Frequently asked questions
Why do you sell panels in pairs?
Microinverters are designed to support either 60-cell or 72-cell panels. Our pair of 36-cell panels is equivalent to one 72-cell panel when connected in series, and the panels’ smaller size makes them easier to lift and handle. Each panel is rated at 190 W. The panel pair is rated at 380 W. You will be hard-pressed to find a 72-cell panel with a power output this high. These are premium panels.
What savings will I get on my electricity bill?
As an example, in Michigan one panel pair facing south with a 35° tilt will reduce your annual electric bill by $80. If the panels are set up to the east or west, you still receive 80% of those savings. Compare calculations from these U.S. cities to estimate your savings:
Los Angeles $122
New York $97
San Francisco $126
Washington, D.C. $74
How do I install the panels? What will I need?
Where should I put panels on my roof? How many can I fit?
South-facing is best, and east and west still provide 80% of the effectiveness. All solar panels need sun and hate shade. Our type of panels are somewhat shade-tolerant, but it is still best to choose the place on your roof which receives the most sun throughout the day.
How do I plug your panel kits into my house?
Will there be a power cord hanging off the edge of the roof?
You can run it along a roof edge and then down a corner to a dedicated outlet, hiding it behind your gutter downspouts. A neater way to run the cord is through the roof into the attic, and we offer a roof accessory for that purpose, which uses the same sealing technology as our mounts.
How do I know installation won’t damage my roof?
We use the same mounting technology (butyl mastic roof seal) as do three other sellers of higher-cost mounting systems, which have been field-proven with millions of installations.
How do I plug your panel kits into my house?
Simply plugging the microinverter into the wall will cause it to offset your power use from the grid. The National Electric Code requires the outlet and its circuit to be dedicated for this purpose. In other words, a circuit breaker must connect to only one outlet; the outlet your solar system will plug into, and no other outlets. The microinverter will begin to supply electricity five minutes after it senses a connection to the grid. Thus, the microinverters produce zero power when disconnected or when the grid is down due to a power failure.It is possible that the solar panels and microinverter can produce more power than your house consumes, thus outputting power to the grid. In this situation, you have two options. One is to configure your microinverters for “zero export”, also known as “customer self-supply”. This requires extra hardware and a particular brand of microinverters which support this functionality. “Zero export” is often done in Hawaii. The second option is to enter into a “parallel operating agreement” with your utility. In Detroit, the utility has some additional system requirements.
What is the optional monitor for?
Will I need to do any maintenance, such as cleaning the panels or replacing parts?
No maintenance is required. A panel with at least 10° of tilt will self-clean from rain. The solar panels and microinverters have a life-expectancy of 25 years, minimum - six times longer than the typical payback period.
How does solar reduce my electric bill?
There are a few scenarios here:
How do I get net metering?
We can only speak to the process in Detroit. DTE Energy requires that you fill out an application ($100 fee). They require an electrical inspection, an AC disconnect within 5' of the electrical meter, and a photo of the microinverter. Check with your own electric utility on their requirements.
Can you explain how your kits meet the National Electrical Code and other code requirements?
The microinverter meets:
Why don’t I just buy a Harbor Freight 4 panel system for $189.99?
What is done to make sure the solar panels don’t electrify the grid when the power is down (for electrical worker safety)?
This question comes from having heard about connecting gasoline generators to the house without first disconnecting from the grid. Every grid-tie inverter on the market, including any in our kit, has a feature called rapid shutdown. A gird-tie inverter is designed to work when the grid is up and cease output when the grid is down. UL 1741 inverter compliance requires that inverters cease operation whenever the utility parameters fall out range.
What is “dollars per watt” all about?
This is the industry-standard number for the installed cost of a solar system. This number is the ratio of the price from the installer divided by the DC watt rating of all the panels. Our panel pair has a DC rating of 380 W. If the cost is $465, that is $465/380W = $1.22 W. For example, in a hot solar market like the southwest, there is a lot of competition and you should be able to get a residential install for $3 per watt ($3/W) before the federal tax credit. In places with less solar installers, the price may reach $4/W. In addition to showing how economical our kit is, this number also shows how fast the payback will be: our $1.22/W system pays back in 4 years, while a $3/W system will pay back in 12 years.
Would the panels come off in a wind storm?
We modelled our mounts after commercially-available mounting systems which have been tested to 105 mph winds.
Do your parts have a warranty?
The solar panels and microinverters come from large, well-established companies. The solar panels have a manufacturer’s 25-year warranty on their output. The microinverters have a manufacturer’s 10-year warranty. However, the cost of shipping is high relative to the cost of these products, thus it is not practical for us to offer both low prices and long warranties. We will work with you to make sure the parts are working when installed. After that, we expect the products to last well past their predicted lifespan. Should you experience a rare product failure, we sell all the parts for our kits.It takes significant customer confidence to pay $18,000 for the typical home solar system that pays back in 12 to 15 years. This being the case, the solar contractor has to offer long warranties. Since our systems pay back in about 4 years, our warranty need not be as long.