Thinking of Solar?
Stay Local and Save $$$
We understand that many of our clients have questions on solar power. How does the system work? How much does it cost? In order to provide insight, we’ve answered some of the most common questions relating to solar power.
How does solar power work?
Solar power, as the name implies, converts sunlight into energy. In order to do this, several panels are used to gather energy. These panels utilize photovoltaic cells—made of semiconductors—in order to collect the direct current (DC). Then, an inverter is used to convert the energy into and alternating current (AC), which is what is typically used to supply you with electricity. If you make more energy than you use, the remaining is either sold back to the grid or stored into a solar battery for later use.
Are there different types of solar systems?
Yes, there are! Most standard systems are either off-grid or grid tied. An off-grid system—sometimes known as a “stand alone” system—is a system that relies on solar batteries to help store solar energy. A grid-tied system is connected directly to your utility grid.
What incentives are available?
At the moment, anyone who installs solar panels can receive 26% federal tax credit, though it should be noted this will expire at the end of 2020. In addition, the USDA offers a 25% cash grant to certain farmers and smalls businesses. Businesses also save on their taxes due to depreciation.
What kind of maintenance is required?
Ultimately, very little maintenance is needed in order to keep your solar system up and running. The biggest task is making sure that the solar panels stay clean, though the elements—such as rain and snow—may do this for you.
How much does a solar system cost?
Ultimately, this depends on the system, though typically speaking the price will depend on the DC wattage you plan to install. The average system will generally cost between $2.30 and $3.00 per Watt; larger systems may cost less. Additionally, certain factors—such as long wire runs and battery backup—may increase the cost of the system.
How much will I save?
Typically speaking, you can save between $1,000 and $3,000 per year. However, the amount of savings will ultimately depend on your utility rate and how big the system is.
Can I still get a solar system if my property has lots of shade?
You can, though shade will affect the performance of the system. It’s important that your solar panels are relatively shade-free during the peak energy-producing hours (that is, between 9:00AM and 3:00PM). Certain strategies—such as using micro inverters—can help if your property is heavily shaded.
How much space will I need for my solar system?
On average, you’ll need between 90 and 100 square feet of space for every 1 kw installed. This space can be either on the roof or the ground, depending on what’s available.
How long does the installation take?
For the average system, it generally takes between three and seven days to install. Larger systems take longer—up to three weeks. In addition, some time will be needed for inspections.
What is net metering?
Net metering is what allows you to get paid for your excess energy. Essentially, it requires utility owners (such as Duke, First Energy, or AEP) to purchase any energy you put back into the grid (typically at 50% of your full retail rate). For any energy you produce and use yourself, however, you will be paid to full retail rate. Because of this, it’s usually the best idea to optimize the size of your system so that you’re using more of your energy than you’re putting into the grid.
Will I still have power if the grid goes down?
If you have a standard grid tied system, then no. The grid tie inverters must be shut down during a power outage in order to protect people working to fix the system. However, this can be mitigated by installing a battery backup. The backup system can start when your power goes out, which means you can still have power for certain devices.
How do I know whether I should use a ground or roof-mounted system?
Ultimately, this will depend on several factors. One, how much space do you have on your roof or on the ground? Two, how many solar panels are you looking to install? Three, what does your budget look like? And four, which is in the best area to get sunlight? When taken together, these factors will determine where the best placement for your solar system is.
Should I replace the shingles or the metal roof before installation?
This depends on the quality of your roof. For example, if you have an asphalt shingle roof that’s over 15 years old, you’ll probably want to consider replacing the roof. If you need to replace your roofing after installation, however, we can offer services to remove and re-install your solar panels. This way, you can make sure you’re replacing your roofing material when you need to.
What is the ideal orientation and tilt angle for the solar panels to perform best?
While southward facing units will generate the most energy over their lifespan, units that face east or west can still generate a significant amount of energy. The panels should generally be tilted at an angle between 20 and 30 degrees.
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