Important questions to ask a contractor:
Top Question No 1: Is the installer a licensed electrical contractor and exclusively focused on solar PV?
LightWave Solar holds an electrical contractors license in the states of TN, MS, AR and AL. We are 100% focused on turn-key solar PV design and installation with over 30 full‐time employees.
Top Question No. 2: What is included in the contract amount?
LightWave Solar provides turn‐key design and installation. This includes:
- Site evaluation to verify system design requirements
- Electrical drawings and site plans by in‐house engineers
- Completion of interconnection application and all other paperwork required by local utility
- Equipment procurement (panels, inverters, disconnects, meter, conduit, wire, etc. – everything needed for fully functional system)
- Installation and inspections
- Grid‐interconnection/commissioning with local utility
- One‐year workmanship warranty
The questions we get asked the most about solar:
How does a solar electric system work?
Solar simply works! Sunlight excites electrons in solar panels, and the electricity flows to an inverter where it is converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), the type of electricity our homes and businesses use. Solar systems are connected to the grid through the local utility to reduce your electric bills, and solar systems can charge batteries to provide backup power during grid outages.
What size system do I need?
How much does solar cost?
The cost of solar depends on many variables, but a typical residential system costs between $20,000-$30,000. This includes everything required to provide a fully installed, grid-tied system. Additional costs would be required for a ground-mount system, long distance ground work, concrete work, extended travel, or a battery backup system.
What are the financing options?
Commercial solar projects
Our customers have obtained commercial solar loans through BB&T, First Farmers & Merchants, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Pathway Lending and more. In fact, BB&T partnered with LightWave Solar to provide customized financing options for commercial solar installations, including an attractive equipment loan with interest rates as low as 6% for qualified customers. Contact LightWave Solar to discuss your project and goals.
Residential solar projects
Our recommended lender for residential solar projects is Clean Energy Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial services cooperative that’s focused solely on clean energy lending, including residential solar loans. Learn more about Clean Energy Credit Union here. Another good option is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) through your mortgage lender.
What are the available incentives?
- The 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is available for commercial and residential solar systems placed in service by 12/31/19. The credit amount is uncapped and equal to 30% of total system cost. For commercial solar systems, businesses can claim the 30% tax credit by beginning construction in 2019. Contact us for details.
- For businesses: Accelerated Depreciation, known as Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), is a method of depreciation in which a business’s investments in solar property can be recovered through tax deductions. Under the 2018 tax plan, MACRS benefits can be taken all in the 1st year and equal about 20% of solar project costs. Taken together, tax benefits for commercial solar projects reduce costs by about 50%.
- For eligible rural businesses, USDA offers a 25% grant for solar systems. LightWave Solar has grant writers on staff, and our grant approval track record is 98%. Next USDA REAP grant application deadline is October 31, 2019.
What steps should I take to decide if solar is right for me?
- Gather your last 12 electric bills to determine your annual use (or we can request your bills from your electric company).
Think about how much how much money you want to invest in solar.
- Consider what site might be the best location. Solar performs best on south-facing roofs. East/west roofs with low pitch are also suitable. There should be little or no shading from trees, chimneys, and dormers. If the roof is not suitable, we can install panels on another structure or on the ground. We have shade analyzing tools that help determine the best location for solar panels.
- Contact us to request a free preliminary estimate and see a sketch of the project on your property.
What happens during power outages?
If you would like to have solar power during a grid outage, you will need battery storage. You can learn about our solar + storage systems here. Without battery storage, a grid-tied solar system must shut down until utility power returns so that it doesn’t back-feed the grid. When grid power goes out, the inverter will automatically shut off. When the grid power is re-established, the inverter will automatically turn back on after it has synchronized with the utility grid.
Will my system work on cloudy days?
Yes! But it will be less productive. Production is proportionate to the thickness of cloud cover.
How will I know if my system is producing what it should?
An inverter’s faceplate shows production data. You can compare your actual production to our estimates to ensure your system is on track. Production monitoring that can be accessed on-line is available at an additional cost. Every month on your electric bill, you will be able to see your monthly solar generation, both in kilowatt-hours and dollar amount.
How long does it take to install the system?
For a typical residential system, it takes about three days to install the PV panels and equipment. Then, the system must pass a final State electrical inspection which normally takes one business day to schedule and pass. It can take another 7-10 business days for the utility to install the separate solar meter. The local utility and LightWave Solar will turn on the system once the utility company has installed the solar meter.
What are the panel and inverter warranties?
The solar panels we install have a product warranty for 10 years and a limited power performance warranty for 25 years. The limited power performance warranty means that by the end of year 25, the panels’ actual power output will be no less than 80% of the labeled power output. Most of the inverters we install are warrantied for 10 years. Some brands offer an extended warranty.
Can the solar panels withstand high winds and hail?
The panels are supported by high quality stainless steel and aluminum racking systems designed and mounted based on American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) wind load provisions. All solar panels are tested to UL-1703 standards and are capable of withstanding one inch (2.5cm) hailstones at 50MPH. They are covered with tempered glass, akin to a car windshield. Additionally, the panels can be covered by homeowners insurance.
What do I need to know about solar system installation?
We mount solar panels on your roof and run wires through conduit to a solar meter. From there, we also run wires through conduit to your breaker panel. In the same vicinity as your utility meter, we mount an inverter, AC disconnect, and the solar meter. This equipment can be mounted either inside or outside and takes up about 15 square feet (3′ x 5′ area).
What if I need a new roof or I am building a new house?
You want your roof to be in the best condition possible because the average working life span of a solar system is around 30 to 40 years. Thus, we don’t recommend installation on composition shingle roofs over 10-years-old. If you are building a new house, click here for guidance on building a solar-ready home.