The Solar Exchange Ultimate Guide to
Go Solar Your Way
Going solar has its upside, but there are pitfalls out there from sub-par installations or over-promising people interested more in their commission than what’s best for you. That is why we created this solar guide from 30+ years of industry experience to help you make the best decision.
Why Go Solar?
Before you decide to Go Solar Your Way, here are some of the top reasons for doing so.
Reduce or even eliminate your electric bill. A solar power system can generate power that can offset a portion or an entire monthly electric bill.
Protects against rising utility costs. Energy costs across the nation continue to increase annually. A solar solution enables homeowners to be providers of their own power instead of relying solely on a local power provider.
Peace of mind
Solar provides not only financial savings, but it also provides peace of mind particularly when a system has battery backup. In the case of a black-out or brown-out (where a utility company conducts controlled blackouts), homeowners can ride out those situations without loss of power.
There are solar solutions that can provide total energy independence. Going “off-grid” means you no longer are connected to or need the conventional energy grid. Solar power can provide you with energy not only for your regular household needs but also energy to pump water from a well. Additionally, with your battery backup, your system can serve you during all times of the day.
Before deciding your solar options, it’s good to know what your potential savings and initial costs could be. Most companies offer a calculator where they ask for your zip code, contact information, and your utility bill. With your contact information, you’ll receive an estimate that you can use as a guide as you shop options.
Please be aware that many companies use high pressure sales tactic with your contact information, so you can get bombarded with solicitations. Additionally, calculators are only estimates and can often times be totally off as a cookie-cutter option, so it’s risky to put all your eggs in the solar basket based on only one calculation. Instead, it is important understand that there are a few things that you should consider when calculating an estimate of energy use and savings with solar to determine the best first estimate.
Historical Usage Calculation
With your utility bill, you can determine how your energy consumption would cost or save you with the same energy usage for a solar system. The downside is that energy usage can change and sometimes drastically.
Future Usage Calculation
This forward looking estimate is important as it considers the potential changes that can affect utility usage. For example, if you have a growing family, the energy usage would be expected to increase. The concern with this method is oftentimes, people underestimate future usage resulting in lower savings that people expect.
Another estimate is determining all the devices that require electricity consumption such as refrigerators, electric appliances, electric cars, etc. This method provides a uniform and objective way to look at device indicators. The gap with this method is determining the frequency of usage with the appliances.
No calculator is perfect, but it is much better to get a few different calculations to provide a better perspective. The best way to truly understand potential energy need and thus costs and savings is to work with an experience solar expert that will work through all the various product needs and standards to best estimate energy usage and production.
At the Solar Exchange, we also believe that education provides opportunity to best use a new solar system and determine how best to integrate sustainable usage and savings to get the most of a customized solar system. We also take a no-hassle approach of educating people so they can make the best choice because our vision is everyone progress towards their energy independence even if they don’t end up going with our recommendations.
Contact A Solar Expert today for a no-hassle customized Solar Recommendation.
Basics of a Solar Solution
When it comes to solar, most basic systems
require Panels, Inverters, Installation and optional Batteries.
There are many types of panels and brands. They are generally very similar in performance, but the most distinguishing factor is what tier of panels they are. Solar panels are divided into 3 tiers (Tier 1, 2, and 3). Tier 1 panels use the highest quality of silicon which adds to the likelihood that they will last the 25 years expected of the panels. Importantly, the Tier 1 rating was given by the financial community to determine the likelihood that a solar manufacturer will back their warranty. Most companies with a Tier 1 rating have a minimum of 5 years of experience, are traded publicly, have strong brand presence, and are vertically integrated from production to sales.
Panels collect energy from the sun that is Direct Current (DC) but that energy is not usable until it is transferred to Alternation Current (AC) that can be used in the home. The basic string inverter is one centralized currency exchange station. It is low cost, but production may not be consistent. Another option is micro-inverters that are attached directly to the panels. This ensures that your system can scale and has optimal collection of sun. The difficulty is that the costs are high to begin with. One of the best options is a grid-tie inverter that has battery back-up that combines the best of both worlds…low costs and high productivity.
One of the common areas that can make or break a solar system, is the quality of the installation. Many companies are sales companies that contract with installers who may not be incentivized to work as fast as you or the solar sales company would want. Others have their own internal installers, which provides you a level of security knowing that the company will stand behind the work. Make sure to know if you are working with an installer or a company that can take your solar project from start to finish
Most residential solar providers only have panels and inverters. This means the only option you get is a basic system that is tied to the power grid. In order to be able to store power for later usage, a battery backup is required. When exploring companies, ask if they can install batteries. The more experienced a company is, the greater the likelihood they are able to provide battery options. Ask about the types of batteries they provide. One of the most efficient and easy-to-use battery options are lithium batteries.
Most common system that includes panels and inverters. System is a good entry option that is tied to the grid providing owners some benefits of lower energy costs from their own solar production. This system is what is typically found in most residential areas and are the ones primarily sold by most solar retail companies. Oftentimes they are sold by door to door salespeople who contract with installers and finance companies to deliver the final product. Buyers should make sure to purchase from reputable companies with warranties of products and services. They should understand that their power produce may not be credited fully by the utility company so there may be savings that are left on the table.
At The Solar Exchange, are panels and inverters carry the highest warranties and are installed by our expert installers to ensure the best production. We also ensure that our estimates take into consideration the unique power needs so to ensure the most savings for our customers.
The next level of innovation for a solar system that adds the value of batteries to panels and inverters. Most retail companies do not have the ability to integrate batteries with their panels and inverters. Importantly, if a solar system is leased, then adding batteries is normally not possible as ownership must be established. Batteries provides not only peace of mind during potential blackouts or brownouts, but it is also a way to increase energy savings. This is possible as energy stored during cheaper and lower rates can be used at peak times when energy costs are much higher. Many companies that use batteries may not have access to the latest lithium technology which has greater storage capacity and longevity.
The Solar Exchange has been at the forefront of battery installation for over 30 years. We only used Lithium batteries in our systems enabling our clients ease of use as well as maximizing storage capacity. Our batteries are also warrantied for xx years.
The top end of solar systems combine the best of panels, inverters, and batteries, with the ability to also pump water for a complete package of sustainability. Oftentimes referred to as an off-grid system, all utility needs of electricity and water are powered completely by the solar energy system. This system requires access to water usually by a well that is driven by solar energy powered pumps. This system no longer depends on any utility company and provides the greatest level of energy independence for customers.
The Solar Exchange has been the go to provider of off-grid systems in the White Mountains. From large properties to smaller residences, The Solar Exchange has the expertise and experience to customize any system for off-grid living.
There are several ways in addition to paying cash for your solar system. Here are some of the key points you should consider when investing.
Tax Credit One of the promising areas for savings is the tax credit that homeowners are eligible to receive for installing solar. The tax credit is a dollar for dollar return in the form of tax credits on their total system cost. As of July 2022, the tax credit was raised from 26% to 30% and extended for another 10 years. All homeowners should consider the tax credit when determining their return on investment.
Company Financing Here at The Solar Exchange, we partner with several third-party financing companies that specialize in financing solar system installs and upgrades. These financiers generally have quick approvals, more options, and flexibility when financing your solar investment. With low interest rates and longer payback periods, the choice to finance makes solar cheaper than staying with your current utility company.
Bank Financing Financing through your bank can help you get a lower rate than going with specific solar company financing. Some banks and credit unions even have solar specific financing. Rates range based on individual credit ratings as well as the rating and warranty of the solar system that is to be purchased.
Home Equity Line of Credit Refinancing a home mortgage often provides an opportunity to take money out depending on how much equity an owner has and whether the project will be used to improve the home. This option allows homeowners to wrap the solar costs into the mortgage and thus, likely secure a low interest rate. Regardless of your financing needs, The Solar Exchange will work to educate every client with all the ways they can save money through securing the credits and loans necessary to make the move to energy dependence financially worthwhile. Contact us today to find out how much you can access.
Lease or Own
Many companies pitch a lease as a lower cash option for those who want to not have to worry about ownership. For a lease, make sure that the monthly payment is not subject to annual increases. Many solar leases have limiting factors that in the long run make it a negative proposition for customers. Let’s take a look at the common benefits of owning vs. leasing.
Better Long-Term Savings
Own the system
Qualifies for Tax Credit
Solar Energy Renewable Credits (SRECs) Sell energy back to the utility company
Salability of Home
Better Battery Storage
No Upfront Costs
At the Solar Exchange, our 30 years of experience strongly suggests that owning is better than leasing. The short-term savings for starting with a lease, is eclipsed by the overall savings that come from buying. Ownership brings flexibility to upgrade the system as needed and provides opportunity to have more energy independence. A lease requires customers to still depend on a utility company for their energy use price at which they purchase that energy. With so many financing options with fair terms and rates, ownership is the best choice for most if not all customers. Please contact our solar experts to learn more about the benefits of ownership.