Q. What is Photovoltaic?
A. Photovoltaic, or PV, cells are the basic engine of a solar power system. PV cells convert the sun’s energy into electricity. A PV cell is most often made of a thin wafer of silicon modified with small amounts of other materials that give the silicon wafer special electrical properties. When sunlight hits a PV cell, it produces an electric current. PV cells are connected together in a solar module, which has a non-reflective glass front, a protective insulating back-sheet and an aluminum frame for strength and mounting.
Q. With solar, will I still have power if the utility power goes out?
A. Only if you buy an off grid system with battery backup. Precis Solar offers systems both with and without battery backup. Systems with battery backup are somewhat more expensive but they give you the peace of mind of never being without power.
Q. Will the utility company send me a check if I produce more power than I use?
A. Currently, if you produce more power than you use in any given month, the utility will bank that electricity and you can draw down that electricity credit for up to one year. This will be changing shortly where the utility will buy back the extra electricity.
Q. What is an inverter?
A. The inverter transforms direct current electricity produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity--the form of electricity used by most standard lights, motors, computers and air conditioners. The inverter also provides safety functions such as automatic shutdown of the solar electric system in the event of a power failure.
Q. What is the safety disconnect switch?
A. The AC safety, or disconnect, switch is a manual switch that can be used to disconnect a building’s electrical system from the solar electricity system.
Q. What is on grid?
A. A system connected to the utility grid/system which utilizes the grid for backup energy.
Q. What is off grid?
A. Electricity is generated at the house site (typically using solar, wind, hydro or a fuel-powered generator) with no connection to a utility electricity supply. Batteries are normally used to store energy to provide a continuous supply day and night.
Q. What is MACRS?
A. The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is the current tax depreciation system in the United States. Under this system, the capitalized cost (basis) of tangible property is recovered over a specified life by annual deductions for depreciation.