Like any other realm that's increased in popularity in recent years, there are some unfortunate myths out there about solar panels, solar batteries and this entire realm of products. Maybe the most frustrating form of misconception in the solar world: The idea that solar panels will not function well (or at all) in certain distinct weather conditions.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to not only offer a wide range of residential and commercial solar solutions, but also to provide important information and expertise on our products -- plus to help debunk these silly misconceptions that have sadly spread around some circles. Here are a few of the most common weather-related myths when it comes to solar panels, plus the proper information in each of these areas.
This is the first and likely the most common misconception out there regarding solar panels and weather, and it traces back to a simple misunderstanding: Those who think solar power is based off heat. In reality, it's based off the sun's UV rays -- the actual temperature is almost completely irrelevant.
In fact, some research has shown that panels may even perform slightly better in cold temperatures, because they're receiving less sunlight in warmer climates -- meaning that the panels are not working as hard to catch light. In addition, panels in super-warm climates may warm up too much during a hot summer day, producing less power from the same amount of light.
Another common myth is the idea that you can't get solar panels in snowy areas because the snow will simply cover them up and ruin their ability to produce power. However, this is not true either, particularly if you are using a quality system that's designed for harsh conditions.
Panels are meant to handle extreme conditions, including snow and sub-zero temperatures. In fact, if they're installed properly, they will play a role in melting snow and ice -- which is actually quite common in places like Sweden, where solar panels play a key role in this process. Snow melts much faster on a roof with solar panels than on one without them, and will continue to pick up UV light even in snowy conditions. There are even forms of carport solar installations designed to keep people protected from the elements.
Because of their glass-like material that's visible from the ground, some mistakenly assume that solar panels are fragile. That's not the case, though. Solar panels are actually one of the sturdiest forms of outdoor equipment on the market -- they're designed to handle everything from lightning strikes to extreme wind conditions that would destroy most other pieces of machinery or property.
The glass is designed to absorb UV light and easily resist scratches, while the panels are coated in a protective material that makes them quite durable even to hail or lightning strikes. The metal frame is also made from sturdy aluminum and steel, which simply means it's built to last -- no matter what conditions your local area might bring.
In addition, did you know that all solar panels must be tested extensively in this area? They're each put through the wringer in the factory before they're even shipped out to customers, so you can be sure that you'll easily get at least 25 years of power from a properly installed solar panel system -- even if your area experiences hail or similar risks.
As we went over above, solar power generated has very little to do with actual temperature, and everything to do with light -- for this reason, wind doesn't have much of an impact on panels either. In fact, the only area you really need to be concerned about with wind is ensuring your panels are properly attached to your structure; as long as you're working with quality pros like ours, this won't be an issue at all.
As far as actually impacting your amount of power generated, wind isn't a factor.
While most of the myths we've gone over here are those that undersell the value of solar panels in even extreme weather conditions, it's also important to be realistic within this realm. The simple truth: Not all solar panels are created equal.
The difference between a cheap system and a reliable one that can handle harsh weather conditions is in the materials used to build them, the way they've been designed and the quality of labor you put into installing it. In other words, when you pay for solar panels from a company like ours, you're not just getting equipment -- you're getting a full installation and maintenance plan that's designed to work in your area.
For example, we use industry-leading inverters that have been specifically designed for harsh conditions -- which are backed up by top of the line warranties that go along with them. The system you buy should be built to handle whatever your climate throws at it, no matter how extreme the conditions might be -- and our warranties speak to our confidence in this promise.
For more on debunking the common myths out there surrounding solar panel usage in various weather conditions, or to learn about any of our solar panels, our Tesla Powerwall battery backup or any of our other services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
If you're living in a home that falls under the purview of a homeowners' association, or HOA, there may be certain situations where you have restrictions placed on you for home improvements or features. A common question we get from those looking to install new solar panels on their homes, in fact, is whether the HOA they're part of may cause issues here.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're proud to provide comprehensive services for residential solar panel installation, from setup and procurement of our Tesla Powerwall battery backup to dealing with many of the details that may be involved in your installation. We've helped many of our clients deal with their HOA and handle any restrictions or other qualifications that may be required, and we're here to assist you if you're in this position. Here's a general primer on HOAs and solar panel installation.
First and foremost, there are very few situations where an HOA can fully prevent a homeowner from installing a solar panel system. In most cases, where the HOA is able to impose restrictions on you, these are more of a nuisance than anything else.
The only significant exception here would be if your specific state requires approval for solar panel installation -- and has already denied your application for some reason. Only then can the HOA deny you the right to install panels; they do not have the right to deny you for aesthetic or other reasons.
Rather, HOAs are often empowered to create restrictions or guidelines for homeowners looking to install new solar panels. This typically falls under creating a "reasonable" guideline, which can be handled however the HOA decides is appropriate for your individual situation.
Our next several sections will go over other relevant factors here.
As we just noted above, solar access laws vary by state. Some states require specific approval from the state's governing body, while others do not.
And in both these cases (at least so long as you're approved by your state itself), state solar access laws do not allow HOAs to prohibit your installation of solar panels. They can create guidelines and restrictions, but they cannot outright deny you the use of your right to harness this renewable energy source.
For instance, a historical district governed by an HOA may be able to deny you the right to install solar panels because of an architectural guidelines that restricts certain design elements. However, if the HOA denied you the right to install your system because it's visible from a public road or pathway near your property, this would be in violation of state law -- and you could take legal action here if need be.
Many of the common restrictions we see from HOAs, however, are much less significant. They may prohibit ground-mounted panels, for instance, or require that certain components of a solar power system are not visible from the street. In some situations, requirements are as limited as ensuring that the color of the panels matches the color of your home, which is very easy to accomplish.
In addition to solar access laws, solar easements are legal protections for a home's access to sunshine. In states that have solar easements, these are put in place to ensure homeowners have the right to install solar panels on their own land -- and they can negotiate with their neighbors individually to protect their sunlight rights while also preventing any obstructions or issues. These easements also typically make it much more difficult for HOAs to impose limitations on solar panels.
Solar easements are voluntary, meaning they need to be agreed upon in writing. These documents should also include a detailed description of where the easement will exist, plus any restrictions or qualifications that may be placed on it.
This document must also include a statement guaranteeing that the easement is for solar installation purposes, and can't be used by your neighbor to install something else instead -- such as a fence or other private construction. This can help you prevent disputes in your neighborhood from arising out of misunderstandings about the rights and responsibilities of each homeowner.
Once again, it's extremely important to know how your state works when it comes to solar panel installation, and even when it comes to dealing with HOAs. For instance, the state of California adopted the Solar Rights Act in 1978, and this significantly limits HOAs in terms of imposing guidelines or other limitations on solar panels. This includes things like imposing shade requirements, design limitations or aesthetic guidelines -- and even outright prohibitions against your right to install your own energy-producing system.
California also maintains the Solar Shade Control Act, which stops tree branches that are taller than 12 feet from casting shadows onto your roof -- regardless of whether that tree is on your property or not. A 2007 ruling by the California Building Standards Commission also included language allowing solar access to all buildings, even those previously thought exempt due to being higher than three stories. This includes restrictions based on building height, so HOA guidelines that prohibit solar installation on three-story or higher homes due to height would be in violation of state law.
Florida's Solar Rights Act is similar -- though it applies more to shade requirements than outright prohibitions on solar panels. This act establishes the right for each homeowner to install their own renewable energy systems, and ensures they won't be limited by their neighbors. This also puts the responsibility of resolving disputes on the HOA -- and homeowners who don't follow your HOA's guidelines could face fines or other penalties as a result.
For more on dealing with a homeowners' association when installing new solar panels on your property, or to learn about any of our solar panel systems or battery backups, speak to the team at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
For many who install them on their homes or commercial buildings, solar panels and their systems are a legitimate form of investment. They come with up front costs, yes, but proper optimization of your system will bring you value for years into the future, both through energy savings and through sustainable themes that will make your structure more efficient.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to provide a comprehensive range of residential and commercial solar panel services throughout Utah, from basic setup and installation to tips on how to maximize your investment and get the most possible value out of your solar panels. What are some of the most important areas we generally tell clients about when they're looking to improve ROI? Here's a primer.
Like with many other products that sit exposed to weather elements 24 hours a day, solar panels -- even our best and most durable modern options -- are not invincible. They will slowly lose production capabilities over a very long period of time, and this process is known as degradation.
For any solar panel installation, it's important to know how your panels will fare over the course of their life. To determine this, you'll need to know a few things about your local climate and how it will affect your panels' output capability.
For instance, if you live in a desert area with high temperatures, then there is likely more degradation on your panels than someone who lives in a cooler, wetter area. Additionally, if you have a roof that is flat or even slightly slanted but facing south, then your panels are more likely to face the sun for extended periods of time, which will also affect their degradation rate.
As we touched on above, however, modern solar panels experience degradation at much lower levels than older options. Most panels manufactured after 2010 can degrade at about .5% per year, and even those made prior to 2010 will only produce at around 80-85% of their original output capacity by 20 years out. However, taking all the steps you can to maximize their lifespan -- including proper care and cleaning -- will optimize the value you get from them.
For any new solar panel system, warranty should be the first thing you consider. Many companies offer different levels of protection based on the components included with your order, so it's important to think about exactly what you need for maximum savings and minimum hassle in the long term.
Think about where you live when considering warranty options. For instance, if you live in an area that experiences hail quite often, then you might want to consider a tempered glass warranty. This will protect your panels from the most common form of impact damage, whereas standard or "float" warranties generally do not cover your panels if hail impacts them.
It's also important to evaluate the length of a given warranty, whether it covers routine cleaning and maintenance, and whether they offer an upgrade warranty in case you want to replace them with more efficient options at a later date. Most solar warranties are at least 20 years, but some are as high as 25 or even 30 years. If you're thinking about purchasing aftermarket solar panels in the future, then it might be best to go with a company that offers an upgrade warranty program.
One of the more obvious factors in your long-term investment returns within the solar realm -- and yet another area where modern technology has allowed for major improvements -- is efficiency of the panels themselves. Panels today produce many more watts than they did even a decade ago, and this directly affects your overall output and therefore ROI.
It's important to know how well your panels stack up against older options, as well as their industry-standard rates of efficiency, in order to get the most out of them. For instance, if you're investing in a solar panel system for the first time and live in a location with high temperatures, then newer panels make more sense than older models because the latter might not perform as well under extreme heat.
Different components of your panel will affect efficiency to varying degrees, including substrate material, anti-reflective technologies and your panel's layout itself. While substrate is generally not a major factor in efficiency, your anti-reflective and panel layout choices will be. As such, you might want to look for panels with enhanced anti-reflective coatings and a layout of amorphous silicon solar cells on top of a metal sheet backing.
You'll also need to consider the number of panels in your system. If you end up with fewer panels than you originally planned, then the whole system's output will decrease accordingly -- and that can affect your ROI.
All homeowners considering solar panel installation should be well aware of the ITC, or federal solar investment tax credit. The ITC provides homeowners with a tax credit up to 30% of the total cost of purchasing and installing a solar panel system.
The ITC has expired at different points in the past for residential window installations, but it's always been renewed retroactively -- it was renewed for 2021, though the maximum percentages are decreasing, and are now back down to 26% for this year (and expected to drop to 22% in 2023). However, even at these lower percentages, the ITC offers fantastic ROI improvements for solar panel owners.
For more on how to optimize your solar panel system for maximum return on investment, or to learn about any of our solar power services in Utah, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
If you're a resident of Utah, Idaho, Nevada or many of the other neighboring states, the combination of summer wildfires, high winds and several other factors might mean your area is dealing with what are known as rolling power blackouts. These involve situations where power is intentionally shut off to an area, and while they might be necessary given the needs of the power grid, they certainly aren't convenient for home and business owners.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to help in several ways. Our residential solar power services include the use of the Tesla Powerwall battery backup, which not only offers fantastic power capabilities that will reduce your dependency on the local power grid (and also your bill, in most cases), but also helps home and building owners alike avoid the risks of rolling blackouts during any part of the year. What are rolling blackouts, and how does a good solar panel system and battery backup prevent them from impacting you? Here's a primer.
Rolling blackouts are a variation of power interruptions where outages are deliberately initiated in order to maintain the stability of the electrical grid. These power outages could be triggered by local events that lead to reduced electricity production, disruptions from weather patterns, or even the need to protect nearby residents and businesses as a side effect of some other undertaking.
Power grids operate at maximum efficiency when electricity demands are matched with available production -- but in certain situations, it is necessary for rolling blackouts to be put into place so that high-demand areas can have their energy needs met first without causing damage or instability in neighboring areas. These rolling power outages typically last for very short periods of time -- usually less than an hour -- but they can present complications in some areas with heavy electricity demands.
However, if you have a robust solar panel system installed -- one that also features a quality battery backup -- you will not have to deal with these outages, even for a short period of time. Our next few sections will go over why.
When you have a full solar power system setup, including your battery backup, the issues that arise during a rolling power blackout will not impact you. This is because your battery will store significant amounts of unused energy in it throughout daily operations -- and if a blackout to the normal grid occurs, your system can simply draw from this supply of excess power for all your home or building needs. Not only does this mean that you will still have power during a rolling blackout, but it also means that the amount of energy you draw from the standard grid at night or on overcast days will be significantly lower than normal.
This, in turn, lowers your total bill from the local utility company, as less energy is being consumed through their infrastructure system -- and you can also rest easy knowing that your energy needs are being met during emergencies, even if the local power grid is not available to provide it for you.
Some also use generators for a similar purpose here: To provide power in situations where the main power grid has gone down, including during a rolling blackout. However, generators lag behind solar power batteries in several areas, including cost, noise, size and even their impact on the environment.
More to the point, solar backups work to your benefit even when there's no power outage in your area. Instead of needing to be refueled for long periods of time in order to create a limited supply of power, the battery backup portion of your solar panel system simply absorbs power when it is available -- and then provides that excess energy later. This means that even on cloudy days or during times when your household energy demands are lower, you can still benefit from the performance of the backup battery.
And of course, that's without even getting into the environmental benefits you're creating by relying on a battery backup instead of a generator. Solar power is a renewable form of energy that limits greenhouse gasses and slows the effect of climate change -- which, in turn, may help reduce some of the major weather events we've seen in recent years, some of which are actually the causes of the rolling power outages we're referring to here in the first place.
Tesla's Powerwall battery backup device includes both an internal battery system and several different types of input connectors, which allow it to be used with a variety of different solar panel setups. These include designs which utilize an inverter, or those that use the Powerwall's built-in inverter instead, for example.
If you're looking to perform an installation of one of our systems, a technician will visit your home and evaluate its qualities, while also speaking to you about your power needs and typical monthly consumption. From here, we'll create a customized setup that will fill all your power needs and remove your dependency on the local power grid -- and we'll also install the Powerwall system to provide you with a constant battery backup that will serve you in the case of any rolling blackout or other outage issue.
For more on how solar power helps you conquer rolling blackouts, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation or other services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
There are a number of unfortunate myths out there surrounding solar panels and their modern uses, and one of the most common is that solar panels don't work when it's cloudy. This simply isn't true -- not only do solar panels continue to work even when there are significant clouds in the sky, there are even some rare situations where clouds actually increase the performance levels of solar panels rather than decreasing them.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to provide a wide range of residential and commercial solar panel installation services, plus expertise on how to utilize your system and its battery backup. We're regularly asked how our panels and systems perform on cloudy days, and we're happy to inform clients exactly how solar panels work in these settings -- and their quality levels even despite significant cloud cover might surprise you in a positive way. Here's everything you need to know.
First and foremost, we should get the most important fact out of the way: There are certain cloudy days that will indeed diminish the total power generated by your solar panels. The confusion here, however, comes when discussing how large this effect will be.
Even on the days featuring the heaviest clouds, you see, the drop in solar power production isn't that high. It's usually lower than 10% of your system's expected total, though it may reach as high as 25% on the worst possible days. This is for several reasons, including modern increases in solar technology that allow it to capture a wide range of sun rays -- even those that easily make it through typical cloud cover (clouds do not completely block UV rays, and some barely block them at all).
And when you factor in how infrequently there's major cloud cover in places like Utah and Idaho, 95% of the time you'll still be getting just as much power from your solar panels regardless of the surrounding cloud cover. You can easily readjust expectations on a day like this and prepare for less power, but you shouldn't be cutting back significantly for this sort of thing in most cases.
This may sound counterintuitive, but stick with us for just a moment: There are actually situations where limited cloud cover will actually enhance the performance of solar panels.
This happens when the clouds in question are reflective in nature, which is relatively common. In these situations, much like sunlight reflecting off a body of water, sun will bounce off the clouds and will actually return back to your solar panels for a second time, offering them the chance to intake even more power.
Want some real-life proof of what we're talking about here? You can find it by looking no further than many other areas of the United States, all of which utilize solar power regularly -- even in areas where cloud cover and rainstorms are especially common.
Consider a place like Seattle, for instance, which is known for its high levels of rain and constant cloud cover. Despite this, solar panel installation and solar power usage is skyrocketing over recent years, and one of the main reasons for it is thanks to just how efficient solar panels are in these conditions.
Heck, you don't even need to restrict your scope here to just the United States. Consider countries like Germany, for instance, or South Korea -- both these areas go through prolonged winters and receive more than their fair share of inclement weather throughout the year, but they're two of the world's largest adopters of solar power overall.
And when it really comes down to it, the economic factors involved with solar power are a big part of why they're so popular, even in places where cloud cover is frequent. Solar power is simply far cheaper than electricity, and when a given city or region significantly increases its reliance on solar power rather than the electrical grid, it's saving money significantly.
If a city doesn't have to spend five cents to produce each kilowatt of power, for example, that's five cents more it has to spend on local economic development rather than other utilities. It isn't hard to see why cities and local economies are so interested in solar power when you look at the cost-effective nature of it from an economic standpoint, especially when you factor in the added benefit of taxes and other fees that are often waived for those who use solar power.
And of course, nothing we've gone over to this point changes the simple efficiency benefits you get from using a solar panel system in its more common state: During a sunny day. Not only will your system generate large amounts of power on these days, its battery backup system will store excess power and ensure you have it available in case of any kind of outage -- or in those extremely rare cases where it's so cloudy on a given day that your panels' performance has dropped by closer to 25%. In these situations, you can rest easy knowing that even if your panels are coming up a bit short on their daily production, you have plenty of extra power still available.
For more on how solar panels operate on cloudy days, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation or related services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
Clean forms of energy continue to become more and more popular in today’s society, within multiple distinct areas. In fact, some of the modern uses of clean, renewable energy are closely connected to one another and even relate in several direct ways – and a great example here is the connection between solar power and electric vehicles.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re happy to provide a huge range of residential and commercial solar panel services, including for those who want to use their solar power system to generate power for more than just their home or building. One of the most common alternative uses for solar power is generating power to use within an electric vehicle, or EV – how common is this, why are these two areas naturally connected, and what are some of the details and calculation areas you should consider if you’re going this route? Here’s a primer.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, reliance on solar power has grown to a quite significant point in our modern society. Roughly 43% of all new electricity-generating capacity additions are via solar power as of late in 2020, per the SEIA, a huge number that showcases just how popular solar power is – nearly half of all new power generation is coming from this source alone.
Simultaneously, electric vehicles experienced unprecedented growth in the year 2020; in fact, this growth mirrored that of solar power in many ways. Despite overall vehicle sales dropping during that unique calendar year, EV sales rose over 40%, almost in precise lockstep with the rise in solar power. These are clear signs that even as several industries are heavily impacted by the pandemic and related events, clean and renewable sources of power – and their resulting products – remain extremely popular and desirable.
One simple explanation for why the growth numbers in solar power and electric vehicles are so similar: The two are connected in very basic ways, starting with the fact that solar panels can power an electric vehicle’s operation. Not only is charging an electric vehicle with solar power the far cleaner solution for the environment, it’s also often a far lower strain on your pocketbook.
This latter theme is particularly true if you’re using the sort of high-quality solar panels and battery backups we provide at Intermountain. Rather than relying on your local electrical grid, which both costs more and may deal with outages and related issues, you can rely on cleanly-generated power that’s available to you at any time. Your bank account will thank you, as will the environment around you.
Some may be worried about powering their vehicle on a cloudy day, but not if they’ve utilized our Tesla Powerwall battery backup system. A battery backup provides quality storage of your excess solar power, keeping it accessible in case you need more power for a given situation or time of day. In fact, during our installation of solar panels and battery backups, we will often specifically ask whether there are any electric vehicles in the home you plan to charge using solar power – if so, this will allow us to increase your panel numbers or battery capacity, ensuring you have enough backup power to operate the vehicle on a daily basis.
We should note that it’s not just individual vehicle owners who benefit from this theme – not by a long shot. In fact, many auto dealerships have begun to realize the value of solar power if they stock electric vehicle, and have installed commercial solar panel systems that generate huge amounts of in-house power they can use for charging needs.
Many dealerships have cut their electricity costs by as much as 50% or even greater through this method, plus have shown themselves to be progressive, modern companies that care about the environment – factors that are sure to draw in some customers.
If you decide to go this route, how much power should you be expecting to use each month to keep your electric vehicle running? EV owners generally use kilowatt-hours per 100 miles for their power need calculations, with the average electric vehicle sporting around 25 kWh per 100 miles.
In a normal setup, one where you’d be using electrical power from the grid, you’d have to determine the general cost of this power. The national average cost of electric power is 13.3 cents per kilowatt-hour – this may differ by state, but we’ll use this basic number for now as a template. If you multiply this number by the rough 25 kWh per 100 miles you get from the average electric vehicle, this means your cost per mile in a normal grid electric setup will be about 3 cents.
And over a period of months or years, those miles will add up quickly. However, if you’ve set up your solar panel system so that it will be generating your power, including for your vehicle, you won’t be paying this money directly to your utility company – or even paying it at all in most cases. Not only will you save money for yourself, you’ll do so while generating power in a more eco-friendly way.
For more on the important connections between solar power and electric vehicles, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
Like with any other significant upgrade or improvement you might consider making to your home or building, it’s prudent to view solar panel installation as a long-term investment. While solar power installations will often come with up-front costs you need to be prepared for, there are also several factors to keep in mind over a period of time after you have solar panels installed, from how they help lower your monthly energy bill to the maintenance they require, other financial incentives they offer and a few others.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re happy to help with numerous areas of our residential or commercial solar power services in both Idaho and Utah, including helping prospective clients understand the precise numbers and details involved to ensure they’re making a good investment – both now and for the long run. What are the important variables to keep in mind while evaluating solar power from a return on investment (ROI) standpoint? Here’s a primer on each of them.
For somewhat obvious reasons, the cost of a solar power system will be very important to any home or building owner considering installing one. Costs for solar panels may come in a few different forms: Some companies will charge an up-front fee alone, others maintain low- or no-interest financing programs that allow clients to pay for their equipment over time, and still others will offer hybrid programs that have elements of both these concepts involved.
No matter what the case here, it’s important to view the cost of any solar power system within the lens of the other related factors – and that’s what we’ll be going over for the rest of this article to help you determine whether a given solar panel system you’re considering will be a worthwhile investment.
First and foremost, while nearly every solar power system will come with at least some warranty coverage, these are not created equal. The first factor to consider here is manufacturer warranty – this will sometimes be offered, but in most cases it will be relatively limited. Most manufacturer’s warranties only cover specific defects on the product that existed when it was installed, and will not cover any sort of damage or wear-and-tear that might take place on the panels once they’re in place.
The more important warranty to consider in most cases, however, is the one offered by your solar panel installer. It’s vital to be detailed and specific here: There are a few different components involved in a solar panel system, and some warranties only cover certain varieties while leaving others out. On top of this, you should be paying close attention to the number of years on the warranty and exactly what’s included – does it include full labor costs for any fixes that need to be made on the panels, or just the cost of materials? In some cases, certain parts will be covered for a given number of years, but certain others will have a different coverage length.
Durability and lifespan will also be very important factors for the quality of any solar power investment you’re making, and there are a few distinct variables to consider within these broader spheres. A particular factor that’s sometimes overlooked is known as degradation, or the rate at which a given solar panel or system of panels loses production capabilities over time.
While degradation doesn’t typically happen very quickly for modern solar panels, the effect is still there over a long period of time. Because panels sit exposed to the full range of elements, from rain and snow to major temperature changes, it’s unrealistic to expect them not to wear down.
However, working with the very best in the solar power world will help you limit your degradation risks significantly. At Intermountain, we use modern solar cells that are less prone to cracking or other wear-and-tear during normal operations – while we’d never claim our products are invincible, they tend to withstand degradation much longer than many other options.
Another huge factor in the quality of your solar investment: The efficiency of your system, which refers simply to the amount of energy your panels can create to help meet your power needs. The primary goal of a solar power system for many home and building owners is to reduce the energy portion of their monthly utility bill, and modern solar panels allow this goal to be carried out easily – in many cases, they can almost entirely replace your monthly power bill you pay to the electric company, instead providing you with your own self-created energy that’s sustainable and eco-friendly.
However, not all solar panels are of equal efficiency. Speak to our team for information on why our solar panels are particularly efficient.
Finally, for homeowners looking into solar panels, one major consideration with regard to investment quality is the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) that’s often available. This incentive, which was extended early this year, allows homeowners to get a tax credit on a percentage of the total cost of their solar panel system – for 2021 and 2022, this number is projected to remain at 26%, after which it will likely drop to 22%. This drop was originally planned for 2022, but has been delayed, making now a perfect time to consider solar panel installation, as you’ll be able to take advantage of the larger tax incentive.
For more on how to view solar panels as an investment, or to learn about any of our solar power services in Idaho or Utah, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
When it comes to fast-growing industries, the solar realm is a fantastic example, exploding in popularity over the last several years across the country. However, as is often the case with something that becomes extremely popular in a short period of time, a number of unfortunate myths have also sprung up about solar power, often promoted by those who aren’t experts and are getting their information from untrustworthy sources or a game of broken telephone.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re here to help. Not only do we provide a huge array of residential and commercial solar power in Boise, plus other parts of Idaho in Utah, but also expertise and proper facts on everything you need to know about solar – including the debunking of the common solar myths out there. What are some of the most common such misconceptions floating around, and what are the actual facts in each of these cases? Here are several.
Perhaps the single most common myth about solar power today is this one, and it’s at least understandable: Solar panels and solar power production used to be very expensive, including as recently as about 15 years ago. This was because it was still a relatively new technology and costs of production and installation were high.
Simply put, this is no longer the case today. The cost of manufacturing and installing solar panels has fallen precipitously, and it’s far more affordable today. In addition, the majority of solar power companies offer basic payback services that allow you to continue paying roughly the same amount you’d have spent on your monthly power bill, but instead putting that money toward the cost of your solar panels over several years – and once you’re done with this payback period, your power is completely free.
And of course, this is all without discussing the electricity savings you get. Especially in areas that have high electricity rates, switching to solar will save you incredible amounts of money. There are also tax incentives that are often in play for homeowners who install solar panels. Taken together, there’s no question that solar panels are far more affordable today than in any prior generation.
Is your home located in the North or South Pole? No? In that case, you don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to your climate and the production of solar energy from your panels.
Now, we want to be clear here: It’s true that solar energy production varies through a given year, and will typically be higher in the summer months than in the winter. However, this has nothing to do with the cold temperature – rather, it’s simply due to the lower amounts of time the sun spends in the sky during the winter, and the comparatively longer times it’s out during summer.
But when it comes to solar power needs, there are no issues during winter months, even during shorter days. Panel efficiency is actually higher when panels are cooler, meaning your system will easily be able to make up for the shorter sunlight periods that come in winter.
While solar panel systems do require certain minor areas of maintenance, anyone telling you that you need advanced techniques or expertise here is full of it. Especially for newer solar panel systems, maintenance is extremely limited, usually confined to simple areas like cleaning the panels occasionally, checking their angling and a few other minor tasks. There are some older lead-acid batteries that do require a bit more upkeep than other types, but these are rarer today – the more common option is the lithium-ion battery that has a much longer lifespan, plus requires basically no significant maintenance.
While we aren’t totally sure where some of the other myths in this article came from, we’re well aware with this one: It comes from poor solar installers, who unfortunately do exist in our industry. If your installer doesn’t know what they’re doing, the potential for damage to the roof during installation is absolutely present.
However, if you’re dealing with qualified, reputable solar installation professionals like ours, this simply isn’t a concern. Our installers are all certified to perform installation services, and we back our services up with insurance coverage as well.
In fact, when installed by quality pros, did you realize solar panels might even protect the roof more than normal? They shield its shingles against hail, heavy wind and even UV sun damage, all factors that may even increase the lifespan of your roof once solar panels are installed.
There are some who simply assume that their current homeowners’ insurance policy will not cover solar panels, often without even checking. Again, this is typically false: Nearly every modern policy does cover solar, because it’s considered a permanent improvement to the home. You just have to be sure your coverage is high enough to cover the full cost of system installation, but again, this is usually the case.
Now, it should be noted that even most solar owners will still have an electric bill – it just won’t be anywhere near as high. In fact, in some situations, you’ll only have to continue paying your power company to keep your power meter on, while all your actual power generation will come from your solar panel system. However, anyone telling you that you’ll have no solar bill whatsoever is getting just a bit ahead of themselves.
For more on debunking common solar power myths, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation or other services in Boise and other parts of Idaho or Utah, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
There are several important themes that today’s homeowners might be considering when it comes to their solar panels and solar power generation, and one of these in many cases is storage. There’s more to solar power than simply producing the required energy, and one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle involves how this energy is stored for future use.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re here to offer a wide range of commercial and residential solar power services, including the installation and use of the Tesla Powerwall battery backup – a modular system that provides fantastic storage capacity plus a 10-year warranty and tax benefits that often help offset the up-front costs involved. Why does solar storage matter, how are batteries like the Powerwall used to maintain it, and what are some of the top reasons to strongly consider not only solar panel installation, but also proper solar battery and storage themes as well? Here’s a primer.
If you’re new to the solar world, you may be wondering why solar power storage matters to begin with. Most assume the solar panel system operates independently of your local power grid, and therefore that there will be no issues if the grid has an outage – unfortunately, however, this is not actually the case. In reality, for various safety reasons, it’s required that solar panels also turn off when the grid goes down in your area.
This, in turn, means that even solar panel owners need a backup system; this is where battery storage comes into place. Through the use of batteries like the Powerwall, which store power during periods of lower need and allow for higher usage during peak times or even an outage, you will know that your home is always powered no matter what. In fact, the Powerwall and many other batteries are designed specifically to disconnect from the local power grid in case of a power outage, allowing the system to continue working.
Generally speaking, the way batteries provide this service to clients is by establishing what’s known as a microgrid. This refers to a closed system that mimics the power created by the utility grid – the microgrid doesn’t run as your primary source of power, but rather in the background.
And if an outage is detected, the microgrid kicks into action almost immediately; there may be a short, few-millisecond delay where you see lights briefly flicker, but that’s it. In many cases, non-essential appliances will be pre-programmed to turn off during these sorts of events, leaving only essential appliances like fridges, pumps and lighting active. With a quality battery like the Powerwall, your home can survive anywhere from a few hours to even several days without grid power, a huge benefit for both safety and practicality in case of any kind of disaster.
In addition, there are direct benefits to the grid itself, both from solar power alone and from the use of battery storage within this realm. The creation of any solar power immediately eases the burden on the grid by shifting some of its power demands away, and solar storage only increases these benefits, often in exponential ways. In many states, there are agreements known as “net metering” that allow for excess power created by solar users to actually be recycled back into the public supply, which even further benefits the local area and its sustainability. This sort of thing will only become more common over the next decade or so.
Related in some ways to the above is the presence of various incentives to several different entities within the solar world, all with the goal of making this technology more accessible and widely-used. For instance, as we noted above, the use of battery backup for solar power often involves specific federal tax incentives that can be obtained, ways of offsetting costs and making the entire setup more sensible for you.
These aren’t even the full extent of the incentives sometimes offered, either. Take a state like California, for instance, which offers daily incentives for solar and storage homeowners to use battery power between 4 and 9 pm, or peak utility pricing hours. Again, these sorts of incentive programs are only going in one direction: More and more are being created with each passing year, meaning the benefits of utilizing solar power and solar storage only grow.
Another major reason battery storage for solar power has become such a major piece of the puzzle is the way its costs have decreased over the years. A decade or two ago, obtaining a battery backup for your solar power system might have been prohibitively expensive, to the point where many average homeowners simply couldn’t consider it.
Today, the cost of this equipment is far lower. You’ll pay more for custom installation, frankly, but even these costs – as we’ve gone over above – are often offset through various tax incentives and other programs.
Finally, another area that’s grown in huge ways over the last couple decades is compatibility. This is a realm that began as a struggle for the solar world: With so many different entities creating their own proprietary products, compatibility between systems – or even previous iterations of the same system – was often a problem. And while there are still further developments to be made here, modern technology allows for far more integration of solar panel systems, not just with previous versions or their battery backups, but also with other parts of your home.
For more on the value of a battery backup and storage for your solar power, or to learn about any of our solar services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
For anyone who has owned solar panels in the past, or even many considering solar power installation in the near future, it’s generally understood that direction is important in this field. Specifically, the ability of solar panels to point south, where they will receive the maximum possible sunlight and therefore create the maximum amount of energy, is vital for many solar panel installations – but it’s important to realize that the simple direction of the panels is not the only important variable here.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re happy to offer both commercial and residential solar panel installation services, including the utilization of the Tesla Powerwall battery backup. We assist our clients with every part of solar panel installation, including important directional and related themes that will play a role in how much sunlight your panels are able to soak up. Today we’ll focus on some of the important variables here, including why south-facing panels are the optimal approach plus several other basic factors to keep in mind when it comes to maximizing panel positioning and direction.
Firstly, while we’ll get into other related themes that also play a role here, the old adage that a south-facing direction for solar panels is ideal remains quite true. This is the direction one faces when looking for the most possible sun absorption, and therefore is the direction panels should be placed in so they can receive the maximum amount of sunlight.
Now, we do want to debunk a common myth here: It is not impossible to install solar panels if there’s no south-facing surface available on your property. While it’s possible said panels will not receive as much sunlight during the course of their operations, there are still numerous situations where the sun they do receive will still be enough to make their installation and use highly cost-effective, and you should still proceed.
Our next several sections will go over some orientation and tilt concerns that our professionals will also be keeping in mind while installing your solar panels.
When we speak about orientation, we’re talking about the angle at which the panels are sitting at compared to the sun’s location – which, of course, changes throughout the day. The goal is to align panels to maximize their exposure, and there are a couple different forms of orientation that might be used here.
The first is called Azimuth orientation, which refers to the compass angle of the sun as it moves through the sky during a given day. Technically speaking, Azimuth is calculated to be the angle from true south – at solar noon, the Azimuth angle will be precisely zero degrees. Azimuth angles to the east of due south will be negative, with true east holding an Azimuth angle of -90. West of south angles are positive, so due west will have an Azimuth angle of +90. It’s also important to note, however, that Azimuth angles will vary somewhat based on latitude and the time of year, and this will also be considered during solar panel installation.
Zenith orientation, on the other hand, refers to the angle of the sun when you’re looking up at it from ground level or the horizon. As you might have guessed, the Zenith angle varies throughout the day, taking on an arc shape as the sun elevates the full way into the sky at midday and then recedes as the day goes on. These elevations will change between each given day between the summer and winter solstices, when days are longer or shorter.
These orientation formats can be combined and plotted onto what’s known as a solar chart. This allows you to locate the sun at any time of day during any month at any location, and these charts are commonly used during solar panel installation to find the ideal angle and orientation for the panels. You can purchase pre-made charts or diagrams if you’re interested in learning how they work ahead of your solar panel installation, or our team will be happy to detail them to you during installation.
Also important here is the tilt of the panels themselves, which is usually fixed but may also be adjustable. Adjustable models can be tweaked throughout the year to find ideal positioning or angling to receive maximum sun exposure – in some of these situations, the increase in power output found from making these adjustments just a few times each year will be as high as 30-40%. Tilt needs are found in close coordination with Zenith orientation, and the precise elevation of the panel will also play a role here.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t include one of the single most important factors at play here, and that’s simple sun exposure. If there are blockages or obstructions between your panels and the sun, whether in the form of trees and branches, buildings, structures or any kind of shade that blocks the panels for some period of the day, it won’t matter how well-positioned your panels are – you’ll get less power output simply because there are fewer hours in the day where it’s collected.
For this reason, ensuring there’s a clear line of sight to the sun for as many hours of the day as possible is vital for solar panel design and installation. While the occasional brief obstruction won’t necessarily doom your system to inefficiency, too much of this sort of thing could be a problem.
For more on orientation, tilt and other directional factors that play a role in solar panel installation, or to learn about any of our solar power services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
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