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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
Apr12

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

How to calculate a quick, easy GUESStimate for sizing a PV system. “How much will it cost to power my XX,XXX square foot house?” “How many solar panels do I need to eliminate my electric bill?” We get questions like this every day from homeowners in the beginning stages of going solar. For all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much impossible to give you a number based on the size of your house or the dollar amount of your electric bill – it’s all going to depend on the load.  Though I hesitate to give a rough number like this, sometimes you do need a ballpark figure to start things off. Alright, here we go: To begin, calculate your average energy usage in kWh.  Collect your electric bills for the past 12 months or more. Get an average of kWh used on a monthly basis.  Let’s say that this number is 1100 kWh per month. Now divide your average monthly usage by 30 to get your average daily kWh usage.  In this case, it would be about 37kWh per day. To keep things simple for this rough estimate, we’ll assume that a 250W solar panel will produce about 1kWh a day.  **Keep in mind that this is a rough estimate, based on a site location getting 4 hours of sunlight per day** Assuming that you use about 37 kWh per day, you would need about 37 solar panels to meet 100% of your average energy needs. Based on your current usage, how much of this do you want to offset with a solar power system? 100% …75%…. 50% ?    Multiply accordingly. Let’s say you wanted your solar system to account for 80% of your energy consumption. 37 kWh per day x 0.80  = 29.6 kWh Since one solar panel produces about 1 kWh per day, you would use 30 solar panels to account for 80% of your average consumption. The purpose of this is to give a rough idea of how many solar panels you will need.  This sizing tool provides a quick number to go off of as you’re shopping around- it’s not a replacement for having an electrical contractor design a system for you. Once you’ve calculated your average kWh use and determined the percentage that you plan to offset with solar, get a free solar quote from GoGreenSolar.com 😉  We’ll help you design a complete system that’s specific to your roof and geographical location. Any questions?...

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Top 7 Myths About Solar Energy

1.  Solar energy is too expensive. According to a nation-wide poll, 97% of Americans overestimate the upfront cost of going solar. [1] The price of photovoltaics (a.k.a. solar)  has been declining, renewable energy is more affordable than ever.  Click here to view solar panels as low as $0.70 Watt! There are financial incentives at the federal and state level that help solar compete with fossil fuels, which also subsidized by the government.  Having the financial incentives in place for renewable energy makes solar energy a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels and a often a practical investment for homeowners. Solar systems in the United States qualify for a 30% federal tax credit.  If you have tax liability and you put a solar system in service, you can claim a tax credit that’s equal to 30% of qualified expenditures that went into your solar system. To learn about state and regional incentives in your geographic location, visit dsireusa.org. “Soft costs” associated with permitting are also going to depend on your local Authority Having Jursidiction (AHJ).  Unfortunately, the U.S. has yet to streamline permitting so much of this is going to be specific to your location. Want to see how you can save by switching to solar?  Get your monthly energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) from your electric bill and use our Solar Energy Savings Calculator! 2.  Solar panels only work on hot, sunny days. Contrary to the common misconception that solar only works on sunny days, solar panels work best on clear, cool days.   Even if it’s overcast and a bit foggy, your solar panels will continue to generate at about 30% of their normal energy output.    Germany, which doesn’t have a reputation for being the sunniest of places, had about 21.6 times more solar power installations per capita than the United States by the end of 2011.  Solar panels can also take a beating.   Quality solar panels are manufactured with tempered glass and “hail-tested” with golf-ball sized projectiles to ensure that they will withstand environmental pressures.  Click here to read about solar panel hail testing. 3.  You can size a solar PV system based on the square footage of your home. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get an accurate idea of how many kW of solar you should install without doing some homework first.   The first step is determining your load, or the average amount of energy consumed (kWh). Dig out your electric bills for the past 12 months and average the kilowatt hours (kWh) used by your home or business.  If you don’t have this on hand but want to figure out how much electricity you use,...

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How Does Solar Energy Work?
Feb11

How Does Solar Energy Work?

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How Much Will Solar Cost You?
Jan09

How Much Will Solar Cost You?

Infographic by Visual...

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Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar 101
Jun28

Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar 101

Will I need batteries for my solar system?  How much does it cost to go completely off the grid? Let’s take a look at main differences is between a “grid-tied” solar system and the less common “off-grid” solar system. Grid-tied Solar Most photovoltaic (PV) systems are connected to the utility grid, hence the name “grid-tied.”  When your solar system is connected to the grid, you still have access to energy after dark without batteries.  Your grid-tied system simply pulls the electricity you need from the utility grid.   Here’s how it works:   A group of solar panels, known as the array, generate direct current (DC) electricity.  An inverter changes the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the grid-quality electricity that comes from the power outlets in your home. When the grid-tied system produces more energy than your home is consuming, the excess electricity is sent into the utility grid, spinning your meter backwards as credit toward your next electricity bill.  When your load requirements exceed the electricity being produced by your photovoltaic (PV) system, your home will draw electricity from the grid.  This is called net metering. Grid-tie solar systems are a cost-effective way to reduce your net energy consumption. Grid-tied solar systems are ideal for those whose utility provider bill them according to a tiered rate structure –  where rates you pay are higher when you’re consuming more energy (kWh). Grid-tied solar gets you out of the higher tiers on your electric bill to save you money. If you need help designing a grid-tied solar system, request a no obligation quote today. Will I still have power during a blackout? Not with a grid-tied PV system.  You’ll still experience blackouts when the power goes out in your neighborhood because your are connected to the utility grid.  Sending electricity into the grid during a power outage would be especially dangerous if the utility company has workers repairing power lines. For most people, a power outage here and there isn’t too much of a concern.  Just keep your refrigerator closed and charge your iPhone with a JOOS Orange Portable Solar Charger. But what about Armageddon? Or the zombie apocalypse?! I’ll need power to fight off the living dead! If you live in an area that is plagued by frequent blackouts, hurricanes, or maybe the living dead chewing on power-lines, battery backup may be an option for you. Keep in mind, battery backup is for critical loads, or the appliances that are imperative to survival.  So you really can’t blast the AC and leave the television running 24/7 in the aftermath of a natural disaster. In most cases,...

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Nitty Gritty Details

What’s the Difference Between a Solar Lease and a Solar Power Purchase Agreement? For those of you who are comparing different options for going solar, your main choices are purchasing a system as an addition to your home, buying a new or upgraded home with solar already integrated as a feature, buying your electricity utility-style through a solar power purchase agreement (SPPA), or signing up for a solar lease.  The latter two choices are very similar and require a closer look to distinguish one from the other.  (For a comparison between purchase options and SPPAs check out this article.) Sleek solar tiles from Applied Solar. To start off, it’s important to cover the basics of how both financing models work.  The SPPA option has been described in detail in this article, but for now it’s best just to cover the practical details of how these agreements function: SPPA stands for “Solar Power Purchase Agreement.” The SPPA provides the benefits of solar with little to no upfront cost (usually between 0-$2000). The agreement is usually termed for 15-20 years, and is transferable to another owner or home. A solar services provider charges a set rate per kilowatt-hour. The electrical rate can remain flat, but is more commonly contracted with a fixed annual increase of around 3%. The solar utility maintains, monitors, and insures the system over the term of the agreement. The solar utility that purchased the panels benefits from the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and any Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) that are generated. The installer (sometimes separate from the solar services provider) receives any available money from state rebates (which means the homeowner didn’t have to pay part or all of the cost of installation). Most SPPAs have options to buy the system throughout the term of the agreement or to pre-pay for all of the remaining electricity at a discounted rate while deferring the responsibilities of ownership to the solar utility. The home is always tied to the grid, so any excess electricity used beyond what the panels produce is purchased from the grid utility. Homeowners that want to pursue this option must be properly qualified with a minimum amount of monthly electricity usage, proper sun exposure and roof orientation as well as excellent credit (usually FICO 680 or better). A handy illustration of how an SPPA integrates into the grid electricity system. Next up, the solar lease has become a popular option because, like the SPPAs, homeowners don’t have to buy a system.  They just make a monthly payment and receive the benefit of clean electricity. Here’s the skinny on leases: There is commonly no upfront cost....

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