Considering solar power? We hope this helps answer some of the common questions. If you still have questions or want a free estimate, please call us at 724-427-6900.
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Solutions:
Whether off-grid...where you create all of the electricity you use...or grid-attached...which allows you to reduce or eliminate your monthly electric bill while remaining connected to the public power grid...solar systems may include the following components: solar panels, inverters, racking systems, batteries, and charge controllers. Of course, there may be are other components required like combiners, labels (as required by NEC code), conduit, etc. Let us help you determine the best and most effective components for your PV system.
SOLAR is an area of overlap for GREEN HEAT and GREEN ENERGY. Most often people think of creating electricity using solar radiation...known as Photovoltaics (or PV) --- Green ENERGY. The sun, however, has been used for much longer to heat air and water -- Green HEAT. We offer both services.
Solar panels or solar modules are made up of cells which capture rays from the sun and convert them into Direct Current (DC) electrical power. Select panels which have a good warranty…for defects and for performance. We don’t sell modules with less than a 10-year defect warranty and a 25-year performance warranty.
An inverter takes the Direct Current (DC) from the solar module and transforms it into Alternating Current (AC) which is what is used by most modern electronic devices (laptops, TVs, coffee makers, etc.). The inverter needs to be sized appropriately for the amount of DC power produced and the amount of AC power needed.
The racking system secures the solar panels onto a pole, roof or on the ground, and it will vary based on the location of the solar array (group of panels). Some mounting systems can allow the panels to follow the path of the sun to get the optimal exposure, although the majority of installation hold the solar panels in a fixed position.
Usually DC and AC power disconnects are required to allow maintainers, first responders (e.g., Firefighters) and owners to shut off power. Note: All systems we install meet the various safety and compliance codes. This means that any grid-tied system is "grid aware" and shuts down automatically if the grid is down. This prevents technicians from injury when repairing down power lines.
If you want to access the power created by solar at night, then you will need batteries to store electricity until needed. The type of battery will determine how and where they need to be stored. The batteries need to be sized for the expected power consumption before being recharged. We can help determine the number of batteries needed based on their capacity and depth of discharge rating.
If batteries are included in your solar system, then you will need a battery charger control to prevent overcharging the batteries. Sometimes other components (e.g. inverters) incorporate the charge controller function, but usually it is best to get dedicated equipment for this function. Again, let us help you size the charge controller to match the batteries and power output of the solar panels.
The price of the system will vary based on the size, complexity and location. The good news is that the price of many of the components has dropped significantly from even four or five years ago...and they continue to decline. The addition of batteries adds flexibility but also increases the cost. A typical grid-tied system (without batteries) can cost in the range from $8,000 to $18,000 (or higher). Let us give you a free estimate.
Homeowners can still take advantage of a Federal 30% Tax credit through 2019. This Federal tax incentive decreases to 26%. We constantly watch for ways to help make solar installations cheaper for owners. Part of our process includes a more in-depth conversation about loans, grants and incentives available.
The Alternative Energy Store (AlteStore.com) also has a number of very useful resources and videos to help educate and inform.
We offer 3 sizes sizes and various styles of evacuated tube solar heating systems to heat (or pre-heat) your domestic hot water. We use the evacuated tube system due to concerns about winter freezing which can occur with other solar hot water systems.
We also offer cost-effective solutions to heat your swimming pool using solar energy. These can be installed permanently (e.g. on your roof) or set up seasonally. Either way, it's great to save money on heating costs, while enjoying your swimming pool.