Will the 30% federal tax credit for solar or wind energy systems roll over into next year?
Yes, the 30% federal tax credit rolls over into future years if the tax credit exceeds your tax liability during the year you purchase the system. It will roll over multiple years through 2016 if necessary.
Is Solar Hot Water a good investment?
The answer to this question largely depends on your current water heating costs. If you can estimate your monthly expenditure from heating water (around 20-30% of a home utility bill) it is easy to determine the potential returns for a solar hot water system. In many areas a solar water heater will pay for itself in 5-10 years. It will then continue to earn tax free savings on your initial investment over its 30 year lifetime. Solar water heaters also provide a cushion from utility fluctuations and offer virtually risk-free returns. A financial advisor might do well in telling a homeowner to consider investing in solar hot water before investing in the stock market. Solar water heaters do operate on an economy of scale so a system for a family of 4 will often be only slightly more expensive than the cost of a system for a family of 2, leading to a shorter payback period.
Is Solar Electric (Photovoltaics) a good investment?
Solar electric systems are more cost-effective than ever. In almost all corners of the US, a residential or commercial system will realize a rate of return on par or better than many major investment vehicles including bonds or market indices. In some of our markets we even offer solar service agreements where the system is cash flow positive from day 1.
Give us a call and tell us a little more about your project and we would be happy to give you a better idea of the financial returns associated with your PV project.
Does a solar hot water/PV system add to my home's value?
Real estate surveys do show that every dollar spent on renewables will be realized in the home's sale price. Various studies, including this one (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy07osti/38304-01.pdf) by NREL, indicate solar homes sell for more and sell more rapidly than comparable non-solar homes.
What tax credits and rebates are offered for solar?
Currently there are 30% Federal tax credits for both solar thermal (water/air heating) and for photovoltaics. Businesses can further benefit from 5-year accelerated depreciation on system cost.
For current state and federal incentives please visit: www.dsireusa.org
Should I add a solar hot water system to my mortgage?
Adding a solar hot water system to your mortgage is one of the smartest things a homeowner can do. Over a 30-year mortgage the payment would increase by roughly $15-30 a month. Meanwhile, the homeowner's monthly savings can be double the costs! Keep in mind that the interest on a mortgage payment can also be deducted from your income tax making the savings more significant.
Should I add solar electric to my mortgage?
Adding a solar system to your mortgage is one of the smartest things a homeowner can do. Over a 30-year mortgage you can expect your payment to increase by less the energy savings all while negating the risk of rising energy rates! Keep in mind that the interest on a mortgage payment can also be deducted from your income tax making the savings more significant.
What about freezing and cloudy weather?
We prefer to install active, freeze-protected solar hot water systems with multiple fail-safes against the inclement weather that Kentucky and Ohio experience. These systems are rated to operate at temperatures up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Our panels are rated by the independent Solar Rating and Certification Corporation for year-round use and data on their performance over all months is available. While cloudy conditions are admittedly not ideal, even in the coldest winter months a system should provide some hot water when the sun is shining and 100% in summer months.
For Photovoltaics (solar electric) freezing is ideal! PV panels operate better under cold sunny conditions and can experience some of the highest output when snow is on the ground (as it reflects more light towards the modules). That is not to say winter is the best month for your panel's performance. Winter comes with clouds and lack of sunlight and shading is a serious detriment to PV. Just the same, production in January should be no less than 60% of production in July.
Both systems undergo hail testing and are rated to withstand 1.5" hail at 50mph.
What about the aesthetics of a Solar Collector?
We think solar panels look great! There are a myriad of options now available for even the most discriminating tastes. Some panels look identical to a skylight, others offer the translucent effect of glass.
Often, homeowners concerned about appearance will find that there is a suitable roof space for a collector on a less visible portion of their roof. It is possible to mount collectors in other areas like the ground if appearance on the roof is not desired.
Will I still be able to get hot water when my power is out?
Our solar hot water systems require one or two small AC operated pumps that would fail during a power outage. If requested, these pumps can be purchased with a small photovoltaic power supply that assures hot water service during power failures.
Will I still be able to get electricity when my power is out?
Our photovoltaic systems can be installed as grid-tied, grid-tied with battery backup, and off grid. If you are off grid your power is completely independent of the utility grid. Grid-tied systems, however, are completely dependent on the utility grid and will experience power outage (they are also the least expensive systems). Grid-tied systems with battery backup have limited backup potential in the event of grid failure (much like a generator).
If you are looking to solar as a cost-effective method to supply power during limited grid outages you would currently be better off with a generator. If you are looking for a system that is completely self-sufficient over numerous decades, solar is right for you.
What about the environmental benefits of going solar?
Installing a solar water heater is one of the most efficient ways for the average person to help the environment. The impact of your solar water heater will depend specifically on the alternate source of energy used, but for a family the impact is often compared to taking a small car off the road.
Photovoltaics allow you to take a further step and completely eliminate reliance on traditional fossil fuels. Small PV systems might save a barrel of crude oil a year. Larger systems have unlimited potential. Contact us for detailed information regarding your project.
Is my home/business suitable for solar collectors?
Probably. Solar collection is dependent on one factor: the sun. To maximize exposure to the sun collectors are best mounted due south. If you have an east-west facing roof, this does not mean solar is out of the question. Collectors mounted on a west roof see performance reduction, but generally a reduction of less than 10% when compared to a perfectly aligned collector. Solar collectors also need not be roof mounted. Ground mounting is a very viable option, especially when there is space near the home.
Shading can also decrease collector performance. For solar thermal technologies shading can often be mitigated or collector size increased to balance any effects of shade. For photovoltaic collectors, shading is a serious issue and can easily render an expensive system worthless.
Is my home/business suitable for wind?
Wind energy requires land. If your home or business does not have large open areas consider solar. If you do have open areas it is merely a matter of determining average wind speeds at those areas. In many regions wind speeds are not adequate to be cost competitive with solar energy. If you believe your site is right, call us for a consultation on data collection methods and costs.