Solar FAQs: Technical Edition

Julie Milea

PowerFlex is committed to providing the best solar solution for each client. We want our clients to understand the solar technology that they’re utilizing and the ways in which it can benefit them. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our clients about solar technology with their respective answers.

  1. What is the main technology used in a solar array?The two main components of a solar array are solar panels and inverters. Solar panels vary in size, number of cells and silicon type. Monocrystalline panels are named for the specific way in which the silicon crystals of the PV cells are formed. Since they are made from higher-grade silicon, monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels. An inverter converts the DC (direct current) power generated by solar panels into AC (alternating current) power, which is the type of power supplied by the utility grid. String inverters are a technology used to optimize system production. As opposed to one central inverter for the whole system, string inverters are distributed throughout the array, enabling the system to continue generating electricity even when one of the inverters isn’t producing power.
  1. Is this technology going to be obsolete in a year?PV technology is a long term investment; a solar array will be a profitable asset for at least 25 years. In the solar industry, as with many other industries, the capabilities and price of the products are always improving. However, the benefits of going solar now usually outweigh the benefits of waiting. Advancements in technology are often incremental, and it isn’t worth to wait for the next big thing while your roof is only getting older. In addition, equipment warranties and production guarantees help ensure that today’s solar arrays are stable and profitable over time.
  1. What happens when a solar array is covered in snow?Snow during the winter months is a common concern. We model annual solar production in order to understand how snow will affect energy production and factor those calculations into our financial models. In most cases, even with the estimated production losses, the project economics still provide a strong ROI for clients. PV systems can even help the snow on your roof melt faster. Light penetrates the snow to the dark surface beneath, and the tilt of the solar panels helps it slide off when it starts to melt. In general, the best way to handle a snow covered array is to let it be and let the sun do its work. Doing unnecessary snow clearing on a roof can be a safety hazard and can lead to damage the system or the roof.
  1. How does a solar array affect the structural integrity and temperature of my roof?Maintaining the integrity and lifespan of a roof is a priority during the installation, and structural engineering is a cornerstone of the design process. We conduct a feasibility analysis that accounts for existing loads to ensure that the roof is a good fit for solar. In addition, PowerFlex takes steps to make sure that the roof warranty isn’t compromised by the installation. A common misconception is that the energy generated by solar panels will cause excess heat and increase the temperature of your roof. In fact, the opposite is true. Solar panels absorb the sunlight that would otherwise be heating up the roof and create shade on the roof underneath them. By doing this, they can actually cool the roof down on a hot summer day. This overall cooling effect can increase the energy efficiency of your building in the summer months – so solar may offset your energy consumption in more ways than one!
  1. Will my solar system be able to produce energy during a grid blackout?A grid-tied system won’t produce power when the grid is down. However, a battery back-up system can be paired with your solar installation, offering the opportunity to provide power during grid blackouts.
  1. How do I ensure maximum production from my solar system once it has been installed?The lifespan of a solar installation is at least 25 years, and it is important to make sure a system is outputting its full potential years after it is installed. Product warranties, monitoring and occasional preventative maintenance help make this happen. Data acquisition systems (DAS) are used to monitor and evaluate the performance of a system over its lifetime. Our operations and maintenance team at MaxSolar can view the performance of system components on a granular level, thus allowing for quick and efficient maintenance when necessary. Clients also have access to energy generation data on our monitoring platform.

These are few of the top technical and logistical questions we receive from companies considering solar. At PowerFlex, we have a team of knowledgeable and experienced professionals with many years of working in the industry. If you have further questions and you’re thinking about going solar, please reach out to us at or 888-225-0270.