Solar FAQs - Questions About Solar Energy
Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. Most homes and businesses run on alternating current (AC) electricity, so the DC electricity is then passed through an inverter to convert it to usable AC electricity. At that point, you either use the electricity in your house or send it back to the electric grid. See how solar panels produce electricity for homes, businesses, and farms.
Home and business owners can often realize a 10% ROI or better. Given their longevity, the systems will pay for themselves well within their lifetime while producing clean energy. As energy prices continue to rise, the return on investment will also improve.
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 essentially 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 25+ years!
Your best starting point is to determine how many kilowatt hours (kWhs) your home used in each of the previous 12 months. With this, we can compare expected monthly solar energy production to your electricity usage. Annual electricity usage total is also a good start. You’ll find your monthly kWh records via paper copies of your utility bills, a phone call to your utility provider, or through your online utility account.
A south-facing area that gets sun from approximately 9 am to 3 pm is best. Solar systems also work well even when facing west or east, if that’s your best option. We can mount the systems on the majority of roof types, including a variety of materials used on pitched and flat roofs. Systems can also be ground-mounted.
Solar electric systems are designed last more than 25 years. Many solar electric systems from the 1970s and 1980s are still functioning today. Solar electric systems need very little maintenance and have a long functioning life. The solar electric panels themselves have a 25-year production warranty and will sustain 1-inch hail impact at 50 mph.
No, solar tends to have a positive effect on home value. Recent studies have shown that solar homes sell faster and for more than equivalent homes without solar.
In Illinois, there is a special property tax assessment that has been created for homeowners who install solar. Article 10, Division 1 of the Illinois Property Tax Code says solar homeowners in Illinois may file for a special assessment of solar improvements to their property by filing a PTAX-330 property tax form with the local County Assessor’s office. The special assessment or alternate valuation is the valuation that would apply to the property if the solar energy system had not been installed.
Rooftop solar installations have secure, leak-proof attachments or ballasted systems designed to withstand local wind forces. Dispersed roof loads of solar energy systems are quite low, generally 2-3 pounds per square foot. StraightUp Solar is also proud to offer an industry-leading 10-year workmanship warranty to give you peace of mind in your new clean energy investment.
StraightUp Solar offers a selection of secured and unsecured loans and financing options and can help guide you through the selection process.
Yes! Use our solar savings calculator here.
Illinois offers a special property tax assessment for solar. The alternative valuation will be the lesser of two values: the value of a conventional heating and cooling system, or the value of the solar energy system, whichever is less. Missouri’s property tax exemption for solar states that solar energy systems not held for resale are exempt from all state, local, and county property taxes.
StraightUp Solar works with a variety of top-tier solar energy equipment vendors. A portion of our solar components are sourced through our Amicus Solar Cooperative partnership, which allows us to obtain high-quality components with cost savings achieved through quantity.
You will have several mounting options for a solar array at your farm. We install on pitched asphalt and metal roofs, flat roofs, even buildings with a curved roof such as those commonly found in agricultural settings. You may find that a ground mount is an attractive option, provided we can help you determine whether you have adequate ground space for a solar array.
The typical solar project timeline from contract signature to solar energy production is generally between 2-4 months, depending on the complexity of interconnection with your local utility.
Oftentimes we will locate your array in an area where livestock will not interact with it often, in order to reduce the risk of damage by livestock to your array.
The REAP grant application process does involve paperwork, which is easier to manage if your business’ paperwork is already in good order. However, you will need to locate and pull the required records. Allow at least one month preparation time to organize and gather your files, submit them to the grant writer, and allow time for processing.
Many agricultural operations will have their entire investment paid back within 5 years.
Tax-exempt organizations are not eligible to use solar tax benefits such as the 30% Federal Tax Credit or MACRS depreciation.
Tax-exempt entities may indirectly realize the savings of solar tax benefits by partnering with a for-profit third party who can purchase the solar equipment and perform the installation on behalf of your organization. Learn more about third-party financing for tax-exempt organizations by visiting our Government/Nonprofit Financing section.
Aside from a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or Lease through StraightUp Solar and our financing partner, your tax-exempt organization could also form a single-purpose business entity, usually in the form of an LLC. Tax benefits for the solar array, chiefly the 30% Federal Tax Credit and MACRS depreciation, would trickle down to the members of the LLC. Filing for an LLC will require legal expertise and approximately $1,000 in filing fees.
StraightUp Solar is dedicated to fulfilling our CLEARE values, which include “Educate the Solar Lesson.” Please contact us to arrange an educational presentation for your organization or school.
Yes, a solar group buy program can be used to raise funds for your organization. A common model for fundraising with a solar group buy is to pre-designate a donation amount for each kilowatt (KW) of solar that is installed within the group buy program. Learn more about our fundraising opportunities for Nonprofits.
A solar group buy will allow your community to save on solar with no minimum for participation. We’d like your solar group buy to have a certain goal in mind, and will work with your organization to set specific reward levels to encourage community participation. Generally, we scale these goals according to the size of your community.
Solar group buys can run for as much or as little time as your community would prefer and time commitment to adequately promote the program depends on the size and range of your community group. For a mid-size town, we’d recommend a 4 month program with educational meetings every other week for the first 3 months.
Depending on the exact design of the program, administration and promotion may be funded by a grant or by a fee paid by the installation partner selected by your organization.
Your organization will not be liable for installation quality issues. StraightUp Solar is a fully insured and bonded local business and each installation entails a contract between the specific home or business owner and our company.
The Solar for All program is a special aspect of the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act passed in December 2016. The Solar for All program is a job training and solar deployment initiative intended to bring the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy to income-qualified communities throughout Illinois.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, the Sierra Club, and many more organizations throughout the state are currently leading the development of Solar for All program details and outreach to local communities. More can be found on the Solar for All program at IL Clean Jobs Coalition fact sheet.