Frequently Asked Questions

How will my solar electric system be viewed by my neighbors?

Simply stated, it shows everyone in Seattle, Washington state, and the whole Northwest, that you are forward thinking and responsible.  It demonstrates that you not only care about the environment and the ill effects of non renewable resources on the environment now, but that you have a vested interest in the future, and wish to do your part to help protect the environment for future generations.  In short, it shows that you are someone who cares.

How will adding solar affect my property value?

Adding a solar system will definitely increase the value of your property. How much depends on which sources you go to, but we have seen in print through real estate appraisers that it can be as much as twenty dollars for every one dollar invested in solar. Although that is probably not the case for everyone, it will increase the value of your property and that makes purchasing a solar power system an even greater investment for the long term.

When you add the fact that in the Seattle area, Washington State, and the whole Pacific Northwest, tendencies to incorporate green building strategies, utilize renewable energy sources, and saving the environment continue to be on the rise, it makes going solar a lucrative investment indeed.

Isn’t Seattle and the Pacific Northwest too rainy and cloudy for solar?

Not at all, in fact, the Pacific Northwest, which encompasses the greater Seattle area, Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma, and other large area cities, is comparable to Germany, a worldwide leader in solar production that is on target for being 100% green in its energy use in the very near future.

And although the generation of power is less on overcast days, it still produces enough solar energy all through the winter months to make an impact, and when you add this with the fact that solar panels produce better in cooler climates, that makes the Northwest an ideal location for a solar power system.  If you would like to read further about the viability of solar energy in the Northwest, please visit this website: Renewable Northwest Project

Does a solar panel system take up much space?

How much space your solar panels take up on your roof depends on the size of your system.  A single solar panel can have a foot print of about 4’ long and 30” wide, so an array of 8 panels can be approx. 24’ long, depending on how they are oriented.  In almost all cases, rest assured your roof will accommodate the right size system for you, and our knowledgeable staff will walk you through this process during the consultation phase. A good rule of thumb is that you need 100 square feet of roof space for every 1 kW of conventional solar panels.

How do I know what size system my home will need?

That all depends on what type of energy impact you would like to make for your home. The answers to this question range from making a significant social impact, simply offsetting energy costs, or generating enough power to be independent from your electrical utility. The size of your home will also be carefully considered when sizing your system. NW Wind & Solar will thoroughly evaluate your location, whether your home is in Seattle, Kent, Bellevue, Federal Way, or anywhere in the state of Washington, and provide a comprehensive evaluation based on not only your needs, but your wants as well.

What type of roof do I need?

That’s a great question, and in truth, it really doesn’t matter all that much. Ideally, a new roof would be best, so if you are thinking of replacing your roof, factoring in the addition of a solar panel system would be the most cost effective. The same would apply if you are thinking of building a new home, in that we could help with the design and engineering to accommodate a new solar panel installation. If your roof is flat, old, presently leaks, or you are just not sure your roof will hold up to a solar installation, our team of experts will come up with a solution that fits your scenario.

Does it matter which direction my roof faces?

Not as much as many sources would have you believe. Although due South is the most ideal, in the Seattle area, energy production can be reduced by as little as 4% or less for the SE to SW arc. The percentage loss increases up to 12% to 18% when the orientation is due East or West, but in the big scheme of things even this can be made to work simply by enlarging your solar system by a module or two.

And when referring to roof pitch, 45 degrees is ideal, however, you will experience only a 4% or less drop if your pitch is as little as 10 to 15 degrees. We do not recommend anything lower than 10 degrees, however, because debris can accumulate on your solar panels, degrading your system. But even this scenario can be worked out to give you maximum efficiency with the use of tilted racking systems for your solar modules.

How will my system be affected by trees and other shading?

Ideally, you need an area unobstructed by shade, especially between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm; however, we will research your proposed site during this initial evaluation period. If it is discovered that there is too much shading for your roof, there are potential alternatives that can be explored, such as ground mount systems. In any event, this is one of the first things we look at and consider as we evaluate the potential of a system for you, so this particular question will be answered right away.

What is the typical lifespan of a solar system?

Currently there are solar panel systems with modules that are still functioning well after 25 years and more. With both controlled testing in a lab setting and observation in the field, 25+ years is a consistent mark. So much so, in fact, that most reputable solar module manufacturers warranty their modules for 25 years.

NW Wind and Solar only installs products made by reputable manufacturers and we offer a full 10-year workmanship warranty.

Will my utility company buy electricity from me?

Yes, they will. In Seattle, and Washington State, you only buy from your utility the difference between what your solar PV system produces and the amount of electricity you are using. This process is known as “net metering.” So, if the amount of electricity you are generating exceeds the amount you are using, your electric meter will actually spin backwards! And this means you can bank your summer kWhs for winter use!

Additionally, your utility will pay you for every kWh of electricity you produce — from $0.16 to $0.21, up to $5,000 per year for eight years on residential systems, and up to $25,000 per year for eight years on commercial systems.

What is the typical payback period?

Each system will have a different payback period. Typically smaller systems have a payback period of approximately 15 years and larger systems approximately 10 years. Besides the economic payback, the system will also have an environmental payback. Along with each proposal, we will send you an environmental impact summary that shows you how your system is helping to save the environment.

Will I need a permit?

Yes, in Seattle, and throughout Washington State, permits are required, but you don’t have to worry about a thing. NW Wind & Solar is ready to handle the permit and design process, along with all inspections, for you from the beginning of the project all the way through to completion. All you will have to do is enjoy the feeling of comfort you get from having a qualified team on the job for you.

I’ve heard there are incentives, is this true?

Yes! In Washington, you are eligible for state production incentives. This means that, in addition to the net metering idea described above, your utility will pay you for every kWh of electricity you produce — from $0.16 to $0.21, up to $5,000 per year for eight years on residential systems, and up to $25,000 per year for eight years on commercial systems. Your specific rate will depend on where your solar equipment is manufactured. Your NW Wind & Solar Design Consultant will work with you to design a solar PV system that can maximize your total economic return.

Additionally, you may be eligible for a 30% Federal Income Tax Credit for the tax year your system is installed. This saves you 30% off the cost of installation and site preparation.

How do I maintain my system?

That’s a great question. Your system for the most part is maintenance free. A gentle wash down each spring with the garden hose is about all it takes. And we can set up a yearly inspection to give you that added peace of mind for protecting your investment.

Why NW Wind & Solar?

  • Our design experts are standing by to assist you through the process.
  • We have the in-house engineering staff to help design your system the right way.
  • Our design experts, in consultation with a structural engineer, will determine the best installation method after carefully inspecting your home.
  • We have the accredited installation experts (NABCEP, SEI, Licensed Electrical Administrator, and master electricians).
  • Our Project Management team will guide you every step of the way, including filing all of the required paperwork and documentation for solar power production.
  • We offer a 10-year warranty on our work that is one of the best in the industry.
  • Because we treat EVERY customer like they are our ONLY customer.
  • If you want to lower or potentially eliminate your electric bills, increase the value of your home, and help protect the environment for future generations, then please contact the experts at NW Wind and Solar and let us help you take the next step.
  • We have the design expertise.
  • We have the engineering expertise.
  • We have the installation expertise.