Solar, using sunshine to produce valuable energy for people, is awesome! Solar is a clean, renewable resource. The equipment is durable, and I am truly glad to see more and more of it happening.
The purpose of this blog post is to explain how to evaluate the match between you and solar, specifically Solar Electric or PV.
Because Solar truly is for everyone, it must be explained that Solar is not for everyone. Photovoltaic energy, the word means light or photons in and voltage or electricity out, is a great technology, but it is not suitable for every situation.
So before you even get into choosing between poly or mono, string or micro, tilt up or flat. First find out if solar right for you and your situation. After years of experience, I know where the slipper fits.
First and foremost is that you gotta have sunshine. My experience is that 3 out of 10 people do not know which direction is South in relation to their home, much less whether or not they have adequate sunshine for a Solar array. And this is from successful and educated people, all of whom know a lot on subjects foreign to me, but they don’t know south. Well, I know south, and the first step for you in Solar is to know if you have available sunshine coming in from a general southward direction.
Then, there has got to be a need. Do you use electricity? Are you planning on using electricity in the future, even as the costs continue to rise?
Economics: My customers are using discretionary funds. Not unlimited capitol, but comfortably able to pay off their monthly bills like gasoline and utilities. Economically speaking, they diversify their assets by placing a small portion in material equipment that allows them to harvest sunshine, and bring that harvest into their home.
Solar attaches you to the environment like only a farmer can understand.
Economics Part 2: The tax section is a separate aspect of the economics. Both the Federal and the State of North Carolina governments actively support the development of this American Energy Independence movement. The way they support it, and effectively, is that they do not take as much of your tax money, aka, your hard earned income. You do not need to apply for a grant because this is not someone “giving you money,” it is two sectors of government lowering the amount of money they are going to require from you. As an incentive for growth, they let you direct a portion of that money into your house, in a way that is good for us all. Key point: My customers would have substantial tax bills on the year of installation.
Good clean energy goes into society.
System size: Of everything written so far, this is going to be the guideline with the greatest variability. But from what I have observed, residential systems at about 8 kW are right at optimum. Let’s see what this means in combination with the first rule, you gotta have Sunshine. A Solar panel is approximately a 3’ by 5’ rectangle. This is 15 square feet. To say that a single module or panel is 250 watts would be to underestimate the power by today’s standards, but that is a fairly close approximation, and it makes the following math easy. At 250 watts per module, it would take 4 modules to make 1 kilowatt. 1 kW would need 60 square feet of sunny surface to work effectively. An 8 kW array would need a surface of about 480 square feet that is in the sun from around 9am to 3pm each day. This is a fairly big roof, so more systems end up around 5 or 6kW.
General summary: It turns out sunshine is a valuable commodity. So if you have an area of Sunshine that is being wasted, and you have the means to get set up, and then some patience to give it time to accumulate in your favor, then using the sun to supply a portion of your energy is a nice match for you. You might want to contact somebody good to develop the next steps.
How does this fit you? If you are able to move forward you will discover that Solar puts you in touch with the environment in a good way.