Questions We Get About Solar Arrays

Solar power generation has become much more prolific over recent decades. But there is still a wide range of experience and knowledge on the subject. Here are some of the questions we see most often.

 
 
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What exactly is a Kilowatt Hour?

When we measure how fast a car is traveling, we can say it is traveling at a specific speed. But that isn’t very useful if we don’t know how LONG it is taking to get somewhere. We use Miles-Per-Hour to help us figure out where the car will be after a certain amount of time has elapsed! a Kilowatt Hour is the same relationship. If I have a 1000 watt microwave, I know that microwave will use 1000 watts per hour that I use it. 1000 watts over the course of 1 hour is equal to 1 Kilowatt Hour or 1kWh! Energy production is the same. So if you have a 14 kilowatt hour inverter at your solar array, then at peak production that array will produce 14,000 watts over the course of 1 hour.


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How many kWh should I have installed on my array?

Deciding how many modules to install on your array depends on a number of factors. Power companies will sometimes have limits to how much they will allow you to export onto the grid, certain incentives are only available for specific sizes of arrays, and inverters have limits to how much power can be sent from the solar modules. Some power companies prefer you to keep your production at or below the normal power usage at your home, and some don’t care. Minnesota has a net metering cap of 40 kWh. Most of our customers install 40-60 modules for around 14 kWh production. We like to find the sweet spot for each inverter. We build our arrays to provide the quickest return on your investment.


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How many years will my solar array produce power?

All solar modules are comprised of many cells underneath their protective glass. These cells slowly decrease in efficiency. We use solar modules that have production warranties of 25 years. This means that our panels are guaranteed to produce power for 25 years without falling below 80 percent of their maximum production rate. We build our production estimates on 30 years worth of average production. Most arrays pay for themselves within 10-12 years. This means an additional 13-15 years of guaranteed clean energy profits!


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How much will my solar array cost me to have installed?

The cost of a solar array installation varies depending on the quality of the products and the efficiency of the installers. The national average in 2018 was $3.18 per watt (DC). The average price we see from our competitors in Minnesota ranges from $3.80 to $4.60 per watt. We are proud to say we can beat this average by a large factor! Through our partnerships with our product vendors we are able to build most of our solar arrays for around $2.80 per watt.


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Rooftop versus Ground Mount?

American Energy specializes in ground mount systems. Many of our customers are farmers who have high energy costs associated with hog turkey confinements. Though there is space on many roofs, there are issues associated with putting an array on a roof. Added weight, leaky ceiling punctures, snow removal difficulty, non-optimal production angles, structural stability and cost of installation all contribute to our preference to install our arrays on the ground. Plus… Electricians just like things Grounded. ;)


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