Solar Power

WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY?

SOLAR ENERGY IS, SIMPLY, ENERGY PROVIDED BY THE SUN. THIS ENERGY IS IN THE FORM OF SOLAR RADIATION, WHICH MAKES THE PRODUCTION OF SOLAR ELECTRICITY POSSIBLE.

WHAT IS PHOTOVOLTAICS (SOLAR ELECTRICITY) OR “PV”?

PHOTOVOLTAIC LITERALLY MEANS “LIGHT” AND “ELECTRIC. ELECTRICITY CAN BE PRODUCED DIRECTLY FROM PHOTOVOLTAIC, PV, CELLS THESE CELLS ARE MADE FROM MATERIALS (SEMICONDUCTORS) WHICH EXHIBIT THE “PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECT” I.E. WHEN SUNSHINE HITS THE PV CELL, THE PHOTONS OF LIGHT EXCITE THE ELECTRONS IN THE CELL AND CAUSE THEM TO FLOW, GENERATING ELECTRICITY KNOWN AS SOLAR ELECTRICITY. THUS PV CELLS CONVERT LIGHT ENERGY TO ELECTRICITY. SUNLIGHT ON PHOTOVOLTAIC MODULES PRODUCES DIRECT CURRENT (DC) ELECTRICITY WHICH IS CONVERTED TO ALTERNATING CURRENT (AC) BY A DEVICE CALLED AN INVERTER, WHICH IS THEN WIRED INTO MAIN SERVICE PANEL WHERE IT FEEDS INTERNAL POWER GRID.

PV OR SOLAR SYSTEM

WHAT ARE SOLAR PANELS?

SOLAR PANELS ARE PV MODULES DESIGNED TO ABSORB THE SUN RAYS AND GENERATE ELECTRICITY. PANELS ARE ARRANGED ACCORDING TO THE REQUIREMENT. PV PANELS ARE BEING USED INCREASINGLY, BOTH IN THE CITY AND IN REMOTE LOCATIONS, TO PRODUCE ELECTRICITY FOR HOUSEHOLDS, SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES, AND TO SUPPLY POWER FOR EQUIPMENT SUCH AS TELECOMMUNICATION AND WATER PUMPS. THE MAJORITY OF SOLAR PV INSTALLATIONS ARE GRID-CONNECTED SYSTEMS.

WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) OR SOLAR SYSTEM?

A PV SYSTEM IS MADE UP OF DIFFERENT COMPONENTS. THESE INCLUDE PV MODULES (GROUPS OF PV CELLS), WHICH ARE COMMONLY CALLED PV OR SOLAR PANELS: ONE OR MORE BATTERIES; A CHARGE REGULATOR OR CONTROLLER FOR A STAND-ALONE SYSTEM; AN INVERTER FOR A UTILITY-GRID-CONNECTED SYSTEM AND WHEN ALTERNATING CURRENT (AC) RATHER THAN DIRECT CURRENT (DC) IS REQUIRED; WIRING; AND MOUNTING HARDWARE OR A FRAMEWORK.

HOW DO SOLAR SYSTEMS WORK?

FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET, THE SOLAR PANELS GENERATE DIRECT CURRENT ELECTRICITY (DC) WHICH IS SENT TO THE INVERTER. THE INVERTER CONVERTS THE DC INTO ALTERNATING CURRENT (AC), THE TYPE OF ELECTRICITY REQUIRED FOR HOUSEHOLD USE.THE AC POWER IS DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR HOME’S MAIN ELECTRICAL SERVICE PANEL .

HOW LONG DO PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) SYSTEMS LAST?

A PV SYSTEM THAT IS DESIGNED, INSTALLED, AND MAINTAINED WELL WILL OPERATE FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS. THE BASIC PV MODULE HAS NO MOVING PARTS AND CAN LAST MORE THAN 30 YEARS. THE BEST WAY TO ENSURE AND EXTEND THE LIFE AND EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR PV SYSTEM IS BY HAVING IT INSTALLED AND MAINTAINED PROPERLY.

CAN I GO OFF GRID WITH SOLAR PANELS?

WHEN YOU INSTALL SOLAR PANELS ON YOUR PROPERTY, YOU WILL STILL BE CONNECTED TO THE GRID. THIS ALLOWS YOU TO DRAW FROM THE GRID WHEN YOUR SYSTEM IS NOT PRODUCING ALL OF THE POWER THAT YOU NEED, AND SEND POWER BACK TO THE GRID WHEN YOU PRODUCE MORE THAN YOU USE. IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO OFF THE GRID WITH A SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM THAT INCLUDES BATTERY STORAGE, BUT IT WILL COST SIGNIFICANTLY MORE AND IS UNNECESSARY FOR THE MAJORITY OF HOMEOWNERS.

DO SOLAR PANELS WORK IN A BLACKOUT?

IF YOUR SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM IS CONNECTED TO THE GRID, IT WILL SHUT OFF IN THE EVENT OF A BLACKOUT. THIS IS TO PREVENT EMERGENCY RESPONDERS AND ELECTRICITY UTILITY REPAIR-PEOPLE FROM BEING INJURED BY YOUR PANELS SENDING POWER BACK TO THE GRID. HOWEVER, THERE ARE CERTAIN INVERTERS YOU CAN BUY THAT PROVIDE BACKUP POWER IN A BLACKOUT WHEN PAIRED WITH A BATTERY.

DO I NEED TO INSTALL SOLAR BATTERIES WITH MY SOLAR POWER SYSTEM?

SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS THAT INCLUDE SOLAR BATTERIES, KNOWN AS SOLAR-PLUS-STORAGE, ARE INCREASINGLY POPULAR, BUT CAN BE PRICEY. LUCKILY, BATTERIES ARE NOT NECESSARY FOR MOST SOLAR HOMEOWNERS. AS LONG AS YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THE GRID, YOUR SYSTEM DOES NOT NEED A BATTERY: EXCESS POWER GOES BACK INTO THE GRID, AND YOU CAN DRAW FROM THE GRID IF YOU NEED MORE ELECTRICITY THAN YOUR PANELS CAN GENERATE.

HOW MANY UNITS ARE PRODUCED BY 1 KW PANEL IN A DAY?

APPROX 4.6 UNITS / DAY.

HOW MANY PANELS ARE REQUIRED FOR 5 KW SYSTEM?

PANELS OF 250 W.

CAN I USE PHOTOVOLTAICS (PV) TO POWER MY HOME OR BUSINESS?

PV CAN BE USED TO POWER YOUR ENTIRE HOME’S OR BUSINESS ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS, INCLUDING LIGHTS, COOLING SYSTEMS, AND APPLIANCES. THE MOST COMMON PRACTICE IS TO MOUNT MODULES ONTO A SOUTH-FACING ROOF OR WALL.

System Design

HOW BIG A SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM DO I NEED?

THE SIZE OF SOLAR SYSTEM YOU NEED DEPENDS ON SEVERAL FACTORS SUCH AS HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY YOU USE, THE SIZE OF YOUR ROOF, AND HOW MUCH YOU’RE WILLING TO INVEST. ALSO, DO YOU WANT THE SYSTEM TO SUPPLY YOUR COMPLETE ENERGY USAGE OR TO SUPPLANT A PORTION OF YOUR HIGHER COST ENERGY USAGE.

WHY SHOULD I PURCHASE A PV SYSTEM?

PEOPLE DECIDE TO BUY SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS. FOR EXAMPLE, SOME INDIVIDUALS BUY SOLAR PRODUCTS TO PRESERVE THE EARTH’S FINITE FOSSIL-FUEL RESOURCES AND TO REDUCE AIR POLLUTION. OTHERS WOULD RATHER SPEND THEIR MONEY ON AN ENERGY-PRODUCING IMPROVEMENT TO THEIR PROPERTY THAN SEND THEIR MONEY TO A UTILITY. SOME PEOPLE LIKE THE SECURITY OF REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF ELECTRICITY THEY BUY FROM THEIR UTILITY, BECAUSE IT MAKES THEM LESS VULNERABLE TO FUTURE INCREASES IN THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY.

WHAT HAPPENS ON DARK/CLOUDY DAYS?

PANELS CAN USE DIRECT OR INDIRECT SUNLIGHT TO GENERATE POWER, THOUGH THEY ARE MOST EFFECTIVE IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT. SOLAR PANELS WILL STILL WORK EVEN WHEN THE LIGHT IS REFLECTED OR PARTIALLY BLOCKED BY CLOUDS. RAIN ACTUALLY HELPS TO KEEP YOUR PANELS OPERATING EFFICIENTLY BY WASHING AWAY ANY DUST OR DIRT. IF YOU LIVE IN AN AREA WITH A STRONG NET METERING POLICY, ENERGY GENERATED BY YOUR PANELS DURING SUNNY HOURS WILL OFFSET ENERGY THAT YOU USE AT NIGHT AND OTHER TIMES WHEN YOUR SYSTEM ISN’T OPERATING AT FULL CAPACITY.

HOW MUCH DOES A SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM COST, AND HOW MUCH WILL I SAVE ON UTILITY BILLS?

UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS NO SINGLE OR SIMPLE ANSWER. . THE SYSTEM COST DEPENDS ON A NUMBER OF FACTORS, SUCH AS WHETHER IT IS A STAND-ALONE SYSTEM OR IS INTEGRATED INTO THE BUILDING DESIGN, THE SIZE OF THE SYSTEM, TYPE OF SOLUTION SELECTED. BUT A SOLAR REBATE AND OTHER INCENTIVES CAN REDUCE THE COST OF A PV SYSTEM

IT IS ALSO DIFFICULT TO SAY HOW MUCH YOU WILL SAVE WITH A SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM, BECAUSE SAVINGS DEPEND ON HOW MUCH YOU PAY YOUR UTILITY FOR ELECTRICITY, AND HOW MUCH YOUR UTILITY WILL PAY YOU FOR ANY EXCESS POWER THAT YOU GENERATE WITH YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM. YOU CAN ASK YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM PROVIDER HOW MUCH YOUR NEW SYSTEM WILL PRODUCE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS AND COMPARE THAT NUMBER TO YOUR ANNUAL ELECTRICITY TO GET AN IDEA OF HOW MUCH YOU WILL SAVE.

Subsidies & Economics

HOW MUCH DO THESE SYSTEMS COST AND HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I SAVE EACH YEAR? HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO PAY BACK MY INVESTMENT?)

THE SIZE OF THE SYSTEM IS THE LARGEST DETERMINANT OF THE PRICE, AND THE SAVINGS RISE ACCORDINGLY. IN MOST CASES, THE PAYBACK PERIOD FOR THE INVESTMENT IN A PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM IS ROUGHLY 5 YEARS WITH INTERNAL RATES OF RETURN RANGING FROM 15% TO 25%, DEPENDING ON THE AVOIDED COST OF ENERGY AND THE SITE-SPECIFIC DESIGN AND RESULTING COSTS.

WHAT SUBSIDIES ARE AVAILABLE?

COMMERCIAL SOLAR BUYERS BENEFIT FROM A 30% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT (THOUGH 2019) AND ACCELERATED FEDERAL DEPRECIATION. COMBINED, THESE TAX BENEFITS TYPICALLY DEFRAY AS MUCH AS 70% OF THE OUT-OF-POCKET COST OF SOLAR.

IS FINANCING AVAILABLE?

THE BEST SOURCE OF FINANCING IS USUALLY THE BANK, FINANCE COMPANY, OR MORTGAGE COMPANY WITH WHOM YOU CURRENTLY WORK. IF YOU LIKE, WE’RE HAPPY TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH A NUMBER OF INDEPENDENT SOLAR FINANCE PARTNERS WE’VE WORKED WITH ON OTHER PROJECTS.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT ON MY PROPERTY TAXES?

PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS ARE EXEMPT FROM PROPERTY TAXES.

Installation & Maintenance

HOW LONG WILL MY INSTALLATION TAKE?

THIS DEPENDS MOSTLY ON THE SIZE OF THE SYSTEM, SITE ACCESS, AND THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE ARRAY(S) AND THE MAIN ELECTRICAL SERVICE. IN GENERAL, FIGURE ONE WEEK FOR EACH TWO HUNDRED MODULES TO BE INSTALLED.

HOW MUCH AREA IS NEEDED TO INSTALL 5 KW SYSTEM?

FOR 1KW, SPACE REQUIRED IS 100 SQ. FT. FOR 5 KW , SPACE REQUIRED IS 500 SQ. FT.

PANELS ARE INSTALLED IN WHICH DIRECTION?

PANELS ARE INSTALLED FACING SOUTH DIRECTION.

WILL INSTALLATION INTERFERE WITH MY NORMAL BUSINESS OPERATIONS?

MOST WORK IS CONDUCTED ON THE SITE OF THE ARRAY INSTALLATION (ROOF OR GROUND) SO YOUR OPERATIONS WILL LIKELY NOT BE IMPACTED. WE COORDINATE OUR EFFORTS WITH YOUR TEAM, FROM DELIVERIES, SECURING EQUIPMENT, TO CRANE USAGE AND WE ALWAYS SCHEDULE SITE MATERIAL DELIVERIES AND OTHER ELECTRICAL WORK THAT COULD IMPACT OPERATIONS WELL IN ADVANCE AND ALWAYS GET ADVANCE SIGN-OFF ON THESE ACTIVITIES FROM OUR CUSTOMERS.

HOW DO I MAINTAIN SOLAR PANELS?

MAINTENANCE IS THE KEY TO SUSTAINING A STRONG, PROPERLY FUNCTIONING, EFFICIENT, AND EFFECTIVE STRUCTURE. WITH THE PURCHASE OF SOLAR PANELS, CONSUMERS ARE IN LUCK. FORTUNATELY, SOLAR PANELS REQUIRE PRETTY LOW MAINTENANCE. UNLIKE GENERATORS WHICH ARE COMPOSED OF MOVING COMPONENTS WHICH REQUIRE REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT, SOLAR PANELS DO NOT HAVE MOVING PARTS THAT CAN RUST OR BREAKDOWN.

SO, WHAT EXACTLY DO I NEED TO DO?

CLEANING IS AN IMPORTANT KEY ASPECT OF SOLAR PANEL MAINTENANCE. THE DUSTIER YOUR AREA, THE MORE FREQUENT INSPECTION IS RECOMMENDED. THIS ENSURES THAT DIRT, GRIME, BIRD DROPPINGS AND DEBRIS DO NOT BLOCK THE SUN FROM EFFICIENT ABSORPTION BY THE PANELS.

THERE ARE A FEW WAYS YOU CAN CLEAN YOUR PANELS. THE FIRST (AND EASIEST) WAY IS TO RINSE OF DUST WITH A STANDARD GARDEN HOSE. IF THE PANELS SEEM TO NEED A LITTLE MORE CLEANING THAN THE HOSE OFFERS, A SOFT, SPONGY SQUEEGEE ON A LONG POLE (LIKE THE ONES USED TO WASH TALL WINDOWS) CAN BE USED, ALONG WITH SOME SOAPY WATER. THEN USE THE HOSE TO RINSE OFF ANY EXCESS SUDS. IF THE PANELS ARE TOO HIGH TO REACH WITHOUT CLIMBING UP A LADDER, IT MAY BE BEST TO LEAVE THE CLEANING FOR THE PROFESSIONALS.

WE GENERALLY DON’T LIKE RAINY DAYS SINCE CLOUDY DAYS MEAN LESS POWER PRODUCTION, BUT CONSIDER IT A BLESSING IF THERE’S A FEW DAYS OF IT. FREE CLEANING? I’LL TAKE IT!

WHAT PARTS WILL BREAK FIRST?

THE INVERTER(S), WHICH TYPICALLY HAVE A USEFUL LIFE OF 15-20 YEARS, WILL BE THE FIRST THING TO FAIL.

WHAT ABOUT RUST AND OXIDIZATION?

ALL HARDWARE IS MADE FOR OUTDOOR USE AND IS MADE OF EITHER RUST-PROOF STAINLESS OR GALVANIZED STEEL, ALUMINUM OR HIGH-GRADE OUTDOOR-RATED PLASTIC.

Net Metering

WHAT IS NET METERING? IS NET METERING AVAILABLE WHERE I LIVE AND WORK?

NET METERING IS A POLICY THAT ALLOWS HOMEOWNERS TO RECEIVE THE FULL RETAIL VALUE FOR THE ELECTRICITY THAT THEIR SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM PRODUCES. NET METERING ALLOWS HOMEOWNERS WITH PV SYSTEMS TO USE ANY EXCESS ELECTRICITY THEY PRODUCE TO OFFSET THEIR ELECTRIC BILL. AS THE HOMEOWNER’S PV SYSTEM PRODUCES ELECTRICITY, THE KILOWATTS ARE FIRST USED FOR ANY ELECTRIC APPLIANCES IN THE HOME. IF THE PV SYSTEM PRODUCES MORE ELECTRICITY THAN THE HOMEOWNER NEEDS, THE EXTRA KILOWATTS ARE FED INTO THE UTILITY GRID AND HOMEOWNER GET PAID FOR THIS.