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Solar FAQ

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Solar Energy Basics

Why go solar?
Because solar energy is clean and renewable. A solar electric system can not only lowers the cost of your electricity bills, but it also reduces the negative impact on the environment. Photovoltaic (PV) modules have no moving or wearing parts, and require no maintenance other than an occasional cleaning.
What are the benefits of solar electric power?
PV technology has many benefits. It’s a quiet, clean source of energy requiring minimal maintenance, and lasts for decades. It is not only competitive with other sources of energy in terms of costs, but directly contributes to reduction in greenhouse gases.
What are photovoltaics?
Photovoltaic technology (PV) uses solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV modules consist of semiconducting material that absorbs sunlight in a way that frees electrons from atoms. Electricity is produced as the electrons flow through the semiconducting material. A group of PV modules are typically combined in an array to generate electricity for a single structure. Large numbers can be combined to form a power plant.
Is the PV module a hot water producing system?
No. The Mitsubishi Electric PV module produces electricity. Solar heating systems (also called solar thermal systems) provide hot water for household use by using warmth from the sun to heat water in special roof panels. PV systems, in contrast, use energy from sunlight to directly generate electricity.
How popular are PV systems?
As the cost of PV has fallen drastically since the early 1970s — as much as 90 percent — photovoltaics have become an increasingly attractive option for a variety of both small- and large-scale uses. They are used in outer space, at the polar caps, and are a desirable source of electricity in rural areas of developing countries. Although PV is still a small part of the energy make-up of any given country, more and more homeowners and businesses are turning to PV systems to supplement their conventional power utility.
Do PV modules work on cloudy or rainy days?
PV modules produce power anytime the sun is out. On cloudy days power output is considerably reduced.
What happens if the PV module is blocked by leaves, shadows?
If fallen leaves, shadows or something similar cover a PV module, resistance increases at the affected area and overall power output decreases significantly. Mitsubishi Electric PV modules incorporate a Bypass Diode function that minimizes the effect of shadows on the unit’s surface area.
Does PV work well in cold weather?
As photovoltaics generate electricity from light, not heat, PV technology is highly suitable for cold weather environments, on the whole even generating more power at lower temperatures. This is because they are electronic devices, and almost all electronic devices operate more efficiently at cooler temperatures.
Does the PV module surface require cleaning?
In most residential areas no cleaning is necessary, as rainfall will remove the majority of grime.

Solar Electric (PV) Technology

How do PV modules convert sunlight into electricity?
Solar panels are made from thin layers of silicon, a semiconductor material that absorbs the suns rays and turns them into electricity. When photons from the sun hit the photovoltaic cells in a solar panel, electrons in the solar cell are knocked loose from their atom, allowing the electrons to flow freely. Solar cells force these electrons to flow in a certain direction along a wire, creating a current, which is then drawn off the cell to create electricity that powers your home or business.
Are there any effects other than producing electricity?
A heat shielding effect can be anticipated, with an associated reduction in air-conditioning load in the heat of summer.
How are watts (W) different from watt hours (Wh)?
Watts are units of power measured over one second. If one watt of electric power is used for one hour, the total volume of power consumed is expressed as one watt hour, or 1Wh. Similarly, 1,000 watts of power is expressed as one kilowatt (1kW) and 1,000 watt hours as one kilowatt hour (1kWh). If a 2kW system produces power continuously for five hours, the total volume of power generated is expressed as 10kWh.

Protecting the Environment

What does Mitsubishi Electric do to protect the environment?
Mitsubishi Electric is committed to protecting the environment. We are proud to use 100% lead-free solder in the production of our photovoltaic (PV) modules. While traditional lead-solder modules use about 860 grams of lead, Mitsubishi Electric modules have 0 grams of lead.At our manufacturing facilities we recycle waste materials, use water conservation techniques, produce solder-free cells to save energy, and use recyclable steel pallets to transport our modules instead of wooden pallets that break and end up in landfills.
What does renewable energy mean?
Our planet has a limited supply of fossil fuels, like petroleum, coal, and natural gas, and this supply will someday run out if we continue to use these traditional energy sources like we are today. In addition to being non-renewable, fossil fuels emit harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. Renewable energy refers to energy that is generated from a renewable source, in other words a source that does not have a limited supply, like the sun and the wind, or any other source that does not pollute.

Cost and Financial Incentives

How much does the average solar electric (PV) system cost?
The price of a solar electric system depends on many factors, including the size of your building, the amount of energy you consume on a monthly basis, and the climate in which you live. To estimate how much a solar system will cost you, try out our solar calculator.
What is the California Solar Initiative program (CSI)?
The California Solar Initiative is part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 3.3 Billion, Million Solar Roofs Program. California has set a goal to create 3,000 megawatts of new, solar-produced electricity by 2017 - moving the state toward a cleaner energy future and helping lower the cost of solar systems for consumers.The California Public Utilities Commission, through its California Solar Initiative, provides incentives over the next decade for existing residential homes and existing and new commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties. The California Energy Commission manages a 10-year, $400 million program to encourage solar in new home construction through its New Solar Homes Partnership.The overall goal is to help build a self-sustaining photovoltaic, solar electricity market. The current program does not fund solar hot water systems. To learn more about the CSI program, visit www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov
What is the federal tax credit?
The Federal Tax Credit for PV systems is part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It allows individuals to claim a federal tax credit of 30% of the value of the PV system. For businesses and residences, there is no cap meaning a business or a residence can claim a federal tax credit of 30% of the value of the PV system.
What if my solar system produced more electricity than I use?
If your utility offers a net metering program, the electricity your solar system generates will offset your bill from the power company, and if you generate more electricity than you use, this electricity is then fed back into the grid and you receive a credit that you can apply towards your future electric bills within the same year.
Do I have to pay property tax on my new PV system if it increases the value of my house?
In California, and in other solar-friendly states, you do not have to pay property tax on your solar system, but you do get to claim to value the solar system ads to your house

Getting Started

Can I purchase solar modules directly from Mitsubishi Electric?
Mitsubishi Electric solar modules are available for purchase through one of our qualified solar installers or distributors. To find a solar installer or dealer near you, please contact us for more information.
I am interested in purchasing a solar electric system. How do I get started?
To find a solar installer near you contact us page if you are a dealer or installer interested in purchasing modules. The solar installer will talk to you about your energy needs and evaluate your building, past energy consumption, and location, to begin to determine a solar system that is best for you.

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