Carolina Mountain Solar | Questions
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Based on past experience we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions. For further info, call us at 828-835-0015.


We get a lot of rain. Does solar work here in the Smokey and Blue Ridge Mountains?

The government has been measuring “irradiance” or sun quality around the country for decades. They found Western NC and North Georgia (including Murphy and Hayesville) are actually great locations for solar.

We also have a lot of trees. Will that affect how well it works?

Shade during the middle part of the day does have a huge effect on solar panels (early morning and late evening are not a concern). The perfect spot for a ground-mounted solar system is along the northern edge of your garden or yard, facing south. And we’re here to help: Part of our job is to help select the best location on your property.

How big is a typical residential or small business solar system?

Most systems that we install range between 6 solar panels at the smallest, to up to 200 panels for larger winery. A solar panel is roughly 3 feet x 5 feet. Most home solar systems have a footprint of less than 700 square feet.

What size solar system will the best return on my investment?

If you’re in extreme Western North Carolina near Murphy or Hayesville, due to the way the tax credits works, combined with the TVA’s rules, the best investment will be a system with between 20 to 40 panels. Since we use 250 watt panels, that is equal to a 5,000 – 10,000 watt system. Note: a big system in the shade is always a bad idea, so if you don’t have much sun – keep it small. During our consultations, we can break down how the numbers will best work for your unique situation.

Bottom line, how much money am I going to make?

Well, the more you invest the more you make, but an average residential system will pay you around $1,000 to $2,000 per year for 20 years. That’s roughly $40,000 in income over the life of the contract. Your pay out rises with inflation too. You can use that money of offset your electric bills or you can simply pocket the income if you bills are small, or nonexistent as in a vacation home in the Murphy or Hayesville area.

How long does a solar system last?

Solar panels today are all solid state and are made mostly glass and aluminum, and they are built to last decades. Standard manufactures’ warranties are 25 years, but it is not unreasonable to expect most of them to making quite a bit of power 30-40 years from now.

What about small business, farms and wineries? Do the same size thresholds apply?

Thanks to the ability to take accelerated depreciation, federal and state tax credits, plus certain utility companies’ incentives, a business’s tax bill, available sun and energy usage will be the deciding factor on size for a commercial system – up to 50,000 watts. We can go over these numbers in detail with you, specific to your business situation.

I know this benefits the environment, but is there a economical benefit to me from this?

North Carolina and Georgia each have separate rules regarding financial incentives, as do the various utility companies. But depending on which program you are eligible for, a solar system with good sun will provide a consistent return on your investment for 10 – 40 years. So yes, it really is a great investment.

How much does a solar system cost?

It depend greatly on location, size and complexity. But most systems we install vary between $10,000 – $50,000 for residential systems, with commercial systems costing up to $250,000. But keep in mind after you get your solar-related tax credits and/or other incentives, your actual cost may only be roughly $5,000 – $20,000. Bottom line: Most of our local customers In Murphy and Hayesville end up paying for about one- to two-thirds of the cost of the systems themselves, after all financial incentives are collected.

How do the tax credits work? Do I have to pay the entire amount upfront?

The full cost of your system is due at installation, but you will be getting up to 30% back at tax time. Note: tax credits are not tax deductions. Tax credits are much better, sort of like an “IRS gift card.” They are an amaxing way to legally avoid paying taxes, and to keep your hard-earned money for yourself. You can reasonably expect to save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars at tax time.

What about insurance, licensing, permits and paperwork?

Carolina Mountain Solar is a licensed commercial general contractor with all the necessary licenses and insurance, including general liability and workers compensation. Regarding permits: we can handle them or guide you through the process depending on the jurisdiction. We can also guide you through the paperwork for Duke Energy, for the TVA Green Power Providers program and assist with solar-related USDA Rural Development Grant applications. Our goal is to provide turn-key systems and make it easy for you to go solar!

What is the NABCEP certification and why is it important?

The NABCEP certification is widely recognized as the “gold standard” for North American renewable energy professionals. Stewart Senger, owner of Carolina Mountain Solar, is NABCEP-certified at the highest level (as a NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional™). As a potential solar customer, you should know that a NABCEP qualification is a requirement for installation on many local systems. NABCEP is the continent’s only renewable energy personnel certification that has been ANSI accredited to the internationally recognized ISO/IEC 17024 standard. Certification is achieved only through specialized training, on-the-job experience, and rigorous examination.

How long does everything take?

The paperwork usually takes much longer than the construction. The design, permitting and utility company “interconnection” agreement can take a month or more. The actual construction on most systems is a week to 10 days.

I’m interested. What happens next?

Give us a call or send us an e-mail. We can discuss any questions you might have and evaluate your site over the phone using some online tools. If the site looks good (and unfortunately many don’t), we can discuss the benefits and costs in detail. Then we can come out to verify the site, collect a deposit and begin designing and building your system.