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Your Solar Guide: What Can Solar Do for You?

Solar energy is now more affordable and accessible than ever before, and using renewable energy makes a positive impact on the environment. It’s like they say: what does a solar spill look like? A beautiful day. 

SAVE MONEY

Everyone wants to save money, right? A solar electric, or photovoltaic (PV) system may be the answer. The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) requires power providers to purchase excess power from grid-connected small renewable energy systems at a rate equal to what it costs the power provider to produce the power itself. This means that any excess energy your PV system produces can actually put money into your pocket. The greatest benefit for homeowners is through net metering. With this arrangement, a bi-directional meter is used to record the electricity your home pulls from the grid, as well as the excess energy your PV system produces. At the end of the month, if you are in the black energy-wise, the utility will pay you retail price for that extra electricity.

PROTECT THE PLANET

At least for the next 5 billion years or so while the sun still shines, solar energy is a renewable resource. This means that you can use as much of the sun’s energy as you like and it won’t deplete it as a resource. Processing solar energy does not release carbon emissions, unlike coal, which many utilities use to produce electricity. According to the EPA, the average American household produces 6.8 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission from electricity each year. By using solar energy to power your home, greenhouse gas emissions from electricity could decrease considerably.

Side note: If you can’t produce solar energy at home, why not buy clean energy from your local utility?

INCREASE PROPERTY VALUE

Investing in solar energy will not only save you month-to-month on your electric bill, but it could also increase the property value of your home. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that in California, PV systems added a $20,194 premium to the sales price of homes. Though solar can be expensive to install, the return on investment is approximately 97%, not including the savings associated with reduced energy bills.

CREATE JOBS

The solar industry is growing rapidly. More homes are using solar energy and as such, new jobs are being created to meet this need. According to the non-profit Solar Foundation 2013 Solar Jobs Census, the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. This is an almost 20% growth in employment since September 2012!

Article: Energy.gov

Next Cash Crop for Farmers? Solar Panels

Farmers are now harvesting the sun for produce and power. As weather conditions change and the prices of crops increase farmers have turned to solar energy to make an income. Solar energy offers opportunities to farmers, where they can lease land for solar, sell back excess electricity, and/or offset their electrical bills. Are you a farmer looking into solar? Contact Solar Chief today!


Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants

Solar Chief is here to make sure you are aware of any and all solar incentive benefits. Contact us and we can help assist you and/or contact your State Rural Development Energy Coordinator for more information on if your business or farm may qualify for this grant program.

Source: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency


An analysis by researchers at Michigan Tech found that solar farms are more profitable than tobacco farms.

The southern United States is a vast expanse of fields and undeveloped land, much of of which has been used for growing tobacco for hundreds of years. Tobacco is a terrific cash crop, and tobacco farmers make lots of money selling it but a new analysis from Michigan Tech finds that these farmers could make even more money harvesting sunlight.

The Michigan Tech researchers looked at tobacco farms in South Carolina, where much of the country’s tobacco is produced and calculated the point at which farmers could make more money farming energy given the falling rates of tobacco use in the United States.

The researchers factored in a lot of variables for their analysis, including the dropping price of solar panels and the increasing value of electricity in the future. They also took into account that the price of tobacco would likely drop in the future, given the decreasing popularity of smoking.

The researchers expected to find the crossover point for solar versus tobacco profits somewhere in the future but, to their surprise, their analysis showed that solar was already more profitable than tobacco.

“We looked at likely trends in all of the major economic factors,” says researcher Joshua Pearce, “but were surprised to find that because the cost of solar has dropped so dramatically it is already economically advantageous for tobacco farmers to replace tobacco with solar in many situations.”

Crunching a few more numbers, Pearce and his team found that switching every tobacco farm in South Carolina to solar would generate 30 gigawatts of power, enough to run the entire state. This could also save two thousand lives per year by removing air pollution produced by fossil fuel plants. Of course this all assumes that the new solar tariff does not significantly impact the math.

There’s also the benefit from reducing the amount of tobacco people smoke. If every tobacco farm in the country became a solar farm, the researchers say that over half a million lives could be saved every year. That might be a little optimistic, but a reduced supply of available tobacco products could hardly be a bad thing for public health.

“The economic benefits for ex-tobacco farmers going into solar is nice,” says Pearce, “but the real payoff is in American lives saved from both pollution prevention and smoking cessation.”

Source: Farmers Might Want to Swap Tobacco Plants for Solar Panels

Financial Incentives: Impact on Property Value

Solar Homes Sell for a Premium

Buying a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. A recent study found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades, just like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without. In 2008, California homes with energy efficient features and PV were found to sell faster than homes that consume more energy. Keep in mind, these studies focused on homeowner-owned solar arrays.

Source: Energy.gov

Innovations in Solar: Disney’s New 270-Acre Solar Farm

Disney added a 50-megawatt solar system in Florida. This solar farm includes more than a half million panels that cover 270 acres. This will considerably reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by more than 57,000 tons per year. As reported by the New York Times, Disney estimates the amount of energy the facility can produce would be enough to power 10,000 homes annually. That’s also as much as getting 9,300 cars off the road.

The new solar farm joins other Disney efforts towards its green goal. In 2016, the company opened a 22-acre, 5-megawatt solar facility that’s shaped like Mickey Mouse. Its Tokyo Disneyland also uses solar power from rooftops to generate more than 600 kilowatts for its electrical parade light. Disneyland Paris is also in on the green game, utilizing geothermal energy for the power needed in two of its theme parks as well as a hotel. Disney’s Shanghai Resort makes use of a cooling and heating plant that cuts emissions by 60 percent.

Source: Disney, The New York Times

Going Solar: Adding to Existing System

As always contact Solar Chief to discuss the best option for the most efficient, reliable, and cost effective system. Solar Chief offers Free Site Evaluations and Free Quotes.

Why add to a existing solar array?

  • Increased Electrical Usage: becoming more relaxed about energy use, example- purchasing an electric vehicle, expanding your home
  • Smaller Installments: expand system slowly, offsets electrical bill, financial position

When upgrading your solar panel system, selecting identical solar panels is the best bet to ensure your solar array is efficient. The type of inverter is based on your system size, so your original inverter might not have the capacity to handle additional electricity. There are many different options when adding to your solar arrays. If your home’s roof is out of space for your expansion, you might consider a ground-mounted system. Consult Solar Chief to understand your best options for solar expansion.

Ask the Experts: Maintenance of Solar Panels

Welcome to a new feature on the Solar Chief Blog called Ask the Experts! I will ask our Solar Chief experts to answer common questions that many customers have. Solar Chief is here to answer your questions. If you ever have any further questions, call us today!

Solar Chief Expert: Trip

Trip is the lead installer at Solar Chief.
Trip is a great installer. He knows every detail in the solar installation process. Our customers love Trip and he always tells them the straight truth and even will give his personal phone number if they need any help.

Question: What maintenance do you recommend to your customers?

Expert Answer: I always tell them “don’t do anything.” The rain takes care of the dust and dirt that gathers on top of your panels. Solar Chief monitors your PV system so we can catch any problems and come fix it. (The solar monitoring system is something you see and get sent to our system.)

*Stay tuned to here the interview done with Trip on solar installation.

Solar Myths: Environmental Impacts

There are many misconceptions about Solar panels impact on the environment. Keep reading to learn more.

Making solar panels causes more pollution than the clean energy they produce.

No. A study by the US Department of Energy shows that, depending on your solar panels, the energy payback is 1 to 4 years. Solar panels usually last 25 years, so solar manufacturing is very green. That said, if you buy American made panels, it saves more carbon from the transport costs. Something to consider in choosing your panels.

Solar panels will cause more harm to the environment when they’re thrown away in 25 years.

Actually, most panel manufacturers will recycle the panels after you’re through in 25 years. If they don’t, don’t buy those panels. However, it’s hard to say whether people will actually recycle them because most panels are still being used today. So it’s up to you find out about the manufacturer’s panel recycling program. From what I understand, they will come to you and take them away at no charge.

Source: Solar Power Rocks

Your Solar Guide: How many panels for your project?

Investing and transitioning to solar can seem complex but Solar Chief is here to help. Our company prides itself on educating customers on everything solar. Solar Chief wants to ensure every project is successful in producing the amount of energy needed. Faults can occur when using an online app to calculator the number of panels needed because the app doesn’t calculate all the circumstances. Solar Chief offers FREE proposals and FREE site evaluations to provide an accurate estimate.

How many solar panels is needed for your project?
Depends on the amount of electricity used and location of the panels.

How to estimate your energy needs

Energy Efficiency of Home

Make energy-saving upgrades to maximize efficiency before adding solar. Completing a home energy audit can significantly lower your energy bill. The process is not costly and many adjustments can be done yourself. Local utility companies offer energy saving tips, discounts, and rebates. SCE&G offers free Home Energy Check-ups. Below are some examples of energy upgrades.

  • Inspect doors, windows, roof, and attic for leaks
  • Replace your old bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs (SCE&G Discounts)
  • Update to energy efficient appliances (SCE&G Appliances Recycling Rebate)
  • Install energy-saving smart thermostats (example: Nest)
  • Replace air filters

Assess Solar Potential and Limitation

The location of your project determines the solar potential of the solar array. PV systems use direct and indirect sunlight but the efficiency can be impacted. Look at your areas yearly sun exposure.
The limitations of your solar array can be created by shading (trees or buildings), roof conditions (age, size, material), and HOA (homeowner association) restrictions. Ask Solar Chief to provide recommendations to reach a peak efficiency of your system.

Assess Options of Solar

The solar option chosen could affect the number of panels in your system. Determining your use for solar energy will help configure the amount of electricity your system needs to produce. Price and ownership play a role in planning your array. Some panels can produce more electricity than others. Do you want a rooftop or ground-mounted solar system? Do you want to be connected to the grid?

Estimate Projects Solar Electricity Needs

Estimating the amount of electricity a system needs to produce is the last step. Addressing the efficiency of your home will lower the amount of energy needed to be produced. Solar Chief wants to create the most accurate energy estimation. Analyzing your power bill can determine the number of kilowatts per hour used per month. Then we will determine what your system would need to be in kW in order to meet your kWh needs.

Factors to Consider

Importance of knowing peak usage. Some homes use more energy in summer or winter and you want to have a system prepared for peak loads.

Consider any planned changes. If you will be purchasing an electric vehicle or are planning a home addition, your electricity needs may increase.

Importance of your home’s energy efficiency. If you are continuing to make significant changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency, you may need less electricity than you used in the past.

Net Metering. If you want to sell back power to the electric company, then you need to produce more power than you consume.

There is a regulatory cap on the system KW size permitted on top of your roof.

There are so many factors determining the size of your system. Contact Solar Chief to find out more. Thanks for reading!

Source: Energy.gov

Going Solar: Preparing for Solar

Our goal at Solar Chief is to make every customer feel prepared and fully educated about going solar. These tips do not have to be completed to receive a free quote or free site evaluation from Solar Chief! These are possible things that might need to be done before installation. Here are some helpful tips that will make the transition easy!


Collect Past Electrical Bills

  • Help us get a better understanding of how much energy your home or business uses.

Make energy-saving upgrades to maximize efficiency before adding solar.

  • Verify if doors and windows are sealed correctly
  • Inspect your roof and attic for leaks
  • Add additional insulation
  • Install energy-saving smart thermostats (example: Nest)
  • Replace your old bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs
  • Invest in energy-smart power strips and timers for electronics.
  • Replace air filters in air conditioning and heating systems, vents, and appliances.

Make Appointment with Accountant

  • Speak with your accountant to understand the tax credits effect on your financial situation

Audit Your Roof

  • When was your roof installed?
  • What material is your roof made of?
  • What condition is your roof?
  • Solar panels can last for 25 years, so ensure your roof will it. It is more inexpensive to replace your roof before solar panels.

Remove Any Barriers

  • remove anything that will be in the way of direct sunlight
  • example: trim trees that create shading on roof

Innovations in Solar: Top Retailers Using Solar Power

Top retailers investing in solar are leading the way to cleaner energy. Corporations are recognizing that going solar is a common-sense business decision. Solar not only benefits the environment but it also helps the company’s save money.

Contact Solar Chief to learn about the solar opportunities of your business.

Image result for walmart logo
Walmart has 371 solar installations with 145 megawatts of solar energy capacity.

Image result for target
Target has 422 solar installations with more than 200 megawatts of solar energy capacity.

Costco has 85 solar installations with 51 megawatts of solar energy capacity

Image result for ikea logo
IKEA has 46 solar installations with 45 megawatts of solar capacity. About 90% of stores have solar energy installations.

Source: EPA