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Solar Electric & Hot Water

RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL

Solar does more than reduce your energy consumption and costs. Innovative new approaches to solar electric and solar hot water make it easier than ever to have hot water and electricity on demand and to power your home naturally.

Solar Electric for your Home, Simplified

Solar energy can be harvested then used to provide you with electric power and hot water, even on cloudy days. You enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are having a positive impact – and that you are no longer overpaying for power.

It is time to take a fresh look at solar power for your home or business – and we can help. Get in touch today to learn more about the latest technology and what these innovations can do for your home or business.

How solar works graphic
House with solar panels

SOLAR HOT WATER

Most of us are familiar with the idea of solar energy to assist in powering the home, but new innovations and technology have evolved to allow solar to be used for hot water. The typical hot water heater is a significant consumer of energy at home and in the office. Opting for solar for your hot water needs can dramatically reduce both your carbon footprint and your energy consumption – without reducing the quality of your showers or the amount of hot water you can access.

endless Hot Water on Demand for your home or business

Our team can remove your old, inefficient hot water heater and replace it with an up-to-date tankless hot water heater. A tankless hot water heater not only offers an endless supply of hot water, but the risk of leaks or damage to the heater itself is significantly reduced.

Contact us for a quote on a tankless hot water heater for your home or business to reduce your energy supply.

Solar Electric & Hot Water

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q

Is solar hot water as beneficial as solar electric.

A

I am a big fan of all things solar, including solar hot water.  However, solar hot water only makes hot water, of course.  So if you don’t use a lot of hot water, it may not be cost effective.  The cost of solar hot water has basically remained the same as the cost of solar electric has continued to go down.

As with everything else, your personal situation and lifestyle will be a big part of the equation.  Use a lot of hot water?  Have a propane water heater? Current water heater need to be replaced? Want to reduce carbon fuel combustion?  If you said yes to any or especially more than one of those questions, it might be worth a look.  

To share a more personal experience.  My own home is in a heavily wooded valley, and only has direct sunlight for about 60% of the day in the summer and even less in the winter.  I did not put solar electric on my home until just a few years ago when the cost got low enough that it was worth doing.  However, I put solar hot water on my home well over a decade ago, getting rid of my propane water heater.  This eliminated 2 fill ups of my propane tank each year, about 300 gallons of propane.  I had two teenage daughters at home, used a lot of hot water and had an expensive source of fuel, so it made a lot of sense for me.  I can only imagine the amount of carbon that I did not produce by not burning over 3000 gallons of propane to date and counting.

Q

Should I convert my appliances to electric when I get solar?

A

Another MAYBE answer.  Here again is where a good evaluation comes into play.  It mostly depend on how much solar you are able to produce and what are you paying for electricity as well as the alternative power source.  It also depends on your environmental concerns.

If you only have enough roof space or budget to offset your current electrical use, you will just be adding to your use and buying more electricity.  If you are offsetting natural gas use for your heat, cooking, drying, etc, you are offsetting a fairly inexpensive source of fuel.  Paying more money to install a larger solar system, combined with the cost of new appliances/HVAC, just to offset your natural gas bill is likely not going to save you any money.  If you are on propane, the savings would be greater.  

There is a push towards electrification by the state and utilities to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels.  If environmental concerns are important to you, one benefit would be greatly reducing fossil fuel combustion by converting to electric and powering them with additional solar production.


Q

Are batteries worth the cost?

A

The short answer to this question is MAYBE.  Not even a year ago the answer would have almost always been NO.  Batteries were not installed as an “investment” that would pay for itself, but rather a convenience or even necessity to provide power in a grid outage.  

However, there has been a huge shift towards power storage, and not really for the purpose of backup power, but rather peak shaving.  Many new battery systems are designed to store power during the day instead of selling it back at a low rate, and then discharge the battery during peak time instead of importing power at a high rate.  Utilities have incentives to help offset the cost of these batteries as the benefit the utility and the power grid.  They also qualify for the solar tax credit.

Just as solar has appeared on roof after roof for many years and has become a massive power generation source for the grid, the installation of batteries will eventually accumulate into a massive power storage system to help offset the challenge of huge amounts of solar power being produced when it is not all needed and the huge demand during peak time as solar production starts to taper off.

If your utility has an incentive, coupled with the solar tax credit and more reduction in your utility costs by peak shaving, batteries have become more cost effective.  Some systems are almost entirely made for peak shaving and will power an outlet or two for a couple hours, and others will peak shave as well as power most of your home for long periods of time.  The right battery system can function for peak shaving as well as backup power.  Batteries will allow you to continue producing and using solar power as well.

As with anything solar, a good evaluation is needed to determine the cost effectiveness.

Q

Does solar work when the power is out?

A

The short answer is NO.  The overwhelming majority of solar systems are grid tied with no battery backup.  If the grid goes out, they will automatically shut down and disconnect from the grid.  Your system will be off until the grid power is restored.  Even if you have a backup generator, a properly installed system will be wired so that the solar and the generator NEVER meet each other.  Huge problems can occur if they do, so even if you restore “grid power” with your generator, you cannot produce or utilize solar power. 

The only way to utilize solar power in a grid outage is to have battery backup.  A battery backup system is managed by an inverter/controller that will manage the power produce by solar, keep your home powered, and charge or discharge the battery’s depending on the need.   Battery backup systems can often power a home indefinitely if the outage occurs at a time of the year that there is sunshine every day.   

The ultimate in being power independent is a battery system coupled with a backup generator.  The nice thing about this type of system is that the generator basically becomes a battery charger and does not have to be ran all day to power your home.  You can even have power all night without the generator needing to run.  This vastly increases the number of days you could power your home if you are dependent on a propane tanks to run your generator.

Q

Is there an advantage to leasing vs buying?

A

First of all, disclosure.  We do not offer leasing.  Our experience is based having reviewed the contracts for leasing for several companies, and feedback from homeowners, real estate agents, and lots and lots of comments on social media posts such as nextdoor and facebook any time the subject comes up.  

Of course, when you buy, you own it and all of the power it produces.  The idea is to get all the money you spent on it back as fast as possible, and once you have all your out of pocket back, it then becomes a revenue stream for ever more after that.

With leasing, you are basically allowing another company to put a power plant on your roof and sell you the power.  It is NOT your solar system, you don’t get a “free solar system”, they get free real estate to generate power, which they then sell to you.  The concept is that they will sell you the power their solar system makes at a lower rate than your utility company.  You have to enter a pretty iron clad contract with them that give them rights to your rooftop for a very long time.  

You will find a great deal of negative comments and reviews on leasing if you search.  There are some people who say they were happy with it, but for every one of those, you will likely find 4 people who had a negative experience.  You will see concerns shared about the fine print, the actual savings vs promised, additional fees and charges down the road, increases in power rates, and if the home was ever sold or became a rental.  If you sell your home, the new buyer almost always has to agree to assume the lease.  If you decide to or need to rent your home, you will have to get your tenant to agree to pay the lease or you will be paying for a lot of their power.  You will find story after story about people who tried to sell their home and having this leased system on their roof was a huge burden or an outright roadblock in the sale of their home.  

If you are considering leasing, the best advice is to read and understand every word on the contract and search for reviews on leasing and specifically the company proposing the lease.

Q

How long does it take for solar to pay for itself?

A

The answer to this question is dependent on many things.  Of course the first consideration is the cost of the system.  Once that has been determined, if you are financing, the cost to finance has to be added in as well.  

Then it has to be determined how much power the system is expected to produce over time.  The estimated production is then turned into a dollar amount by determining how much you would have otherwise paid the utility for this power.

For example, (these are round numbers for ease of math) if a solar system cost $10,000, and was going to produce  10,000 killowatt hours of power per year, and the utility would have charged $2000 per year for that power, the system would pay you back $2000 per year and you would have your $10,000 back in 5 years and a positive income of $2000 per year after that.

Many companies will inflate this payback by adding in increases in utility rates.  I have seen some that use extreme increases in power rates to make their payback look better.  There will undoubtedly be electric rate increases over the years, but the exact amount and frequency is unknown, and caution should be used when comparing quotes that used high percentages for future rate increases.  

You should also be aware that the trend for utilities increasing revenue has gone towards fees and charges that apply regardless of the amount of power that is consumed.  These cannot be offset by more solar production.

Any production estimate can be verified by going to http://www.csi-epbb.com/default.aspx

You can enter in the solar module and inverter information right off of any estimate you receive and this calculator will give you a production estimate. 

This is the calculator that was used by the utilities when there were utility rebates for solar and it is a very conservative calculator.  Our systems tend to consistently outperform the estimates from this program.  But that is a much better outcome than buying a system only to find it did not quite produce what you were promised.

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