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Will Rooftop Commercial Solar Energy Work for Your Business?

A rooftop commercial solar energy system is a wise investment for almost any business. Generating your own energy not only saves money but also protects your company against future electricity rate hikes. And those are far from the only benefits of switching to photovoltaic power.

rooftop commercial solar energy

Unfortunately, not every building is well-suited for a rooftop solar panel system. How can you determine whether your building can work for a photovoltaic installation, and what can you do if a rooftop commercial solar installation isn’t an option?

Rooftop Solar Can Be Installed on Most Commercial Buildings

If your building is like most industrial, warehouse, agricultural, retail and manufacturing facilities, a rooftop solar panel system should be a good fit. Most of these commercial buildings have large, flat roofs with plenty of space for mounting photovoltaic panels.

However, a rooftop photovoltaic installation might not work if your roof is crowded with vents and equipment — there may not be enough room, or shade from the obstacles could block the sun. In addition, some older roofs may not be able to bear the added weight of a solar panel system.

Alternatives to a Rooftop Commercial Solar System

When a rooftop isn’t right for a solar panel system, businesses have other options for switching to photovoltaic power.

A photovoltaic shade awning or parking lot canopy can generate electricity, and both are good choices for space-strapped properties. Businesses with enough space can also consider a ground-mounted commercial photovoltaic installation.

Benefits of Installing a Commercial Solar Panel System

Regardless of whether a rooftop photovoltaic installation works for your business’s building or you need to go with a different type of commercial solar panel system, you can expect several benefits.

Saving money on utility bills and becoming less vulnerable to energy rate hikes are two of the biggest advantages, of course, but they aren’t the only ones. Once you switch to photovoltaic power, your business will be eligible for lucrative tax incentives that can save you thousands. Your property value will also increase, which may be advantageous if you decide to sell. Plus, your solar panel system can give you a big public relations boost and send more customers your way.

If your business is in one of the Intermountain West states — Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming or Nevada — and you want expert advice on making the switch to photovoltaic power, consult with the professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar.

As the region’s leading commercial and residential photovoltaic provider with a 10-year history of exceptional service, Intermountain Wind & Solar has the expertise to design an efficient, cost-effective, ground-mounted or rooftop commercial solar power system for any Intermountain West business. To schedule a complimentary consultation, contact us today.

Installing a Solar Energy System? 6 Benefits of Using Micro-Inverters

Your solar energy system needs an inverter to take the direct current (DC) harnessed from the sun and convert it to alternating current (AC) power, which is the standard in U.S. homes.Installing a Solar Energy System

String inverters are the less expensive, but photovoltaic experts often recommend micro-inverters, due to their many other benefits and advantages.

No. 1: Faster Solar Energy System Installation

Micro-inverters are individually attached to each of the photovoltaic panels in your home solar power system. Since the panels aren’t wired together in strings, the solar energy installation process is often faster — which translates to savings on labor charges.

No. 2: Less Visible Solar Energy Equipment

String inverters are typically installed close to the utility meter, either inside the garage or outside of the home. Some models take up a lot of valuable space, and most are rather unsightly. With micro-inverters, most of the solar equipment is up with the photovoltaic panels, out of view.

No. 3: Greater Solar Energy System Efficiency

With a string inverter, damage or shade on one of the photovoltaic panels decreases the energy output of the entire system. Micro-inverters are much more efficient and reliable — you don’t have to worry about losing all your electricity production if one module underperforms.

No. 4: Precision Photovoltaic System Monitoring

If you install a string inverter, you’ll be able to track the energy production of your home solar power system as a whole. With micro-inverters, however, you can monitor the electricity output of each individual module. And using a web-based monitoring system, you can see how each of your photovoltaic panels is performing from anywhere.

No. 5: Easy to Expand a Home PV System

Do you think you might want to add on to your solar power system at some point? Some homeowners start with smaller photovoltaic arrays and expand them later, as their budget allows. If you’d like that option, you may want to install micro-inverters to make expansion easier.

No. 6: Extended Solar Warranty Coverage

Warranties for string inverters offer coverage for about 5 to 10 years, as these parts can wear out by that time. Micro-inverters, on the other hand, typically come with 25-year warranties because of their longer life spans. If you want photovoltaic components that last, you’ll want to choose micro-inverters.

The professionals at Intermountain Wind & Solar recommend micro-inverters for many home PV system installations, but string inverters are a smart choice for many homeowners. The decision comes down to your needs and preferences — our team can design an efficient, cost-effective photovoltaic installation with either type of inverter.

For expert advice on whether you should go with string inverters or micro-inverters — or for guidance on other crucial home solar energy system decisions — contact Intermountain Wind & Solar and schedule a consultation today.

What’s the Net Metering Policy in Your Intermountain West State?

Solar net metering policies vary across the country. In some states, solar homeowners are credited the full retail rate for excess electricity sent to the utility grid, but in others, the energy is credited at a lower rate — or not at all.

Net Metering Policy in Your Intermountain West State

Currently, 38 states have mandatory solar net energy metering (NEM) rules. How does your Intermountain West state weigh in?

Colorado

If you live in Colorado, you’ll earn full-price credit for all the electricity your home solar system generates and sends to the utility grid. NEM credits don’t expire in this Intermountain West state — they roll over from month to month.

At the end of the year, if you’ve got a surplus, you can either ask the utility company for a check or continue rolling the credits over.

Utah

The solar net metering law in Utah requires the Rocky Mountain Power utility company to provide credit for excess electricity sent to the grid. Your NEM credit rate depends upon when you adopted home solar power — only customers who applied before the middle of November 2017 are eligible for the full retail rate through the end of 2035. Other customers are credited at a slightly lower rate.

Nevada

In Nevada, a recent net metering policy ruling kept the credit for excess solar electricity at the full retail rate — at least for homeowners who qualify under the grandfather clause. Other solar customers will have a $25 minimum bill to offset utility costs and will be credited under a revised rate structure.

But the governor is working with a task force on a reform plan, so the NEM policy is far from set in stone.

Wyoming

Wyoming investor-owned utility companies and electric co-ops are required to offer solar net metering, but no rate is specified. Some offer the full retail rate for solar electricity, while others provide wholesale NEM credit. At the end of the year, any surplus is paid out at a reduced rate.

Idaho

Idaho has no solar net metering laws in place. Despite this, all three of the investor-owned utility companies here offer their own independent NEM programs. Excess electricity generated by solar panel systems is credited at the full retail rate in all the programs, but depending upon your utility company, any end-of-year surplus may revert to the utility company with no compensation.

Net metering policies in the Intermountain West states are constantly changing, as we’ve recently seen in Utah and Nevada. You can always check the status of the net metering policies in your state on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), or check with your local electric utility provider.

The professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar, the region’s leading photovoltaic contractor for over a decade, can design an efficient, effective home solar system that meets your energy needs and monetary goals, even if your state’s solar net metering policy changes. To learn more, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.

Residential Solar Energy System Key Components

Residential solar energy systems are designed on a case-by-case basis. Homeowners have different electricity needs, and because every rooftop or ground installation site is unique, photovoltaic system configurations are individually planned.

Residential Solar Energy

That said, most residential photovoltaic power installations share the same types of components. These are the primary components needed for a home PV system.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are the foundation of any home PV system. Made of dozens of solar cells, the panels absorb photons of light from the sun and transform the particles into an electrical current — a phenomenon known as photovoltaic effect. The more electricity a home uses, the more photovoltaic panels are needed.

Solar Inverters

The photovoltaic effect produces direct current (DC) electricity, but home electronics and appliances require alternating current (AC) electricity. Inverters take the DC energy from the photovoltaic panels and convert it to usable AC energy. For residential solar energy systems, either micro-inverters or string inverters can be installed.

Mounting Racks

Most residential photovoltaic power systems are installed on rooftops, using mounting components specifically designed for residential solar panels. The racks typically require installers to make some holes in the roof, but special flashing is used to create a watertight, leak-free seal. Ground-mounted solar energy installations use metal poles and racks made to support the panels at the ideal tilt and angle.

Wiring

In a home PV system, the photovoltaic panels are wired together into a string, and the string is wired to the inverter. Or, if micro-inverters are used, each one is connected to a separate panel. The wiring is then attached to the home grounding system and connected to the grid with the net meter from the local utility company. The net meter allows electricity to flow between the home and the electric grid.

Solar Monitoring System

Residential solar energy systems often have in-home production meters to track electricity production. Many homeowners also opt to have web-based monitors installed to more easily observe their home PV system output and understand patterns in their household energy usage. Monitoring systems also alert homeowners to changes in electricity generation, which means they can be addressed more quickly.

If you’re planning on investing in residential solar power, you want high-quality photovoltaic components — and that’s exactly what you’ll get if you plan your home PV system installation with Intermountain Wind & Solar.

Intermountain Wind & Solar uses only tried-and-true, well-tested photovoltaic products from trusted, established manufacturers. And our team is just as committed to exceptional customer service as we are to using quality components. To schedule a home PV consultation in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado or Wyoming — or to learn more about our residential solar energy systems — contact us today.

Solar Power Load Shifting Can Minimize Your Electric Bills

Installing a solar power system can slash your electric bills because you’ll be generating your own home energy and won’t need as much electricity from the utility grid.

Minimize Your Electric Bills

However, even if you live in a state with net metering, your utility bill may not disappear entirely. That’s where load shifting comes in.

Load shifting, or readjusting your home electricity use to consume more during the daytime, is a smart strategy for solar-powered homes. Making some simple tweaks can help minimize your electric bills.

Why Load Shifting Makes Sense for Solar-Powered Homes

Solar panels don’t work at night — they can’t harness any energy when the sun isn’t shining.

So once the sun goes down, any electricity used by solar-powered homes comes from the utility grid. And users pay the full retail rate for this energy.

With load shifting, the solar power generated by a home PV system can be put to use as it is created so that less electricity is needed at night. Using less grid energy at night is the key to minimal electric bills.

Ways to Put Solar Power to Work in the Daytime

Getting started with load shifting is easy — even if you aren’t home during the day. Try the following tricks to put your solar power to use in the daylight hours:

  • In the winter, set your heater to warm up the house before you get home and before the sun sets. Do the same in the summer with your air conditioner, cooling down the house while the sun’s still out.
  • Put your dishwasher on a timer and schedule it to run during the day while you’re at work.
    If your hot water heater is electric, shower in the morning after the sun rises instead of at night.
  • Save energy-intensive jobs — like laundry — for the weekend when you’re at home in the daytime.

What if Your Electric Bills Have Demand Charges?

If your utility company has demand charges, a single spike of energy use during one 15-minute period could make the next month’s charge higher. Regulating your household electricity usage and ensuring that your solar power system produces enough energy to cover the times of peak demand can help, but you might also want to invest in a battery storage system with demand response. These battery systems can eliminate or reduce high demand charges — and, of course, they provide a source of power for use at night, which can further cut the amount you have to pay the utility company each month.

If you’re ready to minimize your electric bills, meet with the professionals at Intermountain Wind & Solar. Our expert solar power contractors have over a decade of experience in helping Intermountain West homeowners reduce their dependence on the utility grid.

To learn more about load shifting for solar-powered homes, or to find out how much you can save with solar power in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada or Wyoming, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar and schedule a consultation today.

4 Solar Panel Installation Secrets that Help Cut Costs

Solar panel installation is more affordable than you may think. In fact, thanks to the growing number of financing options available, homeowners in all income brackets can make the switch to cost-effective photovoltaic power.

Solar Panel Installation Secrets

But if you want to save even more on the cost of installing a home PV system — and reach the payback point on your investment faster — consider the cost-cutting tips below.

Plan to Purchase — Not Lease — Your Solar Panel System

With no upfront costs, leasing sounds like a great way to save on photovoltaic installation. However, purchasing your home PV system makes much more financial sense. If you lease, you won’t be able to take advantage of the lucrative financial incentives available today. Instead, they’ll go to the leasing company.

Paying cash will give you the fastest return on your investment. If that’s not an option, consider a secured or unsecured loan — either can help you avoid the hidden costs of entering into a solar lease. And did you know that many solar lenders have plans that require little or no money down?

Schedule Your Solar Panel Installation in 2018

The federal solar investment tax credit can save you 30 percent on your photovoltaic installation — but only if your home PV system is up and running before the credit amount changes.

Only solar panel installations put into service by the end of 2019 are eligible for the full 30 percent savings. After that, the tax credit amount steps down. Since making the switch to solar power can take a few months from start to finish, play it safe and schedule your photovoltaic installation in 2018.

Maximize Your Savings at the State and Local Levels

By taking advantage of state and local tax credits, rebates and grants, Intermountain West homeowners can save thousands on solar panel system installation. Claiming every available financial incentive is your key to big savings.

Fortunately, finding your state and local savings opportunities for photovoltaic installation is simple. Just head to the U.S. Department of Energy’s DSIRE website, or the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Click on your state to see a current, comprehensive listing of all the financial incentives available in your area.

Embrace Energy Efficiency Before You Go Solar

To cut the cost of your photovoltaic installation, you could consider decreasing your household energy consumption.

In years past, it was reported that every dollar put toward energy efficiency could cut the cost of a home PV system by between $3 and $5. Today, as the cost of photovoltaic panels and other system components has dropped significantly, investing in green upgrades to your home won’t save you nearly as much.

However, if your home (or your budget) can’t accommodate a panel array that meets all your energy consumption needs, cutting back on your power use can help you reduce the amount of grid electricity you have to pay for.

As the leading photovoltaic provider for Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada for more than a decade, Intermountain Wind & Solar knows all the secrets to bringing down the costs of a home PV system installation. With the help of our expert team, making the switch to solar power can be within anyone’s financial reach.

For details on your savings opportunities or to learn about our affordable financing options, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar and schedule a free solar panel installation consultation today.

Federal Solar Tax Credit: How to Claim Yours 

Without question, the federal solar tax credit is the single most lucrative financial incentive available for making the switch to photovoltaic power. It’s like getting an automatic 30 percent reduction in the price of a solar energy system installation — and the credit has no maximum dollar limit.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

Tax time is rapidly approaching. If you put your residential solar energy system into operation last year, you can claim the solar investment tax credit (ITC) on your federal income taxes this spring by following the simple steps below.

Calculate the Amount of Your Tax Credit

The IRS requires that you calculate your federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) on your net photovoltaic system costs.

What does that mean? You’ll need to subtract any state or local financial incentives you received from your total costs before you calculate the value of the 30 percent credit. The only exception to this rule is a state-level solar ITC — that amount does not need to be subtracted.

So let’s say your total photovoltaic equipment and installation costs were $21,000 and you received $3,000 in state and local solar rebates. Your net total would be $18,000, which means your federal ITC amount would be $5,400 — not $6,300. Put down the wrong amount, and you can look forward to Uncle Sam sending you a tax bill.

Complete the Federal Solar Tax Credit Paperwork

To claim the solar ITC on this year’s federal income taxes, you’ll need to complete and send in the IRS Residential Energy Credits paperwork, or form 5695.

Most of the form is relatively simple to understand, and the IRS provides instructions to help you complete the ITC paperwork. Be careful when you use the calculation worksheets, however, as some of the terminology and guidelines can be a little confusing.

Getting Help with the Federal Solar Tax Credit

With residential PV system installations by Intermountain Wind & Solar, claiming the ITC is easy. We give every customer a binder with all the documents and information you need to complete the solar tax paperwork.

But we all know that the IRS isn’t very forgiving of mistakes. Make a simple, honest error, and they might not think you qualify for the full 30 percent credit. So even if you usually do your own federal income taxes, you might want to consult with an accountant or tax professional this year.

However, if you’d just like help with your federal solar ITC forms, our professional team can give you a hand. We’re not experts on taxes, but we’re familiar with these tax forms. We can also answer your questions about claiming state and local financial incentives.

For more information on how to claim the lucrative federal solar tax credit on your residential PV system installation, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar today.

3 Reasons to Schedule a Solar Site Assessment this Winter

It’s a new year, and if scheduling a solar site assessment was one of your resolutions for 2018, there’s no need to wait until spring.

Solar Site Assessment

Most Intermountain West residents don’t think about outdoor home improvement projects in the middle of winter. But it’s truly the perfect time to schedule a residential photovoltaic system consultation with a qualified local solar power contractor. Why?

No. 1: You’ll Get an Expert Opinion for Free

Most professional photovoltaic contractors — including Intermountain Wind & Solar — offer free solar site assessments to homeowners thinking of investing in a solar power system.

A free consultation is your chance to get an expert’s opinion on the ideal placement and configuration for a photovoltaic system at your location. And the opinion comes with no strings attached. You won’t have to suffer through a sales pitch and you won’t be pressured into signing a contract.

No. 2: You’ll Get Answers to All Your Questions

How much can you potentially save by switching to solar power? Should you opt for a micro-inverter or a string inverter for your system? What’s the deal with net metering? What are the options for financing a photovoltaic system?

During a solar site assessment, you’ll have a chance to ask all your questions — and you’ll get expert answers, based on your needs, goals and budget. Instead of searching for advice online, you can take advantage of your free consultation to gather information, enabling you to make informed decisions on your residential PV system investment.

No. 3: You’ll Be Ready for Your Solar Installation in the Spring

Schedule your solar site assessment now, and you’ll have plenty of time to make all the preparations for a spring installation. Your professional photovoltaic contractor can pull the necessary permits and you can make any necessary roof repairs and energy efficiency improvements you may have in mind. Then all you’ll need to do is choose a date for your photovoltaic installation. Once the winter weather disappears, you’ll be ready to make the switch to solar.

Industry experts recommend getting two or three site assessments and comparing estimates before choosing a photovoltaic contractor. Winter is a great time to schedule these consultations. It’s the slow season for residential PV system installers, so most contractors are available to meet at your convenience.

If you live in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado or Nevada, schedule a solar site assessment with Intermountain Wind & Solar. As the leading residential photovoltaic provider for the Intermountain West, we’re known for our exceptional customer service and high-quality residential PV system installation at an affordable price.

Contact us today to schedule your free solar site assessment with a member of the Intermountain Wind & Solar team.

Calculate the Solar Payback Period for Your Utah Home PV System

The solar payback period — the time it takes to reach the break-even point for a home PV system — is much shorter than you might think. For most homeowners, solar payback takes less than 10 years, and some homeowners are able to recoup their photovoltaic investment in just a handful of years.

Solar Payback Period for your Utah Hone PV System

If you would like to calculate your return on investment in Utah residential solar power, use our easy formula to figure out your solar payback period.

Average Annual Electricity Costs in Utah

To determine how quickly your photovoltaic power investment will pay off, you need to know how much you’re paying for electricity.

Utah homeowners, on average, pay 11.62 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). And the average household uses 901 kWh of electricity each month, or 10,812 kWh annually. So that means energy costs for most Utah residents total about $105 per month, or $1,256 for the year.

Your electricity bills may be different. To add up your annual energy costs, plug your own numbers in here:

(Utility rate in cents per kWh) × (monthly usage in kWh) = monthly energy costs

Multiply that by 12, and you’ll have your annual electricity total.

Home PV System Costs

The next piece of information you need to calculate your solar payback or return on investment is your total PV system installation cost.

To arrive at your this number, you need to add up your photovoltaic installation expenses. Include the solar panels, inverters, mounting racks, wiring, permit fees, financing charges and labor expenses.

Savings for Installing a Home PV System in Utah

Utah residential solar power systems are also eligible for several lucrative financial incentives that can help shorten the solar payback period.

The federal solar tax credit offers 30 percent back on a home PV installation. The state of Utah also offers a tax credit. If your photovoltaic system is installed before the end of 2018, you can claim 25 percent of the cost, up to $1,600. And if you’re lucky, you might score a rebate through the utility company or local government.

To determine your solar return on investment, you’ll need to add up all your savings, then subtract them from your Utah home PV installation costs. So if you paid $15,000 for a photovoltaic system and your financial incentives total $7,000, your net solar costs would be just $8,000.

Calculating the Solar Payback Period

How many years will it take you to break even on your PV system investment? To get the answer, take your net home solar costs and divide by the amount you’ll save on annual electricity.

Let’s say your net cost is $8,000 and you’ll be saving $1,256 every year on electricity. Here’s how the math looks:

$8,000 ÷ $1,256 = 6.37 years

That means your Utah home solar payback period would be less than seven years — and with net metering, you may be able to reach the break-even point even faster.

Investing in a home PV system pays off quickly in Utah — particularly when you plan your installation with Intermountain Wind & Solar. As Utah’s leading residential solar provider, our professional team knows the ins and outs of designing efficient, cost-effective home photovoltaic systems.

Do you have questions about your return on investment in residential solar power, or are you ready to get started planning your installation? Intermountain Wind & Solar offers free consultations to homeowners throughout Utah. Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve a speedy solar payback period on a home PV system.

Keeping Your Photovoltaic System Trouble-Free

Install a home photovoltaic system, and you’ll have a free, reliable source of power for decades that requires little or no work on your part once it’s installed.

Photovoltaic System

A high-quality PV installation is the key to ensuring that your photovoltaic array produces electricity effectively for many years to come. To reach your goal of securing trouble-free solar power for your home, follow our simple steps.

Choose the Right Photovoltaic System Contractor

Cost is a factor for anyone investing in solar power, but automatically choosing the solar energy system contractor with the lowest price isn’t always in your best interest. Look for a licensed, certified professional photovoltaic installer with several years of experience.

And for a trouble-free system installation, make sure the company you hire doesn’t use subcontractors.

Install Brand-Name Photovoltaic System Components

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for — and brand-name solar components are well worth the price. Large, established companies are known for producing the most reliable solar energy system products, and they will be around to honor their warranties.

If you install solar panels and inverters from an unknown manufacturer, you’re more likely to experience problems down the line, with no guarantee the manufacturer will still be in business.

Keep Pests Away from Your Photovoltaic System

Squirrels, chipmunks and birds like to create nests under solar panels, and rodents are notorious for chewing through electrical wires. Both issues can be destructive to a photovoltaic array.

If you already have critters scampering around on your rooftop, talk to your professional PV contractor about wire management strategies. Installing screening around the perimeter of your solar panels can also help keep rooftop pests from wreaking havoc.

Install a Solar Monitor

A solar monitor allows you to keep an eye on the production of your PV panel system. And just as important, a monitor can be set up to alert you to changes in electricity output. If your photovoltaic array ever has a problem, you’ll know immediately.

Installing a monitor is one of the best ways to ensure that your solar panels operate as they should.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we use only the highest-quality, brand-name solar components, and we never outsource work to independent contractors.

With Intermountain Wind & Solar, you’ll not only have solid warranty coverage, but you’ll also have peace of mind in knowing that your photovoltaic array was designed and installed by licensed, certified professionals with a 10-year history of superior service. If you live in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming or Nevada and want trouble-free solar power, contact us and schedule a photovoltaic system consultation today.