Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ

Why buy solar panels?

Solar panels help you save on energy costs for your home or business. Solar panels are also a great alternative to traditional generators: they are silent, don’t smell, and don’t need fuel.

How many panels do I need?

On average, you’ll need 15-30 solar panels to cover 100% of your energy needs. To get a more precise number, use our Solar System Calculator.

How much does an average system cost?

PV system cost depends on various factors such as configuration, size, equipment and labor. An average system would cost about $10,000 before installation and incentives.

Do I need constant sunshine for my solar panels to work?

No, though the output will decrease accordingly. Solar panels do work on cloudy days or when there is no direct sunlight – just at less capacity.

What is the panel efficiency on a cloudy day?

Panel power production depends on how much sun it’s getting. On average the power output of solar panels falls by 20-40% on a cloudy day.

Do I need to worry about snow on solar panels?

No, solar panels are designed to withstand heavy snow loads. Cleaning snow off the panels is not necessary — it usually slides off on its own once the panels start working and heat up.

How long will my solar panels last?

The average life expectancy of solar panels is 25-30 years. However, this doesn't mean they won’t produce electricity after that. They will, but at slightly reduced output.

What guarantees do solar panels come with?

Solar panels come with two kinds of warranties: performance and product guarantee. Product warranties range from 10 to 30 years. Performance warranties are usually issued for 25-30 years.

Please note that we don’t provide warranty support and for this, you have to contact the manufacturer. Manufacturer may void your warranty if the product was not installed by a certified contractor (e.g. in case of a DIY installation). Some manufacturers, such as LG and REC, offer their own certifications for installers which add or prolong warranty coverage. Learn more in Warranty Support and Return Policy section.

Is going solar worth it?

How is a solar system going to earn me money?

You save money by not buying electricity from your utility and using your own. You can also send extra solar energy into the grid to make your electric meter go backward.

Will my solar system pay for itself?

The answer is definitely ‘Yes’. A solar system in the US pays for itself in 6-8 years. The payback period depends on electricity prices in your state, incentives available and the cost of the solar system. Over the lifespan of 25+ years, you can expect the solar system to pay for itself 2-3 times.

How much will the utility pay me for solar energy?

The compensation for solar energy sent to the grid depends on your electric company and net metering policy in your state. The best case scenario is 1-for-1 compensation where your kilowatt-hour of solar energy costs exactly as much as a kilowatt-hour that you draw from the grid. However, it’s a rare case and often utilities pay less for solar energy from customers than the rate at which they sell their electricity.

Can a solar array increase the value of my home?

Yes, installing solar panels in a home can potentially increase its value by up to 4.1%.

I live in Montana (North Dakota/Minnesota/etc.), does it make sense to order and install solar panels?

Yes, solar panels perform very well in cold climates.

My house is near a high forest, does it make sense to order and install solar panels?

You will need to check if you have areas with good irradiance levels and if it is possible to install panels there. With the help of microinverters and power optimizers, a solar system can still be efficient even if it gets shaded from time to time.

Payment & Delivery

How much does an average system cost?

PV system cost depends on various factors such as configuration, size, equipment and labor. An average system would cost about $10,000 without labor and incentives.

Is there a minimum order size?

There is no minimum order when you choose to pick up the panels from one of our fulfillment centers. If you require delivery, the minimum order size varies from six to twenty panels. The reason for this is that the risk of damage is higher with small orders.

Where is the nearest fulfillment center located?

You can find a map with all fulfillment centers on the main page. When you place a pickup order, we will email you all the details of the location.

When are fulfillment centers open?

Fulfillment centers are open Monday through Friday during business hours, local time. Please note that the centers are closed on weekends.

How long does delivery take?

Normally it takes us 48 hrs to prepare your order for shipping. Depending on the delivery address, it takes 4-7 business days to deliver it.

How can I pay for my order?

You can pay by credit card, Zelle or PayPal. You can also make an ACH payment. For large purchases we recommend using wire transfer.

Do you offer solar financing?

We don’t, but LightStream offers some great loan options – contact them for more info.

Why can the price of a solar panel be different when I change my location or switch pickup to shipping and vice versa?

The price of a solar panel can depend on what fulfillment center it is located at and from where it will be shipped. For this reason, a solar panel can even sometimes be cheaper with shipping than with a pickup.

What if I received damaged panels?

First of all, don't worry. Sometimes it happens because of improper transportation. If you received broken panels:

1. Take full-length pictures of the damaged panels

2. Note all damages on the delivery slip and inform the freight company

3. Fill in Damage Report Form

We'll investigate your case and take care of the replacement. Read the article to learn more about how to receive and inspect freight shipment.

Can I return panels after the payment has been processed?

Merchandise, except for products that were specially ordered and/or assembled for the customer, may be returned within 30 days of the receipt of the product. If the items are returned in a non-resalable condition, we have the right to refuse a refund. Note that shipping charges are non-refundable. For more information, please see our Return Policy.

What if equipment breaks down before warranty runs out?

Contact the manufacturer of the equipment. If you have problems with an inverter, companies like Solaredge or Fronius offer remote troubleshooting.

Solar system design

How many panels do I need?

On average, you’ll need 15-30 solar panels to cover 100% of your energy needs. To get a more precise number, use our Solar System Calculator.

How much power is my solar panel system going to produce?

You have to differentiate between the DC power of your system and its AC production. DC power is the combined power rating of every panel in a system. AC production is how much usable alternating current you get from it. Because of imperfect positioning, clouds and transfer and conversion energy losses, the AC production is 20-25% lower than the DC power of your system.

Does the efficiency of a solar panel decrease over time?

Solar panel power production degrades by about 0.7% per year. Some panels age slower than others. For example, the best panels from Panasonic and REC lose only 0.25% of their output annually.

Can I mix different panels in one system?

It is not recommended. Building a system out of different panels will cause some of them to underperform and may lead to malfunctions later. Besides, the system might not get approved by officials and warranties are likely to be voided.

How to choose an inverter?

The power rating of your inverter should match the DC power rating of your system. For string inverters, we recommend Solaredge, Outback and Schneider inverters. For microinverters, APsystems and Enphase are the best choice.

Important: Solaredge inverters require optimizers to work correctly. Some inverters do not allow cross-branding. Consult with our engineer when in doubt.

Do solar panels work during power outages?

A standard grid-tie inverter shuts the system down when a power outage happens — it’s a safety requirement. If you have a hybrid inverter with battery storage, it switches your house to battery support and it may keep the panels running.

I want to replace a few panels in my old system. Do you offer panels for replacement?

We rarely have solar panels below 350W in stock which are common in old systems. The reason for this is that manufacturers often discontinue production of low-output panels because high-output modules are in higher demand. We recommend looking for compatible modules on Setpile.

Solar system installation

Can you recommend an installer in my area?

Not yet, but we are working on it. Stay tuned!

Do you offer permitting services?

Solar permits are issued by your local authorities: counties and municipalities. We don’t provide such services.

How long does a solar installation take?

For professional installers, it normally takes from one to three days to install a rooftop residential solar PV system.

How much roof space do I need for solar panels?

It depends on how much energy you are planning to generate and what panels you want to use. For example, the average size of a 400W panel is about 20 square feet. A 6-kilowatt system would require around 300 square feet of roof space. Panels with a high efficiency rating will help you save space. To get an estimate of how much space you’ll need, use our Solar System Calculator.

Can I install solar panels on the ground or RV/boat, and not on the roof?

You can put solar panels anywhere as long as the place gets proper irradiance and the modules can be safely fixed there. However, some panels are a better fit for a certain type of installation. Solar panels with an output between 300 and 450 watts are designed primarily for home rooftop systems. PV modules with a power rating above 450 watts are meant for commercial ground-mounted installations.

How are panels mounted? Are separate mounting frames or brackets required to mount the panels on rooftops?

Installers use mounting frames and brackets to fix panels on the roof or on the ground. Mounting is separate from panels and the right type of mounting depends on the type of roof that you have.

Do you offer mounting equipment for solar panels?

The right type of mounting depends on the type of your roof. If you need mounting, we can offer you the options available in stock along with the purchase of solar panels. For that, leave a comment when making an order or requesting a quote. 

What direction to choose for solar panels?

Make your solar panels face true south if you live in the northern hemisphere, and true north if you live in the southern. This will ensure your solar panels receive direct light throughout the day.

It’s summer, and the voltage of my system dropped. What’s the reason?

Solar panel production decreases when it’s hot. Solar cells lose around 0.4% for each degree above 77 F. Notice that solar panels are always hotter than the air. On a hot summer day, a solar panel may lose about 10% of its output.

I connected solar panels together but the system’s voltage remains low. What’s wrong?

You might have connected panels in parallel, In this configuration the voltage stays low across our array but currents from each panel add up. When you connect solar panels in series, voltage figures add up and the current stays low.

Stay tuned

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