We can imagine that when the automobile or telephone (or any other new technology) comes out, hucksters and frauds are trying to take advantage of the uninformed. As an unfortunate case, the solar industry is going through the same phase.
Solar technology is not new, solar panels have been on satellites since the 1950s, but a combination of various factors has allowed the solar industry to explode worldwide over the past five years. While annual solar installations in countries like the United States have boomed over 300 percent from five years ago, customer education lags.
From commercial to residential, we are going solar in droves. An important question remains: – Do we know what we buy or sign up for now? It relates to another question: What are solar companies trying to sell?
We present to you some of the steps to take before entering solar: –
1) Understand what you are currently paying
Depending on the course of a utility company, the electric bill can be simple or complex, but for the layman, it usually requires some explanation. In most cases there are following parts of the utility bill:
The Service charge: It might have different names, but it’s a flat monthly fee for doing business with the utility. Going solar will not change this cost-effectively.
Delivery charge: -This is the charge to transport and maintain the electricity to your location. It can vary greatly, even within the same utility region. It is usually charged in kilowatt-hour increments. Going solar will change the usage and hence the overall cost.
The Generation charge: -This is the actual electricity cost. It can be generated by many sources using various methods, including water, nuclear, oil, coal, etc. The cost is usually charged in increments of kilowatt-hours, or kWh. Going solar will reduce the usage and overall cost.
The Demand charge: -This charge is often misunderstood, and different utilities process it differently. It helps to analyze the maximum amount of wattage that a location is catered to at any one time during the month. This charge varies variably. Going solar slightly affects this number, but it’s hard to quantify, so it is considered a charge not affected by solar.
The Time-of-use billing: -In some regions, there are different electricity rates for various parts of the day. A solar PV system, combined with a battery system, might work to alleviate this charge.
2) Trying to understand the solar PV system:
There are variables involved when it comes to the actual solar system, but the hardware domain usually comes down to three specific parts: – solar panels, inverters, and racking.
Solar panels: This is the main component, and the most expensive. They are rated as a number of watts produced in an hour under rated conditions. Utilizing this rating, you can compare the basic production numbers between different panels; for example, a 300-watt panel will produce more electricity than a 280-watt panel. Higher efficiency leads to costlier panels. This higher cost can be seen in the PPA, lease, financing and overall return on investment (ROI).
Inverters: -This component converts the DC power from the panels to AC power sent in the grid. These are two types: a central and a microinverter. Microinverters are small units that attach to each panel and convert the electricity at the panel.Central inverters are wired into multiple panels.
Takeaway: There are various benefits in choosing a microinverter over a central inverter, but they are not relevant. If the roof has multiple directions, or if there is a shade on some of the panels, microinverters are a better solution, but the cost increases for microinverters.
Racking: -This is the mounting that secures the panels. The main racking system uses rails, although rail-less systems are also available.
3)Understanding the solar production estimate: –
Production estimates can vary hugely, depending on some factors. The estimate is dependent on shading, pitch, and azimuth.
Shading: -Although the concept is simple, it’s not always simple to accurately calculate. Shading can come from a tree, an adjacent roof, a dormer on the roof, or some other obstacle.
Also, shading varies with seasons. In winters, the sun is lower in the sky, and any obstacle causes more shade than in the summer when relatively it’s higher in the sky. Solar installers use specialized shading tools to analyze and account for shading for a year.
Azimuth: -The solar azimuth is used to calculate the orientation of panels towards the direction of shining sun. It is equally important as the shade, as it dictates how much of the solar energy on the panel will be throughout the year.
The Pitch: – In most cases, the tilt, or the pitch, of how the panels are laid out is of least concern of the three, but it does affect production.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) uses an online calculator which calculates how much a solar energy solar system will produce. By putting in different variables and we can learn the amount of electricity system produces each month and for the year. This data is based on historical weather data. It takes into account the location and the specifics of the system. It is not accurate, but it’s an objective way to project energy production.We can use this to compare against the figures that the solar company is projecting.
As while purchasing anything, we need to educate us on the product that we are acquiring: and solar is no different. Overall, the solar industry works to deliver a quality product at a competitive price. Being said that, we should look at a solar proposal as a starting point of what we are being sold. We should analyze the proposals with the tools at our disposal: and go solar.
4.)Get an accurate idea energy spent in a month:
A growing family will face growing energy demands. Replacing LED bulbs and making other energy-saving changes and upgrades can lower the costs even further. Get a solar installer to calculate the planned electricity demands, not the actual, current usage.
5.)Learn Your Solar Warranties
Learn about the two kinds of solar electric system warranties that are usually offered. The first one is the panel and inverter manufacturer warranty, which are usually 25 years on panels and up to same number of years of inverters. The installers should also offer a warranty on the quality the work, which means guaranteeing they made no holes on your roof which is likely to lead to leaks for a specified period, from two to 10 years, normally. Try to remember that neither of these warranties covers theft, fire, or other damage.
6.)Will Panels Harm the Roof?
Solar panels will not harm your roof in any way possible when installing properly. Quite frankly, they protect the areas located directly underneath from the ravages of weather, light, and heat. You may even find that the rooms of your house directly beneath the panel installations will remain warmer during winter and cooler during the summer, regardless of any other insulation. Heating and cooling costs can be saved when panels are installed wisely. Proper preparation for home and choice of the right installer will go a long way to ensure a job done right.
7.)How do you connect to the grid?
This detail varies depending on where you live, but the principle is that at any time you’re connecting with a utility, there are many logistics to sort out. Do you have to pay? How long before the utility hook you up? Once connected, what’s the process for the credit of the electricity that you generate?
The last one refers to the net-metering technique, the way in which utilities reimburse the rooftop solar for the same rate as they charge users for the electricity.