A: Business owners can significantly lower or eliminate their electric bill by installing a grid tied solar electric system. The equipment can generally be depreciated like other business assets making the payback time even shorter. Advertising your business as being green, solar powered, clean, etc. can help attract customers who value those qualities. Solar panels placed prominently on a roof or as an awning or parking covering can attract attention to your location.
A: A properly designed solar electric system can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for a generator at your off-grid cabin. Solar power is clean, silent, and free. The initial cost of installation usually outweighs the noise, fumes, fuel expense, maintenance, and aggravation of a generator.
A: Yes you can. A solar electric system built into a trailer or a work truck is a great way to operate power tools, battery chargers, and radios at work sites with no available or permanent power. An inverter and battery bank on a work truck can provide power to recharge tool batteries, run work lights, and power laptop computers in the field. Avoiding the use of a generator eliminates the constant noise, exhaust, maintenance, and fuel usage that take their toll on your bottom line.
A: Solar electric panels, called photovoltaic, consist of a piece of silicon covered by a piece of glass and framed in aluminum. Photovoltaic panels, as the name implies, produce voltage when light strikes them. Photovoltaic panels actually produce more power when they are cold. Solar water heating panels consist of tubing behind glass and framed in aluminum. The tubing and all the internal parts are painted black to absorb as much heat as possible. This heat is transferred to the liquid in the tubing. In climates where freezing occurs, the tubing usually carries antifreeze. In climates where freezing is not an issue, the tubing can carry the actual water being heated.
A: A properly sized and installed solar system can reduce or even eliminate your electric bill. Using current electric rates, a solar electric system will pay for itself in about 8 to 9 years. As electric rates rise with other energy costs, the payback period for your solar investment will shrink. A solar electric system, if equipped with a back-up battery bank, can also serve as an excellent source of emergency power when the commercial power grid goes down. The security of having an emergency source of power and the satisfaction of generating your own clean, renewable energy is reason enough for some people to invest in a solar electric system. For more information, please see Economics of Electrical Solar Power Systems in Virginia.
A: The minimum expenditure for a home or small cabin, in most cases, is about $8,000. A small system for an RV may cost much less. The average home installation usually runs about $20,000 to $30,000. A large system for a completely off-grid home can cost $30,000 or more. Many times the power company will charge more than this to run power to a home that is a distance from their power lines. This makes solar power an economical solution in some cases. A grid-tied system typically costs around $2 per watt, installed. An off-grid system with a battery bank typically costs about $5 per watt installed. For more information, please see Economics of Electrical Solar Power Systems in Virginia.
A: A small solar power system can be built as large or small as you can afford. A basic system in an RV can easily run the lights, water pump, furnace, and appliances like the microwave and toaster. Building an RV system large enough to run the air conditioner during daylight house is possible but generally not considered practical due to the high cost, size, and weight of such a system.
A: Specialized solar power equipment is hard to find at a hardware store or home center. There are many online retailers but shipping the components presents problems for the average homeowner. Solar panels and equipment are large and heavy. They are normally delivered truck freight; shipping charges can be in the hundreds of dollars. Unloading the pallets often takes a forklift or at least a pallet jack. We have access to a comprehensive line of parts and equipment to complete any solar electric system. We can custom design a package or parts for your system and allow you to pick it up at our shop. We keep some items on hand and we can usually receive any ordered parts in a week or less.
Please Contact Us if you need help with solar electric components.
A: Since we are an electrical contractor, we only install solar electrical systems. We do get a lot of calls from people interested in solar water heating. We can refer you to plumbing contractors that we know who do solar thermal installations.
A: The first step to lower electric bills in an older home is to upgrade lighting, appliances, and HVAC equipment. Modern LED lighting can save as much as 80% over old incandescent lights. HVAC equipment that is more than about 10 years old is probably much less efficient than newer models. Adding insulation to the walls, floors, and ceilings will also greatly lower heating and air conditioning bills. Only after taking these energy conserving steps in an older home should you consider installing a solar electric system for the purpose of lowering your utility bills. Usually new houses, built to modern day energy efficiency standards don’t require these types of upgrades.
A: The electricity usage of a home varies tremendously because of many factors: the number of people in the family, the type of appliances and heating system, lifestyle, and usage patterns. To determine your electricity usage, look at your electric bill. Your bill will tell you how many kWh (kilowatt hours) you used in that month. Most bills also show the usage over the past year. This information is critical in properly sizing a home solar system. Give us a call with your kWh use and we can give you a rough idea of system size and cost.
A: The federal government offers a 30% federal income tax credit to people who install solar electric systems on their homes and businesses but it begins to decrease after 2019. To investigate tax incentives you may be eligible for, check out the web site www.dsireusa.org.