FAQs

What does an average solar electric system cost?

With a loan, you can go solar with little to no upfront payment, and lock in a fixed monthly solar electricity payment that is comparable to your current bill. For purchasing a system outright, most residential solar PV systems cost between $10,000–$20,000 (after rebates and tax incentives), which includes the cost of all materials, installation, freight, permit fees and sales tax. Xcel Energy customers are eligible for additional rebates worth $500–$2500.

What is the payback of a solar system?

The payback is typically 10–14 years, depending on if the system was purchased outright or financed.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels carry 25–year warranties, with life expectancies of 40+ years.

How efficient are solar panels?

Standard solar panels have efficiencies ranging from 13%–16% and produce about 13–16 watts per square foot. High‐efficiency panels such as SunPower reach up to 22% efficiency and produce about 20 watts per square foot. Although efficiencies can reach up to 30% or more, the cost is usually prohibitive except for military or space applications.

What is the size of an average solar electric system?

The average residential system size is about 6–7 kW. That said, averages won’t help in sizing a solar system for your specific home or business any more than an “average” shoe size will help you find a comfortably fitting shoe.

 

Sizing a solar PV system involves careful consideration of three main factors:

(1) available sunny space where a system can be installed;

(2) a customer’s electricity consumption; and

(3) project budget.

What happens during a power outage?

With any grid‐tied system, the solar system will turn off during a utility power outage. You will experience power outages the same way you do now. This is a safety feature built into the inverters to prevent accidental back-feeding into the grid, which could endanger utility workers. When the utility grid is running again, your solar system will automatically turn back on and resume generating power and saving you money.

What modifications would be necessary for my house to run on solar electricity?

Very little, if any. Solar panels are relatively lightweight, so there are rarely any structural modifications required. Conduit and wire must be installed from the solar panels to the electrical service panel. Typical installations take only 2–3 days, with only 1 hour without power.

Would I need to rewire my house before installing a solar system?

Not at all. Grid-tied systems simply feed into a breaker in your main service panel.

What if there's a hailstorm? Can the solar panels withstand hail?

Solar electric panels are built with high‐impact tempered glass. The solar industry standard dictates that panels should be able to withstand golfball-sized hail. If your solar panels do suffer any hail damage, you can claim the damage via your homeowner’s insurance policy. In the case of a lease, any repairs are paid for by the system financier.

Will I have to pay more for or make any changes to my homeowner's insurance policy?

We recommend that you contact your insurance agent to determine if additional coverage is needed to insure the solar electric system. Typically, any increase in premium is only to cover the replacement cost of the system, as opposed to the system being viewed as a liability by the insurance company.

How can I learn more about Xcel Energy's solar rebate program?

Feel free to call us for more information or go to the Solar*Rewards page on Xcel Energy’s website. Here you’ll find useful information about their solar rebate program and application process. We encourage you to contact us at any time for further details and program updates.

Do I need batteries in my solar electric system?

Batteries are only necessary if you are

(a) living “off‐the‐grid”; or

(b) living in an area with a high occurrence of power outages.

 

Most solar electric systems in urban areas, where grid connections already exist, forgo batteries and effectively use the utility grid as a battery. Not having batteries in a system will reduce the overall cost and virtually eliminates maintenance.

 

*Namasté Solar does not currently design or install battery backup or off‐grid systems.

But if I don't have batteries, how will I get electricity during the night or when the sun isn't shining?

If you’re tied to the grid, then you simply take electricity from the utility. This happens whenever you are consuming more electricity than your solar system is producing – such as at night or during cloudy weather. When the sun is shining, however, and you are producing more power than you’re consuming, the solar system will feed the excess electricity back into the grid, causing your meter to spin backward. Each month, your utility net‐meter may spin backward and forward on a daily basis, but your monthly utility bill will only show the “net” usage that occurred.

 

This is called “net metering” and it allows you to achieve a “net zero” bill by selling back the power that you use at a retail rate. If you produce more power than you use each month, the credits will carry over for later use. Afterward, if you still have a credit leftover, the utility may pay you for the excess power you produced, or you may elect to carry credits forward indefinitely for future usage.

Want to go solar? Find out how we can help you.