Call (888) 338-0183 or click here for solar pricing


How to cash in on the IRS’ Investment Tax Credit
Mar24

How to cash in on the IRS’ Investment Tax Credit

Anticipating that the solar-plus-storage market could experience the same type of expansion the PV market did in the last decade, the IRS recently updated an eligibility ruling for a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on renewable energy storage.   The updated rule, passed before the start of 2016, extends the 30 percent ITC until 2021 and aims to clear up some of the confusion with regards to when solar energy storage qualifies for the tax credit.   “The federal government does not want to incentivize people to arbitrage energy from the grid,” Senior Consultant at the Engineering consultant firm DNV-GL Mike Kleinberg explains. “You cannot charge from the grid in the evening and then discharge during the day to supplement your PV — and also qualify for the ITC, because you’re not then really charging from renewable energy.”   In order to accomplish this, the IRS dictated that in order to be eligible for the ITC, taxpayers must not draw more than 25 percent of stored electricity from the grid. Additionally, if they draw more than 25 percent of power from the grid during the first year of applying for the credit, they will not be allowed to collect any portion of the energy tax credit in later years even if the system improves and complies.   In order to prevent batteries charging more than 25 percent from the grid, homeowners have taken to installing inverters on both their PV systems and their AC/DC power systems, linking them to a site master controller that monitors when and how fast storage units charge.   While the updated 2015 rule might seem more strict than the original one set forth two years earlier (which was much more vague about solar battery two-way grid charging) it also expands its definition of what constitutes “storage technology”, allowing for greater flexibility when applying for the credit.   For example, smart water heaters or ceramic heaters that know the weather and draw 25 percent or less from the grid would qualify....

Read More
Cash in on net-metering while you still can!
Mar14

Cash in on net-metering while you still can!

The rationality of net-metering is hard to deny: If your home generates more energy than it consumes and that energy is added back into the grid, it’s only fair you should be compensated for the contribution. However utility companies, who usually end up footing the bill, are of a different opinion. As of January 2016 more than half of the 40 U.S. states with net-metering incentives have had their policies come under scrutiny. At the start of the year, homeowners in California breathed a collective sigh of relief as state regulators narrowly voted to uphold the existing net-metering benefits. However their neighboring solar enthusiasts in the state of Nevada weren’t so lucky. As more people are switching to using solar and generating their own power, state regulators have been forced to balance on a high wire of encouraging the trend while also pacifying the big energy companies that power houses during non-daylight hours. Check out the map below to see if you’re in one of the blue states where net-metering incentives are still applicable. If you are, and haven’t yet made the switch to solar, time might be running out to cash in on making more sun energy than you...

Read More
What’s in a Gigawatt?
Mar11

What’s in a Gigawatt?

In the power industry, the word “gigawatts” is thrown around like confetti during New Years. But if you’re like most people, you might only have a vague idea about what a gigawatt actually is. And, if we’re being honest, mostly likely the only reference for that power measurement is a mad scientist named Doc:   So let’s set the record straight and unravel the mystery of gigawatts…besides 1.21 of them being able to launch a 1988 Delorean back to the future.   Starting with the latin root “giga” we can deduce that: 1 gigawatt (gw) = 1 million kilowatts (kw) = 100 million watts (w)   One gigawatt also happens to power about 700,000 homes a day, each consuming a monthly average of about 911 kw according to the US Energy Information Association. To produce this much energy with coal takes about 4.7 tons of the stuff–about the same weight as an adult elephant. Luckily for us, people have stopped ignoring this dirty elephant in the room and are harnessing the cleaner and more affordable energy of the sun. In 2015, the Solar Energy Industries Association calculated the United States reached a total of 24.1 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. 24.1 Gigawatts! That’s enough energy to send Doc through the space time continuum 19 times. To put things in perspective, the US Energy Information Administration says the average nuclear reactor in the United States produces between 11,000 to 100,000 Megawatts of energy per a day. A facility like the Hoover Dam produces between 1 to 2 gigawatts of energy per a day depending on its water level (which has become increasingly low). US Bureau of Reclamation And about 5,000 hamsters running on a wheel will produce enough energy to power the average...

Read More
#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations
Mar03

#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations

Solar panels are a smart investment for modern, eco-conscious homeowners, but many people feel inhibited by the cost of installation. Fortunately, materials are starting to decrease in price and installation is becoming more manageable. At Modernize, we are watching homeowners reap the rewards of solar energy while saving thousands of dollars by tackling large scope projects like this on their own. If you are relatively handy, have a Smart Phone or Internet access, and are ready to harness the sun’s abundant energy for your home, it’s time to consider DIY solar installation. Know How Are you comfortable working with wiring? Safety is always the first priority in any home improvement project. Make sure you are well-versed with the dos and don’ts of high voltage wiring before attempting this project. Determining the correct panel placement and angle to harness maximum energy is pivotal. Precision is key to making this project worth your time and money. In addition to handy know-how, you also need to be prepared to navigate compliance laws and obtain permits before beginning your project. If you have the time and resources to do your own research and legwork, you will save the cost of hiring a company paying multiple people to perform these duties. Help From The Internet If you have Internet access, you have help with your installation. There really is an app for almost anything. Search for online calculators to determine the size of the kit that you will need, based on information found on your utility bills.   Measuring Solar Energy Savings Once your solar panels are installed, you will want to see how long it takes to recoup the cost of the materials. While you will save thousands of dollars by installing your solar panels yourself, this project will still be costly up front—but it won’t be long before you break even, and possibly profit from the investment.   After installing home solar, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit, and possibly a state tax credit. Be sure to research your state’s requirements, as some do require that the installation is performed by licensed installers. If these incentives are awarded, a sizable percentage may be recouped right off the bat. Finally, the value of your home will increase substantially with the addition of solar panels. A buyer’s offer may pay for your project in full if the attractive feature of energy-saving, money-saving solar panels sparks a bidding war. Research Make sure you have all of your research done before spending a dime on this project. You want to be sure that you are capable of handling the project in its entirety....

Read More
The Big Advantage of MicroInverters
Feb24

The Big Advantage of MicroInverters

In the old days of solar, all the PV panels used to be connected to a single, large inverter that would convert the direct current (DC) of the sun into the alternating current (AC) we use in outlets around the home. The system acted like one giant solar panel, with its max current rating equivalent to its poorest performing PV unit. That means if one of those connected panels experienced a reduction in energy because it was covered by shade or it failed, the entire system would experience that loss. Similar to the way a string of christmas lights will fail if one goes down, the saying, “you’re only strong as your weakest link” comes to mind when thinking of how these single inverter setups work. Then in 2008 Enhphase released the first commercially successful microinverter. The idea behind the project was to allow each panel to function more autonomously, so if one panel had issues the entire energy output of the system wouldn’t suffer. In order to do this, microinverters are used on every PV panel or every other PV panel, and have become popular in homes, where solar array sizes are small and maximizing the performance of every panel is necessary. Since 2008, microinverters have become increasingly intelligent and companies such as APsystems have innovated technology like a Field Programmable Gate Array chip with software that can be wireless programed to modify each panel’s DC-to-AC conversion to meet the demands of a changing environment without needing to climb up on the roof and replace the hardware. Such residential microinverters like the APsystem’s YC500A allow users to monitor each microinverter unit, giving them a clear overview of the entire system at any time. If a panel fails or is not performing well, it can be quickly identified. Additionally, because every unit functions more independently than the antiquated single inverter system, different models of solar panels can be rigged up to feed into the same power system. This makes it so a homeowner doesn’t have to replace all their PV panels at one time, but can swap out or add new panels as the technology improves. No doubt that when it comes to renewable energy such as PV solar or wind turbines, microinverters offer more flexibility and advantage. Some studies put them at producing 5-25% more power than the single inverter systems. As the solar market continues to expand, we’re going to see these little guys make a huge...

Read More