One of our primary goals is to provide you with a comprehensive education about our services. If your question is not addressed below, feel free to contact us.  Our highly qualified staff is always eager to help.

1. Where do I start?

StraightUp Solar recommends you start by determining your solar goals and your budget. Then, we’ll help you review your total energy use in your home or facility and help you understand the best solar power option for your budget.

We look forward to helping you achieve your solar goals: call us at (314) 218-2663 / (844) 97-SOLAR or email at hello@straightupsolar.com.

2. How does solar work?

Photovoltaic (solar electric) systems use the sun’s energy to create electricity. Solar modules convert the solar energy to electric energy when the solar energy displaces electrons within the solar modules. The displaced electrons are used to create direct current electricity. We then use an inverter to convert this direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity that is used in most homes or businesses.

3. What incentives are available?


  • For residential and commercial solar electric systems, there is a full 30% Federal Tax Credit available until 2019.

The tax credit is set to step down according to the following schedule:

Systems placed in service by 12/31/2019: 30%
Systems placed in service between 1/1/2020 and 12/31/2020: 26%
Systems placed in service between 1/1/2021 and 12/31/2021: 22%
Systems placed in service after 1/1/2022: 0% Residential, 10% Commercial

  • Businesses can also qualify for Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS), otherwise known as Rapid Depreciation.  MACRS classifies solar electric systems as five-year property for depreciation purposes.
  • Agricultural producers and rural small businesses may also apply for the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
    • REAP is a competitive grant program that awards up to 25% of project expenses to qualified renewable energy projects.


  • In Illinois, the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program allows the owner of a solar electric (PV) system to sell their system’s SRECs, or the environmental benefits associated with the production of solar energy, to offset the cost of the system. 
    • 1 SREC is equal to 1 Megawatt-hour (1,000 kWhs) of solar electricity production. 

Learn More About Residential Solar Incentives

Learn More About Commercial Solar Incentives

4. What do the systems cost?

An installed solar electric system starts around $3-$4 per watt and even less for some commercial projects. In general, the larger the system, the less the system costs per watt installed.

5. How do I know what size solar electric system I need?

Your best starting point is to look at your electric bill and determine your average daily usage in kilowatt hours. Most bills will have this displayed as the total kilowatt hours used over the month. Most homes or facilities use more electricity at different times of the year, so an average over the year will give you your best estimate.

We can then estimate the size system you will need to produce a percentage of your building’s energy. If a system has good southern exposure and no significant shading we know that we will average approximately 4 sun hours per day in our region – accounting for system losses. By multiplying the size of the system in kilowatts times the sun hours per day we can estimate the output of the system on a daily basis over the course of the year.

For example, a 5 kilowatt system will produce approximately 20 kilowatt hours / day (5 kw X 4 sun hours = 20 kilowatt hours per day). If your home uses 40 kilowatt hours a day, the 5 kW system in this example would eliminate 50% of your electric usage.

We recommend energy efficiency practices such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs and increasing your insulation to decrease your energy usage.

6. Do the solar electric systems need batteries?

Batteries are not required for solar electric systems. Battery storage (off grid) systems are a good option if there is currently no electricity to a property and there would be increased costs to run electricity to the location. Batteries also allow people to achieve energy independence. However, batteries increase the complexity of the system and add approximately 20-30% additional cost to the system.

For many people, the best option is to be grid tied without battery storage. With a grid tied system, you can think of the utility as your battery back-up. If your system were to produce more than the building is using, your meter will run backwards and give you credits to use at another time. This is called a net-metered system.

For safety reasons, a grid-tied only system will not produce power during a blackout. A grid connected system allows you to create your system on a modular basis, meaning that you don’t have to power your entire home from the beginning. Rather, you can start with a system that aligns with your goals and budget and then add on later if you desire. In many cases, you can still eliminate a significant portion of your energy bill.

If additional energy independence, beyond grid-tied only solar is important to you, there are several good options and approaches for solar storage and providing power when the grid is down.  We can talk through these options with you if you’d like.

7. Do I have an acceptable location for solar?

In the majority of cases the answer is yes. We need a relatively south-facing area that gets sun from approximately 9am to 3pm. The systems work reasonably well even when facing west or east if that’s your only option (decreased output is typically 15%). We can mount the systems on the majority of roof types including shingled or metal roofs. Systems can also be ground-mounted. Please see our project portfolio to see examples of how other customers integrated solar into their homes or businesses.

Finally, we perform a free on-site evaluation of your location (within 75 miles of our office) prior to an installation to ensure optimal production from your solar system and to be certain that the system design and location meets your expectations.

8. Will my family have to change their habits with a solar electric PV system?

No.  If your PV system is connected to the grid, you’ll have the utility’s power as your “back-up energy source”.


9. How long do the systems work and how durable are they?

Solar electric systems are expected to last more than 25 years.  Many solar electric systems that were installed in the 1970′s and 1980′s are still functioning today.

They require little to no maintenance and have a long functioning life. The solar electric panels have a 25-year warranty and are hail tested to sustain 1-inch hail impact at 50 mph.

10. What is the expected return on investment?

In many cases, a business can see a 15+% ROI and homeowners can realize a 10% ROI or better. Given their longevity, the systems are expected to pay for themselves well within their lifetime while producing clean, green energy that benefits more than just the bottom line.

Energy prices continue to rise, so the return on investment will also improve.  Over the past few years the dramatic decrease in component costs with improved incentives have significantly improved their return investment.


11. How much will I be helping the environment?

Solar is one of the best ways to decrease your carbon footprint. The Midwest is powered largely with coal, so each kWh produced from a solar system saves one pound of coal from being burned. A solar electric system will offset the energy to produce the modules in less than 3 years – that means truly clean energy for the remaining life of the system over the next 30 years!


12. How are the panels attached to my roof?

Solar panels are mounted on to rails or “racking”.  The racking is attached in one of three ways:

1. The rails are attached to the roof via attachments that are flashed and sealed.  These slide underneath your existing shingles. The attachments are secured to the structural members of the roof with lag screws every four to six feet.  This produces a secure and leak proof attachment system that is designed to withstand local wind speeds.  In addition, dispersed roof loads are quite low, typically around three pounds per square foot – a roof load that is usually well within the parameters of a
structurally sound roof. This is typical of residential systems.

2.  The rails are attached to ballast systems. The ballast systems have a large number of heavy blocks that sit on the attachment array to keep the panels in place during high winds. Typically, a membrane is put underneath to provide added protection for your roof. This is typical of commercial systems.

3. The system may be supported by a ground mount on an open space of your property.

Illinois SREC Incentive Available

SRECs can save you BIG money on your solar array!

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