Most of our energy is old solar power. Why not use the fresh stuff?Solar photovoltaic panels make electricity from the sun. And yes, they even work in Pittsburgh! We believe anyone who has an area suitable for solar should have a solar array. And if you’ve made it this far hopefully you feel the same way.
How does it work?The panels’ cells absorb sunlight and convert it into direct current power. An inverter or several micro-inverters then change it from direct current to alternating current. Most systems installed are grid tied and whatever you don’t use from your array is then pushed back into the grid for your neighbors, thus spinning your meter backwards. This is known as “net metering”. Whatever excess power you make that is not used is credited on your meter, and reflected on your electric bill. At night however, you pull power back from the grid and often “net zero” your solar gains from the day.
Battery back up systems are available as well. This would provide you with power if the grid were to go down. Unfortunately without a battery back up, your inverter is shut off when power is lost to keep from sending power back to the grid. This protects workers repairing damaged lines from getting shocked.
Southern ExposureA solar array is most efficient when it can be mounted facing due south, but will still work well enough facing all the way up to due East or West. If you don't have an adequate roof with southern exposure, a ground mount array is another possible solution.
What brand of panels are good?
American Made Panels are always ASR’s first choice for installation.
Our go to panel for the highest quality and made in USA is Solar World.
Our 2nd choice module is LG, made in Korea.
Here’s what we’ve installed so far:
BP solar (2010). They were made in Maryland, and now Mexico. We bought our first and last pallet the day before the Deepwater Horizon spill. The panels are solid though and don’t leak oil.
Sharp (2010-2012) Made in Tennessee, these modules have an extra bracing bar across the back that are pretty nice, and everybody recognizes the SHARP brand. Adam has these panels on his home.
Solar World (2010- present). These panels are 100% USA made in California which is a rarity in the solar industry. We support them and like their product. Google them to see some of their awards. This is our first choice for an install. The ASR building has Solar World panels powering it.
Sanyo (2011). A very high efficiency module. They are smaller in size than most modules allowing for greater power per sq.ft. whenever available space is a concern. Sanyo is in transition to become Panasonic.
LG (2012-present). Life’s Good right!? These are high quality modules for a little bit less of a price. Made in Korea. We believe this brand will be around after all the solar shake ups and shake outs.
Solar Power Industries. This is your LOCAL solar manufacturer. In our own backyard in Rostraver PA, SPI is a start to finish solar company. These guys grow their own ingots, slice up cells, coat them, and build modules. We haven’t used them yet but would like to put their modules on your house. (*Update, SPI is out of business and the Pittsburgh Solar factory is for sale and could be yours! It did not sell at the last auction)
So How Much Is It?It depends. Is the PA Sunshine Program still afloat and what's up with the current legislation that determines our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards in PA? Funding is running out quick for the sunshine program and hopefully your local politicians vote in favor or raising the solar PV requirement from .5% to 1.5%. The original goal was to raise to 3% but that legislation did not pass. SRECS/AECS (Solar Renewable Energy Credits and Alternative Energy Credits as PA calls them) is what brings 15-20 year paybacks down to 5-10 years)
UPDATE: We are several years down the line, and several failed attempts at SREC legislation, with the latest solar bill HB1580 being debated in the industry as maybe not even worth pursuing because it has been watered down so much. The best logic on the street seems to point to 2015 for credits to rebound, but legislation can change everything for better or worse on the SREC front. Also keep in mind electric prices are expected to continue to rise and once you install panels, you lock in your rate for the next 30+ years. And imagine if “time of day” metering comes to PA like a lot of the western states, your panels will instantly double or triple in value.
For out of pocket up front cost basically think $4-$5 a watt installed. A nice ‘ballpark’ number for a complete turn key home installation: (10) 260watt panels (2.6kW system) with Micro-Inverters for $13,000. If you can still get the PA Sunshine Grant and your Federal 30% Tax Credit, it would end up costing only about half that. The ROI on paper can range anywhere from 7-20 years depending on how you interpret the data and stack your numbers. What will SREC credits average in price for the life of the system? At what percent will electric rates continue to increase? Is time of day metering, where you pay more for power during peak demand, coming to PA? That alone would double the value of your system. Although the financials are an important aspect of your installation decision, the tremendous joy solar owners have from generating all of their own clean power themselves should be taken into consideration as well. We are proud to say all of our customers are happy solar customers. Solar is Priceless.
Conservation“Every watt or BTU not used is a watt or BTU that doesn’t have to be produced, processed or stored.”
Adam Solar Resources / 1912 Mayview Road Bridgeville, PA 15017 / Office 412-220-1900 / Fax 412-220-9600 / Email: Adam@AdamSolarResources.com