Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is solar energy?

    Solar energy takes advantage of the sun's rays to generate heat or electricity. It is an infinitely renewable resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner. Can't beat the sun for being oh-so-cool!
  • How do solar photovoltaic cells work?

    In layperson terms, photovoltaic cells are comprised of a semiconductor material such as silicon. Added to the silicon are the elements phosphorous and boron which create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons. The electrons move across the cell when activated by the sunlight's energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel.
  • What is the difference between solar panels versus building integrated photovoltaic products?

    Solar panels are flat panels of photovoltaic arrays mounted on a roof or a pole to capture the sun's rays. Building integrated photovoltaic materials are PV arrays that are integrated into the building material itself, primarily windows, roof tiles, or walls. Solar panels work well for retrofits or remodels while BIPV are appropriate for new construction or a major renovation.
  • How much will I really save on my utility bills from a home electric solar power system?

    Of course this is a relative question. It depends, in part, on how much electricity you use and how efficient the appliances are that you operate. That said expect to generate excess electricity in the summer (when days are long) which can potentially offset the energy you use from the grid in the winter. A combination of energy efficient appliances and light bulbs can help reduce your homes energy bill by over two-thirds. Find out more about the costs and potential savings from a residential solar power system in our Solar Power Cost section.
  • What's the difference between solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems?

    While both types of solar systems capture energy from the sun, solar photovoltaic systems use photovoltaic panels to produce electricity. Solar hot water, or thermal, systems capture sunlight to heat water for domestic use, to heat a swimming pool, or for a radiant heating system.
  • What are solar hot water systems?

    Solar hot water systems, broadly termed solar thermal systems, use the sun's energy to heat water. Solar hot water systems can be used to heat a hot water tank or to warm a home's radiant heating system. Swimming pools and hot tubs use a modified solar hot water system for heating water. Find more information on how solar hot water systems work in our Solar Thermal section.
  • How do pool heating systems work?

    Pool heating systems use a modified solar hot water system to capture the sun's rays to heat your pool or hot tub. For more information on how solar pool heating systems work, check out our Solar Thermal section. e resource and unique for its ability to generate energy in a quiet, clean, and consistent manner. Can't beat the sun for being oh-so-cool!
  • Can I use solar power to heat my home?

    Absolutely! Radiant heating applies solar thermal technology. Transferring solar energy through pipes into an under floor radiant heating system is a wonderful way to stay warm. Radiant floor systems are typically 40 percent more efficient than their forced air counterpart and can be zoned to match thermal comfort to each room. Find more information about radiant heating in our Solar Heating Systems section.
  • How much maintenance do solar energy panels require?

    Solar photovoltaic panels require little maintenance – no need to wash or dust. It is, however, important to place panels where they will remain clear of shade and debris. Thus you will have to wipe them off if too much snow, dust or leaves fall on them. Solar hot water collection arrays don't need much attention either. It does help to periodically use a window wash brush, biodegradable soap, and water to clean the tubes.
  • Do I need special insurance requirements?

    Standard homeowner's insurance policies usually suffice to meet electric utility requirements. Electric utilities usually require that homeowners who take advantage of net metering sign an interconnection agreement.
  • What if I'm the first person I know to install a photovoltaic system on my home?

    First off, congratulations! Secondly, there are plenty of resources out there. If you happen to be one of the first in your area to install a solar PV system, you can work with your contractor and us to successfully install your photovoltaic system. Locate Natural Systems in your area to help you with your project.
  • When should I seek a solar professional?

    Although solar energy systems work in parallel with conventional residential electrical and plumbing systems, there are quirks in the process well suited to seeking out professionals who specialize in solar power installation. Solar installation professionals can help you determine the type and size of system most suited for your needs.
  • What should I ask a solar professional installer?

    Solar professional installers can take the guess work out of installing a solar power system. Whether you are considering solar photovoltaic, solar hot water, or solar heat for your pool, a solar pro can help you determine the type and size of system that will work best and guide you through the process.
  • How can I calculate the cost and payback time from a solar power installation?

    You can estimate how much a solar electric or solar hot water system may cost if you determine your current energy needs costs and compare against your future anticipated use. Once you have a sense of how much energy you use, you can evaluate the cost of purchasing and installing one or both of the technologies.
    Luckily in today's market you can take advantage of multiple cost factors and other financial incentives that create attractive and competitive prices for solar PV and hot water systems. Find more information in our Solar Power Cost section.
  • How long will it take to install a solar power system in my home?

    Planning, configuring, and doing any custom ordering for your solar energy system can take up to a few weeks. However, the installation process itself can typically be completed in only a few days time, in many cases even less.
  • How can Find Solar help me shop for solar?

    Find Solar saves you time, money, and headaches by connecting you directly to the best solar power companies in the country. Find Solar only works with experienced solar professionals and firms with a track record of success and satisfied customers. We encourage you to look around our site for all the information you need on solar energy installation.
    When you're ready, all you need to do to get started is tell us about your project, and you can be assured you'll receive competitive bids from us.
  • What components do I need to install a grid-tied solar electric system?

    You will need a photovoltaic array to capture the sun's energy, an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) produced from the photovoltaic cells into alternating current (AC) used by your home, and a house utility meter – called a net meter – that can record both the electricity produced from your home's power system as well as any power you may use off the grid. These three system components are then connected through a series of wiring. The photovoltaic panels are secured to your roof with panel mounts or are installed on poles that can be adjusted for sun angle.
  • What is a net meter?

    Net meters look very much like other outdoor meters with one notable exception – they spin both forwards and backwards recording both the power produced and power used.
  • Do I need battery backup for my solar panels?

    Probably not – a backup battery bank can add as much as 25% in cost to a residential solar PV system. It's not necessarily more efficient either – a same sized solar array will yield about 7–10% less energy if it's battery-tied than its grid-tied counterpart.
    Though you will remain tethered to your local utilities' grid, you will not have to worry about not generating enough power. You also gain the advantage of offsetting rising utility costs. Most solar photovoltaic experts do not recommend adding a backup battery system unless there is concern about a long utility outage or the residence is in a remote location.
  • How much space do I need for a solar photovoltaic system?

    In bright sunlight, a square foot of a conventional photovoltaic panel will yield 10 watts of power. That's a helpful rule of thumb for calculating a rough estimate of how much area you might need. For example, a 1000 watt system may need 80-100 square feet of area, depending on the type of PV module used.
  • How many solar panels do I need for an electric solar power system?

    The size of the photovoltaic system is correlated to your home's energy-use needs, available space for a system, and overall costs for the system components and installation. Natural Systems in your area can help determine the best size for your solar photovoltaic system. Find out how to estimate your home's solar electricity needs by checking out our Solar Power Cost section.
  • How much shading is too much for solar photovoltaic panels?

    Unfortunately shading a photovoltaic system dramatically decreases its output. Just shading the bottom row of wafers alone amounts to an 80% reduction in efficiency. So above all, don't shade your array!
  • How do I know if solar panels will work on my home?

    Take a look at the position of your home on its lot – and particularly your roof. Ask the following questions: 1. Is there good southern exposure? Orienting solar panels to the south maximizes the effectiveness of energy collection. 2. Is the exposure free of trees or buildings that could shade the panels or drop debris on them? Shading photovoltaic panels dramatically reduces their effectiveness. 3. What is the pitch of your roof? Most roofs, from flat to 60-degrees can accommodate photovoltaic panels.
  • Do I need to have south facing exposure to have a solar energy system?

    Although southern exposure increases the effectiveness of a residential solar power system, your home may still work for solar power without having south facing exposure. Seek advice from our professional solar designer to ensure success.
  • What other factors are important to consider when installing a home solar energy system?

    The location of your home and the local climate will play into where you place and how you install your solar electric or solar hot water system. Wind speeds, heavy snow loads, and salt water, TDS in water can all affect a solar array or solar thermal system.
  • Can I use photo voltaic (PV) to power my home?

    PV can be used to power your entire home's electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances. PV systems today can be blended easily into both traditional and nontraditional homes. The most common practice is to mount modules onto a south-facing roof or wall. For an additional aesthetic appeal, some modules resemble traditional roof shingles
  • Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my business?

    PV systems can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. You will find PV being used outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters, generating power at the same time.
  • How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?

    A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. Climate is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather. In fact, some PV modules actually work better in colder weather. Most PV modules are angled to catch the sun's rays, so any snow that collects on them usually melts quickly. There is enough sunlight to make solar energy systems useful and effective nearly everywhere in India.
  • How big a solar energy system do I need?

    The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity or hot water or space heat you use, how, the size of your roof, and how much you're willing to invest. Also, do you want the system to supply your complete energy usage or to supplant a portion of your higher cost energy usage? You can contact our system designer/installer to determine what type of system would suit your needs.
  • Why should I purchase a PV system?

    People decide to buy solar energy systems for a variety of reasons. For example, some individuals buy solar products to preserve the Earth's finite fossil-fuel resources and to reduce air pollution. Others would rather spend their money on an energy-producing improvement to their property than send their money to a utility. Some people like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from their utility, because it makes them less vulnerable to future increases in the price of electricity.
    If it's designed correctly, a solar system might be able to provide power during a utility power outage, thereby adding power reliability to your home. Finally, some individuals live in areas where the cost of extending power lines to their home is more expensive than buying a solar energy system.
  • Should I wire my home for AC or DC loads?

    It depends on the size of the system and what type of loads you want to run. DC appliances are usually more efficient than AC since you don’t have to worry about the loss through the inverter, but DC loads are typically more expensive and harder to find than their AC counterparts. Small cabin and RV systems are typically wired DC while most home systems are wired exclusively for AC loads. With improvements in inverter efficiency and reliability in the last 5 years, AC is the way to go for a home system. Another advantage AC has over DC is that the voltage drop for a 120VAC circuit is much less than a 12VDC circuit carrying the same power, which allows you to use smaller gauge wire.
  • What type of solar module mounting structure should I use?

    There are four basic types of mount structures: 1) roof/ground, 2) top-of pole, 3) side-of-pole and 4) tracking mounts, each having their own pros and cons. For example roof mount structures typically keep the wire run distances between the solar array and battery bank or grid-tie inverter to a minimum, which is good. But they may also require roof penetrations in multiple locations, and they require an expensive ground fault protection device.. On the other hand, ground mounted solar arrays require fairly precise foundation setup, are more susceptible to theft/vandalism and excessive snow accumulation at the bottom of the array. Next are top-of-pole mounts which are relatively easy to install (you sink a 2-6 inch diameter SCH40 steel pole up to 4-6 feet in the ground with concrete).Make sure that the pole is plumb and mount the solar modules and rack on top of the pole. Top-of-pole mounts reduce the risk of theft/vandalism (as compared to a ground mount). They are also a better choice for cold climates because snow slides off easily. Side of pole mounts are easy to install, but are typically used for small numbers of solar modules (1-4) for remote lighting systems where there already is an existing pole to attach them to. Last but not least are the trackers, which increase the daily number of full sun hours and are usually used for solar water pumping applications. Trackers are extremely effective in the summer time when water is needed the most. In the northern India, typical home energy usage peaks in the winter when a tracker mount makes very little difference as compared to any type of fixed mount (roof, ground or top-of-pole). In this situation, having more modules on a less expensive fixed mount will serve you better in the winter than fewer modules on a tracker. However, if you are in the southern India, and your energy usage peaks in the summer, then a tracker may be beneficial to match the time of your highest energy consumption with a tracking solar array’s maximum energy output.
  • Can I use all of my normal 120/240 VAC appliances?

    Maybe. Many older homes were not designed or built with energy efficiency in mind. When you purchase and install a renewable energy system for your home, you become your own power company, so every kWh of energy you use means more equipment (and hence more money) is required to meet your energy needs. Any appliance that operates at 240 VAC (such as electric water heaters, cook stoves, furnaces and air conditioners) are expensive loads to run on solar. You should consider using alternatives such as LP or natural gas for water/space heating or cooking, evaporative cooling instead of compressor based AC units and passive solar design in your new home construction if possible. Refrigeration and lighting are typically the largest 120 VAC energy consumers in a home (after electric heating loads) and these two areas should be looked at very carefully in terms of getting the most energy efficient units available. Great strides have been made in the past 5 years towards improving the efficiency of electric refrigerators/freezers. Compact fluorescent lights use a quarter to a third of the power of an incandescent light for the same lumen output and they last ten times longer. These fluorescent lights are now readily available at your local hardware or discount store. The rule of thumb in the renewable energy industry is that for every dollar you spend replacing your inefficient appliances, you will save three dollars in the cost of a renewable energy system to run them. So you can see that energy conservation is crucial and can really pay off when considering a renewable energy system.
  • Will solar work in my location?

    Solar is universal and will work virtually anywhere, however some locations are better than others. Irradiance is a measure of the sun’s power available at the surface of the earth and it peaks at about 1000 watts per square meter. With typical crystalline solar cell efficiencies around 14-16%, that means we can expect to generate about 140-160W per square meter of solar cells placed in full sun. Insolation is a measure of the available energy from the sun and is expressed in terms of "full sun hours" (i.e. 4 full sun hours = 4 hours of sunlight at an irradiance level of 1000 watts per square meter). Obviously different parts of the world receive more sunlight than others, so they will have more “full sun hours” per day. The solar insolation zone map of our country will give you a general idea of the full sun hours per day during the summer for your location.
  • How do solar cells generate electricity?

    Photovoltaics or PV for short can be thought of as a direct current (DC) generator powered by the sun. When light photons of sufficient energy strike a solar cell, they knock electrons free in the silicon crystal structure forcing them through an external circuit (battery, inverter or direct DC load), and then returning them to the other side of the solar cell to start the process all over again. The voltage output from a single crystalline solar cell is about 0.5V with an amperage output that is directly proportional to the cell’s surface area (approximately 7A for a 6 inch square multi-crystalline solar cell).Typically 30-36 cells are wired in series (+ to -) in each solar module. This produces a solar module with a 12V nominal output (~17V at peak power) that can then be wired in series and/or parallel with other solar modules to form a complete solar array.
  • What components do I need for an off-grid system?

    There are many components that make up a complete solar system, but the 4 main items on a stand-alone system are: solar modules, charge controller(s), battery(s) and inverter(s).The solar modules are physically mounted on a mount structure and the DC power they produce is wired through a charge controller before it goes on to the battery bank where it is stored. The two main functions of a charge controller are to prevent the battery from being overcharged and eliminate any reverse current flow from the batteries back to the solar modules at night. The battery bank stores the energy produced by the solar array during the day for use at anytime of the day or night. Batteries come in many sizes and grades, which you can see starting on page 49.The inverter takes the DC energy stored in the battery bank and inverts it to 120 or 240 VAC to run your AC appliances.
  • What components do I need for a grid-tie system?

    Grid-tie systems are inherently simpler than either grid-tie with battery back-up or stand-alone solar systems. In fact, other than safety disconnects, mounting structure and wiring, a grid-tie system is just solar modules and a grid-tie inverter! Today’s sophisticated grid-tie inverters incorporate most of the components needed to convert the direct current from the modules to alternating current, track the maximum power point of the modules to operate the system at peak efficiencies and terminate the grid connection if grid power is interrupted from the utility.
  • Should I set my system’s battery bank up at 12, 24, or 48 VDC?

    The PV industry really began with the 12V radio communications market. These systems were typically small (1-2 solar modules) and had all 12 VDC loads. As the solar industry matured and entered the home market, systems became much larger (16+ solar modules) and no longer used DC loads exclusively. Most home systems today are 24 or 48 VDC since the higher system voltage gives you a lot more flexibility as to how far away you can place your solar modules from the battery bank as compared to a 12V system. For a given power output, a higher system voltage reduces your amperage flow (but not your power) which allows you to use a smaller and less expensive gauge wire for your solar to battery and battery to inverter wire runs. Of course, if you already have a lot of 12VDC loads, that may be your deciding factor as to what voltage you set your system up at. Most grid-tie systems operate at 48 volts or higher
  • Should I wire my home for AC or DC loads?

    It depends on the size of the system and what type of loads you want to run. DC appliances are usually more efficient than AC since you don’t have to worry about the loss through the inverter, but DC loads are typically more expensive and harder to find than their AC counterparts. Small cabin and RV systems are typically wired DC while most home systems are wired exclusively for AC loads. With improvements in inverter efficiency and reliability in the last 5 years, AC is the way to go for a home system. Another advantage AC has over DC is that the voltage drop for a 120VAC circuit is much less than a 12VDC circuit carrying the same power, which allows you to use smaller gauge wire. AC or DC loads?
  • Can I use PV to heat water or for space heating?

    No. Photovoltaic converts the sun’s energy into DC electricity at a relatively low efficiency level (14-16%), so trying to operate a high power electric heating element from PV would be very inefficient and expensive. Solar thermal (or passive solar) is the direct heating of air or water from the heat of the sun and is much more efficient for heating applications than photovoltaic.
  • Where should I mount the solar modules and what direction should I face them?

    If your site is in the northern hemisphere you need to aim your solar modules to true south (the reverse is true for locations in the southern hemisphere) to maximize your daily energy output. For many locations there is quite a difference between magnetic south and true south, so please consult the declination map before you setup your mount structure. The solar modules should be tilted up from horizontal to get a better angle at the sun and help keep the modules clean by shedding rain or snow or dust. For best year round power output with the least amount of maintenance, you should set the solar array facing true south at a tilt angle equal to your latitude with respect to the horizontal position. If you plan to adjust your solar array tilt angle seasonally, a good rule of thumb is: - latitude minus 15° in the summer - latitude in the spring/fall - latitude plus 15° in the winter Most mount structures are available with a seasonal adjustment of the tilt angle from horizontal to 65°.To determine if your proposed array site will be shaded at any time of the day or year you should consider using the Solar Pathfinder in the tool
  • Solar Thermal

    How does a solar water-heating system work?

    Every solar water-heating system features a solar collector that faces the sun to absorb the sun's heat energy. This collector can either heat water directly or heat a "working fluid" that's then used to heat the water. In active solar water-heating systems, a pumping mechanism moves heated water through the building. In passive solar water-heating systems, the water moves by natural convection. In almost all cases, solar water-heating systems work in tandem with conventional gas or electric water-heating systems; the conventional systems operate as needed to ensure a reliable supply of heated water.
    There are many types of solar water heaters. Each has strengths to recommend it for specific climates and water conditions. Solar system professionals can help you select the most appropriate system for your area and your needs.
  • Can a solar water heater replace an electric or gas water heater?

    Not completely. Conventional electric or gas water heating systems are still necessary as a supplement to the solar water heating system, largely because the sun might not shine in a particular area for several days at a time. However, because solar water heaters are designed provide hot water directly to the tank of a gas or electric water heater, they reduce the need for the water heater to run on conventional fuels. And this in turn reduces your gas or electric bill. Depending on where you live, solar water heaters can provide up to 80% of your home's annual water-heating needs.
  • Can I use a solar water-heating system to heat my swimming pool?

    Using a solar system to heat a swimming pool is the most common use for solar energy in India too today. Solar pool-heating systems increase an unheated pool's water temperature by 10 degrees or more, and they can extend the swimming season by two to three months.
  • What are the benefits of using solar energy to heat water in my home?

    First, the fuel is free! Once you recover the higher initial costs of a solar system through reduced or avoided energy costs (that is, lower utility bills), your solar system will require expenditures only for maintenance. And when you include the cost of a solar water heater in a mortgage on a new home, the system often provides a positive monthly cash flow from the first day of ownership. Second, solar water heaters and other solar technology applications do not pollute. They do not add to the carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other air pollutants and wastes produced by most of today's power plants, even those that run on natural gas. And they allow you to burn less natural gas in your home, as well.
  • How much does a solar water-heating system cost?

    Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. The cost of a solar system depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the system and the particular system manufacturer, retailer, and installer. However, any solar rebates and other incentives available in your area will reduce that total cost.
    For solar water heaters and space heaters, you will also be taking into consideration the price of the fuel used to back up the system. In most cases, you will have to add in the cost of supplemental natural gas or electricity to get a fairly accurate estimate of how much you can expect to pay for a solar system.
  • How much money will a solar water-heating system save on my utility bill?

    It is difficult to say how much you will save with a solar system. That depends on several factors, including how much you already pay your local utility for electricity or natural gas. You can ask your solar system professional how much heat your new system will produce on an annual basis and then subtract that number from your current annual consumption—the total amount of electricity and gas you use—to get an idea of how much you will save. Data on your current annual consumption should be available from your utility.
  • Solar Power Cost

    Six Easy Steps To Estimate Cost of a Solar Power System

    Solar power energy systems are not inexpensive. That said it's important to compare them within context of other types of home improvement projects. Home buyers and realtors view a solar photovoltaic or solar hot water heating system as a significant value-added improvement – similar to adding a deck or remodeling your kitchen. Plus unlike a deck or kitchen remodel, you also gain one-up on your power bills with significant solar energy savings over the life of the system.
    Solar power systems often get an additional financial boost as well: many jurisdictions and utilities across the India offer attractive financial incentives to drive down the upfront capital costs associated with a solar power system. Here are some foolproof ways to estimate the cost of a solar photovoltaic or solar thermal system and to figure out if a solar energy system makes sense for you. Let's start with a home photovoltaic (PV) system.

    Step 1: Estimate your home's electricity needs

    New Home Construction
    If you are constructing a new home, then you'll need to estimate your demand based on the type of equipment you plan to install and your home's square footage. The pross call this "your load".
    To figure out your anticipated load, create a table to record the watt use for each appliance. Each appliance – be it a water heater, electric light, computer, or refrigerator – should have a nameplate that lists its power rating in watts. Or you can get the information from the manufacturer's website.
    Some labels list amperage and voltage only; to obtain watts multiply the two together (amperage x voltage = watts). In another column, record the number of hours each appliance is expected to operate. Then multiple the watts and hours together to estimate watt-hours used per day. Since it's hard to anticipate all electric loads (it may get tedious scouting out every toothbrush and mobile phone cell charger), you might want to add a multiplier of 1.5 to be safe.
    To get started, it's good to have a sense of how much electricity you use. You'll have a better point for comparison if you find out how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you use per day, per month, per year. Your utility bill should include that information.
    Of course, the utility bill will also display your costs and many utilities include a graph that displays how your monthly energy use/cost varies throughout the year. That helps you estimate where your highest energy use is and at what time of year.

    Step 2: Anticipate the future

    In 2009, average residential electricity rates across the India ranged from about Rs. 4.5 to nearly Rs. 16 per kilowatt hour depending on where you lived. Average retail and commercial electricity rates have increased roughly 15% since 1999 and the upward trend will likely continue especially as costs for the coal and hydropower used to generate that electricity rise as well.
    So think about your home electricity needs and present and future cost in relation to one another. Here's a quick chart comparing 2005 average electricity rates in several states around the country to estimated future rates 20 years from now (a conservative estimate for the lifespan of a PV system). For sake of comparison, we assume a home uses 1,100 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.

    Step 3: How much sun do you get?

    The Solar Energy Center has conducted a study to examine how a 2-kW photovoltaic system would perform if installed on a highly energy efficient home across the sub-continent India.
    The study accounted for all factors that impact a PV system's performance such as the temperature effect on the photovoltaic cells, the amount of sun peak hours in various regions, and the efficiency of inverter to convert solar derived energy from DC to AC. The image to the right depicts the results.
    As the image illustrates, solar photovoltaic systems work just about anywhere in India. Even in the Northeast or in "rainy Meghalaya", a pv system can pencil out if designed and installed properly. In Western part and Eastern part, a one kilowatt system should produce about 1,270 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, in Meghalaya or in far North-East, a one kilowatt system should produce about 900 kilowatt hours per year. In the Northwest, of course, those ratios will be much greater.

    Step 4: Size your system

    In general, solar photovoltaic systems sized between 1 to 5 kilowatts are usually sufficient to meet the electricity needs of most homes. One advantage of grid-tied systems is that you can use solar PV to supplement or offset some of your electricity needs; therefore you can size your system to match your budget and always add to the system later if needed.
    Also as a side note, here's a rule of thumb to remember to help you estimate the physical space your PV system might need: one square foot yields 10 watts. So in bright sunlight, a square foot of a conventional photovoltaic panel will produce 10 watts of power. A 1,000 watt system, for example, may need 80 -100 square feet of area, depending on the type of PV module used. Step 5: Know your rebates Many states and local jurisdictions offer rebates, tax credits and other types of incentives to homeowners for installing residential photovoltaic and solar domestic water systems. To view a comprehensive database of the incentives available for renewable energy visit Step 6: Run the numbers Although the cost for a solar PV system will depend on the size of the system you intend to install, your electricity rate, the amount of kilowatt hours you expect to generate, and the state/local rebates/tax credits that may be available, the formulas for calculating the returns are pretty much the same. For those who appreciate having the formulas, use the ones listed below to do a quick ballpark estimate of how much a solar photovoltaic system might cost you.
    Initial Investment Retail Price for Solar Photovoltaic System (include components and labor for installation) = Net Investment
    Annual Electricity Bill Savings
    Kilowatts of electricity generated from PV per year
    x Kilowatt hours used per year
    = Annual Kilowatt energy from the PV system
    Annual Kilowatt energy from the PV system
    x Current Residential Electricity Rate
    = Annual Rs Saved
    Net Metering or Resource Conservation Credits (where applicable)
    Yearly Excess PV Energy Produced
    x Rs credit applied per watt
    = Annual Value from Net Metering
    Of course, a more accurate assessment can be made by a pro. Work with a Natural Systems to size and price the right system for you.
    Find Natural Systems of professional installers ready to assist you with your home or commercial solar project.
    Natural Systems providers will provide you with a comprehensive estimate. Helpful information to know includes:
    • Total cost to make the system operational (labor cost for design and installation and equipment costs)

    • Equipment (Make and Model)
    • Warranty info
    • Permit costs, if needed
    • Tax, where applicable
    • State or local jurisdiction tax credits or rebates

    • Utility rebates
    • Expected Renewable Energy Certificates or Net metering credits
    • Expected operation and maintenance costs
    • Projected savings
  • Solar Thermal (also called Solar Hot Water)

    Solar thermal systems capture the sun's energy to heat water and are one of the most cost-effective renewable energy systems. They are used to heat hot water tanks and/or a heating system. A solar pool heating system is another type of solar thermal system designed specifically to heat a pool or hot tub.
    Generally it's worth investigating the economic viability of installing a solar hot water system if you have an electric water heater with utility rates of at least 5 cents per kilowatt hour and have tax credits or rebates available. The formulas for costing out a solar water heater system are similar to estimating the cost for installing solar PV system.
  • Heating Your Swimming Pool with Solar Power

    Although few jurisdictions provide financial incentives for using solar energy to heat a swimming pool or hot tub, in general, using solar power to heat your pool is a "no-brainer" from a return on investment standpoint.
    The electricity used to heat a pool during the swimming season often amounts to the same amount of energy that homes-without-pools consume over a year. Combining a solar thermal system to generate heat for the pool with a solar thermal pool cover to retain the heat generated can further maximize efficiencies and extend your swimming season.
    Most installers recommend that a solar collector used to heat a pool is sized at roughly half the square footage of your pool surface area. Solar thermal panels typically last 10 – 20 years and come with a 10-year warranty.
    How long it takes to break even on the cost of your solar power pool system depends on where you live. In California or other parts of the Southwest, you'll break even in 1 to 3 years but places as "far north" as Canada, a solar pool heating system pencils out over a slightly longer period of time.
    Photovoltaics or PV for short can be thought of as a direct current (DC) generator powered by the sun. When light photons of sufficient energy strike a solar cell, they knock electrons free in the silicon crystal structure forcing them through an external circuit (battery, inverter or direct DC load), and then returning them to the other side of the solar cell to start the process all over again.The voltage output from a single crystalline solar cell is about 0.5V with an amperage
    output that is directly proportional to the cell’s surface area (approximately 7A for a 6 inch square multi-crystalline solar cell).Typically 30-36 cells are wired in series (+ to -) in each solar module.This produces a solar module with a 12V nominal output (~17V at peak power) that can then be wired in series and/or parallel with other solar modules to form a complete solar array.

Find Us