Curious about how solar works?

Find answers here to common questions about solar systems and please feel free to reach out to us if you have a question that isn’t answered here – we love talking to customers about solar!

How do solar panels work?

Solar power works by converting light from the sun into electricity. This electricity can then be used in your home or exported to the grid when it’s not needed. This is done by installing solar modules on your roof (or mounted on the ground) which generate DC (Direct Current) electricity. This is then fed into a solar inverter which converts the DC electricity from your solar modules into AC (Alternating Current) electricity that your house uses.

Solar panels are made up of silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) cells. When sunlight hits your solar modules, the solar PV cells absorb the sunlight’s rays and electricity is produced via the Photovoltaic Effect. The electricity produced by the modules is called Direct Current (DC) electricity. Instead, the DC electricity is directed to an inverter (or micro-inverters, depending on the design of the system). 

The inverter converts the DC electricity into Alternating Current (AC) electricity, which can be used in a home. Your inverter will always ensure that your solar energy will be used first to power your home, only accessing additional energy from the grid when your solar production is not enough. 

All grid-tied PV systems are required to have a bi-directional meter (utility meter), which your electricity retailer will install for you. A bi-directional meter is able to record all the power that is drawn to the house, but also record the amount of solar energy that is exported back to the grid. This is called net-metering. 

Any unused solar electricity is then sent back to the grid. Exporting solar power back to the grid will earn you a credit on your electricity bill. Your electricity bills will then take into account the electricity you purchase from the grid, plus credits for the electricity generated by your solar power system that you don’t use.

How many solar panels do I need?

A solar system can be designed to offset as much of your energy needs as you desire and SolShine Energy offers solar systems of all sizes. There are a lot of variables to consider including the amount of energy your home uses, the orientation of your roof or the site of a potential ground array, the average amount of sunlight in your area, and the wattage of the solar panels you purchase. A typical American home will need 14-36 solar panels to cover their power bill.

Which roof of my house is best for solar panels?

South, southwest, and southeast facing roofs are typically the best. East and west-facing roofs can also be suitable.

What does an inverter do?

An inverter converts DC (Direct Current) to AC (Alternating Current) that your house operates on.

Will I have power during an outage?

Utility regulations mandate that grid-tied solar systems be disconnected from the grid during an outage so no workers are hurt from the energy being produced by your home. However, SolShine Energy offers solar systems with battery backup that will be powered in case of an outage. If energy is needed during an outage then a battery backup system is the best option!

How long do these systems last?

A solar system is made up of several components. The modules (solar panels) carry a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years, however, it is expected that modern PV modules will continue to produce power for many years afterward. Inverters have a typical lifespan of 10-20 years. Several other factors play a role in determining the life of your PV system including weather, average temperature, and frequency of system maintenance. In order to extend the life of your solar system, partner with a reputable solar installer like SolShine Energy and have your system monitored and inspected regularly to ensure that the equipment is performing as expected.

Do solar panels produce on a cloudy day?

Yes, they will produce energy in low light conditions although the energy production will be lower.

Do solar panels work in shade?

Solar panels can work in shaded areas as well as during cloudy days but their output power capacity is reduced during these conditions. There are solutions available to tackle shade issues and still produce energy. These solutions include system design, array orientation, and inverters that are designed to help mitigate the effects of shading. SolShine Energy offers free site visits to assess your site, analyze the effect of shade on your potential system, advise how you can minimize it and what sort of panel design is right for fulfilling your power needs given the shading conditions of your location.

How do solar panels save you money?

The energy produced from a solar electric system is used to power household loads thereby offsetting usage from the grid. This results in immediate savings on your electric bill. Any excess production will be registered by a bidirectional utility meter and will be used as a credit to your account. This credit is then drawn off of during the night or times of reduced production.

How much can I save from solar power?

Everyone saves by going solar. The amount saved will depend on the size of the system you install. To understand how much savings you can enjoy by going with solar panels in please contact us for a no-obligation quote.

Will I be paid for solar power I don’t use?

Through a process called “net-metering”, you can send any unused solar power back to your local utility company in exchange for credits that offset your monthly utility bill. At the end of the month, customers are charged the ‘net’ difference between the amount of energy they consume and the power they send to the grid.

Do I need permission from my electric utility to install a solar system?

For a grid-tied system? Yes, since any excess energy produced will be going back to the grid. SolShine Energy will handle the complete application process.

Does my electric utility offer net-metering?

Almost all large utilities, including AEP, offer net-metering. Some smaller co-ops might not have systems in place. Give us a call and we can find out your local net metering policies for you.

How reliable are solar systems?

Solar systems have no moving components and are therefore relatively maintenance-free. Solar panels are known to provide more than 30 years of continuous renewable energy production.

What is the warranty on solar panels?

Our solar panels come with a 25-year warranty.

Are solar panels fragile?

The solar modules that Solshine installs are designed and manufactured to be reliable for the lifetime of the product and perform strongly in even the most extreme environments. They are designed and tested to withstand 1” hail traveling at 60mph. They are also designed to withstand a snow load in excess of 97 lbs/sq ft.

Do I need to clean my solar panels?

In most cases, occasional rain will be enough to naturally and safely keep your solar panels clean and free of debris that could lower production. If you live somewhere with high amounts of smog, dust, dirt, or sand blowing around, SolShine Energy can recommend a cleaning routine that won’t scratch or damage the glass on the panels.

Will a solar system cause damage to my roof during installation?

Properly installed solar panels don’t damage your roof. You should make sure that your solar installer is a licensed, qualified professional and your roof is in good condition. SolShine Energy is licensed by NABCEP, the most respected, well-established, and widely recognized certification organization for professionals in the field of renewable energy. We are happy to address any concerns you have about roof penetrations during installation.

Can my HOA prevent me from going solar?

HOA rules can impact a homeowner’s efforts to go solar and it is important to find out your HOAs rules about PV panel installation early in the process, particularly any rules they may have regarding design and placement. SolShine Energy will help you navigate your HOA’s solar stipulations and Virginia’s solar rights laws from the beginning of the sales process.

Does SolShine Energy offer financing?
SolShine Energy is proud to be a preferred photovoltaic system installer for Clean Energy Credit Union. We have recently gone through a vetting process that allows us access to the credit union’s loan portal. This allows us to initiate the loan process on behalf of our customers who are interested in financing.

Clean Energy Credit Union is a not-for-profit, financial services cooperative that focuses exclusively on providing loans for clean energy and energy-saving projects such as solar electric systems, geothermal heat pump systems, electric vehicles and green home improvements. Clean Energy Credit Union is an online-only and federally chartered credit union that serves its members throughout the USA. For more information visit www.cleanenergycu.org


What areas do you service?

With few exceptions, SolShine Energy serves customers within 50 miles of our Starkey Road address. To see if you are within our service area, please use Google Maps to calculate the distance from your property to 5670 Starkey Road in Roanoke.


Let us show you how much going solar can save you. Call us for a complimentary evaluation of your home and the solar solution you have in mind.