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 solar PV and energy storage system design and installation with over 35 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 solar + battery system costs $50,000-$60,000 before the federal tax credit. This includes everything required to provide a fully installed, grid-tied system with backup power. Additional costs would be required for a ground-mount system, long distance ground work, concrete work, or extended travel.
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 26% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is available for commercial and residential solar systems placed in service by 12/31/22. The credit amount is uncapped and equal to 26% of total system cost.
- 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. 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 46%.
- 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 March 31, 2021.
What steps should I take to decide if solar is right for me?
- Find your last electric bill to help us determine your annual use.
- Look at your existing electric service and note number of main service panels and amperage. For example, you might have one or more 200-amp main service panels. This info will help us determine your backup capabilities.
- 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.
- Explore our residential info pages, and contact us for a free consultation and preliminary estimate.
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?
Most of our systems include online production monitoring so you can see your system’s perfotmance on any computer or smart phone. You can compare your solar production to our estimates to ensure your system is on track.
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 occurs within 10 days of completed installation. Then, we schedule system activation with your local power company.
What are the panel, inverter and battery warranties?
The solar panels we install have a product warranty for 25 years and a power performance warranty for 25 years. The 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 or 12 years, and many brands offer an extended warranty. Tesla Powerwall batteries and LG Chem batteries both have 10 year warranties.
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 or on a ground-mount structure and run wires through conduit to an inverter. Wires from the inverter’s output go through conduit to an exterior-mounted solar disconnect. From there, we run wires through conduit to your breaker panel, which allows your home to use the electricity flowing from your solar panels. Whenever possible, we mount all gear close to your utility meter, and it occupies a space about 3′ tall x 4′ wide. To store solar power for consumption at night or during a grid outage, we can add batteries to your system. Each battery is about 45” tall x 30” wide x 6” deep and can be installed indoors or outdoors.
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.