Residential Solar Power FAQs

Solar Adoption and Installation

Do solar panels have to be on the front of my house?

Solar panels are designed to provide a clean, unobtrusive aesthetic. RxSun designs systems with black panels on a black backing, and runs wires out of sight in order to deliver a sleek, clean look. Your home’s orientation is the important factor. A south facing roof is ideal because it allows your solar panels to optimize the sun’s power without sacrificing design.

We also offer a variety of panel options in addition to our standard installation, and your solar consultant is happy to work with you to ensure your design achieves the look you desire.

There are a number of steps in the process, each with their own time table.

  • Initial home assessment and consultation – within 5 days
  • Permitting – 2 to 6 weeks
  • Physical installation – 1 to 2 days
  • Financing, incentive applications and utility connection – about 30 days

Once permits are approved, some services need homeowners to wait up to 2 more months to schedule installation. RxSun delivers a streamlined process, so there is no more than 2 weeks after permit approval to your installation.

No, your solar system is connected to the grid.

This allows you to continue pulling power from the grid at times the system isn’t producing as much power as you’re using. It also allows any excess power your system generates to be sent back to the grid. Where net metering is available, your surplus power is credited toward your electric bill. This is how it is possible to potentially eliminate your electric bill with solar power.

Many Homeowner Associations have rules regarding structural changes to the exterior of homes. Obtaining an HOA permit to install a solar system is a routine part of the process.

If desired, RxSun is happy to assist with the permitting process to obtain permission from your HOA to proceed with your solar system installation.

Yes! It’s ideal to put your solar system on a new roof. RxSun can work with your roofing contractor to coordinate installation.

If your roof is less than 5 years old, it’s a great candidate for solar panels. If your roof is more than 10 years old, you need to consider a new roof before going solar.

Solar systems provide a number of reliable long term benefits, including:

  • Reduced electricity bills
  • Providing control over rising utility rates
  • Increased home value
  • Reduced environmental footprint

There are also variable short term financial incentives, including:

Solar panels are a considered a permanent part of the structure and should be covered under your insurance. However, we do recommend contacting your provider to notify them you installed a solar system in case it needs to be documented should there be the need for a claim in the future.

Solar System Function and Maintenance

What can impact the amount of energy my solar panels produce?

Solar panels convert most of the visible light spectrum and about half of the ultraviolet and infrared light spectrums into energy. So your solar panels are always working for you, even though there are times when slightly less energy is produced, such as:

  • Night time
  • Cloudy days
  • Shorter days
  • Snow cover

Your system is design to optimize energy production on an average annual basis. And details such as how the angle the panels are tilted toward the sun can help the snow slide off while also maximizing light captured are carefully considered by your solar expert.

Solar systems are designed to produce enough power to meet your home’s average annual usage.

Your home will produce extra power in the summer, which builds net metering credits with your utility. In winter it’s possible your system may not produce the full amount of energy needed, and if this happens the difference is offset by the energy credits.

You can learn more about how net metering works in the answers in the cost and benefits section below, and how it addresses seasonal variability on the Solar Cost and Savings page.

Your system will shut down during power outages and will automatically restart once power is restored.

Home solar systems are required to shut down during power outages so they don’t accidentally feed power to the grid while workmen are fixing lines. They automatically restart once power is restored.

If a home solar system has a battery backup, a safety device isolates the house from the grid during an outage so the backup power can be used.

Battery backup power is similar to emergency generator power in that it can power vital functions for your home, such as keeping the refrigerator running, on up to 4 designated circuits.

Solar batteries can provide emergency power for hours to days, depending on usage, weather and timing. If they weren’t depleted from overnight use when an outage happens and weather is favorable for the panels to continue charging them, the batteries will power the backup circuits longer.

There is little to no maintenance required by a homeowner. Solar systems have no moving parts, so there is almost no opportunity for mechanical issues.

Solar panels are extremely durable. It’s rare for them to sustain damage, even from serious weather like a hailstorm. They are designed to withstand the elements for up to 25 years.

The average roofing contractor is not qualified to work with solar systems. The solution is to bring in a solar contractor to temporarily remove your solar panels, and replace them after the roofing project is complete. Some roofing companies will include finding a solar contractor for that aspect of the project as a negotiated part of the contract.

We strongly recommend addressing the age and condition of your home’s roof before proceeding with a solar panel installation.

Yes, we have a number of local roofers we are happy to refer you to. The roofing contractors we have developed a working relationship with are very comfortable collaborating with solar panel contractors.

Solar systems are designed to last up to 25 years. This is why it’s important for the roof on your home to have a similar life span remaining when your system is installed.

Yes! There are several benefits to adding an EV charging station to your home, and we offer them as an installation option when your solar system is being designed. See the Installation Options page to learn more.

Yes! We offer universally compatible Level 2 240V EV charging stations. We also offer options to address the special charging requirements of Tesla vehicles.

Solar Costs, Benefits and Incentives

Can I save money by going solar?

There are many factors to consider, but generally speaking if your home is a good candidate for solar and your electric bill is over $60 a month, then
going solar may save you money.

No, you stay connected to your utility and continue to receive a monthly statement. If your solar panels provide all of your power in a given month, the bill will only be for small fixed costs, such as meter charges.

Net metering is when your utility company credits your utility bill for any excess power your system creates and send to the grid. The excess production is recorded as credits, and any power you need to draw from the grid during lower solar production is drawn from your credits.

This credit system allows you to have a consistent electric bill all year round, often eliminating it altogether. This also means it is potentially possible to earn money if your system provides more power than you use. Some regions allow utilities to make cash payments to customers for unused net metering credits.

Net metering is available with most Illinois utility companies, and continues to expand in the market.

This is determined at the time of your home assessment. Generally speaking, most utilities in Illinois provide net metering, including ComEd, Ameren and MidAmerican.

Generally speaking, you own your home solar system. It becomes an integral part of the structure of your home.

However, this can depend on whether you choose to adopt your solar system via a straight purchase, loan financing or a lease. In the case of a lease, the equipment remains the property of the leasing company. Otherwise, you own it.

Yes, absolutely.

According to a nationwide study by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, installing a standard 5kW system can potentially increase your home’s value by $20,000.

This finding was confirmed with additional research conducted by The Appraisal Institute, which found a solar system, on average, increases a home’s value by $20 for every $1 reduction in energy bills.

Utilities are required by law to generate a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources. SRECs are credits that represent the environmental benefits of solar power.

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) allow homeowners to sell certificates for energy produced by their residential solar system to their utility, which then counts toward the utility’s requirement.

Homeowners earn one SREC for every 1000 kilowatt hours (kWh) / 1 megawatt hour (MWh) produced by their solar panel system. The value of an SREC varies per location.

In Illinois, homeowners sell their SRECs into a market established by the Illinois Power Agency. You are paid 15 years of estimated SREC production in advance, when your solar system is installed. This can greatly reduce the initial cost of your solar system.

1 MWh of electricity produced by a solar system = 1 SREC

The Illinois Power Agency (IPA) sets SREC pricing based on demand. Current value is $72.97.

SREC incentive value is based in blocks. Once a block is sold out, the next block of lower value becomes the new SREC rate. This means the SREC payment a new solar system can earn declines as more solar systems are installed. Installing a solar system now guarantees the highest SREC value you can receive.

RxSun completes and submits your SREC application to the state program as part of your installation project. The SREC payment is sent to our office, and we forward it to you within 4 business days. We recommend that you then apply it directly to your loan.

Also known as the Federal Solar Tax Credit, the solar investment tax credit is available to homeowners who install a solar system. It is valued as a percent of the total project cost, and it received as a dollar for dollar reduction in federal income tax for the year the system was installed.

It is a graduated credit, with the following schedule:

  • 2019 – 30%
  • 2020 – 26%
  • 2021 – 22%

After 2021 this tax credit program expires and is expected to go to zero.

There are several reasons that make this the perfect time to go solar.

The price of solar panels has fallen quite a lot in the last few years, making it more affordable for the average homeowner. Additionally, there are current state and federal incentive programs that can save you up to 60% of the cost of your solar panel installation.

The federal incentives are short term, and scheduled to be phased out. The state incentives will decrease in value as more home solar systems join the solar credit market. So, going solar now:

There has never been and may never be a better time to go solar!

Yes! We offer universally compatible Level 2 240V EV charging stations. We also offer options to address the special charging requirements of Tesla vehicles.

RxSun Services

What is your service area?

RxSun currently serves residential solar customers in the state of Illinois. It is our home state, and we are headquartered in Chicago.

Not every state offers solar incentives like SRECs. Illinois’s incentives for homeowners to adopt solar power are very attractive. Future expansion to other states will be based on incentive offerings to residents that make choosing solar a financially beneficial choice for homeowners.

RxSun solar systems include extensive warranty coverage, including:

  • 10 year service warranty
  • 20 year solar inverter warranty
  • 25 year solar panel warranty