Is going solar right for you?
If you are thinking about using solar power in your home, it is important that you consider a few things before installing your solar panel system.
The first thing you should do is review your utility bills and see how much energy you used in the last year and look at what your costs were. You should also see what part of the total bill is for “metered” electricity, and what portion of your bill is for other items, such as delivery costs because even if the amount of metered electricity is reduced, you’ll still need to pay the utilities fixed charges.
Another thing you should consider is how you use energy and how you can reduce the amount of electricity used in your home. Making your home and appliances more energy efficient and ensuring that your home is properly weatherized can help to reduce your energy needs.
Before installing solar panels, you should also consider how long you will be in your home. A residential solar panel system is typically designed to stay on your home for at least 20 years. If you think you may move in that time span, it is important to find out how installing a system will affect your ability to sell your house. You should also be sure to ask the solar company about its policy on transferring the contract to a new homeowner after your home is sold.
It is also important that you figure out what size system you need to meet your average energy usage, and that you learn about the different products available in your area.
Solar energy systems also use one or more inverters to convert direct current electricity from the solar panels into alternating current electricity which is used by your appliances and outlets. The amount of power you get from a solar panel system depends on the average number of house of direct sunlight your roof gets, the pitch, age, and condition of your roof, the size and strength of your system, and environmental factors such as snow, dust or shade that may cover the system.
Another important thing to do before installing a solar energy system is to contact your utility to see what arrangements it makes with homeowners who produce solar power. Your utility may use “net metering,” which pays you or gives you credit for excess power your system produces during the day and returns to the grid.
Lastly, if you have a homeowner’s association you need to find out if you need their approval to install and system.
Solar power is the collection and conversion of the sun’s energy into electricity. The process begins when solar (or photovoltaic) cells are exposed to sunlight, this knocks the electrons in the cell loose and electricity is produced. A solar panel is a collection of solar cells, which convert the energy of photons, or light particles, from the sun into electricity.
A solar power system is made of three main components:
- Solar Panels
- Inverter (converts DC to AC)
- Monitoring System
*Adding a solar battery is becoming an increasingly popular option for additional energy freedom
Do not miss out on solar for your home
Earlier this year Duke Energy reached its capacity for net-metering rooftop solar power in South Carolina when it began sourcing 2 percent of its energy from distributed solar arrays. Now it’s taking the relatively unusual step of asking regulators if it can add more net-metering in.
Most utilities have opposed the idea of net-metering, which helps incentivize rooftop solar installations by paying or reimbursing rooftop solar customers for electricity they put back on the grid at retail electric prices. Many contend that this practice costs them more but many studies are showing this isn’t true as solar power generates the most energy when utilities need to add in power from more expensive peaker plants. Apparently Duke Energy is understanding that’s not the case.
In a petition that Duke Energy filed with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina it requested that the commission extend the net-metering program and asked for expedited relief. In its petition it was joined by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, SunRun, the Alliance for Solar Choice, and the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance.
The petition is for a temporary extension of the program through March in 2019. The extension will allow those involved to work to create longer-term solar incentives in upstate South Carolina, explained the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
“The success of this program to date shows that solar is working for South Carolina families,” said Lauren Bowen, staff attorney for Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). “Extending the timeline for Duke Energy Carolina’s net metering program gives more of its customers the ability to install solar as a way to manage their energy costs while collaborative discussions are underway.”
Under South Carolina’s current regulations, which were enacted four years ago, Duke Energy’s net-metering program would be capped when 2 percent of its retail peak demand was met by distributed solar power. That threshold was met earlier this year, closing the program to new applicants. Solar incentives have proven popular in the state. In just one year, for instance, it funded $12 million in solar incentives beating expectations quickly.
“Duke Energy Carolina’s net metering program has played a crucial role in reaching the state’s renewable energy goals,” said Eddy Moore, the Coastal Conservation League’s Energy and Climate Program Director. “The rapid expansion of rooftop solar put South Carolina residents to work, providing stable jobs to more than 3,000 workers across the state – jobs that are now in jeopardy due to program limits. Current laws allow utilities to change the rules for customer solar when it reaches two percent of the utility’s peak demand. Duke Energy Carolinas customers recently became the first to hit this threshold.”
-by Chris Meehan on 09/07/2018, SolarReviews