Are you thinking about generating your own electricity? Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that can help you decide if investing in a solar electric system is right for you.
1. What is a solar electric or photovoltaic system (PV)?
1. What is a solar electric or photovoltaic system?
To estimate the best system size for your home or business, examine your electricity usage for the last 12 months to find out the average daily usage and apply this easy formula. Divide the average daily usage by the amount of sun hitting the solar array in a day - (Using southern CA as an example, the average direct sunlight on the solar array per day is 5 hours.) Using 5 divide by your average daily utility bill per year. Using 25 kW as an average per day we divide 25 by 5 which will tell you the size system you will need to zero out your electric bill for this senerio.
A. To do a more precise measurement for the proper sizing of your system, we look at your daily average usage throughout the year. Most of the electrical bills will have this information available. We start with the average usage per day.
B. Once we detirmine the best location, we will look at the number of hours of sunlight (it varies by time of year usually between 6 and 4 hours per day)
A system with a capacity of 1 kW can produce about 1750 kWh per year. Divide your annual electricity usage (in kWh per year) by 1750 kWh to get the system size (capacity in kilowatts) that would meet most of your electricity needs. If you want your PV system to meet half of your electricity needs, then you should size it to meet half of your annual electrical usage. Or you can offset only a small portion of your electricity bill with a single PV panel. If you size your system larger than your average electricity needs, for example to meet your highest electricity needs on summer afternoons, your system would generate more electricity than you could use during the rest of the year.
7. How much does a PV system cost?
Although many factors affect the cost, an average PV system costs from $9 to $10 dollars a watt, including installation, or $18,000 to $20,000 for a 2 kW system.
8. Are there any incentives or rebates available?
9. Am I eligible for a rebate?
10. Are there any financing programs available?
11. What do I need to know about connecting my PV system to the grid?
Excess electricity might be generated during the day when your system produces more electricity than you need. Your meter would simply run backwards to record the amount of electricity banked on the grid. You can use an equal amount of electricity later without incurring any additional cost. If you use more electricity from the grid than you have banked, your utility will charge you annually for the difference.
12. What is Net Metering?
An inverter is needed to change the direct current (DC) power from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity to power your electrical devices and to be compatible with the electric grid. Batteries can provide back-up power for your home or business in case of grid outages, but they also increase your costs.