Home Solar Power – Understanding the Site Evaluation Process (Part 8)

The use of solar generated electricity is a significant step toward energy security, a great way to save money, and a step towards solutions to the Climate Crisis. A new company is making it easy and affordable for U.S. homeowners to upgrade their homes to solar generated electricity.

It is not just the American Dream any longer. It is possible for U.S. homeowners to save money on their energy bills by renting a residential solar energy system. A homeowner can help to lower their carbon emissions by utilizing renewable energy. A new manufacturer is working to make it hassle free and affordable for a homeowner to install solar. Reducing costs related to purchasing electricity from a utility company is an added value to upgrading to solar.

In their pilot installation phase, this company is working to remove the barriers to wide-scale solar adoption in the United States. Solar Permit Services Its business model is to rent all of the equipment needed to power a residential home with solar electricity.

There are requirements. An energy audit and suitability study are conducted to better understand whether a home is appropriate for solar. In some cases, homeowners wishing to have a solar energy system installed will not qualify.

A New Solar Energy Unit Rental Service — The U.S. homeowner need not purchase an expensive solar system. It is provided on a leasing or rental basis. The installation is free, with it being part of the rental service, and any permitting or rebate challenges related to the system installation are handled by the company – not the homeowner. The rental company provides the solar equipment, installs the solar electric system, and maintains the unit over time. This solar rental service allows the average citizen to self-produce their own renewable energy.

The homeowner pays a rental fee and produces solar generated electricity from the solar system installed on their home. The homeowner doesn’t have to worry about maintaining the equipment or any of the other concerns that come with making a solar system purchase.

This rental service takes care of all the barriers and headaches associated with the installation of residential solar systems. The solar solution avoids further carbon emissions, helps reduce dependencies on foreign energy, and creates momentum for renewable energy projects in many part of the U.S.

The Residential Solar Energy System — This service provides enhanced efficiency and better control of your energy usage. The system will monitor the energy production on a daily basis. The homeowner can also track household energy consumption via online reporting. The integrated solar unit provides a renewable energy source that helps a homeowner self-produce renewable energy.

Solar Generated Electricity Saves Money — Switching to solar energy can also save on long term electricity costs. The homeowner pays a flat monthly rental fee for the solar energy unit. They generate renewable energy from the rented system and this electricity offsets the energy that must be purchased from a utility company. This will cause a reduction in the average paid for electricity going forward.

The rental pays for itself over the life span of the residential solar energy system. The homeowner avoids utility rate increases over time because the solar system rental fee stays lock-in while the cost for electricity continues to go up.

The U.S. homeowner can produce renewable energy, save money on their energy costs, and feel good about lowering their carbon emissions. This solar rental service is truly solar made simple.

At Solargies, our goal is to spread the adoption of renewable energy. Daniel Stouffer is a freelance writer and solar energy consultant. Solar electric system rentals allow homeowners to upgrade to solar power without the upfront system purchase. Learn more at

You have read the articles, ‘surfed’ the web and you are ready to commit to the installation of Solar for your home. The installation of a Solar Photovoltaic System for your home is a wise decision on many levels. Like many home improvements, it doesn’t happen overnight. With some proper planning, however, you will know what to expect and you can begin the process with confidence.

Estimated time required: A few days

Gather Electrical Bills:

To a large extent, the size of your Solar PV system will be determined by your present use of electricity. You should gather one year’s worth of electrical bills. Copies can be obtained from your utility company and are often available online. Your Solar contractor will use this information to determine how many panels you will need, what size panels you will need and what kind, number and size inverters you will need. Your electrical usage information is also useful in determining your payback period- how long it will take you to recoup your investment.

Estimated time required: Less than 2 weeks

Find a Certified Contractor:

There are several sources for contractor names- the internet, Solar organizations, recommendations. Your contractor must have the required state electrical license. If the person you are dealing with is not licensed, they are likely just a sales organization that will subcontract much of the work to others. You will have no say in who these others are, so be sure you trust the people you hire. Your contractor should also be registered as a NJ State Home Improvement Contractor. This registration is required of all companies or individuals doing work in NJ homes. Membership in one of the national Solar associations is also a good guide. These certifications and licenses should be displayed on the contractor’s website. If you don’t see them, ask to be sure.

Estimated time required: 1 week

Solar Site Survey:

To begin, your contractor will use ‘Google Earth’ or a similar satellite mapping service to initially check the suitability of your location. He/She will look to see if your roof can be observed from the satellite. Trees or other obstructions A careful examination of the house is required if a Solar installation is appropriate. The contractor will then get on your roof, if it is accessible, and take critical measurements. They will draw a roof plan, locating all existing roof penetrations such as plumbing vents, exhaust, chimneys and determine the general condition of your roof and its age. If your roofing material is at or near the end of its useful life cycle, it may make sense to repair/replace it prior to the installation of a roof mounted Solar panel system.

Next, they will use an inclinometer to check the pitch of the roof. This is important for two reasons. First, the inclination of the roof relative to the latitude will affect the amount of sun the panels receive and therefore how much electricity they produce. Second, a roof with a severe pitch will require additional safety equipment, such as roof harnesses and roof ladders. This can affect the cost of the installation.

Then your contractor will check out your existing electrical service and main panel. Your new Solar PV system must properly tie into your panel. An older panel might require replacement. Your contractor will also examine your attic. A Solar PV system puts additional weight on the roof, and the roof must be able to handle this extra load. The roof construction, along with attic floor construction will determine the load bearing capabilities of your roof. (for more on this – see “Local Building Permits”, below)

The contractor should also take a compass azimuth reading of your roof. It must be determined where and when the sun will shine on your roof. A northern facing roof will not get direct sun and cannot be used. Southerly facing roofs are ideal, but other westerly and easterly directions will also work.

The contractor will use a special instrument called a Solar Eye. This is a combination fish eye camera and computer. Your geographical location is programmed into the device, along with roof tilt and compass direction. This device will locate any source of shade that might hit your roof, any time of day, any day of the year. It determines what your “insolation” rate will be. Perfect is of course 100%. Less that 70% might mean alteration of the panel mounting pattern to avoid shade. In northern New Jersey, a good roof averages 4.5 hours of useable sun light per day. When all the parameters are fully known, it becomes a matter of simple geometry. How the largest number of panels be installed on the given roof surface. Ideally, we like to use the largest wattage panels we can. The installed cost per watt goes down as the size of the panel goes up. Panels come in outputs from about 75 watts to over 200 watts.

The final technical calculation required is the selection of the inverter. Your Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into direct current electricity. Your house runs on alternating current. The inverter does the job of changing direct current into useful alternating current. The panels are wired together in patterns called “strings” and each “string” is wired into the inverter. The inverter then sends alternating current into your main electrical service panel, where it will provide electrical power to your whole house.

 

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