What You Need

To Know

About Solar



Affordability: Is rooftop solar affordable in the U.S.?

  • The price of installing solar panels has dropped by almost 50% since 2010.

  • Additionally, power conversion efficiency and reliability have increased to the point of competitiveness with traditional forms of electricity generation (i.e., coal, natural gas and nuclear), which are finite resources that pose great risks to the health of our environment on many levels.

  • Consider the longevity of RA Systems:

    • RA Systems panels and racking will supply up to 90% of the energy collected on day one of your installation after 25 years of use, and the electronics warranty on your system can be extended for up to 25 years.

    • RA Systems have the possibility of supplying you with decades of free energy.

    • Our RA Systems inverters are the only components you may need to replace after 25 years.

  • To make solar even more affordable:

    • The U.S. federal government provides a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) through 2020, and the balance can be written off over the following 4 years.

    • Incentives in Minnesota include further rebate, property tax, sales tax and loan programs. Energy utilities are even mandated to pay you by check or by crediting your electricity bill for net excess generation (NEG) you supply back to the grid, if your system is grid-connected. This incentive is known as “net metering.”

  • Depending on the placement of your system on your roof or on the ground, it can be paid off in as little as 5 years. Once your system is paid off, your electricity generated from your system will be free, thereby reducing your total energy costs substantially, saving

      the average residential home about $20,000 over 20 years.





Components: What components does RA Systems use in its solar installations?

  • RA Systems’ longevity is a result of the strength and rigidity we build in. The more rigid a system is designed, the less opportunity there is for stress fractures. Think of stress fractures like metal fatigue. If the PV cells can’t move they can’t fracture. If PV cells fracture, they can get minute shorts and thus lose small amounts of energy on a cell-by-cell basis.

  • Our components have this rigidity built in to keep system stresses to a minimum.

    • Mounting Feet/Brackets – Our solar mounting brackets attach to your roof without compromising the effectiveness or lifespan of your shingles or roof tiles. Stainless steel bolts anchor firmly into your roof joists, hold a rain shield in place and can sustain winds up to 150 mph. Our mounting feet also provide the flexibility of laying your solar panels flat at the same angle as your roof or to angle them at a degree equal to your latitude, which offers optimal energy efficiency.

    • Racking – Solar panel racking, also known as mounting, includes aluminum rails that attach to the brackets installed in the roof. Your solar panels attach directly to these rails, and they are clamped down in multiple locations with stainless steel clamps. The configuration of the racks on your roof will be optimized for energy efficiency and aesthetics.

    • Panels – Also known as solar modules, solar panels consist of a transparent top surface (usually glass), solar cells, an encapsulant that holds together the top surface, solar cells and rear surface, a thin polymer sheet at the rear to keep out water and gases, and an aluminum frame around the edge.

    • Micro-Inverters – RA Systems are always installed with micro-inverters for each individual panel, maximizing your entire system’s efficiency at all times. This construction ensures that all panels continue operating at maximum output, even if one panel is temporarily shaded or compromised for any reason.

      • Our micro-inverters send energy generated from each panel to a master macro-inverter to convert direct current (DC) energy generated from the sun to alternating current (AC) for home use and output to the electrical grid at a safer voltage level.

      • Additional micro-inverter benefits over traditional central inverters include improved cloud-based system monitoring, capabilities to easily expand your system in the future, and improved safety for technicians and homeowners.

      • RA Systems installations meet new safety regulations in all significant PV markets around the world

  • Micro-Inverters – RA Systems


Covenants: Will municipal or homeowners association covenants prevent me from installing solar panels?

  • Some municipalities and homeowners associations (HOAs) might have covenants or other ordinances that regulate the installation of solar PV systems. Some people think that solar panels are aesthetically displeasing and that PV systems might decrease home values.

  • In fact, significant amounts of research over the past decade have shown that solar PV systems increase the value of homes, and new technology is making solar panels less noticeable all the time.

  • Some communities may have covenants that encourage/support the installation of solar PV systems.

  • In Minnesota, homeowners who own their roofs separate from other homeowners were given the right by statute in 2015 to put solar panels on their roofs, even if HOAs object. However, local ordinances may still affect your plans for a solar array. We can help you navigate this subject with regulatory bodies and neighbors.




Depreciation: How should you depreciate the value of your solar array installation each year?

  • Commercial solar installations and some residential solar installations are eligible for depreciation, and commercial installations are eligible for accelerated depreciation. Depreciation occurs over a five-year cost-recovery period.

  • The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is the depreciation method used to recover investments in certain tangible property over a specified time period through annual tax deductions.

  • If you took advantage of the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC), you may be able to depreciate up to 85% of your solar assets’ tax basis.

    • Under MACRS, you must reduce your systems’ depreciable tax basis by one-half the value of the 30% ITC.

  • Additionally, your solar system may be eligible for a bonus depreciation that was extended by Congress in 2015 to continue capital investment incentives following the economic downturn of 2008.

    • This bonus allows further acceleration of your systems’ depreciation up to 50% in the first year of service.

    • The phase-out of this program is as follows:

      • 2015-17: 50% bonus depreciation

      • 2018: 40%

      • 2019: 30%

      • 2020 and beyond: 0%

  • Individual homeowners may be eligible to take advantage of depreciation if they have passive income from other investments


Depreciation Scale: What is the 5-year depreciation scale for MACRS?

  • Year 1: 20.00 %

  • Year 2: 32.00%

  • Year 3: 19.20%

  • Year 4: 11.52%

  • Year 5: 11.52%

  • Year 6: 5.76%



Efficiency: How efficient is solar panel energy conversion?

  • Solar panel efficiency is on par with traditional sources of energy (e.g., coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro), and it may soon become more efficient as the costs of higher efficiency solar cells continue to drop.

  • Standard solar panel test conditions are performed at 77℉ and by measuring the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) at a certain geographic location. TSI is a measure of solar energy per 1,000 Watts per m2

  • The most efficient solar panels on the market are not usually the best option for most solar installations. High-efficiency panels are often only necessary if you have a very small amount of space available to place the panels

  • Efficiency is affected by:

    • Temperature – The hotter the panels get, the less efficient they become. The efficiency gained by going solar in cooler climates can even out the difference made by greater solar intensity in warmer climates. Micro-inverters and the proper placement of panels to allow best possible airflow will help keep your solar panels cool.

    • Panel orientation – It is best that your roof faces directly south, but we can compensate for roof faces slightly off the 180° azimuth.

    • Roof and panel angle (pitch) – If 0° is vertical and 90° is horizontal, the optimal angle is usually 41°.

    • Dust on your solar panels. Typically, rain will clean your panels for you.

    • Shade – Trees, clouds and other obstructions may adversely affect the performance of your solar panels. We will discuss maintain peak efficiency for the full lifespan of your solar system with you.



Electromagnetic Spectrum: What is the electromagnetic spectrum? What light wave do solar panels absorb?

  • The electromagnetic spectrum broadly describes all known frequencies and wavelengths of known photons, also known as electromagnetic radiation.

  • The electromagnetic spectrum of a solar cell is the distribution of electromagnetic radiation absorbed by the solar cell. The visible light spectrum waves are absorbed by the solar cells with the energy necessary to react with electrons, separate them from their bonds with protons and create an electric current.

  • Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells absorb the spectrum of visible light with wavelengths from 380 nm to 750 nm, including violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Ultraviolet and infrared light is not absorbed in PV solar cells, but advances in technology may eventually lead to full-spectrum PV solar cells that can use these wasted wavelengths, thereby making solar panels more efficient.























Energy Independence: Can you achieve energy independence with solar?

  • Energy independence through solar is achievable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average residential home in the U.S. uses 911 kWh each month.

  • Through the calculations below, you will see that the average U.S. home is capable of producing about 100 kWh of usable solar energy each day, which is 3 times the amount most homes use each day.

  • According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), each square meter of land in the U.S. receives about 1 kWh of solar energy per hour. If we convert this to square yards, we get 833 Watt hours (.833 kWh) of solar energy per hour per square yard of land (or roof)

  • Now, consider the fact that each square yard of land (or roof) receives about 6 hours of direct sunlight in much of the U.S. If we multiply 6 hours x .833 kWh, we get roughly 5 kWh of solar energy per hour per square yard.

  • What if you had a 100 square yard solar array (10 yards by 10 yards)? That is equivalent to 900 square feet of roof space (30 ft. x 30 ft.). Most homes can find that much south facing roof space, and some can find more roof space.

  • Multiplying 100 square yards of solar panels by 5 kWh equals 500 kWh of solar energy collected each day.

  • Lastly, we must calculate the efficiency of the solar panel, which currently stands at about 20% energy efficiency. 500 kWh x 20% = 100 kWh each day.

  • Using the figure of 911 kWh of energy consumed each month by the average residential home in the U.S., if we divide by 30 (the number of days in a month), we get 30.37 kWh of energy use each day.

  • By converting 100 kWh of solar energy into usable energy, you will be tripling the amount of energy your home uses each day on average throughout the year.

  • What will you do with all the extra energy?

    • You can sell electricity back to the electricity grid during the day, which helps you pay off the cost of your solar system quicker.

    • You can also store excess electricity in a battery, such as Tesla’s 6.4 kWh Powerwall. Most homes will be able to last through the night on 6.4 kWh of stored energy, but two Powerwalls in your home would supply you with nearly 13 kWh of stored energy.



Energy Rates:  are variable and certain to rise as utilities have greater demands for more power.

  • You did see your energy bill increase this year and it will increase again next year etc. etc. etc.

  • Since 2000 energy rates have increased at an average annual rate of 3.5%

  • At this rate of increase your energy bill will double every 20 years.

  • Purchasing solar today gives you a lock on today’s prices,  guaranteeing you even greater savings over time.



Energy Savings

  • “Depending on the placement of your system on your roof or on the ground, it can be paid off in as little as 5 years. Once your system is paid off, your electricity generated from your system will be free, thereby reducing your total energy costs substantially, saving the average residential home about $20,000 over 20 years.”


Energy Returned On Energy Invested: What is Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) or Energy Return On Investment (EROI)? What is RA Systems’ solar EROEI?

  • EROEI is different from energy efficiency, which is explained above. EROEI measures usable energy, as opposed to primary energy inputs into the system.

  • EROEI is the ratio of the usable energy delivered to the energy used to get the energy resource:

    •     EROEI = Energy Delivered ÷ Energy Used to Get That Energy

  • If the EROEI is larger than one, the system can be considered as a viable energy source. If it is lower than one, the system is considered a net energy sink, unless the system is useful for storage purposes (e.g., battery, air tank or pumped-hydroelectric storage).

  • The EROEI of poly-silicon solar panels, the most widely used panels for utility-scale PV systems, varies between about 10 and 15. Some highly efficient panels are nearing an EROI of 25 and higher. Thin film solar systems produce EROI figures above 40 in some cases.

  • The EROEI of mono-silicon solar panels, the most commonly used panels for commercial and residential PV, varies between about 6 and 12.

  • The variance is due to variables within different studies, including different input costs of panels and geographical location of systems.

  • By comparison, wind power produces EROI of about 18, hydroelectric power EROI is 100, coal EROI is about 30, shale oil EROI is about 5, and nuclear power EROI is about 75.

  • EROEI or EROI is not the only measure of energy production effectiveness. In choosing how we generate the energy to fuel our society, we also must consider the effects on our environment, economies and the sustainability of the energy resource.




Financing Solar: What financing options do you have to install solar panels?

  • Self-Financing

    • Self financing your solar power system will allow you to take full advantage of the U.S. federal government’s 30% investment tax credit (ITC), which currently lasts through 2020. The balance of your solar power system investment can be written off over the following 4 years after your investment.

    • We recommend that you speak with your financial advisor about possible additional tax ramifications.

    • Additional incentives specific to Minnesota renewable energy installations include state rebate, property tax, sales tax and loan programs. Minnesota electric utilities also are mandated to pay you peak rates for net excess generation (NEG) that your system supplies back to the electric grid, which is known as “net metering.”

  • Financial Institutions:

    • RA Solar works with several reputable, trusted lending institutions to finance your solar power system at an affordable rate. We work with these institutions along with you to help you secure a competitive rate. These lenders know us and will be competing with each other for your business.

  • SPPA:

    • A solar power purchase agreement (SPPA) is a contract between a buyer of power and seller of power with a financing counter party. The SPPA functions as a lease with an option to buy at the end of the term. Your payments for financing will be smaller, but extended over a longer period than traditional financing options. However, the ITC and other financial incentives will belong to the owner of the system (the financing party).




Greenhouse Gases (GHGs):  What effects do GHGs have on climate change?

  • GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), water vapor (H2O), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases (powerful gases emitted from a variety of industrial processes).

  • All of these gases are emitted into our atmosphere at rates our planet’s natural cleansing mechanisms cannot keep up with, causing a severe, human-created imbalance that is leading us to a tipping point that is most likely irreversible.

  • Sources of GHGs include energy production and transport of coal, oil and natural gas, along with all forms of internal combustion engine (ICE) transportation (ships, planes, trains and automobiles), residential and commercial heat production, and agricultural emissions (livestock, manure storage and fertilizer).

  • GHGs form an ever-thickening blanket over the Earth, trapping heat energy that would otherwise escape the Earth to outer space. This is what is known as the “greenhouse effect,” and it amplifies the Earth’s natural temperature changes.

  • GHGs are some of the greatest contributing factors to global warming, which causes sea levels to rise, glacial ice to melt, average ocean and land temperatures to increase, extreme weather events, longer drought periods, increases in adverse health effects from climate and many more negative consequences everywhere in the world.



Hail Damage


House Value - added value



The Look - Beauty is in the eye of the beholder  it's a life style




Monitor Everything: How can I tell if my system is working?  

  • Every panel in your system will have a micro inverter attached to it.

  • Your monitor system will allow you to see a number of different things.

  • Energy generated

  • Energy consumed

  • Energy sold back to the utility (net metering)

  • Your carbon foot print























Pollution - NO2, SO2, Mercury, Nuclear Power


Prepay your energy


Process: What is involved to go solar?  The time for each one of the steps will be different depending on the project.  We will do the                       following Estimate, Financial qualification, Blueprint, Permit, Install (Weather Dependent), Commission your system with your utility.



































Photo Voltaic Panels: What goes into a solar panel?

      The following is a cutaway of one of our PV-Photo Voltaic Panels.

      We add extra quality every step of the way to bring you a product that will give you decades of free energy!









































ROI - Whats your solar ROI Payback


Roof Replacement


Roof Life Expectancy







Solar gain: What is the solar gain?  (also known as solar heat gain or passive solar gain) refers to the increase in temperature in a space, object or structure that results from solar radiation. The amount of solar gain increases with the strength of the sunlight, and with the ability of any intervening material to transmit or resist the radiation.

Objects struck by sunlight absorb the short-wave radiation from the light and reradiate the heat at longer infrared wavelengths. Certain materials and substances, such as glass, are more transparent to the shorter wavelengths than the longer; when the sun shines through such materials, the net result is an increase in temperature — solar gain. This effect, the greenhouse effect, so called due to the solar gain that is experienced behind the glass of a greenhouse, has since become well known in the context of global warming.


Solar Vs Wind - you own it vrs the utility owning it







Tax Credits vs. Tax Deductions: What is the difference between these? You might think the two are interchangeable but they aren’t. 


Tax Credits:  A tax credit is something that directly reduces how much tax you owe.


Tax Deductions:  A tax deduction is something that reduces how much taxable income you claim. 


Tax Write Offis





Water Quality


Wind Damage - Our products are tested and certified to withstand wind speeds of 150 mph