12 Mar 6 Solar Energy Myths and Misconceptions
The solar power market has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades. Thus, what might have been true a while ago is not anymore. Let’s explore some common solar energy myths to understand the real deal.
Myth 1: Solar energy is too expensive in Maine
This myth was true 20 years ago and in certain parts of the US, but it certainly isn’t true in Maine. The cost of installing a solar panel system on your roof has fallen dramatically, and the technology is better than ever.
Most of the home solar systems that Sundog Solar installs pay for themselves in roughly eight years, but the design life of solar panels is about 30 years. This means that our customers enjoy many years of free energy and don’t feel the pinch when electricity rates increase.
There is a 26 percent tax credit in the United States for installing wind or solar energy systems. Tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed to the federal government on income taxes. That means that a $10,000 solar PV system would have a $2,600 tax credit. We recommend speaking with a tax specialist to determine how you can take advantage of the solar tax credit.
If a solar shopper can finance the solar energy system, it can generate cash flow from day one, depending on the loan terms. In many cases, the utility savings are greater than the loan payment. Sundog Solar offers financing or home equity loans are sometimes an option.
Myth 2: Solar energy installations don’t have warranties
Although this is a myth, the warranties for a system are only as good as the solar company offering them. Selecting a solar company with a proven track record of honoring warranties is crucial. Sundog Solar has been in business since 2009, and we stand behind our work. We offer a 5-year warranty on labor for all our systems, and the manufacturers offer warranties for at least that length of time.
As a solar installer, we also take equipment selection very seriously and only install solar components from companies with reputable products. In fact, Sundog Solar installs some of the best solar panels on the market. The solar panels, inverters, and batteries we install come with excellent equipment warranties. Many of the solar panels we install have a product warranty of at least ten years against defects. Also, they have power performance warranties ensuring the panels produce efficiently after a given period. The solar panels we use typically have power performance guarantees of 20 years. We also have premium solar panels available, like Tesla modules, which have a 25-year product warranty and power performance guarentee. In addition to the standard warranty, our customers can extend the warranty on SolarEdge inverters.
Myth 3: My house will have power during an outage if I have solar panels
Unfortunately, only homes with solar batteries have electricity during a grid outage. To protect worker safety, solar systems shut down during a power outage. If having power during an outage is important to you, please let us know.
We can design a grid-tied solar system with lithium-ion batteries that will power your essential loads. We install solar systems with battery backup with a critical load panel. This allows you to choose which circuits have energy during a blackout.
Myth 4: My solar system will store surplus power on sunny days
Although this is true for solar systems with batteries, it isn’t true for all installations. Solar energy systems without batteries do not store energy. Thankfully, in Maine, we have net metering programs between homeowners and utility companies. This means that CMP or Versant Power will credit your account for surplus electricity that your home feeds to the power grid.
On sunny days in both the winter and summer, solar systems often produce excess renewable electricity. The solar panels power the house first, and then the surplus goes to the power grid. At night or during cloud weather, if your home needs more power than the system is producing, you can use the credits on your bill to offset the electricity expense.
Myth 5: I will need a special homeowners insurance policy to cover my solar panels
Thankfully, the vast majority of homeowners insurance policies do cover solar systems. Your solar panels are typically considered a permanent improvement, like a deck. We do recommend ensuring that the coverage on the policy limit is high enough to cover your solar system fully. If coverage limits are too low, your homeowners insurance won’t sufficiently cover the solar system. We recommend confirming that your system is, in fact, protected by reading the terms of the policy or by speaking with your insurance agent.
Myth 6: I will have no electricity bill at all after going solar
Although this would be very nice, it isn’t completely true for grid-tied solar systems. Solar system owners will still have a very small power bill. Thankfully, going solar can dramatically reduce your electric bills for decades. For example, many of our customers that are in CMP territory go from paying $100 or $150 a month to just $13.
Your CMP or Versant Energy bill has two components: a supply charge and a transmission/distribution fee. The fees are applied similarly to ordering a pizza for home delivery. The supply charge varies on how many pizzas you order. The transmission/distribution charge depends on the delivery fee by the pizzeria.
For electricity bills, the supply charge fluctuates depending on how much power your home uses, and it is measured in units called kilowatt-hours. If your solar system generates as much energy as your house uses, you can eliminate the supply charge on your bill.
In Maine, CMP and Versant Power charge transmission and distribution fees for any property with active electrical service. This is a flat rate charged to every residential customer monthly, regardless of how much electricity you used. For example, a vacation property that doesn’t use any power for a month will still incur the transmission and distribution charge. Going solar can eliminate the supply charge on your bill, which is often the lion’s share of the total.