Solar Energy: How It’s Made

Solar modules, or solar panels, can be placed on the roof or ground in order to generate solar energy. The solar panels contain photovoltaic cells which converts light into electricity. Then an inverter converts the incoming D/C (direct current) power from the panels into A/C (alternating current) power. A/C is the standard electrical current used in homes to power things, such as appliances.

We use SolarWorld Sun modules, one of the top manufacturers and they are local!

The Utility Meter continually measures your electrical supply. When your solar system produces more power than you need, the meter actually spins backward. This allows you to accumulate credits with the utility company that will offset your next bill.

A remote or independent power system can form a self-contained circuit without connecting to the grid. This off-grid system also requires batteries to store power. The stored power is used for times when the solar panels don’t capture enough light energy from the sun.

How much does a solar PV system cost?

Solar energy systems do not come in a one-size-fits-all package. Each system is customized to your particular situation and circumstance to maximize your state and federal benefits, and minimize your costs. However, you can use this handy calculator to determine the approximate cost of a system. You just need to provide the following:

Zip Code – to determine what sort of incentives you may be eligible for

Approximate Square Footage of building

Current electricity rate per watt (this can be found on your latest electricity bill)

How much does it cost to maintain an installed solar PV system?

DPI designs and installs solar PV systems which require very little in the way of maintenance. We recommend that you have your solar PV system inspected every five years to insure that it is operating at peak performance.

How many years do I need to keep the solar PV system running?

How long you keep your solar PV system running depends on which incentive programs you utilize:

·         If you opt for the Feed In Tariff) you will be required to keep the system operational for a minimum of 15 years.

·         If you opt for or are eligible for other incentive programs such as net-metering or Oregon Energy Trust, you will have no minimum requirement for system utilization. However, the payback for a solar system occurs during use, if the system is not operating you are not saving money or reducing your carbon footprint!!

Feed-In-Tarrif Rules

If I sell my house, what happens to the solar PV system, including the array?

The installation of a solar PV system is a permanent modification to the property. If you sell your home or business, the solar array would stay with the property. However, a solar array does increase the value of the home and it is non-taxable.

What size of solar PV system do I need?

The size of a solar PV system is different for every customer. The system size depends on the energy needs of the home/business, roof or ground space, and how much solar energy you want to generate to offset the utility bill. DPI custom designs solar PV systems based on the needs and wants of the customer.

How reliable is a solar PV system?

It’s as reliable as the sun rising in the sky, or more specifically, daylight. Although Oregon is in the northern hemisphere and has a tendency to be a little rainy (no one would mistake us for a sunshine state!) we get more than enough sunshine and daylight to make optimal amounts of solar energy using solar PV system.

Will a solar PV system work in the rainy Pacific Northwest?

Although higher latitudes receive fewer annual hours of sunlight, solar panels operate at greater efficiency in cooler climates. In addition, the Northwest has long summer days with many months of high solar hours. Although the Northwest does have long, overcast winters, it doesn’t matter – solar power systems generate solar energy even on cloudy days. Believe it or not, during the winter most of the Pacific Northwest actually receives up to 70% of the sunlight that Los Angeles does! This means that the Pacific Northwest is an excellent place for solar PV systems.

Do I need a battery back-up?

This is totally up to the individual. In most instances, a battery back-up is neither needed nor necessary. Further, installing a back-up battery increases installation and equipment costs by up to 25% while reducing system efficiency up to 10%. 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.

If you do not get a battery back-up, you will remain tethered to your local utility’s grid. This means you will not have to worry about not generating enough power. You also gain the advantage of offsetting rising utility costs.

Installation Questions

How long will it take to install a solar PV system?

Once materials have been delivered to your worksite, a typical residential system installation can be completed within two to three days. Larger systems and commercial installations will necessarily take a little longer, but most are completed within a week.

How long will a solar PV system last?

DPI and SolarWorld provide a 25 year warranty on all solar panels installed. However, most systems are designed to last much longer. For the sake of comparison, some of the very first solar panels installed over 40 years ago are still producing energy at 80% of their original power rating. Improved technology and manufacturing applications have produced solar panels with “0” tolerance, which means, in 40 years they should be producing at the same rate as they are today. With a 25 year warranty, you will be able to enjoy the benefit of free electricity for a very long time.

Benefits

What are the different state, local and federal solar power incentives available?

There are many incentives available to solar customers.

State of Oregon Incentives: As of July 2011, the State of Oregon offers the following incentive: The lesser of either

·         50% of net costs or

·         $3.00 per installed AC watt or

·         $6000

Federal Incentives: As of July 2011, the US Government will allow a homeowner or business owner to deduct 30% of net cost of the system over two years from their federal taxes.

Energy Trust Incentives: Energy Trust is available to PGE or PPL customer ONLY. For every watt of solar power installed, the Oregon Energy Trust will reimburse the system owner. This amount is often received within the first month and subtracted from your initial cost.

Net Metering: When net metering is configured, fluctuations between solar energy produced versus energy consumed are balanced. The home or business owner essentially ‘banks’ any solar energy they produce in excess of their needs any particular month, and when they use more than they produce, they can draw on that excess account at no cost to them.

State of Oregon Incentives 

What is Net Metering?

Net Metering balances the fluctuations between over and under production of energy by an installed solar PV system. When excess energy is produced by a PV system (more energy created than used), the system owner is credited with the excess amount. Then, at times when less energy is produced than is consumed, the owner of the solar PV system can draw against their over-production amounts at no cost to them.

Who is eligible for Net Metering?

All residents of the State of Oregon are eligible for a net-metering agreement as part of a solar PV system installation. It is up to each individual home or business owner to determine if this option is right for them. DPI recommends that each of their Oregon customers take advantage of this very lucrative opportunity.

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