Skip to main content


General Solar Questions

Solar panels generate electricity using sunlight through the Photovoltaic Effect. When sunlight strikes a solar cell, it knocks loose electrons from the panel’s semiconductor material. This forms an electrical circuit that generates direct current (DC)—which is gathered up by the panel, converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter, and sent to power your home!

The primary method of generating electricity right now is through fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. This process creates pollution. Pollution through fossil fuel emissions increases the amount of carbon in the atmosphere (exacerbating climate change) and may increase the instances of respiratory issues like bronchitis in a polluted area. Each solar system installed reduces the need to burn fossil fuels. By generating clean energy from the sun and reducing the demand for dirty energy, overall pollution is reduced.


  • Renewable energy! Unlike oil, there’s no need to dig up your energy source
    and consume it for power. So long as the sun’s out, your energy’s flowing.
  • Lower power bill! Depending on the size of your system, you may have zero need to pull power from the grid. Zero need = $0 owed to the electric company. You might even get credit back for excess power generated.
  • Improved property value! Your investment in the solar system is an any. You might even get credit back for excess power general investment in your home. Typical solar powered homes sell for $15,000 more on average.


  • High up-front cost. Full-scale systems for a family home may run in the 5-
    figure price tags. Even though solar systems eventually pay for themselves,
    the initial cost can look intimidating.
  • Needs a lot of real estate. Each solar panel can be 7 ft by 3 ft, depending on
    the provider and a full-scale system may need a few dozen of those. You’ll
    need a rooftop large enough or open land big enough to host the panels.
  • Dependent on the sun. Solar panels need sunlight. No sun? No energy.
    Batteries are a useful backup for a solar system at night or when it’s cloudy,
    but these bump up the cost of a solar system as well.

Your solar panels will produce some amount of energy anytime sunlight hits it. Cloudy days will not completely turn off your system, but it may reduce efficiency compared to sunnier days.
If snow builds up too much on a panel, then no sunlight can reach the solar cells. While this does curb your power generation, most solar systems are built on a slant to allow snow buildup to slide off.

During a power outage, your solar system will not produce power. This is because your solar system is usually tied to the city grid and, for safety reasons, will turn off during a power outage so that maintenance can work on the grid safely.
Solar systems upgraded with a batter storage will continue to have power in the event of a power outage.

Solar panels have zero moving parts and are designed to be sturdy. As such, they require very little maintenance over their 30+ year lifetimes. Much of the maintenance involves cleaning, rather than repairing, as dirt or debris may affect how efficient your panels are. It is recommended to wipe down panels a few times a year.

A grid-tied system is a solar system attached to town’s electric grid. This helps make sure that your house has power when your solar system isn’t generating electricity (at night or otherwise). It also helps ensure that any excess power you generate goes back to the grid (and possibly earns you a credit from the utility company).
An off-grid solar system is primarily meant for remote properties that lack access to a grid. They power a property so long as there is sunlight and, if upgraded with batteries, can continue to power the house at night.

Net metering is an umbrella term for how a utility company measures how much power your home needs and produces. They sell you electricity at a certain rate and, should you generate more than you need, purchase that electricity at a similar or different rate, depending on their net metering policy.

There are three common types of net metering agreements: Net Metering, Feed-in Tariffs and Net Billing. For an explanation on each of these, Self Solar’s Welcome to Solar page has more information.

Financial Questions

That depends on several factors including your energy consumption, solar system size, expected hours of daily sunlight, and your local electricity rates. To get an in-depth breakdown of how much you could be saving, purchase a Self Solar Assessment.

Just like anything you add onto your home, a solar system is an investment in the overall value. According to a 2017 study, many homes with solar sell for 3.74% more than comparable homes without. The prospect of having low to zero electric bills is a major selling point for interested homeowners.

It’s always important to assess how much value you can get from a solar system within a certain window. A solar system increases the value of your home and lower electric bills go towards increasing this value. Our Self Solar Assessment can help give you a better estimate of how valuable a solar system can be for your home within that 2-5 year window.

Many manufacturer warranties for solar system equipment extend out for 25 years. And the solar system itself should last for 30+ years. It’s recommended to replace your roof if it doesn’t have at least 15 years of life remaining. That way you aren’t putting a new solar system on top of an aging roof. It is, however, still possible to replace roofing by removing the panels during the process.

There are four common ways to pay for a solar system:

  • Cash up front — Pay it off right away from day one
  • HECOC/2nd mortgage — Lump in the cost of your system with your mortgage payment
  • Financing — Take out an unsecured loan for the system
  • PPAs — Lease a solar system from a provider

For a deeper dive into these options, Self Solar’s Navigating Your Solar Financials article has plenty of information to look into the pros and cons of each payment method.

A good metric to start with is Price-Per-Watt. Be sure to ask providers how much your price-per-watt will be in regard to their solar system’s quote. Another good question to ask if whether that quote is estimated before or after government incentives. Many companies show you the prices after those incentives.

The tax incentive available to most solar system owners is the Federal Investment Tax Credit. The ITC offsets your tax burden up to a certain percentage of your solar system costs. The current percentage is 30% through the end of 2032.
Other state or municipal incentives depend on where you live. We can help highlight all available credits and incentives through your Self Solar Assessment.

Most homeowners investing in a solar system are eligible for the ITC. You must purchase your solar system before the end of the year and owe federal taxes in the U.S. It is important to note that this is not a tax refund.

While we aren’t accountants or tax advisors, we recommend keeping each of your receipts through your solar system project. You can claim the costs of your solar equipment but also other costs like contractor fees, freight shipping, and permitting costs.

Kits and Equipment Questions

Self Solar offers 3 kits. Each line item has 2 or 3 manufacturers depending on availability and price and are subject to change. Our Self Solar Assessment expands on the specific component and manufacturer options currently available.

Our packages optimally integrate equipment in a specific price range, but we do our best to accommodate your exact needs. If there are specific components or pieces of equipment you want in your kit, please let us know. This may result in a change in the overall price. Our goal is to empower you to go your solar, your way.
We do hope to offer an a-la-carte menu where you can pick and choose each component in the future.

Our economic kit focuses on pricing. This does not necessarily mean the products and equipment are worse. Much of the difference comes from sourcing solar panels from younger companies looking to compete in the market with cheaper pricing.

Our standard kit focuses on finding the best product at the best price. This is the intersection of the latest products without the premium price. This is the bang for your buck kit that includes Tier 1 solar panels and name brand equipment.

Our premium kit focuses on providing you the cutting edge in solar panel technology, efficiencies, and warranties. These top-of-the-line Tier 1 solar panels provide the most efficiency (which helps offset more of your electric bill per panel) at premium prices.

The difference in solar panels gets smaller with each year as the solar industry grows. The biggest things to look for are warranties, efficiency, and company stability.

Solar panels, as a technology, do not have any moving parts—which makes innovation a matter of baby steps towards greater efficiency in materials and semiconductors. The biggest jumps in technology involve smarter, more adaptable inverters and upcoming technologies in the solar battery industry.

The photovoltaic effect generates DC power. Your solar systems inverter changes that electricity to AC power, which your home can then use.

There are two types of inverters: string and micro.
String inverters connect a series (or string) of panels and use optimizers to maximize efficiency. These are cheaper, though tend to lose out against micro inverters in efficiency.
Micro inverters are placed individually on each panel to maximize efficiency. They run a bit more expensive purchasing one per panel.

The biggest differences revolve around ease and speed of installation. Difference in materials, add-ons, and mounting methods may also play a part. Some racking systems are better for specific types of roofs, roofing materials, and other locations like carports and ground mounts. We design your system around your roof type and needs.

Our goal is to provide you with everything you need for your solar installation, whether you install it yourself or have an installer do it for you. We provide all miscellaneous electrical, inverter, racking, and other materials you might need in order to tie your new solar system into your home’s current electrical setup.

Batteries provide you an energy backup when you need it. They are expensive and it can be tricky determining a specific return on investment when considering the costs. Since these are a new product and industry, technology and pricing will become better over time. You can always add a batter to your solar system when you install it or later down the road.

We offer a variety of EV chargers that you can add into your kit. There are different levels of car chargers that provide different benefits and charging times which we can help explain in our Self Solar Assessment.

Additional equipment to go off grid includes extra solar panels, inverters, and batteries in order to power a remote property long-term with plenty of storage. It is not the most cost-effective way to go solar but is great for remote areas with no access for a grid tie-in system.