One of our primary goals is to provide you with a comprehensive education about our services. If your question is not addressed below, feel free to contact us. Our highly qualified staff is always eager to help.
StraightUp Solar recommends you start by determining your solar goals and your budget. Then, we’ll help you review your total energy use in your home or facility and help you understand the best solar power option for your budget.
We look forward to helping you achieve your solar goals: call us at (314) 218-2663 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In general, we use solar in two different ways: solar electric (photovoltaic) and solar thermal.
Photovoltaic systems use the sun’s energy to create electricity. Solar modules convert the solar energy to electric energy when the solar energy displaces electrons within the solar modules. The displaced electrons are used to create direct current electricity. We then use an inverter to convert this direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity that is used in most homes or businesses.
Solar thermal utilizes the sun’s energy as a heat source. In our applications, solar thermal technology is typically used to heat water and that heat is transferred into a solar storage tank. This can be used to heat a home or facility’s water for standard uses such as showers, washing hands, etc.
On a larger scale, the stored heat can be use for space heating a home or facility. In either domestic water heating or space heating, a back-up heat source (either electric or gas) will provide any additional energy to the system as needed. For example, on a cloudy day, the sun may provide 50% of the energy to heat the water and the remaining energy is supplied by the back-up source. Additionally, solar air heating is another great application to provide supplemental heating to specific rooms or the entire house.
There is a 30% federal tax credit for both solar electric and solar water heating systems until 2016. You can take the tax credit on both systems if you install both within the same year. Incentive can take of 60-70%.
Solar electric systems in Missouri in Ameren and KCP&L territory also qualify for a $2/watt rebate. For example, a 10,000 watt system would receive a $20,000 rebate. Businesses can also qualify for Rapid Depreciation – 85% of System Cost – 50% Year 1 and Remainder over 5 Years.
It depends on the size of the system and your specific needs. A solar water heating system will typically cost between $6,000 and $8,000 before the tax credit, depending on the size of the family.
An installed solar electric system starts around $4-$5 per watt and even less for some commercial projects. In general, the larger the system, the less the system costs per watt installed.
Your best starting point is to look at your electric bill and determine your average daily usage in kilowatt hours. Most bills will have this displayed either as the total kilowatt hours used over the month. Most homes or facilities use more electricity at different times of the year, so an average over the year will give you your best estimate.
We can then estimate the size system you will need to produce a percentage of your building’s energy. If a system has good southern exposure and no significant shading we know that we will average approximately 4 sun hours per day in our region – accounting for system losses. By multiplying the size of the system in kilowatts times the sun hours per day we can estimate the output of the system on a daily basis over the course of the year.
For example, a 2 kilowatt system will produce approximately 8 kilowatt hours / day (2kw X 4 sun hours = 8 kilowatt hours per day). If your home uses 32 kilowatt hours a day, the 2 kW system in this example would eliminate 25% of your electric bill.
We recommend energy efficiency practices such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs and increasing your insulation to decrease your energy usage. Furthermore, if your water heater is electric, a solar water heater can decrease your electric bill by 10-20%.
Batteries are not required for solar electric systems. Battery storage (off grid) systems are a good option if there is currently no electricity to a property and there would be increased costs to run electricity to the location. Batteries also allow people to achieve energy independence. However, batteries increase the complexity of the system and add approximately 20-30% additional cost to the system.
For many people, the best option is to be grid tied without battery storage. With a grid tied system, you can think of the utility as your battery back-up. If your system were to produce more than the building is using, your meter will run backwards and give you credits to use at another time. This is called a net-metered system.
For safety reasons, the system will not produce power during a blackout. A grid connected system allows you to create your system on a modular basis, meaning that you don’t have to power your entire home from the beginning (which can be relatively expensive). Rather, you can start with a system that aligns with your goals and budget and then add on later if you desire. In many cases, you can still eliminate a significant portion of your energy bill.
Finally, in a solar water heating system, consider your storage tank as the equivalent of batteries. The storage tank will keep sun-heated water warm from the prior day to utilize on a following cloudy day. For this reason, we recommend an 80 gallon tank (or even a 120 gallon tank) in many cases — to give you more solar storage and maximize the efficiency of your solar system.
In the majority of cases the answer is yes. We need a relatively south-facing area that gets sun from approximately 9am to 3pm. The systems work reasonably well even when facing west or east if that’s your only option (decreased output is typically 15 – 20%). We can mount the systems on the majority of roof types including shingled or metal roofs. Systems can also be ground-mounted. Please see our project portfolio to see examples of how other customers integrated solar into their homes or businesses.
Finally, we perform a free on-site evaluation of your location prior to an installation to ensure optimal production from your solar system and to be certain that the system design and location meets your expectations.
No. As we mentioned above, solar water heating systems always have a back-up heat source in case of multiple cloudy days. If your PV system is connected to the grid, you’ll always have the utility’s power as your back-up energy source.
Both solar thermal and solar electric systems are expected to last more than 25 years, and many solar thermal and solar electric that were installed in the 1970′s and 1980′s are still functioning today.
They require little to no maintenance and have a long functioning life. The solar electric panels have a 25-year warranty and the solar water heating panels have a 10-year warranty. They are both hail tested to sustain 1 inch hail at 50 mph.
In many cases, a business can see a 20% ROI and homeowners can realize a 10% ROI or better. Given their longevity, the systems are expected to pay for themselves well within their lifetime while producing clean, green energy that benefits more than just the bottom line.
Energy prices continue to rise, so the return on investment will also improve. When the solar water heating system cost is included in a home loan for new construction the savings will be immediate in most cases as you’ll save more per month than the system costs.
Over the past few years the dramatic decrease in component costs with improved incentives have significantly improved their return investment.
Solar is one of the best ways to decrease your carbon footprint. The Midwest is powered largely with coal, so each kWh produced from a solar system saves one pound of coal from being burned. A solar electric system will offset the energy to produce the modules in less than 3 years – that means truly clean energy for the remaining life of the system over the next 30 years!
Beyond cleaner air and lower carbon emissions, a solar system will also decrease your energy costs. A solar water heater, for example, helps the environment as much as a hybrid car!
Solar panels are mounted on to rails or “racks”. These racks are held in place one of three ways:
1. The rails are attached to the roof via attachments that are flashed and sealed. These slide underneath your existing shingles. The attachments are secured to the structural members of the roof with lag screws every four to six feet. This produces a secure and leak proof attachment system that is designed to withstand local wind speeds. In addition, dispersed roof loads are quite low, typically around three pounds per square foot – a roof load that is usually well within the parameters of a
structurally sound roof. This is typical of residential systems.
2. The rails are attached to ballast systems. The ballast have a large number of heavy blocks that sit on the attachment array to keep the panels in place during high winds. Typically, a membrane is put underneath to provided added protection for your roof. This is typical of commercial systems.
3. The rack may be attached to a ground mount. A metal pole is placed directly into the ground on an open space of your property for this mounting system.