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Customer solar generation frequently asked questions

The following information will help you decide if solar generation is right for your home or business. 

Questions to ask your solar installer

Who is responsible for:
  • Obtaining permits and authorizations. 
  • Identifying and compliance with restrictive covenants such as homeowners' associations.
  • Satisfying applicable electric codes for existing wiring and new wiring.
  • Completing the utility interconnection process and complying with requirements and standards.
  • Identification of, and responsibility for compliance with fire department policies regarding access to homes with solar panels on rooftops.
  • Post-installation roof inspection.
  • Post-installation roof repair.
  • Structural damage other than to the roof from the installation.
  • Consequential damages from installation such as ceiling tiles damaged by roof leaks.
  • Installation crew injuries and public injuries from installation.
  • The safety standards to be followed for installation and other activities on the home.
  • Hardware manufacturer's and installer's performance guarantees regarding production from installation.
  • Removal and re-installation of racking system when the roof needs to be replaced.
Take into consideration:
  • How will I be notified when installers or inspectors need access to my home? 
  • What are the consequences and remedies for installer warranty in the event the installer goes out of business?
  • What are the consequences and remedies if the manufacturer goes out of business?
  • What is the enforceability of the hardware manufacturer's warranty, including provisions for making claims? Does the homeowner have the ability to mitigate losses?
  • What is the installer's responsibility for replacement during hardware warranty?

Print - Questions to ask your solar installer

Frequently asked questions

Q. Will solar work on my home?

The two biggest factors are the amount of sunlight you get throughout the day and the amount of available space. This could be roof space or ground space. An expert in solar installation can do an evaluation to determine if a solar power system will fit with your architecture and help meet your energy needs. They should provide a detailed proposal including recommended system location, size, pricing and financial analysis.

Q. What can be powered in my home using solar energy?

Generally, solar can be used to power your entire home's electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems and appliances. However, because solar panels only generate power during daylight conditions, you will need the backup source of power provided to you by the grid.

Q. What size solar system do I need?

Every home and business is different, so there are various system sizes. There are several factors to consider, such as how much electricity you use, roof space and how much you are willing to invest. You can contact a professional installer to determine what type of system would suit your needs. Westar can also help you make this determination after you first consult with your preferred installer. There are state laws that limit your system size to the lesser of your typical usage or 15 kW for a residential system, or 100 kW for a commercial system.

Q. Can I use solar to power my business?

Solar systems can be installed on commercial buildings as well and used in a variety of applications. You will find photovoltaic (PV) being used outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters, generating power at the same time.

Q. How do I know if I have enough sunlight for solar?

A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. An expert in solar installation can do an evaluation to help with this determination.

Q. Is my roof right for solar?

A solar power system can be installed on virtually any roof surface or roof angle; the most limiting factor is shade. South facing roofs offer the most annual production, while east and north will produce much less energy. It is often advised to a have a roof that is five years old or new to help avoid the chance that the system has to be removed to replace the roofing materials, which can be costly.

Q. Can my roof support the weight of the solar array?

Solar panel and mounting equipment add very little weight to your roof. In most cases, the solar power system will add an additional 3 lbs. per sq. ft. of weight to the roof. Virtually all modern construction built after 1970 is designed to support loads far greater than this. However, you should verify this before having solar installed on your roof.

Q. How do I compare prices among different solar contractor bids?

Compare apples to apples, such as price per DC watt (total contract price divided by the DC array size; number of panels multiplied by the per panel watt size). Also, verify that product warranties and installer service contracts are the same.

Q. Will my solar system work in the winter?

Climate is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by cold weather. The fewer hours of sunlight on your system will have a greater impact on production than temperature.

Q. How will my solar system perform on a cloudy day or at night?

Generation is reduced on cloudy days. Your solar electric system will produce electricity; however, it will be at a reduced level. During the nighttime, there will be no production.

Q. Can I have a solar electric system on my house and still be connected to Westar?

Yes, and that is almost always the choice customers make. Grid-tie systems are designed to interconnect with a utility system. Your system will be required to meet all Westar standards and connection policies which help ensure safe and reliable service to all our customers.

Q. What is a "grid-tie" solar system?

You may connect your solar system directly into the wires of your utility. Since the “Net Metering Law” allows you to do this, you will actually be spinning your meter backwards when your system is generating more power than you are consuming. When you generate excess electricity (more power than you are using), it will enter the grid. The excess is tallied on your bill and credited to your account at a value prescribed by state law.

Q. Are there tax credits or any other incentives to go solar?

There is currently a federal tax credit of 30 percent for any qualifying residential or commercial solar system. This tax credit is slated to expire at the end of 2016, when it falls to 10 percent.

Q. If I rent a home or apartment, can I still get a system?

It is not likely. Most landlords will not allow you to place solar panels on their property. However, you may still support renewable energy by participating in the Westar Wind program. Please call us at 800-383-1183 for more information.

Q. Do I need approval from my homeowners' association?

Some homeowners' associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds. If you belong to a homeowners' association, consult your covenants for details.

Q. Do I need permission from the local utility to connect my solar system to the grid?

Yes. Westar has rules and procedures that must be followed to connect any generator to the grid safely and legally. These rules are generally based on national standards with which our systems comply. Those rules and procedures along with an interconnection agreement can be found on our customer solar and wind self-generation page.

Q. Does Westar charge a fee for the interconnection process?

Yes. Wester has an interconnection application fee of $100.

Q. How long will it take me to get the buyback meter installed?

Once Westar has been notified that your system installation is complete, your application has been approved, and your application fee has been received, a buyback meter will be installed within 10 working days.

Q. Does Westar buy back any excess power from me?

Yes, this is a process called net metering. Net metering measures the difference between the electricity you buy from Westar and the unused electricity produced by your solar energy system. Under net metering, any excess electricity produced by your solar energy system is delivered back into the utility grid, effectively spinning your meter backwards. Your electric meter keeps track of this net difference as you generate electricity and take electricity from the utility grid. Your bill reflects the difference. You are credited for each kWh produced at the same rate that you would be charged. Any generation at the end of each billing period in excess of your consumption will be purchased from you at Westar’s avoided cost and will appear on your bill as a credit.

Q. Is the Westar interconnection process required for small plug in solar panels?

Yes. The rules and procedures are the same for even the smallest systems. These rules are based on national standards and were designed with safety being a top priority. The rules and procedures along with the interconnection agreement can be found here.

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