FAQs

What size Sunventrix solar PV system do I need? 

We’re happy to work with your needs and budget, but here are some general residential guidelines based on the national average of 11,000 kWh used annually in a typical residential home (business customers, please contact us for more information).  To offset residential lighting, electronics, and computers, you’ll need a 1 - 2kW min system.  Add refrigerators and space heating requirements to this and we will need to install a 4 – 6 kW system for you.  And if you wish to do the whole thing, we will need to install an 8 – 10+ kW system.  Please note: 1) DTE only allows you to offset up to your average annual kWh used but not any higher, 2) adequate sun and roof space resources are required for each system to offset the items listed above, and 3) by all means, if you use less than 11,000 kWh per year, you can get by with a smaller solar PV system.  We’ll be happy to review your average annual electrical usage and design a solar PV system that fits your requirements.               

How does a Sunventrix solar PV system work?

Sunlight (photons) hits a solar module where it is converted from DC into AC electricity (voltaic) by a microinverter and then connected to an electrical panel to provide electricity for a residence or business and/or feed surplus energy into the grid.  This process is called solar photovoltaic, or solar PV for short.  It’s that simple!       

How reliable is a Sunventrix solar PV system?

Solar PV modules are designed to last over 25 years, with a ~1% annual degradation of power output over time.  The electronic microinverters which convert DC into AC electricity are warranted to last 15 years but designed to last longer.  With no moving parts, and materials designed for all types of weather, Sunventrix solar PV systems are very reliable.  Plus, each microinverter we sell has a 100% uptime guarantee!  If the product ever malfunctions, the manufacturer will reimburse registered customers 100% of the cost of any power lost for up to 30 days. Now that’s peace of mind!

What maintenance is required?

Sunventrix solar PV systems require virtually no maintenance.  There can be some reduction in power output if the solar modules do become covered with dust and dirt and Sunventrix is happy to clean and check them a couple times a year for nominal cost.  Otherwise, rain and melting snow help keep them from getting too dirty. 

What tax credits are available?

Due to expire in 2016, the federal investment tax credit provides residential and business customers an uncapped 30% tax credit on the total installed cost of a system. Please consult your tax advisor for how this applies to your situation.  Businesses can take advantage of the section 179 deduction and 100% depreciate the purchase of a solar PV system as opposed to depreciating the asset over five years. However, the deduction is subject to various limitations based on each business's particular circumstances including whether they have taxable income and their total $ of asset additions in that year. Please consult your tax advisor for specific treatment available for your business.

How long does it take to install a Sunventrix solar PV system?

Depending on the size of your system, a typical residential roof top system can usually be installed in a couple of days.  A ground mounted system takes more days due to more permits and approvals.  Larger business installations take multiple days to install, but all attempts are made to install systems as fast and as efficiently as possible and minimize any inconvenience.  We do need access to electrical panel locations, attics (as required), and broadband routers.    

What connections are made to my electrical system?

Sunventrix only requires a simple connection into an existing electrical service panel (or we will install a subpanel) to interconnect your system with the utility grid.  The utility also requires a disconnect switch near your electrical meter and a new generation meter to record the amount of energy your system produces. Some businesses may require a new outflow meter.  Note, we install everything in preparation for utility approval, but the utility will install the actual meters at a scheduled date.  All efforts are made to blend equipment in with other electrical equipment while meeting all national, local and utility codes.

Does my system require batteries for storing energy?

No, the grid tied systems that Sunventrix installs are connected to the utility directly and the grid acts as your battery.  Installing a separate battery based system can add many thousands of dollars and complexity to a solar PV system and then the batteries only last around 7 – 10 years, at which time they need to be disposed of in a safe manner.  Plus, there is a loss of electrical energy during the battery charging and discharging cycles, the batteries need to be in a weatherproof and vented area, and most require routine maintenance.  Sunventrix only installs simple grid tied systems that supplies electricity for your needs and surplus electricity to the grid.  When your system isn’t producing (at night for example), you simply use electricity from the grid as before.  This is the simplest and least expensive system possible.  If you’re concerned about electrical outages, Sunventrix can install a reliable automatic standby generator and grid tied solar PV system for less than a battery based solar PV system.

How do I know how much power my system is generating?

Each Sunventrix solar PV system comes with five years of secure real time system monitoring that you can access from your computer, smartphone, or iPad®* so that you know exactly how much each individual solar module and your total system is generating every day, every month, every year.  And it shows your environmental benefits too!  Please click here to see actual data from the Sunventrix system
*System monitoring requires broadband internet access at customer expense.  Smartphone monitoring requires cell phone service also at customer expense.

What happens on a cloudy days?

Although sunny days are best for solar, your system can still generate some power on cloudy days, but not on extremely cloudy, rainy days.  The solar modules are good, but not that good…yet!  Just remember that Germany leads the world in solar energy production, but it actually has a lot more cloudier days than in Michigan!                                                                                                                      

Will my system provide electricity when the utility is down?

No, all grid tied solar PV systems are required by UL standards to turn off should the utility grid go down for the safety of electrical line personnel making repairs.  If you are concerned about power outages in your area, it is much more economical to install an automatic standby generator to meet your needs.  A standby generator is economical and will last much longer than a solar PV battery backup system.  Sunventrix can easily install an emergency standby generator system for you when we are installing your solar PV system or any other time if you desire. 

How do you attach the solar PV system to a roof?   

For a residential roof, Sunventrix will securely install the racking that holds the solar modules to your roof trusses/rafters with watertight, flashed components.  This method meets Michigan wind and snow load requirements and building and roofing codes and is widely used for strong, weather tight construction.  For a standing seam steel roof, we can attach right to the roof seam for a secure attachment.  For a commercial roof, Sunventrix installs a ballasted racking system that will hold the solar modules and distribute the load across the roof without penetrating the roof.  This method provides flexibility to work around various roof mounted equipment and most importantly, has no flat roof penetrations!     

What are the financial benefits of solar?

Due to recent tax credits and incentives, the financial benefits of solar PV are strong.  Typical residential and commercial installations can now see simple paybacks around 9 years with a return on investments of >20%.  Thus, it’s now mostly a question of “Why don’t I have solar PV?”        

Will a solar PV system increase my property taxes?

In many cases, solar PV does not typically increase property taxes.  However, there is no law in Michigan that protects against property tax increases after solar is installed like there are in other states. (Please tell your state representative that investing in clean energy should not increase your property taxes!)   Increasing taxes on renewable energy systems that reduce dependence on foreign oil, employ local workers, help save the environment, and help meet the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard is just wrong.

What are the key benefits of solar PV?

  • Solar lowers your energy costs and saves you money. 
  • Solar doesn’t burn fossil fuels or contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Solar reduces your carbon footprint by approximately 1.7 lbs/kWh generated, or over 100,000 lbs in 20 years.    
  • Solar simply and efficiently converts sunlight directly into electricity. 
  • Businesses can save over 60% on the cost of a Sunventrix solar PV system due to tax credits, section 179 and income deductions. Please consult with a tax advisor.
  • Your electric bill is credited every month for every kWh of electricity that you don’t consume because of your solar PV system.  
  • Your electric bill is credited every month for every kWh of electricity your solar PV system produces.   
  • Solar can supply 100% of your electricity needs if you desire. 
  • Solar is safe for you and your family, and it makes no noise during operation.
  • Solar can help increase a home’s resale value at time of sale. 
  • Solar has a favorable return on investment and quick payback period. 
  • Solar is free energy.  In just one hour, the earth receives more energy from the sun than the entire world uses in one year!
  • Solar offsets peak electrical loads, meaning when the sun is hot and you’re A/C is maxed out, your solar PV system is working hard for you too! 
  • Solar is reliable and virtually maintenance free with a system life of over 25 years.

 

What about snow accumulating on my solar panels in the winter?

Yes, your solar modules will get snow on them, but they are designed to withstand the snow load and operate in cold weather, and the snow will eventually melt off.  We do not recommend trying to clear off the snow from your modules if they are above ground level for your own safety!  With our microinverter systems, you will actually get higher output than a string inverter since the snow doesn’t cover or melt equally on the modules and you get power on the clear modules.  For example, you will have some modules putting out a lot of power with no snow on them, next to modules putting out little power with snow on them (it doesn’t take much), but since each module has its own microinverter, you’re getting credit for the modules that are producing.  With a string inverter if there is a little snow on one panel, this drops the output of the whole array and you get lower total output.  See our photos in the gallery showing this happening.  Also, our analysis of your site’s solar potential takes into account the year round weather in Michigan when preparing information on your system’s output.  Plus, other snow states like Colorado and Minnesota have a lot more solar installed than Michigan does so solar works in snowy states just fine.  Finally, your system will actually produce more electricity on clear cold days since the modules work better when they don’t get too warm and they get additional reflected sunlight off the snow around them.

What if I need to re-roof in the future? 

All Sunventrix solar PV systems can be easily disassembled down to the roof stand offs and flashing.  This allows a roofer access to re-roof around the remaining parts and then we simply come back and reassemble your system for you. It’s a simple process, and we would be happy to quote you this service if required.  For composition shingle roofs, we generally like to install Sunventrix solar PV systems on roofs that are < 10 years old so that both roof and solar PV system last a similar amount of time.  If you have a composition shingle roof older than 10 years, we usually prefer that it is replaced prior to installation, depending on the actual condition.