Solar Electrical Panels - Agricultural Applications
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system?
A: SolarCraft’s state-of-the-art PV panels are constructed of silicon cells that function as semiconductors which convert light directly into DC electricity. The DC electricity is then converted into AC electricity for household use. SolarCraft uses the most efficient solar panels commercially available. They have a 25-year warranty and a 40-year life expectancy.
Q. How will switching to solar power benefit my business?
- Saves money From day one, solar power removes a portion of your electricity usage from the grid and your electric bill. In fact, a solar power system is most productive during the day and during seasons when usage is at its highest, so it's removing the most power from the grid just when your power company is charging its highest rate.
- Locks in power costs There are many different factors from legislative and regulatory changes and restrictions to global price pressures on fossil fuels that have the potential to affect the price of your utility's electricity. When you invest in a solar power installation, you take a portion of your electricity usage away from the utility and bring it under your own control. Because maintenance of a solar power system is minimal, the future cost of your electricity is virtually the cost of your initial installation. You can relax knowing your power costs are behind you, independent of changes impacting the rest of the world.
- Makes good business sense Depending on physical conditions, utility prices, and tax and other incentives and rebates available at your location, a solar system may fully recoup its cost in as little as 4 years. Since systems are known to last 40+ years, you will be reaping pure savings for years to come.
- Improves public relations Environmentally conscious neighbors are looked upon as good neighbors, and that can be priceless. By adding solar as a power source, you are helping conserve energy for everyone. In so doing, you become part of a community environmental solution rather than part of the problem. It's nice to make a smart investment that helps your company; it's even better, when it helps the surrounding community as well.
Q: Will solar improve my company’s image?
A: Definitely! Going solar will demonstrate that your company is committed to environmental responsibility. Consumers are increasingly demanding that the companies they do business with engage in sustainable business practices. There is a huge amount of public interest in renewable energy and green technology.
Q. Will solar panels impede my ability to continue to farm the land?
A. Solar panels are best located on fallow, underused land or structurally sound rooftops, not active tillable soil or acreage used for other agricultural activities.
Q: How much roof space will my system need?
A: Every 1,000 Watts of solar modules will require 100 sq ft of roof space. Since the majority of commercial systems range between 10,000W to 100,000W the roof space required will range from 1,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft.
Q: What size solar electric system do I need?
A: The recommended size of your system depends on your power consumption. If you want to completely offset your current electrical usage from the utility with a solar electric system, the first step is to review your annual energy consumption which can be obtained from your utility bill. Commercial systems can range in sizes from 10,000W up to and beyond 100,000W, or 1,000 to 10,000 square feet of solar modules. Your needs will depend upon the size of your facility and your energy loads.
Q: What is an inverter?
A: An inverter is an electronic device that converts low-voltage DC power generated by solar panels to conventional AC power used by lights and household appliances.
Q: Will I notice any difference in the performance of my facility's equipment?
A: There will be no difference between the electricity from your solar system and electricity from the grid. There is no need to change any of your equipment. All of your electrical equipment will operate the same as it always did with no change in performance.
Q: Are the panels fragile?
A: No. While the panels are made of tempered glass, they are quite strong. They pass hail tests, and are regularly installed in Arctic and Antarctic conditions.
Q: What happens when the utility has a power outage?
A: The systems that SolarCraft installs are without batteries. These systems do not generate power when the utility is out, even if it is sunny.
Q: Do I need a battery backup?
A: SolarCraft’s PV systems connect to the local utility grid so no batteries are necessary.
Q: Can the building owner sell power back to their utility?
A: Yes, through "net metering" any excess electricity generated will spin your meter backwards, which has the effect of selling your excess power to the utility at a full retail rate. On a monthly basis, you pay only the "net" of the power you used. If you generate more power than you used in a month your utility company will forward your excess solar energy credits to be used during the next month. This allows any excess energy generated in the summer to be used during the winter when there is less solar energy and usually higher energy usage.
Q: How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A: The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 40 years. In fact the first solar electric panel built back in the 1950s is still generating electricity today! The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly.
Q: What commercial solar energy financing options are available?
A: The incentives available can be confusing. Fortunately, SolarCraft keeps up to date on tax incentives, rebates and credits, and will discuss your site's qualifying factors as part of the initial proposal. Available options include:
- Tax credits and rebates In addition to tax incentives offered by state and local governments, the new U.S. business energy tax credit covers 30% of the cost of a commercial solar electric system. Alternatively, businesses may elect to receive a 30% federal grant. In some cases, the combined savings on rebates from government and utility companies can pay for over 60% of your system installation.
- Traditional financing Bank financing can be a smart way to leverage your investment so you get the benefits of solar with a minimum initial cash outlay. Solar power systems have been around long enough that banks recognize them as good investments. We work with you and your bank to show how the loan will result in a net increase to cash flow as a result of power cost savings.
- Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)s A PPA is an innovative financing structure that allows you to realize cost savings with a solar power system immediately with absolutely no upfront investment. Under a PPA, a third-party investor owns your system and bears all of the installation and maintenance costs. In return, they get all of the tax benefits, and they sell you the electricity from the system at a lower agreed-upon rate than your power company.
Q: Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?
A: SolarCraft will handle every aspect of the installation including the filing of the rebate paperwork, the permits, the final inspections, and the net metering approval. SolarCraft is proud to offer a comprehensive turnkey package to every customer to ensure that installing a solar power system is an easy, pleasant experience for you.
Q: How do I maintain my solar PV system?
A: Solar PV systems are designed and installed to be low-maintenance. An occasional cleaning of panels by hosing them down will ensure optimal performance.