Commercial Solar FAQ
Support for commercial solar electric power comes in many forms today.
State rebates and state tax incentives, Federal Tax Credits, Business Development Grant Programs and Accelerated Depreciation scheme combine to provide immediate positive cash flow for most commercial solar power installations in the very first year.
Check out your local, state, and federal incentives for commercial and renewable energy applications.
The same principles apply, although with few exceptions, commercial applications are grid-intertied, whereas many residential solar electric systems are off-grid, or totally independent of utility-generated electric power. Commercial solar gridtie inverters matched with arrays of larger wattage solar panels (the same ones that work for residential solar power systems) provide power for all sorts of commercial applications, from remote traffic controls and telecommunications, to oil and gas industry applications, to solar electric systems for large municipal, school and government facilities.
- Solar panels are mounted on a roof structure or on the grounds of the commercial facility, or are used as the roof structure over a parking lot.
- The power created by sunlight on solar cells is sent to a device called an inverter which converts the DC power from the solar panels into AC power identical to that being sent to you from the utility grid. Commercial inverters are available in a wide variety of power levels, from 2.5 kW to 250 kW, tailored to meet the requirements of any commercial application. Single phase and three phase products, with line voltage auto-detection, are designed to minimize power loss during the conversion process. Passive cooling eliminates the needs for fans, reducing maintenance costs. 10-year parts and labor warranties are standard for inverters; 20 – 25 year warranties are standard for solar panels.
- Power travels from the inverter to the electrical service panel at the breaker box, where it is distributed to electrical loads throughout the facility.
- Excess power produced by the solar panels flows into the grid through your electric meter, causing your meter to run backwards and gaining your business a credit with the utility company.
- Net metering is an agreement between you and your utility company. The agreement states that the utility company will credit your account for excess electricity produced and fed into the utility grid.
- If you install a time-of-use-meter, you may be credited for power at different rates—peak or off-peak rates. Rates depend on the time of day, day of the week, and month of the year. Peak periods are usually weekday summer afternoons. When you send power to the utility grid during peak power times, you may receive credit at the higher peak rate. When you draw on your credit at off-peak times, you will be debited at off-peak rates.
- Most businesses will benefit by installing the time-of-use meter.