What is solar energy?
Solar energy is energy generated from the sun. It may be in the form of passive solar, which involves capturing the heat from the sun, or photovoltaic solar, which uses light from the sun to generate electric energy.
What are photovoltaic cells?
Photovoltaic cells (also known as solar cells) convert light from the sun into electricity. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are made from materials such as silicon and convert photons from the sun’s rays directly into electrons to produce an electric current. The individual solar cells are connected together to form a module, also known as a solar panel. Once the light hits the panels and is absorbed, electricity is generated.
What are the different types of solar panels?
There are three types of solar panels:
- Photovoltaic (PV): Converts light directly to electricity
- Concentrating solar power (CSP): Uses heat from the sun to generate electricity
- Solar thermal systems: Collect thermal energy to provide hot water and air conditioning
What are the benefits of photovoltaic panels?
- Reliable and needs little maintenance
- Environmentally safe technology that converts sunlight directly into electricity
- Helps ensure our energy future by tapping into an infinite, renewable power supply
- Produced domestically, strengthening our economy
- Modular and flexible in terms of size and applications
- Helps meet the demand and capacity challenges facing many energy service providers
- Can be installed to just about any building type
What components are needed for a rooftop solar system?
Photovoltaic systems are fairly simple. They consist primarily of photovoltaic panels, an inverter and the necessary wiring to connect these devices into your home’s electric system.
How do solar panels generate electricity?
Solar panels absorb energy from the sun by way of a semiconductor (typically silicon) and generate a direct current electrical source. An inverter is used to convert the source to an alternating current source.
What is the average lifespan of a solar system?
The estimated life span is about 25 years or longer.
Evaluating Your Home for Solar
How do I know if my area get enough sunlight to generate solar energy?
The amount of sun available to generate energy in your area will vary, depending on latitude (sun angle), cloud cover and a clear path to the sun. Some of the considerations include: south-facing roof structure, age/condition of your roof and trees or other structures that may cause shading. Georgia averages about four to five hours of sun per day. You will need to consider several factors and consult one of our recommended solar contractors to learn if your home is suitable for a solar installation
Can my HOA prevent me from installing solar panels?
Yes. Homeowners should comply with their neighborhood HOA policies and covenants. It is best to check if your HOA allows solar panels before proceeding with an installation.
What is the difference between solar leasing versus purchasing? How do I know what is best for me?
If you are thinking about getting solar for your home, you can complete the project via leasing or purchasing. With a lease, there is little to no money down upfront, you can typically get approved with lower credit scores, and you still support clean energy. However, be aware that most solar leases place a lien on your home which impacts resale value. You could also end up paying more for the solar panels than you would if you purchased them up front. You are also ineligible for solar tax credits when you lease, as the contractor typically receives this benefit. With a solar purchase, you maintain full ownership of the panels and can reap these benefits. You may purchase them outright or through financing. Cobb EMC and Go Energy Financial offer a fast and economical way to finance solar projects for Cobb EMC members.
Will my insurance premium increase after I install solar panels?
It depends. Most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover your solar panels with no further action required. However, you may choose to increase the value of your coverage to include your new solar system installation as well. This would result in an increase in your insurance premium.
Can I get a tax credit for a home solar system?
Tax credits may be available for your solar installation. We recommend consulting with your tax professional to find out what credits you may be eligible for. See our solar resources to find more information.
Installing Solar Panels on Cobb EMC’s Service Lines
What is the maximum solar size allowed by Cobb EMC?
Cobb EMC allows 10 KW for residential installations and 100 KW for commercial installations.
What types of agreements does Cobb EMC require for solar energy?
In addition to any purchase or lease agreements for the solar equipment and installation, an interconnection agreement with Cobb EMC is required to ensure a safe and proper interconnection with the electric distribution system. Once you complete the interconnect agreement, Cobb EMC will set a net meter at your home.
What is net metering and how does it work?
Net metering is a system in which solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid.
A net meter can spin both forward and backward to measure energy to and from your home. Imagine a bucket of water which you are pouring water into. If the bucket also has a hole at the bottom and you are draining water at the same rate as you are pouring at the same time, the level of the water will essentially remain the same. This is how a net meter works. When your solar panels produce energy and your home consumes energy at the same time, the result is a net amount. When your home produces more power than it consumes, you send power back to the grid and Cobb EMC pays you for the energy you send back.
If I install solar, can I disconnect from Cobb EMC’s system?
No. Most likely your solar system will not generate all the energy you need all of the time. To ensure a continuous supply of energy, it’s best to keep your existing electric account with Cobb EMC.
What if Cobb EMC experiences a power outage?
When your solar system is connected to Cobb EMC’s electric grid, you will not have electric power from your solar panels during an outage unless you have also installed a battery storage system.
Solar Output and Maintenance
Do solar panels work on cloudy days and/or shaded areas?
Solar panels will work on cloudy days but not as efficiently and will only produce a limited amount of electricity. Sunshine is the "fuel" for your solar panels. While we cannot control the weather and cloud cover, placing your solar panels in areas that have direct access to the most sunshine will help your system be more productive.
How can I use solar panels to power my house at night?
Battery storage may be ideal for some small scale photovoltaic systems. However, this method requires additional maintenance and can be very costly. Most members remain connected to the grid for access to continuous, reliable electricity at all times
Is there any maintenance involved with solar panels
Solar panels require very little maintenance. Occasionally, panels will need to be cleaned of debris from weather and anything blocking the sun. Some components require regular and professional inspections. This is the case for the inverter, which may need to be replaced more often.
Have a question or just want to chat with a Cobb EMC member care representative?