Homeowners across the U.S. are turning to solar energy as a clean, efficient source of electric power. In recent years, residential solar has experienced unprecedented historic growth, and is leading the way toward greater energy freedom.* If you're thinking about making the switch, here are just some of the benefits you'll enjoy.
* 2015 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report
Rising demand for solar has caused many new companies to enter the market. While that gives you more choice, it also makes it more difficult to know who to trust. This can apply to product quality and performance, as well as the assurance of long term support and warranty protection.
Kyocera is one of the largest and most experienced manufacturers of PV module systems. Our comprehensive expertise in every phase of the manufacturing process, developed over four decades of continuous research and production, ensures that our modules deliver superior quality, field performance and tight power tolerance due to extensive testing protocols. The result is long term reliability even after 25 years of use, backed by a warranty that always delivers as promised.
This is what you can expect for an accurately planned installation by an Authorized Dealer/Installer:
1 An educational first meeting, so you can learn how a solar system works, installation steps, likely energy savings and other insights.
2 A full evaluation of your home and past energy use, with a written analysis that includes the system recommended for your home.
3 A detailed proposal that includes projected energy output, any upfront costs, monthly costs, total payments and savings over various time periods.
4 Upon acceptance, the installer will handle all arrangements with your utility, obtain any permits, and schedule a convenient installation time.
5 Your utility will provide a PTO, or Permission to Operate, which allows your new system to send production into the electricity grid. Approval time will vary based on location.
How do solar panels generate electricity?
Photovoltaic modules, often called solar modules, are the key components used to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar modules are made of semiconductors that are similar to those used to create integrated circuits. The most common type of semiconductor is made of silicon crystal.
In a solar module, these silicon crystals are laminated into n-type and p-type layers, stacked on top of each other. Light striking the crystals induces the "photovoltaic effect", which generates electricity. The electricity produced is called direct current (DC) and can be immediately used or stored in a battery. For systems on homes served by a utility grid, an inverter changes the electricity into alternating current (AC), the standard power used in residential homes.
Is solar energy a viable option where I live?
Although solar will work virtually anywhere, some locations are better than others. To determine likely output, we look at irradiance and insolation. Irradiance is a measure of the sun's power available at the surface of the Earth, and averages about 1,000 watts per square meter. Insolation is a measure of the available energy from the sun and is expressed as "full sun hours". The more sunlight your location receives, the more power you can generate. To get an idea of your area's solar potential, look up a GHI (global horizontal irradiation) map online. Locations in orange and red are most ideal for solar panels.
How much does a typical residential system cost?
The answer depends on many factors, such as location, system size, system placement and your own specific energy requirements. Because of this, it's difficult to provide an average system cost. An Authorized Dealer/Installer can provide an accurate estimate tailored to your home. Also, bear in mind that solar is now more affordable than ever, and can immediately generate savings.
Can a solar system generate electricity when it's cloudy, shady or dark outside?
A solar electric system cannot produce electricity without direct or diffused sunlight. It can generate some electricity on cloudy days, but not on an optimal basis. The technological advances in microinverters and DC optimizers can help to optimize power generation where shade may be a concern. During evening hours, a solar system tied to a utility grid will rely on the grid's electricity input.
What components do I need for a grid-tie system?
A "grid-tie" or "on-grid" solar system is connected to a utility power grid. Grid-tie systems are far more simple than grid-tie with battery storage back-up or stand-alone solar systems. In fact, other than safety disconnects and mounting structures, wiring a grid-tie system only requires solar modules and a grid-tie inverter.
Today's sophisticated grid-tie inverters incorporate most of the components needed to convert direct current 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.
What components do I need for an off-grid system?
An off-grid solar system is not connected to a utility power grid and requires more components. The main items are solar modules, charge controller(s), batteries and inverter(s). Solar modules are physically attached to a mounting structure, and the DC power they produce is wired through a charge controller before it goes into the battery bank for storage.
The main functions of a charge controller are to prevent the battery from being overcharged and eliminate 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 later use at any time, while the inverter takes the DC energy stored in the battery bank and inverts it to 120 VAC to run your AC appliances.
Can I use PV to heat water or for space heating?
This is not recommended. Photovoltaics convert 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 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 PV.
Are incentive programs available in my state?
Incentive programs vary by state. Visit dsireusa.org to find policies and incentives that apply to your home state. Your municipality and local utility may have additional incentives. At a Federal level, the 30% Investment Tax Credit has been extended through 2019, so be sure to take advantage of it.
What is net energy metering (NEM)?
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for electricity they add to the grid. Any excess electricity generated will spin your meter backwards, which has the effect of selling your excess power to the utility at an applicable tariff rate. On a monthly basis, you only pay the net of the power you used. If you generated more power than you used in a given month, your utility will forward your excess solar energy credits to the next billing cycle. In effect, you are using excess generation to offset electricity that you would otherwise need to purchase at the utility's full retail rate. Net metering is required by law in most U.S. states, but policies can vary by a wide degree.