What You Need
To Make Solar Work For You
Back Up: Do I need a battery backup?
There are 3 levels of the system.
Direct connection to the local utility grid.
In this set up if the grid goes down, your system will rapidly shut down.
This protects the linemen repairing the line from energy being feed back into the grid.
If the grid is stable in your area we would not recommend the next two options but want you to be aware of them.
The next option will allow your system to operate independently of the grid but only when the sun is shining. There is a minimum upcharge for the additional components and labor to set this system up.
The battery backup is available in the event of a grid shut down and this option will give you energy when the sun is not shining.
Cost: How much does a PV system cost?
Installed system pricing is highly cited specific. Some of the factors that determine price include:
Size of electric bill (and amount you want to offset)
Location of your home
Shape and height of roof
State and local incentives may apply in addition to the 30% federal investment tax credit
You can spend as much money, or receive as much solar electricity as you feel comfortable with. Call RASolar.US for a free no obligation estimate.
Durable: Are the panels fragile?
No. While the panels are made of tempered glass, they are quite strong. They pass hail tests and are regularly installed in Arctic and Antarctic conditions.
Energy Rates: What are my energy rates based on.
What you pay for energy is based on a number of different factors.
Time of Day
Energy used is simply the total amount of energy used measured in 1-hour increments,
ten 100 watt light bulbs turned on for 1 hour is one kilowatt kW
Use this for 1 hour and you have a kilowatt-hours kWh’s worth of electricity.
Peak Demand is generally how much you use at any one moment in time in a given month.
This generally sets your peak demand charge for the month.
If your utility charges a peak demand charge it goes something like this.
Say you have a cabin in the woods and you have everything turn off and unplugged for the winter. You visit your cabin on December 15 to check things out and turn on one 100 watt light bulb for 5 minutes. Your peak demand charge for the whole month of December is now 100 watts and generally, if you have a demand charge on your bill this will be reflected there.
The reason for this is, your utility needs to have enough energy in production at any point in time to meet your energy demands for the month even if it is only for that 5 minutes for a month.
Time of Day Metering
This helps utilities help keep down peak production needs, many utilities offer off-peak rates.
The reason for this is, as the peak demands move up, production needs to expand to meet these demands.
To give people incentives to keep peaks lower, utilities may offer you incentives to move some of your electrical activities to times that allow them to meet peak demands without expanding production capacity.
Interruptible energy usage is where a facility may have energy generating capacity on site.
As a utility approaches its peak production they can require the facility to switch to their onsite power generation.
The reason for this is, it allows utilities to meet energy demand and avoid building extra capacity
Environmental Impact: How does solar help the environment?
Your solar system will reduce the current demand on existing fossil-fuel power plants, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the fight against climate change. By going solar you will be taking an exemplary leadership role in your community by doing your part to protect the environment from further damage caused by long-established energy sources. Solar energy systems are endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an effective alternative to prevent the release of pollutants into the atmosphere by traditional fossil fuel energy sources.
Inverter: What is an inverter?
An inverter is an electronic device that converts low-voltage DC power generated by solar panels to conventional AC power used by lights and household appliances.
Longevity: How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can well past its warranty of 25 years. In fact, the first solar electric panel built back in the 1950s is still generating electricity today! The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly.
Maintenance: How do I maintain my solar PV system?
Solar PV systems are designed and installed to be low-maintenance. An occasional cleaning of panels by hosing them down will ensure optimal performance. Generally, rain or snow melting will clean your panels.
Net Metering: What is Net Metering?
The net metering law allows residential users to get credit for extra electricity produced by their solar panels during the day and draw from the grid during the night. Peak and off-peak rates may apply with your local utility. During the day, the electric meter spins backward as it feeds excess electricity back into the utility grid. At night, or during off-peak producing times, the electric meter spins forward as it returns electricity from the grid to the customer’s home.
Generally, standard net energy metering program offers customers the opportunity to get credit for the electricity they have produced in excess of the amount that they have used within a given month. The credit appears on the customer’s monthly utility statement and is applied to electricity-related charges within each 12-month reconciliation period. At the end of the year, the utility will “true up” how much electricity it provided to you, and compare it to how much your solar system fed back to the utility grid. Generally, net kilowatt-hours produced by you and exported to the grid are valued at the same price per kilowatt-hour that would charge during that same time of use period.
Power Outage: What happens when the utility has a power outage?
For safety reasons, your solar system will automatically shut off if the power goes out. Check out Backup for a further explanation.
Site Optimization: Do I have a good site for PV?
Your site must have clear, unobstructed access to the sun. Buildings, trees or other vegetation should not shade your site. Some shade can be worked around with the design of the system. PV systems facing southeast to west deliver optimal production. Several factors such as tilt, sun exposure, and location also affect energy production. If a rooftop is not available, your PV system can also be mounted on the ground, on carports or an arbor, amongst other custom variations depending on your space and needs. We have the design and engineering expertise to create the best system for you.
Photovoltaic Electricity: What is a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system?
PV panels are constructed of silicon cells that function as semiconductors which convert light directly into DC electricity. The DC electricity is then converted into AC electricity for household use. RA Solar uses the most efficient solar panels commercially available. They have a 25-year warranty ensuring you decades of sustainable energy.
Permitting: Will I need to apply for any permits in order to install a solar electric system?
Permit requirements vary in each jurisdiction. RASolar.US will handle all permitting issues related to installing a solar electric system on your property.
ROI: Why should I consider buying a PV system?
Solar electricity makes great financial sense — offering an internal rate of return of as much as 15%, and you can recoup your investment in as quickly as 5 years. Consult with your tax preparer to get you the exact rate of return. You can meet up to 100% of your home’s electricity needs, virtually eliminate your electric bill and protect you against future utility price increases. This will reduce your carbon footprint — solar energy is clean, renewable and reliable. The average solar PV residential system (based on 5kW), will save nearly 132 tons of carbon dioxide over 40-years.
Space Required: How much mounting space do I need?
A 3 kW PV system can use as little as 230 square feet. A larger system, to meet the needs of a typical household, would use between 300 to 600 square feet. As a rule of thumb, SolarCraft PV systems use about 77 square feet of PV panels for every kilowatt of electricity.
System Size: What should the size of my PV system be?
RASolar.US will customize the size of your system to your electricity needs and budget. The system will be designed to significantly reduce or eliminate your electric bill. Space constraints or sunlight exposure are all factors.
Timeline: How long does the installation process take?
Some municipalities require in-depth engineering studies and this can add extra time to a project. Some inspectors require extra inspections this can add extra time to the overall process. Installation time depends on the size of the system. The actual installation time for a residential system takes an average of 3 to 5 days to complete, depending on system size and complexity.
Home Value: If I sell my property, what effect does PV have on the sale price?
Solar energy can be one of the best home improvement investments you make. A solar PV system will increase the value of your home without increasing your property taxes. The Real Estate Appraisal Journal demonstrated that for every $1,000.00 saved per year, $20,000.00 is added to a home’s value.