When business owners consider installing solar power the core calculation is inevitable: What is my return on investment, and how quickly will I see it?
First, consider the fact that solar is one of the few things you can purchase that pays for itself. The alternative is to continue paying utility companies for providing energy from unknown sources with costs that can fluctuate depending on load demand and marketplace.
The Return On Investment can fluctuate depending on system size, sun-capturing placement and energy usage for your site.
Studies show solar pay back will happen 2-4 times over 40 years. We have found that our Solar power payback occurs in 4-10 years which leaves 20-25 years of viable savings over the remaining life of the system
First consider how much sun your site receives. Your property should have clear, unobstructed access to the sun for most of the day, and through out the year. In our region, the sun is always in the southern half of the sky and is higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
The best orientation for a PV system is on a south-facing roof; however, roofs that face east or west may also be acceptable.
Flat roofs also work well for solar systems because the PV array can be mounted either flat on the roof facing the sky or on frames tilted toward the south at an optimal angle. If a rooftop cannot be used, your PV array can also be placed on the ground mount, oriented toward the south to maximize the amount of electricity it generates. Another great option gaining popularity is a carport awning, serving dual purposes: providing ample space to mount a solar array while keeping vehicles cooler underneath the awning instead of enduring daily sun exposure. For more information on types of systems, check them out:
The cost of a system depends largely on what equipment you would like installed at your site. Panels we typically install range in price per Watt. There are a number of module options available, and our sales team can review them with you. As an installer with decades of experience we can tell you what the benefits are of each type of module and what the drawbacks may be for your specific needs.
There are several options available to business owners:
- Cash: A one-time cost. The business would own the system hardware, can take advantage of depreciation and tax benefits. The cash option would require access to capital.
- Third-Party Financing: Minimal to no upfront capital cost. The business would own the system hardware, can take advantage of depreciation and tax benefits. Low-cost construction or energy loans are available.
- PACE Financing: No upfront costs with positive cash flows on day one. The business would still own the system hardware; can take advantage of the tax benefits shared with PACE lender. Low cost, fixed-rate financing paid through property tax bill.
For most sites, nearly 48% of the system cost will be recouped by federal incentives. For more information, checkout the DSIRE webpage.
Additionally, depending on where your site is located, there are a number of different incentives available by state, district and sometimes by county. Check out current incentives on our Going Solar page
SRECs are Solar Renewable Energy Credits. They are a tradeable, sellable commodity that are earned by producing 1000 kW of energy through your solar array. Depending on where your site is located, the SREC market can be very strong, and help your business more quickly recoup on its investment, or may take a little longer depending on the renewable energy state or regional goals in your jurisdiction. for more information, see SolSystems SREC page.
The “Prediction of Energy Effects on Photovoltaic Systems due to Snowfall Events” research found that snow losses were relatively low for solar power generation — about 3 to 5 percent.
In some cases, snow can benefit solar power generation. The reflected sunlight from the white snow encourage production and the snow kept panels cool.
When designing arrays, our engineers take snow load into account as future factors and design systems accordingly.
The typical installation times per mounting type are as follows:
- Rooftop installation: These are generally the quickest and easiest to construct, taking only 5 to 6 weeks (or less) to complete. Equipment is moved to the roof using an overhead crane, variable reach forklift or a lift mounted to the side of the building. During this phase, employees may have limited access to the building because of safety concerns. Careful scheduling can limit this potential disruption.
- Ground or field installation: This type of project generally takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete, with limited disruptions to your organization’s day-to-day operations. If not already naturally secure due to being in a remote location with little public access, a work area for a field installation may need to be fenced off for safety. Before solar equipment is delivered, it may be necessary to remove vegetation and create access roads. Assuming the geological survey has a green light to proceed, poles are then driven into the ground to support the new solar array. Trenching for connecting cables will also be necessary.
- Carport construction: A favorite among auto dealers and public works facilities, these are the most complex commercial solar installation projects taking 8 to 12 weeks to complete. Additional inspections are often required to satisfy state and federal regulations. (It may be prudent to hire your own architect to monitor holes drilled, rebar and concrete used and the steel being fabricated throughout this process.) Pre-construction demolition and post-construction patching and painting may also be necessary. While a lack of parking may be inconvenient during construction, employees will appreciate the covered spaces once the project is completed.
The timeline for the entire process, not just installation timeframes, should be understood as well when considering solar.