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Do Residential PV Systems Require a Solar Monitor?

Most homeowners who install residential PV systems choose to add a solar monitor. Chances are, you’ll probably want one, too.

Every kilowatt of electricity your photovoltaic array produces represents savings to you. So even if the amount of energy your household uses doesn’t seem all that interesting now, you’ll definitely care about it once you go solar.

solar monitoring

Monitoring your photovoltaic power output can be satisfying, and it will also help you get the most from your PV system.

A Solar Monitor Can Help You Save Money on Electricity

When you install a photovoltaic array, you want it to operate at peak efficiency, as that’s the way to get the best return on your investment.

With a monitor, you can observe, in real time, exactly how much electricity your PV system is generating. If you notice that your family is using more electricity than your home PV array was designed to produce, you can take that as an indication that you should look for ways to increase energy efficiency.

This will reduce your reliance on the utility grid and help you save money.

A Solar Monitor Can Alert You to Residential PV System Problems

If, on the other hand, you notice that your home PV array isn’t producing as much electricity as it should, you’ll know that your solar power system might have a problem.

Over time, solar monitoring allows you to see the patterns in your household energy use. That means if your PV system ever has a production issue, you’ll know right away.

And if you don’t want (or don’t have the time) to pay close attention to your photovoltaic power output, don’t worry. You can select a solar monitor that allows you to set up app notifications so that your system can alert you to changes in solar energy production.

How Do You Get a Solar Monitor for Your Residential PV System?

When you plan a residential PV installation with Intermountain Wind & Solar, our professional installation team can provide, install and set up the monitor hardware and help you understand how to read the display. We’ll also direct you on how to download the appropriate software or cloud-based app, making it easy to check on your photovoltaic power output from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

A solar monitor can help you keep track of how well your photovoltaic array is working and how much money you’re saving with solar power. Given the relatively low cost of this device, can you really afford not to monitor your residential PV system?

If you live in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho or Wyoming and you’re ready to learn about your options, Intermountain Wind & Solar can provide you with a complimentary, no-pressure consultation.

As the leading residential and commercial solar installer for the Intermountain West region, our professional team is known for offering high-quality services at an affordable price. Contact us today and schedule a free consultation for answers to all your questions about installing a solar monitor for a residential PV system.

4 Solar Panel Efficiency Improvements in the Works

Boosting solar panel efficiency is always on the minds of photovoltaic manufacturers. Improving the efficiency of photovoltaic modules helps increase sales and boosts the bottom line.

As manufacturers continually work on bettering their products, consumers win, as their PV systems produce more free energy by harnessing the sun’s power. Photovoltaic modules are made of several components, each of which gives manufacturers more opportunity to improve efficiency.

solar panel efficiency

No. 1: Improving Solar Panel Manufacturing Processes & Materials

Photovoltaic manufacturers are working to refine the manufacturing process to improve production efficiency. They are also working to identify better materials for use in panel fabrication.

Specifically, manufacturers are improving the anti-reflective coatings and texture layers, with the goal of improving panel efficiency.

No. 2: Changing Solar Panel Wiring Schemes

You may have noticed that most photovoltaic panels feature distinctive grid lines. These are actually tiny metal wires called busbars, and they help with electricity flow from the module.

Because the busbars reflect some sunlight, manufacturers are researching ways to eliminate the wires, or to make them thinner to reduce the energy lost due to this reflection.

No. 3: Eliminating Wasted Solar Panel Space

Photovoltaic modules also have small white spaces between the solar cells, as well as along their edges. By getting rid of these gaps, or finding a way to overlap the cells, manufacturers believe they can boost PV panel efficiency even further.

No. 4: Two-Sided Solar Panel Functionality

Most photovoltaic panel designs have solar cells attached to a sturdy backsheet, which means only one side of the module can capture energy from the sun. Manufacturers are exploring the use of bifacial technology, creating clear panels that can absorb light from both sides.

Although this efficiency improvement may not be useful for all photovoltaic applications, it could significantly improve the efficiency of some PV system installations.

Should You Wait for Solar Panel Efficiency to Improve?

If PV panel manufacturers are working on all these efficiency improvements, should you hold off on going solar until the new technology hits the market?

Probably not, as anything that photovoltaic manufacturers are researching now won’t hit the consumer market for several years. If you wait that long, you’ll miss out on the 30 percent federal incentive for installing a solar system. And since state and local financial incentives are also rapidly disappearing, you might not have as many savings opportunities on your home PV system purchase.

Going solar now means you’ll start saving now, and thanks to the ever-increasing utility rates, your savings will grow every year. Every day you wait for more efficient photovoltaic technology is a day you won’t save money creating your own home electricity.

If you’re on the fence about going solar, schedule a free consultation with the professionals at Intermountain Wind & Solar. As the leading home PV system provider for Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming, our expert contractors can explain the benefits of installing a photovoltaic system now. For answers to your questions about home PV installation and solar panel efficiency, contact us today.

New Solar Net Metering Policy for Utah

Rocky Mountain Power’s solar net metering policy is undergoing some transitions.

Near the end of 2016, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) proposed a new solar net metering policy. Their plan wasn’t well-received, so the Utah Public Service Commission put the matter on hold to allow time for negotiations.

Net Metering Policy

Now, Utah state and local governments have reached a compromise with the Salt Lake City-based utility company. The new RMP solar net energy metering (NEM) settlement agreement changes some of the old rules.

Utah’s Net Metering Rate for Solar Customers

Utah homeowners who have already adopted photovoltaic power are smiling about the new NEM settlement agreement, as it includes a grandfather clause.

Existing RMP solar customers will continue to be compensated for the excess electricity produced by their home PV systems at the full retail rate, which averages about 10.5 cents/kWh. And this amount won’t change for quite some time — the retail-rate NEM credit policy is to remain in place through the end of 2035.

Utah’s Net Metering Compensation for New Solar Customers

The agreement isn’t quite as great for new solar customers — but the new Utah NEM policy isn’t disastrous, either.

Utah homeowners who apply for net energy metering after Nov. 15, 2017, will still be compensated for the electricity they feed to the grid. The rate is slightly lower, though, at 9.2 cents/kWh.

Utah’s Solar Net Metering Future

The reduced NEM rate for new customers is a transitional arrangement, one that will last for the next three years.

During that time, the Utah Public Service Commission plans to study the value of exporting solar electricity to the utility grid. This research will be used to develop a successor program to the current net energy metering policy.

Reaching Payback Under a New RMP Solar Net Metering Policy

Regardless of what happens with any Utah NEM policy, homeowners can still reach payback in a reasonable time. Certainly, a more favorable policy means a faster return on investment, but a home PV system will pay off even without net metering.

With a professional photovoltaic installation, your solar energy system is sized to meet your household energy needs. As a result, you won’t have to rely much on the utility grid. So your monthly savings will add up quickly, even if Utah decides to abolish the state net energy metering policy.

For Utah homeowners, the go-to source for expert advice on planning a home PV system installation is Intermountain Wind & Solar. As Utah’s leading photovoltaic provider, we’ve helped people across the state make the switch to solar power.

We can provide system pricing and answer all your questions about Utah industry developments and policies that could affect the payback period for a home photovoltaic system. To learn more about solar net metering, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.

Colorado Solar Energy Systems Eligible for Tax Exemptions

Throughout the U.S., residential solar energy systems are eligible for several lucrative financial incentives. The federal solar tax credit, along with state and local grants, rebates and tax credits, can add up to savings of more than 50 percent on a home photovoltaic system.

But that’s not all you can save.

Colorado Solar Energy Systems Eligible for Tax Exemptions

Some states also offer tax exemptions for photovoltaic installations. In Colorado, residential solar energy systems are eligible for both property tax and sales tax exemptions, helping you save even more on a home PV system.

Property Tax Exemption for a Residential Solar Energy System

Installing a residential solar panel system adds thousands of dollars in value to your home. And in some states, that increase may add a hefty amount to the property tax bill.

Not so in Colorado. Homeowners in Colorado don’t have to pay a dime in property taxes on the added home value. This property tax exemption makes investing in photovoltaic energy even more affordable.

Sales Tax Exemption for a Residential Solar Energy System

Colorado homeowners who install solar energy systems save hundreds of dollars up front, thanks to the state’s sales tax exemption.

Home PV system components — including photovoltaic panels, inverters, mounting racks and balance of system equipment, like wires and batteries — are not taxed in the state of Colorado. Although installation labor is not exempt from taxes, this financial incentive provides a big bump in savings.

Other Ways Colorado Is a Solar-Friendly State

Colorado has a reputation for encouraging residents to go solar, and the state tries to make it as easy and affordable as possible.

Several Colorado utility companies offer significant solar rebates to homeowners who install PV systems. In addition, the state has excellent solar access laws. This means your homeowners association can’t stop you from installing photovoltaic panels on your roof.

Perhaps best of all, Colorado has one of the most progressive net metering policies in the country. Here, homeowners are paid the retail rate for excess electricity produced by their photovoltaic energy systems and sent back to the grid. If you’re careful about your household energy use, you can recover the cost of your system more quickly.

If you live in Colorado and want expert advice on installing a home PV system, the professionals at Intermountain Wind & Solar can help. As the leading residential and commercial photovoltaic provider for the Intermountain West region, our team can explain all your options and give you information about how to maximize your savings.

To learn more about Colorado residential solar energy systems, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar and schedule a free, no-pressure consultation today.

3 Reasons Used Solar Panels Are a Bad Idea

Installing used solar panels might sound like a great way to save money.

In truth, the savings may not be all that great, because older modules lack today’s high-output technology. And in many cases, they will not qualify for the many financial incentives and rebates you get with new panels.

used solar panels

If your PV panels aren’t as efficient as advertised, or if they fail — which is more likely with used modules — you won’t be able to fall back on a warranty. All things considered, secondhand solar panels present more problems than they’re worth.

No. 1: Used Solar Panels May Be Damaged

Used solar modules often come with damage, and buyers may have no way to verify that they’re in working order before making a purchase.

You could easily end up buying broken or unusable PV panels. Or the used solar modules might operate at a lower efficiency, producing much less electricity than you were led to believe. In either case, you likely can’t return the modules for a refund.

No. 2: Used Solar Panels Have Outdated Technology

Even if the secondhand solar modules you purchase aren’t damaged, they won’t produce anywhere near the same amount of electricity as new PV panels.

Photovoltaic technology is continually changing, and modules produced even a few years ago are outdated and less efficient. You’ll save more money over time if you opt for a new home PV system instead of installing used solar modules.

No. 3: New Solar Panels Come with Warranties

Secondhand PV panels don’t have warranty coverage. If they fail or produce little electricity, you can’t file a claim and have them repaired or replaced.

When you install a new home PV system, on the other hand, your photovoltaic components will have full manufacturers’ warranties. Low energy output and equipment failure aren’t likely with new, high-quality solar modules, but you will be protected if a problem should arise.

How to Get the Best Price for New Solar Panels

As with any other major purchase, shopping around is key to getting the best price for new solar modules.

Industry experts say that homeowners should get estimates from at least a few professional photovoltaic contractors. Comparing quotes and online installer reviews takes time, but that’s really the only way to make sure you get the best price for a high-quality, efficient home PV system.

When you’re ready to shop, start with Intermountain Wind & Solar. As the leading professional PV system installer for homes and businesses throughout Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming, we’re known for affordable pricing and exceptional customer service.

With a professional photovoltaic installation, you can avoid the pitfalls of installing used solar panels. To schedule a free, no-pressure consultation and estimate, contact us today.

Solar Incentives: A Guide to Finding Them in Your Area

Solar incentives can significantly reduce the cost of your home PV system.

If you take advantage of every tax credit, rebate and grant available for switching to photovoltaic power, you can potentially save up to 50 percent of the total system cost.

finding-solar-incentives

How do you find these financial incentives?

The most reliable way is to ask your photovoltaic contractor. Professional installers such as Intermountain Wind & Solar have all the information you need. Although available solar financial incentives differ by region, they share some basic characteristics.

All Residential Solar Installations Are Eligible for the Largest Solar Incentive

The biggest solar incentive — the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) — cuts photovoltaic installation costs by 30 percent. Every homeowner who purchases a PV system is eligible.

The federal ITC reduces your income tax liability for the year following home PV system installation. If you don’t owe the IRS the full tax credit amount, the balance can be carried over and claimed on next year’s taxes.

However, this amazing incentive won’t be around forever. You can only claim a 30 percent tax credit until the end of 2019. After that, the percentage steps down each year. PV system installations completed in 2020 are eligible for a 26 percent credit, and those that are up and running by the end of 2021 can claim 22 percent. After that, the federal solar ITC will be gone.

Finding Your State and Local Solar Financial Incentives

Homeowners throughout the Intermountain West can save thousands more on PV system installation, thanks to state and local financial incentives.

Different states, regions and utility companies have different offers. So although we can’t list every solar incentive here, finding your area’s rebates, grants and tax credits for photovoltaic power adoption is easy with DSIRE.

DSIRE is short for the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE maintains a comprehensive, current listing of every available renewable energy incentive, along with application instructions and eligibility details.

Simply click on your state and you’ll find all of the information you need.

Do You Need Help Claiming Your Solar Financial Incentives?

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we make it easy to claim your grants, tax credits and rebates.

Once your photovoltaic power installation is complete, we’ll give you a binder filled with all of your PV system information. Manuals, warranties and other important paperwork are included — and so are the documents you need to claim every available financial incentive.

However, if you need help, we’re here. We’re not tax experts, so you may still want to see an accountant or tax professional. But our team can answer your questions and help you complete your application forms.

The professionals at Intermountain Wind & Solar, the region’s leading residential PV system installers, can tell you everything you need to know about saving with photovoltaic power. Contact us today to learn more about the solar incentives available in your area.

Solar Energy Installers and NABCEP Certification

Solar energy installers are multiplying quickly across the Intermountain West.

If you’re planning to make the move to photovoltaic (PV) energy, it’s important to choose a qualified photovoltaic contractor who is licensed to work in your state. Industry experts recommend looking for a professional solar installer with NABCEP certification.

solar installers NABCEP

What Is NABCEP Certification and Why Is it Important?

NABCEP stands for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, a nonprofit group committed to supporting the PV industry through impartial credentialing and certification programs.

The members of NABCEP include representatives of renewable energy organizations and educational institutions as well as state policymakers and individuals with industry expertise.

Why Is NABCEP Certification Important for Solar Energy Installers?

Certification from NABCEP is the gold standard of qualifications for photovoltaic installers.

Solar energy installers must meet specific qualifications and pass an examination in order to be certified by NABCEP. Photovoltaic contractors who don’t have certification may not have the knowledge, training and skills to successfully handle a PV installation.

Hiring a certified solar installer gives you the confidence that you’re investing in a high-quality residential or commercial photovoltaic project.

Why Should You Trust NABCEP Certification?

Getting certified by NABCEP is a voluntary. No state or federal agency compels solar installers to obtain certification.

A photovoltaic contractor with certification has gone above and beyond what’s required, demonstrating a solid commitment to maintaining quality and integrity with every solar PV installation.

A PV installer’s NAPCEP certification status helps consumers to identify the most highly capable professionals. Industry experts consider certified contractors to be the most qualified to complete residential and commercial photovoltaic power system installations.

Intermountain Wind & Solar Has NABCEP Certification

As the leading photovoltaic power provider for the Intermountain West states, our PV installation professionals are certified by NABCEP.

(Mike Allen—Cert# 032611-04 and Mike Telford—Cert# 092411-142)

And unlike some other local photovoltaic solar energy contactors, we never outsource work to independent contractors. We complete every part of every installation — from planning and design to mounting and wiring the components — with our expert in-house staff.

Many national contractors also have certification from NABCEP. However, working with a local solar installer offers several advantages. Local photovoltaic contractors such as Intermountain Wind & Solar understand the regional rules governing PV system installation — and they know all the resources and financial incentives that make your solar project as cost-effective as possible.

Intermountain Wind & Solar specializes in installing affordable and effective photovoltaic power systems for homeowners and businesses throughout the states of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming. To schedule a free, no-hassle solar energy installation consultation, or to discuss our NABCEP certification and other qualifications, contact us today.

Photovoltaic Energy Systems: Can You Install One on a Metal Roof?

Photovoltaic energy systems are versatile, working in just about any rooftop location you can imagine. But can you install a power-generating system on a metal roof?

PV system installation on most roofing materials involves bolting the solar panels through the shingles to the roof joists. Metal roofs, however, require specific solar panel attachments and installation techniques to make sure that the rooftop remains structurally sound and watertight. To properly place a photovoltaic system, experience is a must.

Photovoltaic Energy Systems on a Metal Roof

How easy or difficult it will be to complete a photovoltaic energy installation depends on the type of roof you have.

Installing a Photovoltaic Energy System on a Standing Seam Metal Roof

If you have a standing seam roof, you’re in luck, because installing a photovoltaic system on your rooftop should be a relatively simple procedure. And since no drilling will be involved, the integrity of your roof won’t be compromised.

With this type of roofing material, special clamps are used. The solar panels are attached to the roof seams, but the clamps don’t actually penetrate the seams. Instead, the hardware provides an incredibly tight squeeze, which holds the PV modules securely in place.

Installing a Photovoltaic Energy System on Metal Roof Shingles

Mounting solar panels on metal roof shingles is slightly more challenging. Metal shingles may look just like asphalt, slate or clay, but they require extra care during PV system installation to keep the roof watertight.

For conventional roof shingles, professional photovoltaic contractors add flashing and apply a sealant for protection against water infiltration. With metal roofing shingles, the solar installer must take additional precautions.

Water runoff points may need to be created under the flashing, and double or even triple the amount of flashing may be required for a watertight seal.

Choosing a Contractor for a Metal Rooftop Photovoltaic Energy Installation

Regardless of whether you have a standing seam roof or metal roof shingles, look for a 07professional photovoltaic contractor with experience in metal rooftop photovoltaic installations.

Since these roofing materials aren’t all that common in the Intermountain West states, many contractors do not have the necessary skills and experience to safely and securely complete your PV installation — and you don’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig.

The professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar, the region’s leading photovoltaic installer for nearly a decade, has extensive experience working on metal roofs. We understand the challenges of mounting solar panels on metal roofing, and we can complete a PV installation without compromising your rooftop’s structural integrity.

Intermountain Wind & Solar offers free consultations to homeowners and businesses throughout Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming. Contact us today to discuss a photovoltaic energy system installation on your metal roof.

What Is a Solar Carport? And Should You Install One?

Essentially, a solar carport is a just like any other open-sided parking shelter, except that the surface is covered in photovoltaic panels.

Why would you want to install a solar carport?

Solar Carport

One compelling reason is that these innovative structures offer numerous benefits to both businesses and homeowners. But that’s only one reason solar carports are becoming more popular across the Intermountain West.

Solar Carports are Big for Businesses

Why not put the parking lot to work creating free electricity? That’s the question more and more companies are asking, and the reason the concept of the solar carport is really taking off among Intermountain West business owners.

However, businesses aren’t just installing carports to harness the sun’s energy. The real attractions are the side benefits these structures offer.

A carport keeps vehicles cooler during the sweltering summer months, which is a definite advantage, given that summers have been getting hotter. Plus, during rainy and snowy weather, a carport offers drivers additional protection against the elements.

Homeowners Benefit from Solar Carports

Intermountain West homeowners are installing solar panels on carports for the same reasons — free electricity and shelter from the elements.

However, homeowners aren’t just using these structures for their cars. Some install a carport as a photovoltaic-powered shelter for boats and other recreational vehicles. Others use them for backyard shade or as a pool cabana.

For homeowners, the installation options are seemingly endless.

Is a Solar Carport Right for Your Home or Business?

When compared to rooftop and ground-mounted PV projects, installing photovoltaic panels on a carport can be more expensive. The added cost is primarily due to the extra materials and labor required to construct the framework.

If your rooftop isn’t suitable for photovoltaic panels, a solar carport could be a good alternative to a ground-mounted system. You’ll get a source of free electricity as well as usable, protected space underneath.

Whether a carport installation is right for you depends on your specific circumstances and photovoltaic project goals. Given the advantages, however, adding solar modules on a carport is often a good investment, and well worth the extra cost.

Many professional PV contractors in the Intermountain West don’t offer installation of photovoltaic systems on carports. To evaluate your best option for residential or commercial PV power, you’ll need to choose a contractor that provides a full range of solar installation services.

Intermountain Wind & Solar, the region’s leading professional PV contractor, has extensive experience with rooftop, ground-mounted and hybrid photovoltaic systems. And we’re one of the few companies that provides solar carport installation throughout Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.

Does Rooftop Solar Maintenance Require Professional Assistance?

Before investing in a rooftop solar array, you’ll want to know what ongoing expenses to expect. The photovoltaic (PV) panels and inverter come with warranty coverage, but what type of maintenance is required to meet the terms of the warranties? Will you need to hire a solar professional to take regular care of your photovoltaic system?

Rooftop Solar Maintenance Require Professional Assistance

Photovoltaic arrays are designed to be hands-off, and routine rooftop solar maintenance is not necessary. Unless a system component breaks or stops working, you won’t need to call in a professional.

Rooftop Solar Arrays Don’t Need Much Attention

A rooftop photovoltaic system can — and should — produce energy for decades without any maintenance.

You will need to replace your solar power inverter at the end of its life cycle, but none of the photovoltaic components have moving parts that need to be serviced, oiled or cleaned. Since nothing is mechanized, you don’t need professional solar maintenance.

Rooftop Solar Panels Stay Fairly Clean

Will your solar panels get dirty, sitting up on the roof, constantly exposed to the elements?

The PV module glass is very slippery, which means that debris tends to slide right off. Rain and melting snow do a good job of keeping the rooftop panels clear, so you don’t need to pay a pro for periodic rooftop solar panel cleaning.

No Need to Worry About Dust Accumulation

What if you live in an area with lots of dust and little precipitation? Won’t you have to hire a solar professional to regularly clear away the accumulation?

According to rooftop solar research published in Solar Pro magazine, even the hottest, driest, dustiest regions don’t see significant loss in energy production from dust or dirt accumulation.

Dust isn’t enough of an issue to make regular cleaning necessary or even worthwhile.

Rooftop Solar Maintenance Is Easy Enough for You to Handle

If you really want to keep on top of rooftop solar maintenance so that your photovoltaic system is in the best possible shape for optimal energy production, you could occasionally clean the modules. But you won’t need to hire a pro for the job.

To get rid of stuck-on grime and any lingering snow accumulation, just use a soft brush or squeegee on an extension pole. Take care never to spray cold water on the panels, however. If the panels are warm from the sun, you could crack the glass and potentially violate the warranty.

The professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar, the region’s leading PV installer, can give you expert tips on making the switch to photovoltaic power easier and more affordable.

Schedule your home PV installation with us, and you’ll never have to budget for routine maintenance. Contact us today for a free rooftop solar consultation anywhere in Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nevada or Wyoming.