FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Knowledge is power.
GOING SOLAR IN THE NORTHWEST:
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
Got questions we didn’t cover here?
We believe education is the first step to bringing solar power into more homes and businesses throughout the region.
Read our responses to the most frequently asked questions about solar power!
Does solar energy work in the Pacific Northwest?
Absolutely! You can satisfy some or all of your electricity needs with solar power in Western Washington. The short, cloudy days of winter are more than offset by our long, sunny and mild-temperature days of summer! In fact, our mild temperatures can often mean that solar works even better in the Pacific Northwest than hot locations because temperature severely reduces solar power output. Also, you can use these long, summer days to your advantage by storing a surplus of energy during the summer and storing it on the grid to use in the winter. Learn more about how ideal solar is for our region on our Solar in the PNW page. We also wrote a blog about it.
How many years does it take to break even on the cost of a solar system?
Solar panels installed in a location with good sun and ideal orientation will pay for themselves in 6-12 years depending on the type of equipment you purchase.
What are the environmental benefits of solar power?
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that by 2030, with an installed capacity of 100 GW of solar power, the United States could avoid 100,995,293 CO2 emissions by replacing natural gas and coal with solar power.
This reduction of reduced emissions directly impacts health. At that same level of 100 GW of installed solar capacity, 437 mortality cases would be reduced. Heart attacks would be reduced by 717, and 7,945 emergency room visits for lower respiratory systems would be avoided. Ultimately, we’d avoid 50,755 work loss days and 348,787 minor restricted activity days.
Why Solar Power Benefits the Environment
Understanding how solar power benefits the environment is simple: the sun provides an inexhaustible supply of energy. Solar power captures this energy with practically no impact on the environment. This means that solar power is far easier on carbon emissions, water, land use, and health impacts than the typical electricity generated by coal or natural gas in fossil fuel energy plants.
Of course, as with any manufacturing process, there are negative impacts on the environment associated with solar power. Solar power impacts the environment by using land, water, and hazardous materials. However, these impacts are minimal for solar power, especially when compared to the environmental impact of fossil fuel energy.
This is in direct contrast to traditionally produced electricity. The Energy Research Center of the Netherlands indicates that solar electricity contributes 96% to 98% less greenhouse gases than electricity generated from coal.
To compare the impacts of dirty energy and solar energy, see our Environmental Benefits of Solar Power page.
What are the financial incentives for solar energy?
Washington State has one of the most progressive incentive programs in the country, making solar not only a better choice for the environment but also for your bottom line. Combined with the federal tax credit, these incentives help your solar pay for itself quickly and generate rebates as well as power. You may be eligible for many or all of these incentives:
- 30% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT
- NET METERING
- WASHINGTON STATE PRODUCTION INCENTIVE
- ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION FOR BUSINESS
- $500 IBEW SOLAR REBATE
For details, see our Incentives and Financial Benefits page.
Does solar add value to my home?
Yes! Solar is one of the best investments you can make to add value to your home. No other home renovation or enhancement increases value this substantially. (Not to mention it produces power and income until you sell the home.) Many of our customers install solar because they want to sell their homes. Installing solar will increase the home value and asking price, while also making it stand out in a competitive housing market.
For more, see our Solar and Home Value page.
How long does a solar energy system last?
Artisan uses modules with a warranty of 25 years, and in our temperate climate, we expect them to work for 30 to 40+ years.
- Inverters, which turn the DC (direct current) power into your home’s AC (alternating current) power, have a 10 to 25-year warranty.
- In addition to the module and inverter warranties, Artisan Electric offers a five-year workmanship warranty for all solar installations.
Learn more on our Warranties page.
How much maintenance does my solar system require?
A properly built system requires little maintenance to stay in excellent shape. An annual cleaning is generally all it needs. If your system is not easily accessible for cleaning, or you would like regular inspections, Artisan can provide annual maintenance services. If an issue arises between visits, we will fix it at no cost to you under our five-year workmanship warranty.
You can learn more on our Warranties page.
What are the requirements for my roof?
We can install solar on nearly any type of roof. The easiest roof types are flat, standing seam metal and composition roofs. More challenging roofs, such as cedar shake roofs and roof pitches greater than 30 degrees, require a little more time and cost.
If your roof has less than 10 years of life left, you should replace it before the solar PV system is installed.
What If I Don’t Want Solar On My House?
Perhaps you don’t like the look of them on your house, or your roof is positioned in the trees, or maybe the direction and pitch of your roof is not ideal for solar.
Regardless of why you can’t or don’t want to install solar on your roof, ground-mounted solar panels are a great alternative! Ground-mounted solar panels can be installed anywhere on your property — including the front, side, or backyard — whereas rooftop-mounted panels must be attached to your roof.
Costs: Ground-mounted panels often cost more than roof mounted systems because they require additional materials, time, and labor. Artisan Electric generally uses a cement foundation or reinforced pole structure to ensure the panels are propped up off the ground, tilted at the proper angle, and then wired to your home, all of which ends up being a slightly more involved and pricier than installing on your roof.
Benefits: If you have a large demand for electricity, ground-mounted arrays can be ideally oriented to the direction and angle of maximum energy production. This way, you can produce more electricity than a pre-determined roof not ideally designed for solar. The increased cost of the ground-mounted solar array is offset by the high efficiency of the array.
Space: If you have a large yard or a lot of space, you can install a much bigger ground-mounted system than you could with a rooftop-mounted system, giving you the opportunity to generate more energy and save on your utility bill. However, a large ground-mounted system will consume more of your land, leaving you less space for recreation or gardening.
Aesthetics: Ground-mounted solar panels typically sit between a few inches and several feet above the ground, depending on your location and the mounting system. If you have a small yard and a bulky array, the panels may stand out more than they would on a rooftop. This can be a significant deterrent to homes with manicured lawns and landscaped gardens.
Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?
We do! Unlike other solar contractors, Artisan covers all fees and permits required for the job. We also complete and submit all required paperwork on your behalf, taking the guesswork out of the process!
Does Washington State have solar incentives?
In addition to Net Metering, Washington State offers solar system owners a production incentive for producing clean, renewable energy to defer the cost of installing the system. In 2017, Washington passed new rules for this program that tells your utility how much to pay you.
Whereas net metering gives you value at retail rates for your power, the Production Incentive pays you annually based on how many kilowatt hours (kWh) your system generates in a calendar year — up to $5,000 per year for eight years. You can receive payments for eight years of energy production or until you have received up to 50 percent of your total system cost, whichever comes first. The production rate you earn is based on the year when you install solar (see chart for details).
|Fiscal Year of Install||Residential, Community||Commercial**||Made-In-WA Bonus|
For details, see our Incentives and Financial Benefits page.
Is financing available to help pay for solar?
How long does it take to install a system on my home?
Between one and five days, depending on the system size, location, and complexity.
Do you use subcontractors? Are your workers licensed?
All systems are built by Artisan installers who are licensed journeyman electricians and electrical apprentices. Occasionally, Artisan will subcontract nonsolar work to another trade, such as landscaping and dirt work, waterproofing commercial roofs, building carports or repairing drywall.
I’m a DIY kind of person—will you help me build a system?
While we recommend you hire experienced electricians to install your system, we are happy to help homeowners who know the risks and are confident that they can properly install a system.
Artisan provides DIY homeowners with solar packages, which include a full set of designs and plans needed for buildout and permitting, as well as panels, racking, and inverters.