Frequently Asked Questions

Learn the Truth About Solar Energy

We all know solar power is a good choice for energy, but why? We’ll discuss solar facts and debunk some myths too.

For over 15 years, and 10,000 installations we’ve had the goal of bringing confidence to power.

We’ve seen many companies come and go in that time, and we’ve realized that our Idaho and Colorado customers want three things out of a solar company.

  1. Real, human service, not bots, or an overseas call center.
  2. One point of contact, instead of getting juggled between different vendors.
  3. A company with deep and broad expertise that’s going to be sticking around for the long haul.

We know that solar isn’t right for every home and family. We pride ourselves in being willing to say no to an install when it’s not in your best interest.

The Big Dog difference is that our solar specialists will be with you from start to finish, let you make all the decisions, and give you honest suggestions backed by 15 years of experience and over 10,000 system installations.

Solar panels come with 25–30 year warranties but are designed to last up to 40 years.

The expected lifetime of solar panels is between 35-40 years before they need to be recycled. The solar panels on the market today lose on average, 0.5% efficiency every year. Incredibly, most solar panel manufacturers offer a warranty that guarantees that your solar panels will maintain an efficiency level of between 95%-83% after 25-30 years of installation.

The Federal government offers a 30% tax credit. There may also be local incentives depending on your area.

In addition to the 30% federal tax credit, some areas offer additional local incentives for solar. Here’s more information about the Federal Tax Credit and how it applies to you. If you are interested in learning more about other government incentives, visit this website.

We love solar and think it’s great. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for everyone. Factors like too much shade, a bad roof, and inefficient energy usage could prevent you from getting any benefit from solar.

As much as we’d love to help you receive the benefits of going solar, we can’t in good faith recommend it to everyone. Here are 4 Reasons solar might not be a good fit for you!

  1. You’re not the homeowner. You won’t be able to make any lasting changes to the property, and you won’t even get to take advantage of all the sweet tax incentives!
  2. The home might not be a good fit. For instance, your roof might not get enough sun. You don’t have enough space on your property for ground mounts
  3. Some local utilities don’t have advantages programs like net metering. Most of the utilities in the area we serve have great programs. We’ll let you know about your local utility if you reach out to us.
  4. You’re in a manufactured home that lacks a proper foundation.

There are times when it’s possible, but when the system won’t be able to be financed if it’s not on a concrete foundation. If you think your home might be on the edge of being a good fit, but you aren’t sure, feel free to give us a call.

Solar Panels are built to withstand extreme conditions. Panels have different ratings for elements such as wind, hail, and snow load.

Light snow doesn’t impact the performance of solar panels. The reason is that UV rays are able to penetrate snow particles. With that being said, heavy snowfall can hinder their performance. However, with the angle of the panels and the help from the sun, the panels begin to heat up causing the snow to slide right off. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be worried about damage from the pressure of the snow because of how durable the solar panels are. We put together an awesome resource on panel durability on our website. Here’s another one on how snow and clouds affect panels.

Solar panels have no moving parts. Therefore very little maintenance is required to keep the production optimal. Here’s some basic information on how to keep your panels clean.

Even though solar panels are kept fairly clean by rain and snow, if you live in a dusty area you can see a more significant build-up of dust and debris. In most cases, simply spraying them down with a hose will be sufficient to keep them operating at a high level. In addition to keeping the panel faces clean, some system owners find it advantageous to install Critter Guard around them to keep leaves and other debris from getting underneath the panels.

To understand how the breakeven point for solar works, you need to know net metering rates, tax credits, system size, financing, and electric cost rates.

To understand when solar will reach its breakeven point, you need to know net metering rates, tax credits, system size, financing, and electric cost rates.

To calculate the payback period, divide the system cost (after-tax incentives) by the amount that you’re saving compared to your past electrical bill.

The time a solar power system takes to pay back its purchase cost varies depending on factors like your geographical location, utility company, and any government incentives added to your energy bill. The more savings and incentives you have, the faster the payback period. The faster the payback period, the greater return on investment. According to Solar Specialist Sarah Lozanova: “The average residential solar power system payback is about 8.7 years, but it varies by location and property. So, the typical payback period is about 6 – 10 years.”

SOLAR FACT: In a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conclusively demonstrates that energy payback for photovoltaic (PV) power is, in the worst case, less than 4 years. Given that PV module lifetimes are generally in excess of 30 years, a PV system will produce far more energy than it consumes over its lifetime.
Energy output and input ratios for concentrating solar power (CSP) solar thermal and devices are even more favorable, given their simple manufacture. This myth has its origins in the early history of PV power, when devices were essentially custom-fabricated for military, space and research markets.

SOLAR FACT: Solar PV technologies have declined in price every year since they were introduced onto the market, driven by improved research and development, and most of all by steady increases in sales volume. (In 1954, approximately one watt of PV generating devices was manufactured. In 2004, approximately one billion watts will be manufactured worldwide.) Every solar panel purchased makes the next one cheaper, in stark contrast to nonrenewable sources, which become scarcer and more expensive with every ton that is burned.

SOLAR FACT: Solar thermal is dependent on heat and PV Solar devices are dependent on light – and this light does not need to be direct. More important than place-to-place variations in solar intensity is the price of daytime electricity where you live and the existence of state incentives for clean energy. Learn more about solar power tax credits.

SOLAR FACT: PV systems produce no atmospheric emissions or greenhouse gases. Compared to fossil-generated electricity, each kilowatt of PV electricity annually offsets up to:

  • 16 kilograms of nitrogen oxides
  • 9 kilograms of sulfur oxides
  • 2,300 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2)

If the industry grows by the 25% per year as predicted PV in the United States will offset 10 million metric tons of CO2 per year by 2027 — equivalent to the annual increase emitted by U.S. fossil fuel electricity generation. This means that the emission rate will become negative thereafter as the PV contribution grows!

SOLAR FACT: This is a real business — one that has been growing by more than 35% per year over the past 2 years. In 2001, PV module shipments closed in on the 400-megawatt mark, representing a $2.5 to $3 billion market. The U.S.-based industry itself is now approaching $1 billion per year and providing 25,000 jobs. It’s expected to grow to the $10-$15 billion level in the next 20 years, providing 300,000 jobs by 2025. This sustained growth exceeds that of the semiconductor industry. A market shift has sparked the recent growth in the PV industry. It has shifted from almost completely remote, off-grid, and consumer products to nearly 60% grid-connected, distributed power. And these applications don’t represent small niche markets. They represent the significant growth path for PV — the true distributed power source.

SOLAR FACT: The energy payback period is dropping rapidly. For example, it takes today’s typical crystalline silicon module about 4 years to generate more energy than went into making the module in the first place. The next generation of silicon modules, which will employ a different grade of silicon and use thinner layers of semiconductor material, will have an energy payback of about 2 years. This means that these modules will produce “free” and clean energy for the remaining 28 years of their expected life.

If we haven’t been able to answer your questions here, please feel free to contact us to get your own curiosity satisfied.

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Big Dog Solar
620 Pheasant Ridge Dr. Pocatello, ID 83201
(800) 291-SOLAR

Big Dog Solar
1190 W Taylor Suite 104 Meridian, ID 83642
(208) 254-2561


Big Dog Solar
489 28 1/2 Rd. Grand Junction, CO 81501
(970) 875-6202

620 Pheasant Ridge Dr.Chubbuck, ID 83202
(800) 291-SOLAR