I thought I would share my experience with solar panels. Before some of you get into a big uproar the system I’m describing is not an off-grid solar panel set-up but one that ties into the grid. With a little bit of work that can be modified though. The thing I found attractive about this system was the cost, the total system cost was $25,000, but my cost was only $5,000.
This system works very well in the summer and not so well in the winter. In the summer months the system generates more than we use at times, this additional energy is sent back to the electrical company and I receive a credit for the this energy. Throughout the year I save approximately 40% on my electrical cost. The system would produce more if I removed some trees but I’m not ready to do that at the moment.
I purchased this system with the intent of moving it to my survival retreat once I retire. the reason I purchased it now was because of the tax credits, they are much better in the state I live in verses the state I’m moving them to.
Here are some questions and answers about the system.
Q. Where can I get more information about state and federal rebates and tax incentives?
A. For a comprehensive list of incentives, rules and regulations affecting solar energy go to www.dsireusa.org
Q. What is a PV system?
A. “PV” stands for PHOTOVOLTAIC energy. PV technology produces electricity directly from electrons freed by the interaction of sunlight with a solar panel made of semiconductor material. The power provided is direct current (DC) electricity. The basic building block is known as a cell. Many cells put together are known as a module, and many modules assembled together form an array. A PV system will consist of an array of modules generating DC electricity, an inverter, and sometimes battery storage back up with charge controller.
Q. What is an inverter?
A. There are two kinds of electricity, DC and AC. Homes that are connected to utility power use AC electricity. Flashlights, small radios and automobiles use DC electricity. In order for you to be able to use solar to operate the appliances in your home, an inverter will convert PV power from DC to AC. Inverters can be further classified as units that use batteries (UPS) and those that use the utility grid as power storage (Grid-tied). Inverters are now required to possess meters that will indicate their performance and some manufacturers supply remote display units that can be mounted inside the home. It is important to check on your inverter regularly to become acquainted with its operation and performance.
Q. What is a “grid-tie” PV system?
A. A “grid-tie” system is a PV solar system that is connected to the home or business and remains connected to the local utility company. The building uses the electricity being produced by the PV solar system first and if additional electricity is needed it is pulled from the local power company’s grid.
Solar power solutions may connect your solar system directly into the wires of your utility. Since the “Net Metering Law” allows you to do this, you will actually be spinning your meter backwards when your system is generating more power than you are consuming. When you generate excess electricity (more power than you are using) it will enter the grid and be used by your neighbors. Your meter will tally the excess and give credit your account. After a year the excess credits are eliminated and you balance is adjusted back to zero again. In effect, if there are any unused energy credits at the end of the year, the utility received this solar power for free.
Q. What is Net Metering?
A. Louisiana enacted the Net Energy Metering (NEM) law, which allows Louisiana residents to “sell” clean solar generated electricity, produced by their PV solar system, to their local utility company. When your PV solar system generates more electricity than the home is using the excess electricity is routed through your meter back to the utility company creating a credit to you. (check your state laws on this)
Q. Will my property taxes go up if I install a solar energy system?
A. A Solar Power System will add to the value of your home and is exempt from property taxes.(check your state’s laws)
Q. How long will the system last and does it come with a guarantee?
A. Most solar PV panels have a 25 Year Warranty and a 50-year life expectancy. Most inverters have a 10-year warranty.
Q. How sturdy will the system be and what maintenance if any is required?
A. Solar panels are very durable. They are made from the same materials that the windshield of your car is made of. Solar panels require very little maintenance, which consists of keeping the panels clean. This can be done as needed and easily using a window washing solution attached to a power sprayer or simply rinsing the panels with a water hose.
Q. What about in the case of severe weather?
A. Most systems are designed to withstand 120 mph winds. Solar PV Systems are covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy for damage due to natural causes.
Q. How involved is the installation?
A.A certified solar installers will usually have your system installed in less than a day for standard roof mounted systems. Pole mounted systems will require an extra day to install the pole. Generally, there is no requirement for special wiring or re-wiring.