How many solar panels do I need?

With the development of online solar tools/solar maps, any business owner can be able to determine whether going solar will make any economic sense while inputting very minimal data. All that is needed is the location and an estimation of your current energy bill. Solar online tools have simplified the need to call solar developers during the preliminary stage of the solar project. At this stage, you probably don’t need to call solar developers because you can make an estimation of whether going solar is worth it based on specific data sets that can be figured out using these tools.

The following are some aspects of going solar that you might want to consider to help you determine or decide whether going solar is a preferred option for your commercial building.

  1. Solar online tools will provide you with your solar energy potential or solar yield that can be generated on your rooftop.
  2. These tools will give you solar financing options, including leasing, solar PPA, solar loans and cash options. Each of these financing options will provide you with their estimated savings over the lifespan of your solar panel hence allowing you to make a judgment based on estimated savings to be achieved in the long-term.
  3. Also from the personalized solar reports generated after inputting your details, you can capture your current energy requirements with your current utility rates versus future rates when solar is included can be generated to help you determine future energy savings.
  4. Sizing of your PV system which is critical for commercial projects will also be captured. In this regard, you will be able to answer the question “how many solar panels do I need” in order to go solar. The size of your commercial solar  PV system can range anywhere from 10kW and above depending on the size or energy requirements of your business. Hence, how many solar panels you need for your PV system determines whether your project will be successful and to what extent it will be. Your PV system needs to be sized correctly in order to enjoy all your solar benefits. Oversizing your system can lead to wasted energy production while undersizing will result in reducing your return on investment or other opportunities. Today there are various monitoring systems that can help you to determine your solar production on a real-time basis. TED for solar is one monitoring system that will provide you with insights into your solar energy investment as it monitors your PV system to give you the following data:
    • Solar energy production
    • Solar energy consumption
    • Net solar usage
  5. Lastly, with the help of online solar tools and assistance from solar developers, you can get more specific details into the financials of your solar project. These data help you to draw conclusions on whether to proceed with your solar project. You personalized solar report will provide you with the following details for you to decide whether going solar is actually profitable for your business that is,
    • Expected initial investment cost
    • Expected solar yields (solar potential)
    • Estimated payback period
    • Estimated return on investment
    • Financing options with each one presenting you with estimated savings potential.

How many solar panels do I need? Get your personalized report and find out the other details that will help make a more informed decision even before you consult solar developers. Get started now.

What makes online solar tools a reliable source for researching about solar energy for solar developers and end-users?

With solar power becoming a more affordable source of energy and in states like Hawaii where the cost of solar power already equals that of other sources at current electricity prices (grid parity). Grid parity is expected to become the trend for many places across the US by 2020. As a result, local governments, states and the federal government as well as the private sector have developed online solar tools or  solar maps that combine topographical data, meteorological data and financial to equip a wide range of stakeholders with useful information for decision making.

Online solar tools for solar developers

For solar developers, the degree of accuracy is of importance when it comes to solar project development and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging Data) is a great solution, but very costly and many LiDAR projects are funded by local, state or the federal government to eliminate such costs to the private sector.

LiDAR provides the greatest degree of accuracy. LiDAR create 3 dimensional digital models that analyses the impact of shading on solar projects through identification of shading obstructions, roof tilts as well as an estimation of the area available for a specific solar installation.

However, LiDAR only provides topographical data which when combined with meteorological and financial data will help provide solar developers with useful information about a specific solar project in a short time. Using such solar online tools, solar developers save time with remote site analysis and can design and quote a commercial solar system from their desk. However, for commercial solar projects, it is up to solar developers to find and compare solar resource and weather data from various sources (both private and public) to reduce project uncertainty that will impact the financial viability of the project. Finding reliable weather data (including precipitation, wind speed and temperature) are essential for estimating PV system production and financial returns. Therefore any project uncertainty can impact on the future financial projections or performance of the PV system.

Online solar tools for homeowners and businesses

Online solar tools for prospecting solar customers are helpful to help them research on their specific solar power potential of their homes or businesses. These solar online tools can help homeowners and businesses to educate themselves when it comes to how to go solar and whether going solar will be beneficial to them and to what extent. Online solar tools provide solar estimates of the following specific information similar to solar developers. This information includes but not limited to:

  • Cost of installation
  • Financing options
  • Potential energy savings
  • Payback times
  • Solar PV system size (How many solar panels do I need)
  • Solar maintenance requirements
  • Life span for the PV system
  • Pre-screened solar installers
  • Solar developers

In addition, online solar tools can be used for all sizes of PV projects and will provide site specific data taking into consideration, topographical, meteorological and financial data necessary to help homeowners decide or make more informed decisions when it comes to going solar.

Get started today with EnergySage, which is used by over one million people every year to help them research and shop for solar while taking into consideration the above solar design questions.

Developing commercial solar projects – How to get help from solar developers!

Who are solar developers? 

Solar developers assist project owners to develop their commercial solar projects. These professionals are versed with technical, business/finance, legal and project development skills necessary to develop commercial solar projects for the industrial or utility sectors. 

Some common uses of commercial solar power 

Commercial solar presents the industrial sector with opportunities to save money, reduce their carbon footprint as well as improving a company’s corporate social and responsibility (CSR) agenda.

In particular, solar PV technology is seen as a viable option, but since a lot of energy consumed in industries is in the form of heat; solar PV and solar thermal are used in combination to meet the energy requirements or electrical loads of a specific industry. 

Commercial solar can either be installed on the rooftop or ground-mounted. In companies where the rooftop space is limited, ground mounted or putting up rooftop structures in the parking lot usually helps to create space to install your solar panels.

Some common uses of commercial solar include, but not limited to:

  • Heating water using solar thermal to provide steam required in many industrial facilities.
  • Cooling or refrigeration and solar water pumping solutions.
  • Solar PV can be used to charge batteries used for forklift trucks hence reducing energy consumption.
  • Depending on what electrical loads that an industrial company may have, solar can provide upto 90% of daily energy thus helping to lower significantly any operating costs thereby improving a company’s competitiveness.
  • Solar PV will be huge in providing lighting solutions for industrial facilities or for street and parking lighting.
  • Solar PV can be used to run your computer infrastructure system, including your network and server systems.
  • Solar air conditioning and heating solutions.

These uses are just a few applications of solar PV or solar thermal. One of the main advantage of thinking to go install commercial solar panels is to maintain fixed costs for your power for the next 20 to 25 years. With commercial solar power, you can hedge your energy costs against the volatile costs of diesel or other sources of power.

The size of commercial solar projects may range between 100kW to 500kW for small to medium size solar projects while big commercial solar projects range over 500KW. Although commercial solar, especially small to medium commercial solar projects may have project development challenges since the transaction costs associated with these types of projects are huge and comparable with those of utility scale solar. This increases the cost of financing hence affecting the bankability of small to medium size solar projects.

The role of solar developers in developing commercial solar projects 

As such that’s where solar developers can help companies interested in developing small-medium size commercial solar projects. Solar developers have the knowledge to develop these types of projects from scratch and will advise your project team when it comes to starting such projects. Solar developers are good at:

  • Proposing financial or project structures to help your project take off
  • Advising on regulatory and licensing issues surrounding your commercial solar project.
  • Advice when it comes to grid interconnection
  • Developing a bankable solar Project
  • The type of solar panels suitable for your project.

To learn more above solar developers, please visit this article

Online solar tools to connect you with solar developers in your local area.

Before starting a solar project you want to conduct a preliminary analysis to determine costs, potential savings and estimate the solar potential of the commercial solar project. Nowadays with technologies like LiDAR, it is possible to ascertain how much sunshine is hitting your rooftop and hence quantify your solar potential. Visit EnergySage to determine your solar potential, including potential solar savings and how to get finance information about your solar project using online solar tools, like the solar marketplace and solar calculators.

Also, there are various case studies regarding commercial solar projects to help you with first hand information before deciding to start this process. Please visit EnergySage to learn from industry best practices and get advised on how you can start your own commercial solar project.

Is solar worth it?

Benefits of going solar versus costs 

This blog attempts to  provide an analysis of some things you might want to know in order to answer the question: Is solar worth it? In many cases, to be able to answer this question, it may require that you determine the benefits of going solar versus costs.

With regards to solar energy, there are various benefits which come at a cost. Hence, we can simply answer this question by knowing the solar benefits versus its costs. With the emergence of online solar tools, you probably don’t need an intensive research to determine the costs or knowing whether solar is right for you or not. 

Emergence of online solar tools 

Online solar tools like the EnergySage have simplified this process and can help you determine your specific solar potential by just inputing very limited data such as your average monthly electricity bill and your address. Once you provide such details, they have an inbuilt solar panel cost calculator in their platform that does the calculations for you in terms of solar costs, financing and projected savings for up to 20 years. 

Is solar worth it? Costs versus benefits

1.     Solar energy will help you to reduce your energy bill. However, this might not be the case for you because it is based on your current electricity tariffs and how many solar panels you need to install.

Hence, if you are able to offset a lot of your current electricity from the grid at a cheaper solar tariff using solar power, then perhaps you can achieve a significant amount of savings.

Using online solar tools and inputting your current address and current electricity bill, will help you quantify these savings and provide you with a specific estimate about the percentage of your bill that can be reduced with going solar. You can sign up and try it here.

2.     Another benefit is reducing your carbon footprint, which depends on the size of the solar PV system that you install. Solar panels reduce greenhouse gas emissions because they do not emit or burn any type of fuel, but run on solar energy that is free fuel and doesn’t emit any carbon emissions.

For environmentally conscious people, this is a plus and makes them feel good that you are actually using a clean source of energy that will help to mitigate climate change and help to protect or sustain the environment for current and future generations.

3.     Depending on what financing model you use to purchase your solar panels; going solar will help to save you a good amount of money in the long-term.

However, savings are site specific depending on your geographical location and the policy and regulatory framework of your country or state. In most cases, if you have a rooftop that receives a good amount of sunshine; you will have some type of savings in the long-term.

This depends on the payback period or the number of years your solar panels pay for themselves; but once this happens everything else depends on your current electricity tariffs and how much money you are saving.

If you took a loan or paid cash for your solar panels; this will affect how much money you can recoup from your solar investment.

Some case studies that we have checked show people saving anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 in a period of 20 years. To get your specific estimates, please refer to this online solar tool to see how much you can save in 20 or 25 years if you go solar.

Is solar worth it? Going solar has its downside. What is it?

1.     There is no sunshine at night and because of this, it means your solar panels will not be able to generate any electricity and that calls for you to think about what to do.

In that case, some states or countries encourages a concept called “net-metering” which allows you to have a bi-directional meter and your PV system is connected to the utility grid.

With this arrangement, you can feed any excess solar power that is usually generated during the day (when there is a significant amount of sunshine) and consume it at night when your PV system is not generating any solar power.

At the end of the day, your savings result when you subtract how much you feed into the grid from the amount of kilowatt-hours consumed from the grid.

As such, the utility company sends you in most cases a credit if you have a surplus. However, in some places the net-metering concept may not exist and that calls for you to buy battery banks to store excess solar electricity generated during the day and use it at night.

2.     Depending on your location, solar power may not meet all your electricity needs meaning you may need to supplement it with grid power. However, these depends on the amount of sunshine your site location/rooftop is able to receive and how many solar panels you need.

That means, if you have a high-energy requirement to meet, you also require many solar panels to meet demand. For instance, if your house has an energy requirement of 10 kW you will need a 10 kW PV system to meet this demand.

Before deciding to go solar, your solar provider will also provide you with grid interconnection requirements, including, but not limited to licensing and regulations concerning grid interconnection while Fire departments will have building accessibility requirements, particularly for roof-mounted systems.

Some jurisdictions formally specify these standards and will confirm that the system meets the requirements during the permitting phase and final approval process. In the states that do not have such requirements, it is important for the government agency and the system owner to gain fire department approval early in the process

To find out your specific situation, you can sign up with EnergySage  or Pick My Solar to get connected to pre-screened solar installers in your local area that can provide you with additional information about your specific solar PV system. 

So, is solar worth it? the answer to the question is site specific as it is dependent on your geographical location, regulatory framework, financing options and how much you want to spend on solar panels or your PV system.

A bigger PV system can offset most of your electricity needs and vice-versa. Therefore, solar is worth it depending on these factors while online solar tools are helpful when it comes to answering these specific questions.

Learn more today from EnergySage  or Pick My Solar to answer any specific questions you may have. Learn how you can compare and contrast different solar quotes from different solar installers in your local area from either EnergySage or Pick My Solar


Solar Irrigation System-Solar Water Pump for Irrigation

Agriculture is one of the energy-intensive industries and switching to solar can help to reduce or mitigate greenhouse gases emission resulting from growing and harvesting food. 

The solar irrigation system is one of the solar technologies that can be used to help in irrigation replacing diesel-powered water pumps.

Generally, water pumping worldwide is reliant on traditional forms of energy such as diesel-powered water pumps.

Solar-powered water pumps can help to reduce reliance on diesel or coal-based electricity. Unlike traditional water pumps, solar water pumping is less expensive when looking at the life-cycle costs, including the initial, operation, and maintenance costs. Solar water pumps also do not have environmental costs resulting from noise or air pollution.

The solar irrigation system is made up of?

With the decreasing solar panel cost, solar irrigation pumps are becoming popular especially in rural places without access to the national grid.

A typical solar irrigation system consists of a minimum, a PV array, a motor, and a bore pump and can cost anywhere between $1,500 (smaller pumps) while the larger systems can run to over $20,000.

Most irrigation pumps are usually not more than 2 horsepower in size and the lifespan of the systems is somewhere about 20 years or more.

A review of different brands of solar irrigation systems 

Solar irrigation pumps or solar water pumping can be a good solution for places that need water for irrigation. Solar pumps are ideal to switch to solar to help reduce operational costs that may be incurred with diesel-powered which need regular fuel to run.

There are various vendors selling solar powered water pumps. Some of the most popular brands of solar pumps on the market include:
1. Dankoff Solar
2. Flexcon Industries
3. Grundfos
4. Shurflo
5. Solar Converters Inc
6. Square D
7. SunPumps

solar water pump
These are some of the brands of solar water pumps and designed in different ways. Here we provide a brief review of these brands:

1.Dankoff Solar

Dankoff Solar claims to be as one of the manufacturers of the best solar water pumps. Apart from that, the company distributes solar powered water pump components such as solar heating, electric power PV, as well as electrical systems, and so on.

The company has various kinds of products on the market today, and these are designed to fit different kinds of applications.

The company claims to have the most efficient, economical, and durable solar water pumps in the market. The company has been in business since 1983. They have customers from various parts of the world. The company has introduced different kinds of products to the market over the years.

2. Flexcon Industries
Another leading manufacturers and distributors of solar powered water pumps are the Flexcon Industries. The company has in stock different kinds of pumps such as submersible pumps, irrigation pumps as well as irrigation pumps and these are solar powered water pumps.

3. Grundfos
The company offers various kinds of solar submersible well pumps. These are ideal because they bring out high water volumes from wells and so on. The company over the years has produced and distributed various kinds of products such as SQFlex.

This is a superior product. It can pump well over seventy gallons every minute. There are different kinds of SQFlex models on the market, and there are at least eleven models and they operate almost in the same way.
One thing great with SQFlex is that they versatile in that they can use different power sources. They can work on solar panels, as well as turbines, and the battery banks, and so on.

The minimum power measurement for most of the products is thirty volts. The solar submersible well pump can draw up to 8.4 amps to enhance the product’s performance.
Furthermore, the product offers versatile control and this means that it has more than one control.

It is well designed and it can be efficient when you begin to use the product. For most of the products, a two-year warranty is always the standard. However, for those that cost more, you can get a warranty for five years.
solar water pump
4. Shurflo
Shurflo has different solar powered water pumps that are composed of pumps and the necessary accessories. These pumps have interesting features that make them unique. Most of the products feature low amp draws. Moreover, they are consistent in their performance. Most importantly, they are durable. They can serve for a longer period more than you expect for this kind of product.

The company offers different kinds of submersible pumps, and these pumps are known to be durable. They are rugged. The 9300 series can offer 82 GPH steadily, and it can work at the depth of two hundred and thirty feet. To reach that depth it must be supplied with at least 24 VDC.

It can be used for a number of purposes such as irrigation, livestock watering, pond aeration, as well as cabins and homes.
The product has some interesting features, including but not limited to:
• It is corrosion-proof,
• It features internal bypass and this is good for the pump protection
• Furthermore the product is durable and does not require constant maintenance
• It is quick to disconnect and uses a unique watertight connector
• The product is well designed
It is regarded as perfect for every home because of the low current draw. Moreover, because of the in-built pressure demand switch, it means that it can be used without any pressure tank. Various products from the company enjoy a lengthy warranty. Warranties range from two years and above.

5. Solar Converters Inc
This is a solar powered water pump manufacturing and distribution company. Over the years, the company has developed a number of product lines and some of the great products from the company include battery equalizers, linear current boosters, cathodic protection controllers as well as PowerPoint tracker charger, constant voltage pump drivers, solar lighting controllers and so on. One of the greatest products from the company includes the PPT 12/24-40 Linear Current pump. This is a great product and it can boast of 1200W. It can be used together with Heat Sink as well as Diode Kit. 
This product is waterproofed and it is ultra-efficient. It is transient protected on the output and input. The design is fantastic and it can improve water flow even when there is a reduction in sunlight condition. The product equally enjoys a lengthy warranty.
solar water pump
6. Square D
This is another solar pump company when it comes to the distribution and manufacture of solar powered water pumps. Their product is compatible with submersible pumps, jet pumps, as well as reciprocating pumps. The installation of its products is easy. They enjoy the warranty for eighteen months and more. The products are reliable. Instructions are available that can guide you on how to install them. Moreover, the product does not leak.
Their pumps can be used to deliver water from wells as well as inside drilled holes. The company is known for the production of superior quality pumps.

7. SunPumps
SunPumps make a great product and the products are known for their efficiency and low cost. Most of the brands of the company are designed with stainless steel materials, super-strong Ryton, as well as corrosion-resistant and durable materials.

Among the great products from this company includes the SDS-Q pump series. They have many models from the company and these brands are effective. One of the great features of PCA and BLS series is that they can boost the water supply even when there is a drop in sunlight. The products have a two-year warranty.

Click here to learn more about some specific solar water-powered pumps. For any questions about going solar, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.