Below you will find the basics in a step by step process to a pain free and cost effective Solar System Installation. From initial research to getting your first solar rebate check from your electric company the path is laid out here.
1. Determine your historical energy use from your past electric bills. Pay attention to the difference between Summer and Winter power usage.
2. Determine your roof area available for Photovoltaic Panels. These Solar Panels mounted on your roof or ground contain the Photovoltaic (PV) cells which convert sunlight into DC power. South facing surface areas are best but seasonal variations in sun exposure allow for a variety of Solar Panel placements to be used. Also, new technology allows for sun “tracking” or programmed mechanical moving of the solar panels to maximize sun exposure during the day and across all seasons of the year.
3. Contact a licensed and aproved Solar Installation Contractor(s) in your area to perform an on-site consultation. Your contractors will know all the current solar technologies available and how to take advantage of all possible Federal, State, and possibly local solar tax rebates, grants, etc.
4. The Solar Installation Contractor will determine best location for your Photovoltaic Panels and best Inverters to use for the size of the Solar System. Location of solar panels may vary as well as type of panels. Inverters (which convert the solar panel current from DC to usable AC current) need to be chosen based on best size and type for the system as does the Production Meter (explained below). The power from the Solar Panels are sent to an Inverter (or power converter) which converts the DC electricity from the solar modules to AC power, which is the same type of power being sent from your utility company to your home or business. 5. Discuss all costs for various solar electric system options and installation timing with your Solar Installation Contractor to finalize all variables. Once all is decided upon it is the time to sign the contract with your Solar Installation Contractor.
6. Your Solar Installation Contractor will submit applications to your electric utility and begin paperwork with all possible Federal, State, and possibly local tax rebates, grants, etc., to save you the maximum money possible.
7. You will then sign a contract with your electric utility. This is called a Net Metering Agreement and states that the power utility will credit your account for the excess power you produce which flows to the power grid. Also an important consideration is the use of a Meter Monitor. This will allow you to be given credit for power you generate at different rates. These rates can be Peak and Off Peak Rates. These rates are dependent on time of day you produce power, day of the week, and month of the year. Peak Rates are often summer afternoon week days. If you send power to the grid during peak times, you will get credit at the higher, peak rate. When you gain credit and then draw on your credit at Off Peak periods your account will be debited at Off Peak rates. If all of the electricity being generated by your solar energy system is immediately being used, your meter will not “spin backwards”.
8. Your Solar Installation Contractor will generate design drawings and pull all permits needed and, when you are ready, will install your system. Once completely installed your County or City will inspect the system to insure compliance of your system and insure you are elligible for the Solar Tax Rebates and / or benefits you have applied for.
9. You Utility Company will be Sending you your Solar Rebate Check 6 to 8 Weeks after Inspection of System.
10. Enjoy decades of environmentally friendly and maintenance-free electricity solar power while adding value to your home! Give yourself a good pat on the back for saving money AND the planet.