Frequently Asked Questions
What size solar electric system do I need?
Shaw Solar uses three basic criteria to recommend a system size: your annual power consumption, which can be obtained from LPEA; your available roof space; and ultimately your available budget.
The majority of La Plata County’s installed PV systems range from 2,000 watts to 8,000 watts, or 200 to 800 square feet of solar modules. Where you live, how you live, and how you heat your water and house will also dictate the size of your system and its total cost. A 5 kW system meets the needs of the average home.
Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?
All solar electric systems must be permitted and inspected by both LPEA and the State of Colorado. Shaw Solar will handle every aspect of the installation from filing LPEA interconnection and net metering paperwork, to requesting permits and final inspections. For safety reasons and by law, a licensed electrician is required to make the final connection to the grid. We have one on staff – which saves you both time and money.
How long will it take to reach payback?
In terms of rebates and incentives, there has never been a better time to go solar. Each system will have a different payback period, as ROI depends on a number of variables. Typically, residential systems have a payback period of approximately 10 years depending on location and size. Commercial systems usually have a payback period of 4 to 7 years due to the additional tax benefits available.
Is there any system maintenance required?
Since there are no moving parts, the PV systems are basically maintenance free. However, to improve output, it is always better if they are kept clean.
How long will my solar electric system last?
PV modules last a long, long time. The modules we install come with a 25-year power warranty! In the end, we don’t know how long the panels will last, as the oldest terrestrial modules are over 45-years old and still going strong.
Can a homeowner sell power back to their utility?
Yes, through LPEA’s net metering agreements, any excess electricity generated will spin your meter backwards, which has the effect of selling your excess power to the utility at a wholesale rate. In short – if you use more than you produce, you will be buying power from LPEA. If you produce more than you use, LPEA will buy your power. However, you will only receive a payment from LPEA if you generate more electricity than you use on an annual basis.
What happens when it snows?
Immediately after a snow storm, when your solar panels are covered, they won’t produce power. But because snow slides easily off solar panels, and they are installed where there’s the most sun, the snow that covers your panels will melt first. This means that your solar panels will be exposed to light again relatively quickly, allowing them to produce electricity. The reflection off the white snow may even increase how much power your system produces. Here in Southwest Colorado, we engineer all our systems to support the snow loads expected in their given application.
Will solar increase my property value?
Yes. According to real estate appraisers, for every $1 of electricity that you offset through solar, it will increase the value of your home by $20. This means that your home would increase in value by about the total net cost of the system after rebates. As an example, a 4 kW system will offset about $805 of electricity costs in a year based on LPEA’s rate in the City of Durango of $0.131/kWh. Using the “each $1 saved in electricity costs increases a homes value by $20” guideline, then we could be looking at a home’s value increase of around $16,100. Studies also show that homes with solar panel systems have property values 3-4% above similar homes in the same area. They also sell twice as fast as the competition. In addition, this increase in value is exempt from property tax.