Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What size solar system do I need for my 3000 square foot home? 
A. System size is determined by energy use, not necessarily by the size of the home. People consume based on life style, not houses. Independent Power Corporation's average installation is between three and six kilowatts. 

Q. What are the different government incentives for buying a system?                                   
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Q. What is Solar Energy?                                                                                                                              
A. Solar Energy is radiated by the sun in the form of photons which are harnessed in many ways to provide heat and electricity to meet our everyday needs.

Q. What types of Solar Energy are best for me?                                                                                   
. Three types of solar energy generation are commonly in use today:  Solar Electric (photovoltaic or PV), Solar Water Heating (or Domestic Hot Water Systems), and forced air heating.  A combination of these systems will take care of all of your energy needs.

Q. What is Solar Heating & how does it work?
A. In Solar Water Heating systems, solar collectors absorb the suns heat during the day and store the heated water in solar storage tanks for use at night. This hot water can be used for bathing, washing, radiant floor heating, forced air heating, etc.                                                                     
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Q. What is PV & how does it work?
A. PV stands for photovoltaic. A solar cell converts light to electricity.  There are two different types of solar cells: Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline.   

Monocrystalline Cells are cut into a single crystal that was grown for the purpose of solar.  These panels typically produce slightly higher amounts of energy, but they are also more expensive due to their manufacturing. 
Polycrystalline Cells are made using a mixture of silicon and other elements that are then poured into a mold.  The difference in power output between the two types of cells is very small.  Modern technology and manufacturing advancements are continually improving the efficiency of polycrystalline cells, while simultaneously cutting costs.                                                      
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Q. What about Air Heating?                                                                                                                        
A. We offer SolarSheat, a type of Air Heating system.  SolarSheat panels are attached to an exterior south facing wall, heating the adjoining room air. This keeps about 900 square feet at a comfortable temperature on the coldest days of the Reno winter.
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Q. What is the return on my investment? 

A.  Customers with any renewable energy system are usually very pleased with the speed that their power bills decrease. 

Though every system and household are different, Solar Photovoltaic systems usually pay for themselves in approximately 12 to 15 years.  Solar Thermal systems have been known to pay for themselves in as little as four years.  With the costs of panel production falling, people who invest in solar now can expect to see a 23% return on their investment within 15 years.


Q. What system type do I need?

A. Depending on your needs you can choose a stand-alone system, grid-connected system or the grid-connected system with backup capability. A stand-alone photovoltaic system is entirely self-contained and normally includes batteries and a generator. This system is ideal for the person who lives more than an eighth of a mile from the power pole. A grid-connected system (also know as net metering) is directly connected with the utility grid and allows the power produced by solar system to offset the amount of power purchased from the utility company. A grid-connected system with battery and /or generator backup insures uninterrupted power if the weather is not cooperating or there is a utility power outage.

Q. Is Independent Power Corporation a local company?
A. Our south Reno office and showroom are open every day to answer all of your questions and get you started generating your own power. With 15 years in the business, Independent Power Corporation can design a system just for you. Renewable energy is our only business, passion and expertise.

Q. How long will a solar panel last?
A. Our manufacturer warranties their panels for 25 years.

Q. When can I expect improved technology and or lower cost of modules
and equipment?

A. There is little more progress that we can expect with photovoltaic. Photovoltaic solar systems are still the best value for their investment. We are anticipating very little improvement in the current inverters. These systems are 96% efficient as they are now.

Q. How much does a system cost?
A. There are too many variables to give a simple answer. System type, size and cost are directly related to the number of appliances used and the length of time they are used. The most cost-effective first step is to make an energy assessment of your appliances and replace them with newer energy-efficient ones. It is also recommended that you switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. The more energy you conserve, the less expensive your system will be.

Q. Can I start small and add on later?
A. Absolutely!  If you start with basic components it is very easy to add to your system later. The eventual size of your system will be determined by the number of panels and the size of the inverter.  For long term system planning, Independent Power Corporation recommends the purchase of an inverter that will be able to support additional kilowatts. 

Q. Can I sell power back to the utility grid?
A. No. In reality you trade kilowatts for kilowatts with the power company. NV Energy has a Net-Metering Program. A special meter is installed by the utility company to keep track of the power generated by the photovoltaic system, as well as the power used by the home. Periodically, those amounts will be "netted" out and the homeowners will pay NV Energy only for the net amount of power they used during that period. Independent Power Corporation customizes your system to reflect your families usage to balance the tradeoff between your electric bill and your photovoltaic system. This system can be set up with or without backup capabilities. With batteries and an upgraded inverter, your home can have power even when the utility is down.

Q. Do I have to have the solar panels on my roof?
A. No. Panels are typically best mounted on a south-facing roof, but many people choose a ground-mount or a tracker.  Trackers can be adjusted manually or automatically.

Q. Can a Homeowners Association restrict my use of solar product?
A. Yes, in Nevada there is a state law prohibiting the restriction of solar energy products in any way.
Independent Power Corporation works closely with Home Owners Associations to ensure the visual esthetics of our installations.

Q. Inverters? What are they and what do they do?
A. An inverter changes DC power that is stored in your batteries into standard alternating current (AC). The true sine wave inverter produces cleaner energy than which is provided by the local utility company.

Q. Will the system work on gray, cloudy or overcast days?
A. Yes. Because photovoltaic energy uses the full spectrum of light, the ultraviolet rays are still charging the system (though at a reduced rate) even when the sunlight isn't visible.

Q. How can solar power work at night?
A. At night, a photovoltaic solar system draws on the power that was generated during the day and stored in the battery bank.

Q. What does the terminology mean?                                                                                         
Amperes measure electrical current.
Volts measure electrical pressure.
Watts measure electrical power (amperes x volts).
A kilowatt (kW) is one thousand watts.
A megawatt (MW) is one million watts or one thousand kWs.
A gigawatt (GW) is one billion watts or one thousand MWs.

Your power bill is calculated in kilowatt hours.

The typical solar electric system generates from 2-6 Kilowatts per hour, 5-6 hours per day.

For any other questions about solar, feel free to call us at 775.331.0228 !