Onsite Solar

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs and popular topics about onsite solar

How does solar affect roof warranties?

Most roof mounted solar arrays have few or no roof penetrations. Racking systems that require penetrations are either flashed or sealed by a professional roofer to warrant against leaks. Pivot works with the roof manufacturer to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to maintain the current warranty. In some cases that may involve special padding under the racking, and inspections.


What is the required maintenance for solar modules?

There is no requirement to clean your system, as oiling can reduce power production, typically 0-5%. However, best practice is to clean them every 1-3 years. Cleaning can be handled by a window washer, facility maintenance personnel, or as part of a Pivot maintenance agreement. Cleaning entails spraying down the modules with water and using a soft brush and squeegee. Depending on the local conditions, the modules typically need to be sprayed down with water once or twice a year.


What safety and quality standards does Pivot follow?

Pivot only uses top-tier UL-listed equipment, and all arrays are installed according to the standards of the National Electric Code published by the National Fire Protection Association. This includes necessary setbacks established by the local authority to enable appropriate roof access. All work is inspected by the local permitting authority, and key components are labeled to clearly communicate safety issues. In addition, the work will be inspected by the Utility to ensure proper interconnection.


Do we need insurance?

The owner of the solar array (either the building owner or the third party owner) will need to insure the solar array. In many cases, adding coverage for the solar array results in no increase to premiums. In the case that it does increase rates, the annual cost will typically range from 0.25% to 0.5% of the total installed cost of a project.


Can hail damage our solar array?

Hail can damage a solar panel, although this is rare. Solar panels are built using tempered glass for durability and safety and are designed and tested to withstand 1" hail and high winds. Insuring the system will provide coverage in the case of hail damage.


What is the equipment degradation rate?

Solar modules have a long life, and typically carry a 25 year power production warranty. However, it is normal for a solar module to degrade slightly over time and those warranties factor in that degradation. While warranties vary, the typical annual degradation is about 0.5%, and all of our energy production projections incorporate this factor.


How will the weight of the solar array affect our roof?

Pivot follows all industry best practices and applicable codes when it comes to structural engineering for roof mounted solar PV systems. As part of the permitting process, we created stamped structural drawings which show that the solar array weight is within the reserve capacity of the roof.

Solar arrays are not as heavy per square foot as most rooftop equipment, and we have multiple racking options, so it is rare that a structure would need reinforcement to accommodate a solar array.

Will wind affect our solar array?

Pivot works with the racking manufacturer to receive wind loading engineering information, including the required ballast to keep the array safely pinned down on the roof. Wind loads are calculated by a qualified engineer. Where ballasting becomes too heavy, we tether or secure to the building’s structure. Having designed for Florida, the Caribbean, and high roofs in the past, we have experience with high wind engineering requirements. Safety is our primary concern when engineering solar arrays.

Solar arrays are not as heavy per square foot as most rooftop equipment, and we have multiple racking options, so it is rare that a structure would need reinforcement to accommodate a solar array.


How does interconnection work?

Grid-tied solar arrays require a special interconnection agreement with the utility. Most states have some sort of interconnection policy that requires utilities to allow customers to install power generation equipment. However, those policies may vary widely on the size of the installation and conditions of the agreement. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE) is the best source of information on these policies, as well as other rules, regulations, and financial incentives. Solar arrays are not as heavy per square foot as most rooftop equipment, and we have multiple racking options, so it is rare that a structure would need reinforcement to accommodate a solar array.


What is net metering?

Net metering is the process of selling unused solar energy to your utility. The amount of energy produced by a solar array is largely beyond the control of the array owner, and there may be times when a solar PV system produces more power than is needed. In these circumstances, the excess power is exported to the utility grid. The utility monitors the amount of energy exported to the grid and credits the customer.

Seasonal variations in energy production and demand may generate excess energy in a given month, while in other months your demand is exceeding solar production. Some states allow customers to carry over excess energy from month to month, which also enables them to more easily become net-zero consumers. Other states require the net-excess generation to be paid out monthly, usually at a fraction of the retail rate.

Should I wait for higher efficiency panels before going solar?

The solar industry has grown dramatically in the last five years, and the cost of equipment has dropped significantly during that period. Solar module manufacturers continue to develop greater efficiencies in power production output, however, they continue to use the same basic materials and technology to produce that power.

Crystalline silicon wafers dominate the solar industry. There are variations in the technology and manner in which the materials are designed, assembled, and manufactured that have resulted in gains over the years, but the gains are relatively modest. There continues to be a wide investment in alternative technologies, but there is no “game-changer” on the horizon.