Are you interested in solar energy and want to find out if solar is right for you?
The best place to start is by getting a free solar assessment from us. The whole process is quite simple and should take about an hour. However, there are several steps that will be helpful to know beforehand and will speed up the process!
The electric bill gives us two important pieces of information: your yearly kWh (kilowatt-hour) usage, and your cost per kWh.
The yearly kWh usage is what we use to size our systems, as long as budget and available space are not constraints. We rarely design a system to produce significantly more than what a customer is currently using, and therefore knowing and understanding your usage amount is important. It is also important to understand your potential future usage. For example, if you will be completing energy efficiency upgrades in the near future, your yearly usage should come down; on the other hand if you intend to add load (install electric heating, buy an electric car, etc.), your yearly usage will go up.
The cost per kWh is important in projecting payback and return on investment. Customers with higher electric rates will see greater savings per kWh produced, while customers with lower electric rates will see lower savings per kWh produced. The majority of the long term cash flow is determined by these rates. At Paradise Energy Solutions, we start with your current electric rate based on your current bill to calculate your savings in the first year of production. Customers within the same utility service area do not always have the same rate; for this reason, we calculate each customer’s savings individually to ensure accuracy.
Take a look at the electric bill below from one of our customers.
Every electric service will have 3 basic characteristics: phase, voltage, and amperage (amps). Phase and voltage dictate what inverters, and in some cases what modules, can be used on a particular project. Since costs may vary based on equipment used, this is important information to know so that a project can be properly designed and priced.
The amperage (amps) of the service limits the system to a particular AC output size. Most residential customers will have a sufficient service size to accommodate a solar system large enough to cover their usage. Some residential and commercial customers may be required to upgrade their service if they wish to install a system large enough to cover their usage, which is an additional cost for the customer. Depending on that cost, it may be beneficial to install a smaller system. Again, this is important to know when designing a solar project.
Solar systems may also be limited in size by the customer’s service transformer. Typically, a solar system’s AC rating may not exceed the transformer kVA rating. Ultimately, this is the utility’s decision. In some cases, it may be worth the additional cost to upgrade the transformer in order to install a larger system, but this is good to know up front for planning and pricing purposes.
Solar panels require unshaded space to work properly. This can be roof space, ground space, or (at a higher cost) parking lot space. The available space needs to be measured to properly size solar arrays that can fit in the available space. Inverters and other electrical equipment (combiner boxes, disconnects, meters, etc.) also require space to operate. This equipment is typically installed on a wall near the customer’s utility meter. In some cases, the inverters will be installed on the roof.
Most of our customers have either budget requirements or return on investment expectations when looking into solar. Knowing these things up front helps us to efficiently design the system that makes the most sense for you. It also allows us to propose financing options that can help make the project possible. At Paradise Energy Solutions, our goal is to help our customers install a system that is the best value for their budget.