As you consider if private solar is right for you, it may be helpful to see some of the questions that we get asked.
The three biggest factors are the amount of sunlight you get throughout the day, the amount of available space and the age of your roof.. 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.
Generally, solar can be used to power your entire home's electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems and appliances. An average system of 5kW during full sunlight can power your air conditioner or your electric range and refrigerator as they run (Consumer Reports). However, because solar panels only generate power during daylight conditions, you will need the backup source of power provided to you by the power grid.
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 based upon your historical usage. Kansas law limits your system size to the lesser of your typical usage or 15 kW for a residential system, or 100 kW for a commercial system.
Yes. 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.
A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Private rooftop solar produces power about 16% of the time over a typical Kansas year according to the National Renewable Energy Lab (Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment). Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. A solar installer can do an evaluation to help with this determination.
A solar power system can be installed on virtually any roof surface or roof angle; the most limiting factors are shade and the age of the roof. 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 newer to help avoid the chance that the system has to be removed to replace the roofing materials, which can be costly.
Solar panels 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.
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. We can help you review bids once your bids have been received. Just email us the bids at RooftopSolar@WestarEnergy.com.
The season is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by cold weather. The fewer hours of sunlight on your system in the winter will have a greater impact on production than temperature.
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.
Yes, and that is almost always the choice customers make. Grid-tie systems are designed to interconnect with the power grid. Your system will be required to meet all Westar safety standards and connection policies, which help ensure safe and reliable service.
You may connect your solar system directly into the wires of the power grid. 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 broader power grid. The excess is tallied on your monthly bill and credited to your account at a value prescribed by state law.
There is currently a federal tax credit of 30 percent for any qualifying residential or commercial solar system. This federal tax credit is slated to expire at the end of 2016, when the residential credit falls to zero. The State of Kansas currently does not offer a state tax credit.
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 or Community Solar programs.
Some homeowners' associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds. If your neighborhood has a homeowners' association, consult your covenants for details.
Yes. For your safety and the safety of the general public, Westar has rules and procedures that must be followed for connecting any generator to the power grid. These rules are generally based on national standards. Those rules and procedures along with an interconnection agreement can be found on our self-generation application page.
Yes. Wester has an interconnection application fee of $100.
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.
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 in any monthly billing period is delivered back into the power grid, effectively spinning your meter backwards. Your electric meter keeps track of this net difference as you generate electricity and take electricity from the power 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 the price Westar would pay to generate that power ourselves.
Additional information to explore:
Is private solar right for me?
How does private solar work?
Additional solar resources