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Frequently Asked Questions

Solar technology, materials and manufacturing processes have improved significantly in the last ten years and with no moving parts, solar panels are inherently very reliable. Despite being warranted to produce power for 25 years, there are plenty of examples of solar panels producing energy well beyond that.   
Yet it’s still important that the your solar contractor is using solar panels from a reputable brand and, more importantly, a manufacturer that’s likely to be in business for the full 25-year duration of the solar panel warranty. After all, the best warranty isn’t worth much if the warranty provider is out of business. 
It’s natural to value the curb appeal of our homes. And that the aesthetics of solar panels would be more important when they’re located on the front of a home. There are many things that can be done to minimize the aesthetic impact of solar panels on your roof. Here are a few ways that we make sure you get the best looking solar possible:
  1. We look for the least obtrusive places to locate solar panels (as long as they get good sun exposure).
  2. We design our systems so that the solar panels fill your roof space in a balanced way.
  3. Our standard system includes all-black solar panels and mounting hardware.
  4. We plan wiring and conduit runs to minimize their aesthetic impact and discuss this with you before installation.
  5. We offer options for no visible conduit (where possible) and a trim skirt that provides a clean look at the bottom of the solar array.
Take a look at some photos of recent installations to see how good solar can look!

The amount of electricity that solar panels produce is directly proportional to the light that they receive. 

On a cloudy day or with light snow cover, less light will reach the solar cells and so the solar panels will produce less electricity.    

Though solar panels may still produce electricity with light snow cover, heavy snow cover of more than a few inches will block nearly all light to the solar cells and cause them to stop producing electricity.

However snow does not stick well to the glass surface of a solar panel and will slide off relatively quickly, clearing the way for the solar panels to start producing electricity again.  

The cost of a home battery will depend primarily on two factors:

  1. How you want to use your home battery
  2. How much electricity you use in your home

Typical home battery systems can range from $10,000 to $30,000 but large systems can cost more than that. 

The most expensive home battery systems are those which are expected to provide power to an entire home through several days of a power outage. Note that larger battery systems require larger home solar systems to charge the batteries. 

Home battery systems that are designed to back up select critical appliances and those which are designed for self-sufficiency (storing solar energy during the day to use at night) are less expensive.  Batteries designed for load shifting are the least expensive. 

The good news is that home battery systems are eligible for a 30% Federal Tax Credit – the same as a home solar system.  

For a free estimate on a home battery system, contact us today.

The cost to install an EV charger will vary depending on:

  1. What type of EV charger you want to have installed (Level 1 or Level 2)
  2. Whether your main electrical panel can handle an additional EV charging circuit
  3. Where you want your EV charger located

Typical costs to install an EV charger can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. 

Like home solar and home batteries, the cost to install an EV charger is eligible for a 30% Federal Tax Credit. However, EV charging tax credits are capped at maximum of $1,000. 

If you’re interested in having an EV charger installed, you can learn more here or contact us for a free estimate.   

Mounting solar panels to your roof can easily require dozens of attachment points that penetrate your roof. Your warranty for any areas of the roof without solar and for roofing manufacturing defects not related to a solar installation will remain intact, but you’ll still be at risk for any parts of the roof that the solar contractor modified. 
Ideally it is best to have a new roof and solar installed at the same time, using the same contractor. If that’s not an option, you should at least have your roof inspected prior to the solar installation to know and document its current condition.
With nearly a century of roofing experience, you can be confident that we’ll make sure your roof is protected.  Learn how you’ll benefit from having us install your new roof and home solar system here

Solar panels are warranted for 25 years and are likely to produce electricity for longer so it’s important that your roof is in good shape before installing solar.  It can cost several thousand dollars to remove solar panels and reinstall them so that you can replace your roof. Make sure that your contractor carefully evaluates your roof structure and roof system to ensure that it will last as long as your solar panels. 

It’s not an insignificant cost to replace your roof before installing solar panels, but the upside is that the savings from solar will help pay for your roof.   

A typical solar panel system is required to shut down when the utility grid power goes out in order to protect service technicians who are working on restoring power. If solar systems were still operating, they could create a shock hazard by powering wires and other equipment that technicians are in contact with.

In order to power your home during a power outage, a home solar system needs to be able to disconnect itself from the grid – similar to a transfer switch in a backup generator system. In addition, the inverter or inverters need to be able to form their own “grid”. 

It’s possible to design a home solar system with the necessary equipment to operate during a power outage, but because solar panels produce power proportional to the amount of sunlight they receive, you won’t be able to predict how much solar power will be available during a power outage. In order to properly power your home during a power outage, you’ll want to consider adding home batteries. 

Home batteries continue to decline in cost as the battery industry ramps up its scale and batteries become more efficient, driving down cost.

Home batteries can be used in several different ways:

  1. Backup power for your whole home
  2. Backup power for a select group of appliances
  3. Increasing self-sufficiency by storing solar power during the day to be used at night
  4. “Rate shifting” to avoid peak electricity pricing if you have variable or time-of-use rates

A home battery design and size (and thus cost) will depend on how you want to use the battery. For best results, your home solar and battery system need to be designed to work together. 

If you’re interested in learning more about home batteries, contact us today to learn more. 

According to a study by Zillow, home solar increased property values by an average of 4.1%. Even better, the study found that homes in Pennsylvania increased by 4.9%

It makes sense that having a home that generates its own electricity becomes more valuable as energy costs rise and as homebuyers become more energy conscious. 

Yet it’s important to understand that the premium that you’ll get for selling a home with solar will vary depending on the type of solar, the performance of the system, how old it is, what warranties it has and whether you own the system or lease it from a third-party. 

How Do Solar Tax Credits Work?

If you have or purchase a home solar system, you can charge your EV with the solar energy you generate!

If you intend on using your home solar system to charge your EV, you’ll want to make sure that your home solar system is sized appropriately to provide the additional energy you’ll need for your EV. 

If you have an EV already, you’ll already know how much energy you’re consuming to power both your home and EV. However, if you’re planning on purchasing an EV, we can help you estimate the amount of energy it will take to charge it based on your typical driving habits and the kilowatt-hour (kWh) per mile efficiency for a particular EV.

Contact us today to find out whether you can charge your EV with a home solar system.  

As with every contractor, you want to make sure that they can provide examples of their work, have testimonials and reviews from customers, and have great communication. For solar contractors specifically, you’ll want to understand their business model. Some solar companies aren’t true contractors and will sell leads or contracts to other companies to install.
Most importantly, you will want to find a solar company who is willing to spend the time to understand your needs, goals and budget and customize a home solar and energy system to your liking. You’ll get a much better outcome with this approach than with a solar company who rushes you through the design and sales process.
At O’Donnell Solar, we work with our customers to design and build home solar and energy systems specifically for them. From sales to system design, permitting and installation, we complete the entire solar process in-house. 

Interested in learning more about solar?

Contact our expert team today to get started on a quote, or to answer any additional questions that you may have.

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