solar frequently asked questions
             
   

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

YOUR GUIDE TO SOLAR COST ANALYSIS,
WHAT IS OFF GRID SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS,
AND SOLAR PV SYSTEMS PRICE

   
             

             
What does a typical PV System Look Like?    
             
What type of system should I purchase for my home?    
             
How can I use PV for my home/business?    
             
How/Where can I integrate a PV system into my home/business?    
             
Is my building a good place for a solar-electric system?    
             
What is a typical Solar PV System's Price?        
             
Are incentives available to help reduce cost?        
             
What is Off Grid Solar?        
             
             

             
             
What does a typical PV System Look Like?        
             
 
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, they all consist of three main, basic items: modules that convert sunlight into electricity, inverters that convert the electricity into alternating current so it can be used by most applicances, and sometimes batteries that store excess electricity produced by the system for emergency backup/ evening use. The remainder of the system comprises equipment such as wiring, circuit-breakers, and support structures. Commercial buildings in urban areas are usually grid-connected systems that do not require batteries; however, some grid-connected PV systems use batteries for emergency backup power. In remote areas, solar electricity is often an economic alternative to expensive distribution line extensions.  
             
             

             
       
             
 

For Solar Cost Analysis, what type of system should I purchase for my home?

 
             
 
How to select solar panels and what type of system to purchase depends on the energy-efficiency of the building, its location, and project funding. Before purchasing a system, energy consumption should be reduced through energy-efficient measures. Purchasing energy-saving lights and appliances, for example, will reduce your electrical demand and allow you to purchase a smaller solar-electric system to meet your energy needs and/or get more value from a larger system in the solar cost analysis.  
             
             

             
       
             
 
How can I use PV for my home/business?  
             
 
PV systems today can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. One can buy electric solar panels for use outdoors for security lighting as well as solar system structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters that generate power at the same time. Inside, PV systems are utilized to offset and operate all electrical systems including lights, cooling systems, and appliances.  
             
             

             
       
             
 
How/Where can I integrate a PV system into my home/business?  
             
 
Today's modules can be built into glass skylights and walls. Some even resemble traditional roof shingles. Architetects can use building-integrated PV to design buildings that are environmentally responsive, produce their own power, and yet are aesthetically pleasing. Building-integrated PV provides a dual use for building material, reduces PV system cost by using the building as the mounting or support structure, and reduces utility bills with on-site power production.  
             
             

             
       
             
 
Is my building a good place for a solar-electric system?  
             
 
A solar power system design for home or business needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Climate is not really a concern because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather. In fact, some PV modules actually work better in colder weather. Most PV modules are angled to catch the sun's rays, so any snow that collects on them usually melts quickly. Even hail won't harm most systems. Most commercial buildings will have adequate roof space for their system but you will have to size your system first to discover how much roof space is required. If you don't have adequate roof space, look at other options such as integrating the system into a wall or covering the parking lot with the system.

Remember: an energy-efficient building requires a smaller PV system.

 
             
             

             
       
             
 
What is a typical Solar PV System's Price?  
             
 
The price of a PV system for a commercial building will depend on a number of factors, including the square footage and the energy efficiency of the building. Cost will also depend on how PV is used on or near the building. A casino owner in Las Vegas will probably use PV differently from the owner of a bank building in Boston. A system can be purchased to offset a small portion of a building's energy needs up to the entire energy load. How much energy a commercial building consumes is also a factor. That's why reducing demand through energy efficiency is important before you size your system. Solar Cost Analysis will also depend on whether your system is connected to the grid or whether you choose to install batteries for emergency backup power. Batteries will increase the cost of your system.

The cost of off grid solar systems can vary depending again on battery cost.
 
             
             

             
       
             
 
Are incentives available to help reduce cost?  
             
 
In some states and municipalities, incentives are available to help "buy down" the cost of PV systems or otherwise make them easier to finance. The incentives may include tax credits, state grants, and low-interest financing packages. Businesses may be entitled to a 10% federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation on the PV system. In addition, in over thirty states, any electricity not being used by a building's solar-electric system can be fed back to the electric grid for credit from the utility through an agreement called 'net metering.'  
             
             

             
       
             

What is Off Grid Solar?

       
  A Micro-Grid (or "non-grid" solar system) is a scaled down grid that can operate independently or in parallel with the traditional power grid, making them ideal for remote areas that have a high amount of sunshine and either expensive or unreliable public utility energy. So if one were to ask what is off grid solar power, the answer would be clean, often cheaper solar energy, especially in island nations such as the Caribbean.

With fewer load sources, microgrid infrastructure is less demanding than typical grid structure.

- Because they are smaller and closer to source and demand specific to the location, micro-grids have higher reliability and are able to respond to demand more quickly.

- Microgrids are laid out in a modular manner making expansion and updating relatively easy.