Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about solar

  • How does a solar panel work?

    Solar panels rely on the photovoltaic effect to convert one form of energy (light) into another (electricity). A panel or module is comprised of individual solar cells that are made of dissimilar semiconductor materials. When sunlight strikes the panel, electrons are knocked loose, creating current flowing in the wires that ultimately lead to your home or business.

  • Is my house good for solar?

    There are a lot of factors to consider when determining a home’s solar potential. For one, there’s the amount of sunlight that will strike the roof and any adjacent objects that may shade the solar panels. Then there’s the size of the roof itself, as well as its pitch and the direction it faces. The good news for people with less-than-ideal roofs is they can still maximize their solar potential by using panels that are mounted on the ground. Our experts can assess your home or business using satellite imagery, a site visit or both. The University of Minnesota has a detailed map that can give you an idea of your solar potential.

  • How much does a solar system cost?

    The answer to this question is highly variable, depending on the size of your system and the financial incentives available from the government and utilities. Generally, solar systems cost a few dollars per watt to build, and the average residential system is rated at 5,000 watts, or 5 kW. We’ll consult with you on your goals and budget to determine the best system for you.

  • What financial incentives are available for solar?

    The federal government offers a tax credit that reduces income tax obligations by 26% of the project’s cost. The credit is scheduled to be reduced and phased out for homeowners in the coming years. Minnesota Power also offers a rebate for 56 cents per kWh of energy produced by the system. Minnesota Power requires customers to have a certified installer like Wolf Track Energy to obtain the rebate.

  • What is net metering?

    Net metering means your power company will credit you for excess electricity you produce from your panels. The rate at which the power company credits the customer differs depending on the utility. We can help you navigate these agreements to meet your financial goals for your solar energy system.

  • Do solar panels work in winter?

    Since solar panels rely on light rather than heat, they work in the winter just fine. But since the sun is out for less time, they harness as much energy as the summer. In December, Duluth gets less than a third of the solar radiation than it does in July. It’s also important to keep solar panels clear of snow to ensure they can capture the sunlight that does reach them in the winter.

  • How long do solar panels last?

    Solar panels have a lengthy shelf life. Generally, they’re considered to last 25-30 years. They do degenerate over time, but panels should generate most of the rated power for a couple of decades. Researchers have said the median degradation rate for solar panels is around .5% per year, meaning they’ll generate 90% of their power after 20 years.

Solar panel installation | Wolf Track Energy

Frequently asked questions about EVs

  • How fast can an electric car charge?

    That question doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Not only does it depend on what kind of charger you’re connecting to, it depends on the car you’re driving. Broadly speaking, the more power you can deliver to your vehicle, the faster it will charge. That’s why the circuit in your garage or at your parking spot matters. It also depends on if you’re using a Level 1 or Level 2 charging system. The latter charges your vehicle much faster. It does take longer to charge an EV than fill up a tank of gas, but drivers often replenish their batteries at home while they sleep. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, we can help talk you through the ins and outs of installing an EV charging system at your home or business.

  • What if my EV's batteries die on the road?

    What you’re referring to is “range anxiety,” and it’s a common concern among prospective EV buyers. Electric vehicles batteries last for a certain number of miles before needing to be recharged, but that number will depend on the model. In that way, it’s not so different than the differing miles-per-gallon rating of gas-powered cars. And like gas mileage ratings, EV range has been increasing in recent years. The median range in 2020 was more than 250 miles, according to federal data. And while most of EV charging takes place at home, more public EV chargers are being built. That includes plans for the northeastern Minnesota region.

  • Where can I find an EV charger?

    ChargeHub has a helpful map that shows nearby public charging stations. But it’s more likely you’ll do the bulk of your EV charging at home. That’s why it’s important to have a system that will quickly charge your batteries.

  • How do fueling costs compare for EVs and gas-powered cars?

    While EVs may cost more upfront, it costs less to fuel them. The reason is that electricity is cheaper than gas. The Union of Concerned Scientists said in 2017 that drivers could save somewhere between $400 and north of $1,000 per year in fuel costs by going electric. You can also use this tool from the U.S. Department of Energy’s compare your vehicle and an electric one.

  • Are EVs really better for the environment?

    In terms of carbon emissions, there’s no contest between EVs and gasoline-powered cars. EVs are responsible for fewer carbon emissions than gas-powered cars, because the grid is increasingly shifting away from fossil fuels. Per vehicle in Minnesota, EVs have about a third of the carbon emissions than that of traditional vehicles.

Electric vehicle | Wolf Track Energy

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