Do you live in Virginia and you want to install a solar energy system?
Solar energy is a great investment option for many businesses, farmers, and homeowners in Virginia. But it’s important to be aware of how solar energy works in Virginia before installing your system.
After installing over 1,300 solar systems, we’ve found that people shopping for solar energy in Virginia need to be aware of these items. These are the things many people overlook when going through the buying process. Check out the list below to make sure you're fully prepared.
You should know how solar panels work
Solar panels work by adsorbing sunlight which activates Photovoltaic Cells which generates (DC) Direct Current energy. The DC energy travels through a series of wires to the inverter(s). The inverter(s) convert the DC energy to (AC) Alternating Current. The alternating current travels to the homes/business electrical panel where it is distributed accordingly. Any overproduction (kWh’s) which is not used, will be transferred to the utility grid, using what is called Net Metering.
You need to know what happens if your solar system overproduces
What happens to any extra energy produced by your solar system? This is a common question as well as a misconception with many solar customers. Thanks to an application called Net Metering, Virginians don't have to worry about missing out when their solar system overproduces (common in the summer).
Net Metering is the mechanism used by utility companies to track overproduction (more kWh production than you use). This will give you a one-for-one credit for each kWh that's sent back to the grid. Then when the solar system produces less electricity than you use (common in the winter months), your utility company will use these credits to offset the current electric bill.
You should understand the difference between Grid Tied and Off-Grid systems
Consider a Grid Tied solar system to be the best of both worlds. A Grid Tied system is sized to eliminate your 12 month average electric usage. When sunlight is not present, inclement weather and/or in the evening hours, your home/business has power provided by the utility company. It's a seamless method to make sure you always have electricity.
Grid Tied with battery back-up is an alternative to a backup generator. However, battery back -up systems require a larger up-front cost, periodic maintenance as well as decreased over-all efficacy of the solar system.
An Off-Grid system is completely independent of the grid. Though in some cases, this may be the only option available in remote areas where utility services are unavailable. Off-Grid systems solely rely on constant sun for daytime usage and battery storage for inclement weather/evening usage. With an Off-Grid system remember this, No Sun Light equals No Energy.
You'll need to select between a roof mount and ground mount system
A majority of solar systems are installed as roof mounted applications. Typically, this is the most desirable location depending on available roof space sufficient enough to accommodate the system size. Shading caused by trees and/or other buildings/structures can significantly impact the performance of a solar system. That being said, strong consideration of these factors must be taken into account and a reputable solar installer will factor this into the quote.
Ground mount systems typically have a higher upfront cost. These systems require additional components as well as increased labor costs usually making a roof mount financially more attractive than a ground mounted system.
Another key point to consider, a ground mount system will require additional land space whereas a roof mounted system only utilizes the roof.
However, solar ground mounts are a great option for people who do not have adequate roof space for solar, the roof isn't facing the ideal direction, or you simply don't want panels on your roof. Ground mounts can be positioned facing the optimal direction at the perfect angle, making this a solid option for many.
You need to be prepared for the cost
How much does solar energy cost in Virginia? The cost is made up of a few key factors. First the system size (based on your 12 month energy usage) and the type of system you’re installing - roof mount or a ground mount.
Virginia homeowners should be prepared to spend between $20,000 and $45,000 for a grid-tied solar system. Businesses and farmers in Virginia can expect to spend $80,000+ depending on the amount of energy the system needs to produce.
It's important to keep in mind the costs above are before utilizing the available tax incentives and potential grants.
These solar incentives will save you money
Currently, there is a 26% Federal Tax Credit available for all Virginia homeowners and businesses that install a system in 2020. This is a great tool to help you recapture a large sum of the federal taxes you owe.
If you're investing in solar for your business or farm, that opens the door for additional incentives. These incentives include additional tax savings on depreciation and the potential of receiving a USDA REAP Grant, if your business qualifies. Some businesses can cover 60% or more of the installation cost with tax credits and grants.
To sum up the benefits of going solar:
- Elimination of a fixed cost - your electric bill
- 26% Solar Tax Credit (available to everyone who owes federal taxes)
- Additional tax savings on depreciation (businesses only)
- Positive Cash Flow/ROI
- Positive environmental impact
At Paradise Energy, we install solar energy systems for businesses, farmers, and homeowners across the mid-Atlantic region. If you’re interested in installing a solar system in Virginia click below to get your quote.
You can also download our solar buying guide for a more in-depth review of what you need to know before installing solar.