Having trouble with your solar system?
Take a look at the FAQs below, which include some of the most common questions we receive from Solar Champions. If you still need assistance to resolve your issue, fill out a service ticket form to get in touch with our team!
Nope! Thankfully we live in a climate where it rains often enough that we don’t have to worry about dust or pollen build-up on the panels. We also don’t recommend cleaning snow off your array. Because the panels are black and glass, they act like a metal roof or car windshield and the snow will typically melt and slide off all at once after a few hours. We take regional snow coverage into account when we size your array, so even if you lose a few days of production every winter to snow, you should still be hitting your annual clean energy goals.
We have a whole article about solar panels in the winter; you can read it here!
Sometimes we do! It depends on the make of the array, location, and other factors. Give our service team a call and we can figure out the best solution for you.
Our solar systems are warrantied for 25 years and but expected to last at least 35 years.
Solar panels are 95% recyclable which is huge – washing machines are only 70% recyclable but everyone has one! So they really can be recycled, we just don’t have the big recycling plants for them yet in this country (they have them in Europe). The biggest barrier to solar panel recycling in this country is that not enough solar panels have failed to make it worthwhile to recycle them; as we move toward a higher adoption and solar panels age more, this will advance. At ReVision, we have team members working on a process to recycle solar panels when they reach the end of their productive lifespan. We will keep our community updated on our progress!
If your roof needs replacing in the next 5 or so years, we do recommend replacing the roof first and then getting your solar array installed. Otherwise, the solar panels increase the lifespan of the roof by acting as a sort of protective layer, shielding it from the elements.
If your roof ends up needing to be replaced after solar panels have been installed, we can come out and remove the panels and then re-install them. There is a labor fee associated with this.
Absolutely! You can either attach more panels to your existing array, or (if you live in Maine) you can buy a share of a Community Solar Farm (CSF) to supplement your current array. Many of our Maine customers opt to go the CSF route, but we can help you find the best option for your home and energy needs. Similarly, if you install heat pumps or buy an Electric Vehicle and your electric load goes up, our team can design an expansion for you.
Solar Panel FAQs
An important part of understanding your solar array is to understand that your net meter records only energy that is exported to the grid. Energy that is used immediately on site, as it is produced (running your refrigerator for example) is never recorded on the net meter, because it is used in real-time!
That production is still recorded by your solar inverter, but will not appear as an export to the utility. This is why you'll see a higher number of production in your online monitoring than your record with the utility.
On older systems we’ve installed (2017 or older) you may have an additional piece of equipment called an AC production meter. The AC production meter generally has a stricter tolerances for what it records as energy, so may differ slightly from the solar inverter’s monitoring on these systems.
SolarEdge and most modern inverters now offer ‘revenue grade monitoring’ (important for RECs, which we talk about below) so we don’t install AC production meters on as many projects anymore.
99% of the time if your online dashboard is down, your system is still working normally.
Solar panels, unlike the internet, are quite reliable!
Now, the most common reasons your solar array stopped talking to the internet dashboard:
- Wired internet is disconnected. Plug it back in!
- You've changed either internet providers or passwords on your router - or gotten a new wireless router. Update the wireless password for your solar communications device.
- The software in the communications device glitched, and you should try rebooting the unit.
See our videos (scroll down to PV service) for walkthroughs on rebooting the most common equipment we install.
If solar trackers detect severe weather (cold, high winds), it will go flat.
When a solar panel is covered with snow, it cannot produce electricity. However, solar arrays tend to shed snow pretty well—the panels themselves absorb the sun’s heat as well as it’s light, they are mounted to face the sun, and are often on a slope. While it’s true that solar panels drop in production when they’re covered with snow, the percentage of overall yearly production lost is actually very small, which still makes them a good investment for prospective customers. We do not recommend that owners of solar systems clear the snow from their arrays as this could damage the array and is not covered under the warranty. Additionally, the panels themselves tend to be in difficult or even dangerous areas to access on the roof.
Do solar panels work in the cold?
Many people are surprised to learn that solar panels in winter conditions can actually improve their performance, further minimizing the drop in production due to snow on the panel or the loss of daylight hours. The photovoltaic (PV) technology in solar panels is actually able to more efficiently convert sunlight to power when they are colder. Further still, the panels are also able to catch the sunlight that reflects off the snow, adding to what the panels themselves could receive throughout the day.
What if I want to clear the snow from my panels?
Now, some customers have solar arrays that are easier to access and are willing to put in some effort to optimize their system for every possible ounce of performance. If you fall into this camp, there are a few tips we’ve received over the years we can share. If you have a roof rake, use it to clear the area beneath the panels so that snow has a place to slide to when it sheds from the panels. Without being raked, the sun will hit the snow and cause it shed from the panels and onto your roof, but with a little extra help this process will speed up. If you have flat plate solar hot water collectors or solar photovoltaic modules, you can also attach a piece of foam pipe insulation on the edge of your roof rake and use it to gently clear snow from the actual panels (we’ve also heard that a few strips of duct tape to dull the edge of the roof rake works).
Be careful! While customers have reported success using this technique, any damage caused to your panels will not be covered under warranty. Absolutely do not try to clear the snow from collectors with the sharp edge of a metal roof rake (and never use any type of rake on evacuated tube collectors). Also, be mindful of your safety—a few extra hours of production in the shortest daylight times of year are not worth you injuring yourself.
We think your time is better spent indoors enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and looking forward to the next sunny day!
Battery Storage FAQs
Renewable Energy Credit (REC) FAQs
REC stands for Renewable Energy Credit.
It essentially is a certification of the ‘green’ qualities of your solar array.
Your solar array has the literal value that it provides to you in the form of electricity that is either used in your home, or sent to the grid.
It also has value in terms of the benefits it provides the world by offsetting carbon energy. This is what the REC stands for.
You earn 1 REC = 1,000 kilowatt-hours of solar generated.
You can sell your solar RECs to utility companies to help them meet their requirements to purchase a certain amount of clean energy per Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
Utility companies can meet their RPS requirements for the state (exact % varies in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts) by either building their own renewable energy plants, or purchasing RECs either from bigger projects or from solar producers such as yourself. Alternatively, if they fail to purchase enough RECs they pay a penalty (called Alternative Compliance Payment, ACP) which is funding the state uses to offer renewable programs.
Yep, you can earn a little bit more financial return for your solar array by selling RECs to an interested party.
Just FYI here are some rough values for RECs various states:
- Maine: 1 REC = $15
- New Hampshire: 1 REC = $15
- Massachusetts: 1 REC = $120 * Not actually a REC, but an approximation of the SMART program… erhm… more on that in a moment!
Customers often choose to sell their RECs, and gain an additional incentive to offset the cost of their solar array. Your solar inverter will be able to electronically report your production to NEPOOL, the organization that mints the RECs. However, in order to receive monetary benefit from these credits, you will want to work with an aggregator who will sell the RECs on your behalf.
We typically work with Knollwood Energy. They monetize the RECs that you have produced and send you a check on a quarterly basis. They'll charge a nominal fee for this service, check with them/their website for latest information.
If you prefer not to sell, you are able to Retire your RECs. Retiring the RECs is cost free and involves setting up your own accounts with NEPOOL and the NH PUC. ReVision can guide you through both of these applications. Once set up, your RECs will report electronically to NEPOOL, mint, and then naturally expire over time. There is no additional monetary benefit to retire them, but you retain ownership of the RECS so this option also prevents the utilities from claiming your RECs without paying for them.
Technically, if you have sold your RECs, you have sold the “Green” properties of your solar array. It is no longer accurate to say, “I have clean power produced by sunshine” because your system’s clean energy properties have been sold to another party (the utility).
This prevents “Double dipping” where the utility is able to count renewable credits from your array but then you also are claiming to have green properties for your solar energy.
However! Just because you retire your RECs, doesn't mean your solar isn't doing great things for the environment! Obviously the solar production is the same either way. RECs are an excellent way to add additional financial incentives for you to go solar (improving your ROI).
Massachusetts has run its REC program differently from other New England states.
Historically, they had a “SREC” (Solar Renewable Energy Credit) program, which provided a special carve-out in the REC program for Solar projects.
It gets (super) complicated, but in short REC markets have a variety of forms of renewable energy that enter into it, including sources like biomass, hydroelectric, wind, and of course, solar.
Markets that have a special ‘carve out’ for solar typically lead to a higher REC value for Solar RECs — which has been the case in Massachusetts.
However there were some limitations with the SREC program, namely that the subscriptions eventually got filled which made the incentive go away.
SMART was crafted to replace SREC with a more long-term approach. SMART offers similar benefits as SRECs — a financial payment per 1,000 kWh of solar produced.
The SMART program is available to customers with National Grid, Eversource, or Unitil as their electricity provider. In towns served by MLPs (Municipal Light Plants), a separate program exists through the Department of Energy Resources.