Frequently Asked Questions

General

Absolutely. Unfortunately, it’s not something most people are aware of or even know how to look up.

Some electricity companies will publish the information on their website. Others don’t mention it. All electricity companies fluctuate prices. They have to charge according to the market variables for their source of power. We have seen some drops in rates, but not in recent years. The overall trend of all companies are increased rates over time.

Click below on the name of your electricity provider for a link to their website. These are just a few for examples within our local area. You may need to look up yours online or call them for a printout of the information.

Kansas City Power & Light: Rate pricing history gives a complete year by year account whether it changed or not. We aren’t sure why more companies don’t give this transparent of a comparison so you can know what to expect.

Tri-County didn’t publish their annual increases, but this is an a note about the 2013 increase (1.6 cents per kilowatt hour sold ends up being about 10% increase in your bill). Call them directly for more complete information. This isn’t their complete increase history.

MEC does not show anything beyond their current rates online. MEC is on a set rate. They are contracted at the current rate for a certain number of years. What happens at the end of the contract? It’s reasonable to expect a massive sudden rate increase, considering all the other companies have increased steadily, according to expenses, over years of time.

AMEREN MO does not show anything beyond their current rates posted online. Ameren rates have steadily increased over the past several years.

Missouri Public Service Commission approves rates and it’s usually about an 11 month process. Again, all rates are subject to change because of the need to cover expenses within the company providing your power. PSC website gives all the information on this subject but a faster answer would be in calling your electricity company and asking how rates have increased (or sometimes it’s on your bill). They can tell you over the phone when and how much those rates have increased.

This is one of the topics covered in our free bids, because you can expect utility rates to rise with expenses driving that price up pretty steadily.

However, when you buy your renewable energy system, you have that on site and at a fixed rate for 25 years under warranty. Of course, they don’t blow up or melt down at that point – that’s just the warrantied period. So you may benefit beyond the timeframe in our bid.

     There is plenty of sunshine for anyone to let the sun power them 100%. Not everyone wants to pay for that much battery backup though. Amperage and voltage are a big factor in off-grid systems. In Colorado, people can do off-grid homes with just solar and a generator for emergency backup. In Missouri, we don’t get as many sunny days a year, so we recommend a secondary power source (such as a wind turbine).
     In the next 5-10 years battery backup costs will change with the new batteries that are being developed. We have off-grid customers who use “older” battery styles and are very happy with their solar powered homes. Some use a secondary power source (such as wind) and some just use a backup generator. We size off-grid systems to cover however many cloudy days the customer wants. More covered cloudy days = more batteries “just in case” so we like to be careful not to go too far in either direction.
     Grid tie is easier – you  know what you’re making in solar power and you know (from history) what you use from the grid. It’s simple math. The sun shines and the meter runs backwards when it makes more than you use. Staying tied to the grid gives you a place to put extra power from the solar that you don’t need to use right away (like battery storage), and it also gives a sort of “backup” power for when you need more than your system is designed to produce.
     When someone is grid-tied, we don’t typically scale those systems to be 100% of your historical energy use, because it’s not the most financially beneficial for you to do so. If you were off-grid, you’d have to cover at least 100% of your electricity needs. Grid-tie allows you to lower the size of system and not use any batteries because of the way you can use the grid to your advantage. We run the statistics based on a lot of factors, but the “sweet spot” is usually between 80% of total electricity use and 100% when doing a grid-tie solar install.
     Click HERE for the PVWatts Calculator. That is a government site – from the US Department of Energy. Their goal is to keep solar companies honest. We are actually more conservative than they are in our bids.
     They can tell you what your solar exposure is going to be for your exact location. They look at local weather patterns and how much sunlight you actually get for your location (latitude and longitude).
     HERE is an article about Co-ops going solar. It has some great statistics in there (including comments about France and Germany having 90% of farms on solar… and they’re at a “worse” location with worse weather conditions than the US for solar power).
     HERE is an article about Tesla’s Powerwall. While we see him being too diversified, and unable to meet the demand for people trying to buy the Powerwall… It’s coming through other companies now and I do think Tesla will catch up eventually and will get these into the hands of the consumers. The technology is here, but it’s hard to keep up with the demand. We have a customer who sent Tesla money over 2 years ago, and she’s still on a waiting list to get one.
     Here’s a chart to see the growth of solar installations over the past several years. Do you really think the solar market would keep growing year after year if it wasn’t worth it?
     All of these sites and charts can be found on our “News on Renewables” tab on our website. We don’t expect you to just take it from us… we know you want to hear it from other sources too. So we keep interesting information posted on our website. It’s a fun tab to browse.
We have tons of customers willing to be references for us if you want to talk with someone else who has solar in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, or Colorado. Our customers can vouch that it’s worth it. They can see the savings in action. Monitoring systems “prove” the results for any skeptics. But you’ll only see the savings for yourself if you own it.

In our free quote, we show real numbers based on hard facts, such as…

  1. Your actual electricity history – what you use, and month by month to show your seasonal variables (highs and lows compared to summer/winter sun variables).
  2. Your actual utility rates of what you’re currently paying per watt
  3. Your location (latitude and longitude)
  4. Historical weather patterns
  5. Incentives that are available only if you go solar (you can’t get them if you just pay your electric bill forever)
  6. Seasonal sun patterns
  7. And it shows solar as a fixed rate because the energy it produces is free. You’re just buying equipment – The power it makes is always free. Your utility company is a variable in that aspect. They can (and do) increase your rates at a whim. The grid supply of power is guaranteed to get more expensive and never be free.
  8. Charts in our free bid are based on facts. They show buying the equipment and paying for it to be installed (free power) is cheaper than the utility companies selling you power. It also shows the investment not only being “good” but that it’s better than other investments you can invest in – such as stocks and bonds, IRAs, etc.

Any questions? Give us a call or send us a message! We’re here to help!

1. The sooner you make your own energy, the sooner you stop paying someone else to own the power plant. A lot of people are financing their system, paying on the loan at the same rate they were paying the utility company on their monthly power bill… Only these smart spenders will stop paying after a few years and will no longer have that bill.

2. The sooner you get your system, the better chance you have to receive assistance in paying for that system (as in local and federal incentive programs). Once quotas are met, incentives go away. Waiting is quite risky when you understand why incentives are there in the first place!

3. Systems are affordable right now.

4. Systems are plenty efficient right now. if you wait for the ultimate system, it will never happen because they’ll keep improving the science as long as people need energy.

5. Land is getting torn up to drag fossil fuels across the country. The more we stop using them, the less motivation and funding will go to those costly, inefficient, and unsightly methods.

6. Local solar and wind power gives power to the community regardless to what happens beyond it. Anyone who has been without power due to power lines down (ice storms, city repairs, or other unpredictable events) knows the helplessness of being at the city’s mercy. Having collected daily on your own property, along with some batteries to store extra energy (off-grid or grid-tie up to 100%) is empowering.

7. Your utility company has and will continue to raise the cost of energy. Owning your own system is a fixed expense.

The real question is “Why would you wait?”

In a word: AMAZING

We wouldn’t sell and install this in Missouri with our wild tornado winds if it would pose a problem at all.

 

This is how solar panels we use (SolarWorld brand) exceed international testing standards for quality. It’s one reason why we don’t settle for poor quality equipment – you need them to handle the weather!

International requirements = hail at 50 mph, Hail launched at the panel in the video = 262 mph

Baseball hitting panel, panel soaking in a pool, several people standing on the panel, a grown man jumping on the panel, cars driving on the panels, trucks driving on the panels… The video they made is really the best “show me” example of the reliability of these panels.

You don’t have to baby them too much. They’re made to be an exterior fixture to a home, and are designed with all that entails.

It could. We let you decide.

Poking a hole through any roof would void the warranty. That is a method of installation that is perfectly acceptable, and it’s the cheaper way to install.

However, we have a lot of options for installation.We would advise you accordingly and let you decide what you wanted to do based on price and warranty effects.

We would take a look at what type of roof you’ve got and at your warranty to ensure you’re not voiding anything.

Yes. The Appraisal Journal reports the increase in appraisal value for a home with a solar PV system to be 20 times the annual reduction in operating costs according to its measure of energy efficiency. So, if a PV system can reduce the electrical bill by $3,600/year ($300/month), there will be a $72,000 increased appraised value from that PV system.

Now more than ever people are willing to invest more in their home purchases when equipped with solar PV systems, because people understand the immediate and long-term value of the system.

No. Although your property value increases in value, there is legislation in most states that prevent your property taxes from increasing.

No problem! Well, not as long as you have adequate space (that isn’t shaded) elsewhere on your property.

We can build sunrooms, shade structures, covered parking, or just a ground mounted system to meet your needs. It is very common to have solar supported by the ground rather than your building.

When we inspect your location, we evaluate the building for integrity and we wouldn’t put up solar on a building we didn’t think could support it.

Yes, but OTG Solar may not be willing to install them. Additionally, if you try to alter the system yourself, you will void warranties (for obvious reasons).

OTG Solar is very choosy with what products they install. Customer satisfaction is priority, and sometimes what looks good online doesn’t work well with the rest of the system (or just because it’s junk). Due to poor performance of “thrifty renewables” OTG Solar will only install affordable and dependable products that pass their quality standards.

OTG Solar has teamed up with some of the top leaders of the renewable industry, accessing a wide variety of products that will perform and give necessary durability to meet your needs. Unless you’re looking for cheap junk, they’ll probably find just about anything you can imagine within their recommended products.

We’re glad you asked!

There is always more information than we can put on our site on the subject. Frankly, we like to keep it simple for those who don’t want to know all the details. But here are links if you like to research:

Energy.gov This is the governing body over everything energy related. This is pretty much all the information a researcher could ask for. Grab a cup of joe and get comfortably seated. This site is going to take a while to digest.

Don’t bother reading up about solar and wind on your electricity company’s website or office. We’ve looked over local electricity companies’ websites and are disappointed with the outdated and sometimes simply wrong information about renewable energy. The biggest problem we have with what they say is “it’s not reliable” or “it costs $10/kilowatt hour” and things along those lines. We like electricity companies. They provide a grid to give excess to and draw needed power from without requiring any battery backup – they’re called “grid-tie” systems. The feelings don’t seem to be mutual, regardless of what they say about renewable energy. What you can count on is this – they don’t want to loose your business. The truth is, the grid benefits from grid-tie systems by receiving local, green power that reduces the flow from their expensive, outsourced energy supplies.

Renew MO These are renewable advocates for Missouri! WE LOVE THEM! They work hard to keep things fair and encourage progress. Anybody can contact them if they feel someone is not following legal practices. They push stuff through with renewable law makers. They really do a lot more than that. This is a great resource for everyone in support of renewable energy.

Public Service Commission They govern all electricity companies. For example: Electricity rate increases are passed through PSC and take about 11 months to process/approve.

DSIRE This is all about energy efficiency/upgrades, rebates, incentive programs, tax rebates, grants, loans… WE LOVE THEM! They keep us all up to date on this site in a FANTASTIC manner. Click on your state, then “apply filter”, then “technology”, then “renewable energy”, then “solar technology”, then at the bottom click “apply filters.”

If you’re looking for something you’re not seeing here, contact us and we’ll see what we can do to help you out.

 

When someone wants solar, they need a lot of information to make a fully informed decision. We want that to be easy and save you the time researching when you just want to know the facts.

So we’ll send an energy advisor to visit you in the comfort of your home/office. The free bid will review the size of system you need, and all the investment details – like the pay off date, number of trees saved during the life of the system, & all sorts of stuff you’ll want to know about.

We account for business tax effects, location, shade, annual usage, rebates, your current utility rate… & other things that would take you a very long time to find on your own.

Accountant, friend, cousin, brother, or wife not sure about your decision? No problem. We’re happy to answer everyone’s questions. This is the time to ask away!

Obligations to us after the bid = just accept or decline the opportunity. That’s it. You either want it or you don’t.

Prices include all the hardware and installation work necesary to provide you with a fully operational solar PV system.

Call your electricity company and ask them for a printout.

Literally ask “I need to get a printout of the past 12 months of my usage.”

They usually email it right over to you within a day.

We hope you’ll call us today for a free bid, so we can give you a thorough review of these important decision making facts.

Incentives come and go. The most important thing you can know about them is “when they’re here, take advantage of them.” It’s a real bummer to decide too late, and the price of your system increases simply because you didn’t take advantage of the current deals.

Internal Tax Credit: 30% of total cost

REAP Grant: up to 25% of total cost

We are now able to offer financing with zero down & just 1.5% interest to be paid off in the amount of what your monthly energy savings will be. Requires application approval. This is a simple loan with the solar equipment being on the loan (not your house or other assets). This is not solar leasing. You are buying solar equipment on a loan through a bank we work with. We assist you in applying for this loan in-house.

Get a free bid. That’s a reliable number based on your unique needs. We’ll run your eligibility options and see what you qualify for.

If you want to research it yourself (we do this for you when you get a free bid) check out DSIRE is a great place to start. Click on your state, then filter for the topic you want (solar).

 

Batteries are optional.

A lot of people want to spend a little more so they can keep their lights on when the city goes dark. Otherwise, grid-tie applications’  safety protocol will shut your system down automatically when city power goes out. Only backup energy storage of some sort will allow you to enjoy your system when the grid goes down.

Tesla makes sleek and reliable energy storage in a less expensive form. Tesla is a lithium ion battery, which lasts longer than the other types. We’re happy to get you on the waiting list with a deposit.

There are many other types of batteries, and we can get you those without the waiting period. Those types include: lead-acid, sealed, AGM, gel, & saltwater.

Backup generators for off-grid applications are usually unnecessary because a properly sized off-grid system with a properly sized battery bank is almost always sufficient without any need of backup generators.

If you also want a generator, we sell and install generators that are already set up to interface with the inverters.

We advise clients to go with LED lights for various reasons. LEDs are not the spiral shaped CFL bulbs. Here is a bit of comparison:

60 watt incandescent bulb = 13.5 watt CFL bulb = 9.5 watt LED bulb

LED lights offer a fraction of the energy use of the standard lightbulb.

Do you have a hard time getting everyone to turn off lights when they’re done using them? At the 2016 NEMO AG Show, we gave out several LED bulbs in a 4-pack box to people requesting bids for solar. Each bulb is the equivalent illumination of a 60-watt standard bulb. That whole 4-pack of bulbs would use less power than 1 standard lightbulb! So, 4 lights on with LED lights would be less power used than 1 standard lightbulb. LED bulbs also last longer than a standard bulb.

LED lights have a more traditional lightbulb look (rather than those CFL spirals).

LED lights give off a more natural light, and don’t flicker, so you don’t get headaches.

CFL bulbs often give people headaches because the color of the light and the way they flicker irritates eyes.

CFL bulbs contain dangerous mercury. So when one is broken (kids playing… or just throwing it in the trash when spent), a serious hazard occurs because the mercury is then airborne. All people and pets should immediately evacuate the premises until adequately aired out and the area is properly cleaned up with a special (head to toe) suit to avoid breathing in mercury. Nobody wants that hazard around them.

For safety, energy savings, and more modern appearance – OTG Solar promotes the use of LED bulbs when giving energy evaluations prior to sizing a customer’s system.

Residential

Yes. There are some features we need to make it work well with your particular system though. Many of OTG Solar’s off-grid customers choose to have a backup generator. With everyone they’ve ever dealt with, none have ever needed to turn their generators on.

Our generators are already set up to interface with the inverter.

There is no way to accurately answer this question. Too many variables come into play.

Every variable that affects your current energy bill will change that price for you. Rather than going by square footage, age of the home, insulation type and thickness, type of windows, your habits of turning off lights when not needed, whether or not your exterior doors have adequate weather stripping… It’s best take the facts you can count on.

When OTG Solar gets your past 12 months of energy use in kW hours, they know exactly how to scale your system to meet your needs. It requires your use in all 4 seasons of the year. Any other way is just a guessing game.

That said, it’s very important that you let OTG Solar know if you plan to do any remodeling (in the next few months) that will affect energy consumption before they make up your bid. Installing new windows, energy efficient appliances, and switching to LED lighting can affect your bid considerably. OTG Solar can adjust your bid based on what you have now, and what you’re switching to (easy label comparison with some basic math).

Two identical homes may require completely different systems. Without the facts of your energy use, don’t bother with a guess. It won’t be anything you can base a decision on.

Sufficient, suitable roof area or property is required to install the PV modules.

A small space inside/outside the house is needed to mount the inverter and various switches.

The inverter converts the DC electricity produced by the PV modules to the AC electricity used in the home.

Ventilation needs will be determined at the time of your physical site inspection prior to the design of your system.

Installation for a residential system requires about two days with minimal disruption.

Commercial

General requirements are the same as residential installation. In sort: somewhere to set up the solar where it’s not shaded.

However, commercial installation space and time will obviously depend on the size of the system required for that location.

A customized bid will outline all system requirements for you to evaluate prior to signing a contract for installation.

Self Installation

First, read our FAQ called “What if I install it myself?”

Once you’re sure it’s a good idea and what you want to do, call or email us for equipment. We’ll take your money and send what you paid for. Just like any other purchase, we can track the goods and help with anything delivery related. Beyond the shipment arriving complete and in good order, the rest is up to you.

See our “Consulting Options” for more information about getting help with your own installation and the limitations involved in consulting rather than paying us to do the full installation.

It’s really the same thing, and at the same cost per hour, but it can end up costing way more time paid for when our staff spends time teaching and/or fixing errors done by the homeowner.

The thing to consider when hiring us for consulting is this: “Do I need them to take over or do I need to be trained (by OTG Solar) to do it myself?” Or maybe what you want is for us to take over, but explain it briefly to you afterward.

We want to respect your budget, and we also want to respect those who truly want to know all the steps of the process. You’ll either be paying us to show you what to do, or you’ll pay us to come in and do it for you. Being hourly, you must be clear on what you want so we don’t waste time explaining things if you just need us to do a certain portion of the project for you without your involvement.

Typically, those who install their own system already know a great deal about the installation and just forgot a step – or something new came up. We don’t want to take away from the experience of “do it yourself” by taking over without sharing what it is we’re doing. So just tell us what you expect before we arrive.

When the homeowner incorrectly installs equipment, or damages the equipment, they may void the warranties. You can read through all the information you get with your equipment to avoid that for ignorance purposes, but nothing can save you from lack of experience no matter how informed you may be on what you read in the paperwork.

What you do to your stuff is up to you to fix, not our insurance. Additionally, we will not provide a workmanship warranty with any system that was customer-installed, even if we help.

So what we mean to say here is this:

We don’t want to discourage anyone from self-installation when they’re fully capable and prepared to handle the job. We just don’t like seeing people in over their heads, and running out of funds to replace broken stuff – or maybe you finish the system only to find out your electricity company won’t allow it to be turned on.

We’re happy to be hired for whatever you need us for. Give us a call no matter where you’re at, and we’ll do everything in our power to help you out at an hourly rate – whether it’s over the phone or on site. Some travel rates may apply depending on how far we have to travel to get to you.

Installing a system on your own may produce a system that doesn’t work.

Do you have funds set-aside for that? Is there anything hooked up to power that would create an emergency should your power be down while you fixed the problem?

Working on a roof is dangerous.

It’s not worth risking your life to save a little expense on your system. If you don’t know how to be safe up there, or have no experience working on a roof or wherever you’re doing the installation, leave it to the professionals.

How to string batteries and panels is not common knowledge.

It’s not just “plug in and go”… as it may appear. Electrical wiring can confuse smart people. Without proper training in solar applications, a master electrician couldn’t just throw together a solar project. Small oversights can ruin equipment.

If you purchase products without installation, all staff assistance with your project will be charged at an hourly rate.

If you just need a little help, you may save some money doing it yourself. If you need more than a little help, you’ll only save money by hiring OTG Solar without touching the project at all.

Grid-tie kits are available, and are much easier for a less experienced person to install. You may want to look into using a kit rather than a custom designed system.

Having experience with a friend’s system may or may not provide the experience you need.

Are you using the same exact products and installing the same type of system? Did your friend properly install their system? Did it pass all inspections? Have any changes been made to the system hardware since your friend purchased their system?

Do you know all the rules and regulations for your utility company or the national electric code?

If your system does not meet all regulatory standards, you will not be permitted to hook to up the grid, and it may not be approved by local authorities to be allowed to use it at all (on or off grid in-town applications). It will be your responsibility to know what you need and how to meet all requirements.

OTG Solar includes custom system design, workmanship warranty, and assistance with incentive applications only on projects they are hired to do full installation on.

Equipment manufacture warranty is void if you improperly install your own system.

Financial reasons are usually enough for most people to leave it to the professionals (incentive options, warranty options, and no out-of-pocket loss to you if something goes wrong during installation). Others are happy to forgo those options to get renewable energy at the most minimal cost to them or simply for the experience of doing it on their own.

If you read all the above and are totally confident and fearless with your decision to do the installation on your own, then go for it!

If any of the above concerns you, it’s probably best to hire OTG Solar to take care of the project from start to finish. Relax with a tall glass of lemonade while you watch them sweat it in the hot, un-shaded solar space.


 

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