission requires new homes built in that state without solar to have “solar-ready roofs” so that owners can add solar, if desired, at a future date.