Frequently Asked Questions

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

Short answer: Yes! The government has been measuring “irradiance” or sun quality around the country for decades. They found Western NC and North GA 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). But don't worry, we’re here to help: part of our job is to help select the best location on your roof or commercial property to optimize solar production.

How big is a typical solar system?

Most systems that we install range between 40 solar panels for a home or small business, to 1000+ panels for larger commercial system. A solar panel is roughly 3 feet x 5 feet. The size of your system will also depend on past and projected electric usage.

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

We will help you do the math on this, taking into account your electrical consumption, plus all of the solar incentive programs you may be eligible for. When we do a site visit to your location, we can break down how the numbers will best work for your unique situation. We love talking numbers and we can provide you with ROI (return on investment) estimates. Note: a big system in the shade is always a bad idea, so if you don’t have much sun – keep it small.

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

Well, the more you invest the more you make, but an average system will generate around tens of thousands of dollars worth of energy for several decades to come. We can break down the payout and costs in detail for your particular situation and location when we provide you a quote.

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.

Besides lowering my electric bill, what other financial incentives are there?

Duke Energy home and business customers may qualify for cash solar rebates, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Plus, business' in all areas can typically also take accelerated depreciation, federal tax credits, plus certain utility companies’ incentives and federal energy grants. Don't worry! We will guide you through all the programs and handle all the paperwork for you.

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 grid-tied 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 $25,000 for a home or small business, to up to mid-six-figures for a larger business with heavy energy use. But keep in mind after you get your solar-related tax credits and/or other incentives, your actual cost may only be roughly one quarter of that. Bottom line: Many of our customers end up paying for a fraction 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 up front?

You can reasonably expect to save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars at tax time. A larger commercial system may even take six figures off your end-of-year tax bill. The full cost of your system is paid to us the installer, but you will be getting up to 26% 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 amazing way to minimize your tax bill, and keep your hard-earned money for yourself.

What about insurance, licensing, permits and paperwork?

We take care of all that! It's important your protect your solar investment by having a licensed, insured and accredited contracter build your solar panel system. Carolina Mountain Solar is a licensed commercial general contractor and electrical contractor in both NC and GA. We are fully insured, including general liability and workers compensation. We are happy to provide certificates of insurance and proof of contracter licensing upon request. Regarding permits: we handle them. We work regularly with all local utilities and county inspectors in our service area and we know what they are looking for and how to do all the necessary paperwork. 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 required?

NABCEP is the nationally recognized "solar installers" license. As a potential solar customer, you should know that a NABCEP qualification is an absolute requirement for installation of grid-tied solar panel systems. Save yourself time and money by making sure your solar contractor is NABCEP certified at the required level (we are). Stewart Senger, owner of Carolina Mountain Solar, is NABCEP-certified at the highest level (as a NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional™). You can verify his (or any contractor's) NABCEP certification is valid by clicking here.

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 for solar panel systems. The actual construction on most systems is a week to 10 days for a small- to mid-sized system, or up to a month for larger business's with high energy usage.

I’m interested. What happens next?

Contact us here or call 828-835-0015. 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.