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.
There are several questions new solar panel owners tend to have, and one of the most common is regarding cleaning and maintenance needs. Do solar panels need to be cleaned regularly? If so, how often, and how should this be done? It’s natural to wonder about these elements, both for general aesthetics and, more importantly, for ensuring that your panels stay free of dirt and able to optimize their performance – and within this realm, it’s definitely important to keep your panels clean.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re proud to not only provide a huge range of residential and commercial solar panel installations and other services, but also expertise on how to utilize and care for any of our products, including cleaning needs and recommendations. As it turns out, the answer to the question, “How often should I clean my solar panels?” isn’t a hard and fast response – it will vary based on a few factors. Here’s a primer on what these factors are, how dirt and grime build up on your solar panels and what should be done about them, and some general cleaning tips, both for day-to-day needs and deeper cleaning situations.
When it comes to cleaning needs for solar panels, the frequency and depth will depend on some outside factors. Here are a few of these:
We wanted to place a specific focus on the role of rain and snow, which can often be significant. For instance, an important study conducted in Spain found that average performance reduction of solar panels due to dust buildup was only 4.4%, a number that most solar panel owners will be just fine with – but during long periods without drain, daily energy losses sometimes reached as high as 20%, a number that would be a big problem for any solar panel owner.
The translation here: If you live in a dry climate, such as in Salt Lake City or many other parts of Utah, dust buildup could be a legitimate concern for the performance of your solar panels. While rainfall does a great job rinsing away dust and maintaining at least 95% capacity for panels, there are situations where we’ll go weeks or months with very little rainfall here in Utah – and this means that cleaning and clearing the panels of dust, debris and any other items plays a role in their operational quality and power output. There may be some places in the country where solar panel owners can mostly just let rain do their cleaning for them, but Utah is not considered one of them.
In addition to your simple location, there are other variables that may play a role in how much dust or debris builds up on your panels. These variables may impact how often you clean the panels or precisely how you go about doing this. They include all of the following:
If you know some of these conditions are present, whether temporarily or throughout the year, you may want to increase the frequency with which you inspect panels for buildups and also clean them regularly.
For general cleaning needs, there’s no need to break the bank or get too complex with your process. In fact, many solar panel dirt or dust buildups can be easily cleaned without ever getting on the roof at all – you can just spray them from the ground with your garden hose, which will wash away many of the minor buildups that might be present.
If this doesn’t quite do the trick, and there are heavier buildups still present, we’ll move to our next section for some expertise.
For more significant forms of buildup on the solar panels, you will use some basic cleaning supplies to assist you here. Firstly, you must confirm that you’re able to access the solar panel area, usually your roof, safely and without any hazard risks. Once you’ve done this, obtain a soft brush and squeegee long enough for your needs, plus a water hose long enough to reach the panels. Then find a bucket, and fill it with water and some mild soap (there are soap types made specifically for solar panels today, as well).
Here are the steps to follow:
For more on how to clean solar panels, or to learn about any of our solar power solutions, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
We’re asked a number of common questions when discussing our solar power options with clients, and one of the most frequent areas here revolves around timing. From the concept and design phase up through installation and related themes, it’s completely understandable that prospective solar clients want to have an idea of how long the process of installing solar panels will take on their home or commercial building.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re happy to answer these questions and more for any of our residential or commercial solar power installations, service or other solutions in Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah. While the precise timing of a solar panel installation will vary somewhat between clients, there are a number of similar or even identical steps that will be followed during this process, and we’re happy to give you a general primer on their timing and the sorts of expectations you should have headed into a solar panel purchase, starting with the very earliest steps.
The very first step of any solar panel installation involves a professional from a solar company like ours coming out to your site and assessing it. They’ll be looking at a few different elements, starting with the roof but also involving a few other features – the goal here is to confirm that the structure and surrounding property can adequately support a solar panel system.
One of the things we’ll consider here, for instance, is whether your roof can handle the weight of the solar panels you’re considering. We’ll also investigate your electrical system to confirm it has enough capacity for the amounts of energy that will be produced by your new solar power system. We’ll also see to basic tasks like confirming your structure has an unobstructed view of the sun, plus take all the basic measurements that are required for installation.
Exact timing on this assessment will vary depending on the time of year and the appointment schedules of our solar professionals. We’re often able to arrange appointments within just a day or two, though waiting periods might be longer during the busiest times of the year.
Solar power installations often require the proper permits from local authorities, just like many other construction jobs that will be done on properties. The specific permit or permits will depend somewhat on your local government and what they require, and this will obviously have an impact on how long it takes to get these permits – some local governments move a lot faster than others, to say the least. But generally speaking, you’ll need a photovoltaic permit, an electrical permit and perhaps a construction permit.
Additionally, you may have to consider homeowners’ association rules and regulations if you live within the bounds of an HOA. You might have to get approval from your HOA in writing in some situations. This process can take a few weeks if you’re handling multiple steps here, but many are able to handle it much faster.
Once we’ve clarified all the proper permits and have prepped your site, it’s time to design the system prior to installation. This is one area where timing depends largely on your solar provider, and where working with a reputable installer like ours is so valuable: We have all our parts well-stocked, and don’t have to wait days or weeks to ship them in from other states or countries. You won’t sit around for weeks waiting for us to fill an out-of-stock component that’s required for your system.
The only potential delays here might be getting approval for some part of the installation, whether from government or our solar experts.
Next up is installation, which is actually often one of the quickest steps involved in the process. It generally only takes a day or two to install new solar panels, and the technicians working for us are fully equipped to handle these jobs quickly and affordably. Covering everything from basic wiring up through the actual roof installation and securing of the panels, they’ll complete the job in as little as a single day for certain smaller roofs – and no longer than a few days for even larger commercial roofs.
Once the solar panel system has been fully installed, you will need to arrange for a local inspector to visit the site. This inspector is in charge of objectively confirming the installation quality and code compliance of the setup, plus to check on important health and safety thresholds that must be met.
This is another where the time of the year may impact how long this takes. During the busiest times, backlogs for inspections may make getting an appointment take a few days or even a week; during slower seasons, you can often obtain an appointment the very next day.
And finally, once your new solar panel system has been inspected and confirmed for quality, it’s time for the final step: Applying with your local utility company so they’ll connect your system fully. This often involves the installation of a meter that shows how much energy your system is producing – whether or not this is the case often impacts the timing of this step significantly, as it may take the utility company a few days or even a week or so to get to your home or building.
As you’ve seen here, a solar panel installation can take as little as a week or two – or as long as a month or two, depending on the variables in question. However, for those who plan in advance and consult with our team for assistance, limiting this timeline is simple and easy.
For more on the timing factors involved in a solar panel installation, or to learn about any of our solar power services in Salt Lake City, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
Whether you’re a longtime beneficiary of solar panels, someone interested in obtaining solar power, or even just an average citizen who has read about solar power generation in the past, chances are its environmental benefits have been one of the top talking points you’re exposed to. This is with good reason: Solar power is enormously beneficial to the sustainability movement, helping move huge chunks of society away from dependence on finite resources and toward clean, renewable energy sources. At the same time, while most people understand broadly that solar power is good for the environment, fewer know exactly why this is the case.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re here to not only provide both commercial and residential solar panel installations, including the use of the Tesla Powerwall, but also to offer expertise and hard facts on the numerous ways our solar panels benefit both you and the environment around you. What are some of the specific themes we inform clients of when they ask about the ways solar power benefits the environment, and how can you maximize these through the use of solar panel installation? Here’s a primer.
Perhaps the single greatest specific benefit of solar power for the globe: The way it reduces the levels to which we depend on various finite, non-renewable resources in our lives. From coal and natural gas to oil and several other fossil fuels, these are not endless resources – they will eventually run out, and consequences to our society if we’re still depending on them will be massive. In addition, the production methods involved with these fossil fuels, from the mining and drilling processes to transportation and eventual burning of these fuels, releases harmful pollutants into the atmosphere while continuing to waste energy.
Solar power, on the other hand, is entirely renewable and is not finite at all. Continuing to increase the levels to which we utilize these forms of power will accomplish two simultaneous missions: Lowering our dependence on finite resources while also limiting the huge amounts of power and energy needed to properly mine and disperse them. Not only will further reliance on solar power and related forms of renewable energy limit the impact on our various systems once finite forms of energy run out, this theme will also decrease the active pollutants and other harmful particles we put into the air while we extract these finite resources from the earth.
We touched on this above, but we wanted to go a bit deeper on it to be sure there’s full understanding. One of the main climate issues that we talk about when it comes to preserving the environment is global warming, and one of the top contributors to global warming is greenhouse gasses – or pollutants and excess carbon dioxide, or CO2, found in the atmosphere.
The more carbon that builds up in the atmosphere, the greater the quantity of heat that will be trapped inside. This heat is the primary cause of global warming, and continues to worsen with each passing year as human society pumps more and more of these greenhouse gasses into the air. In fact, over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world come directly from electricity usage in homes and various other building types.
But with solar energy, there is no release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when electricity is being generated. This is different from all other traditional generation methods, and even different from natural gases. Solar power allows for both homes and commercial buildings to greatly reduce their carbon footprint, sending far less carbon into the atmosphere and slowly but surely limiting the increases we see to global temperatures.
Another major resource that’s immensely valuable around the globe is water, but it’s also scarce in some areas – a fact that leads to dangerous conditions. Dry areas of the world are already experiencing issues with fresh water access, concerns that are only heightened by the progression of global warming and other related forms of environmental decay.
And as you may have guessed, or as some are already well aware, normal forms of electrical generation involve massive amounts of water wasted. It takes thousands upon thousands of gallons of water to cool generators and process and refine fuel within a standard energy plant, and other forms of energy like hydropower and nuclear energy require massive water amounts, often from dams, to generate their electricity – this also damages the surrounding ecosystem in many cases.
Solar panels, however, require no additional water to provide energy. They take the energy from the sun and convert it, limiting the strain on water sources. If the entire United States moved over solely to solar power, the water quantity saved in electricity generation would serve over a million homes.
Finally, as we touched on briefly above, the pollution created by the extraction and production of fossil fuels is massive and enormously harmful to the environment. Frankly, those in Utah see the results of this pollution all the time, as do those in other states with mountains: The smog often hovering over the Salt Lake Valley is direct evidence of the way air pollution can get trapped into a given area, making it hard to breathe and increasing the risk of conditions like asthma, allergies, pneumonia, and even major risks like cancer or heart attack while also harming the environment.
Again, solar panels create none of these pollutants. If we were able to transition fully to solar power over the next decade, the impact on air quality would be immense.
For more specifics on the environmental impact of solar panel installation, or to learn about any of our solar power services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on solar shingles as they compare to solar panels. Describing smaller-scale panels that are permanently attached to the roof of a home or other property, solar shingles are a newer piece of technology in this realm, one that may be beneficial for some – but also may not make sense for many others.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re here to help for those who are choosing between different types of solar power installation, both in commercial and residential settings. While much of part one of our series went over some of the basics and potential benefits of solar shingles, today’s will dig into some of the possible concerns that may arise if you go this route, including why most buyers, particularly those buying for their homes, tend to stick to traditional solar panels.
First and foremost, we don’t mean to suggest in any way that solar shingles don’t provide a positive environmental impact – they absolutely do, especially when compared to using traditional forms of electricity or power. The issue, though, is that they don’t provide any greater benefits here than traditional solar panels do, despite generally costing far more. So while we strongly encourage you to enter the world of solar power, the simple reality is that most people find it easier to do so using traditional solar panels, which provide fantastic value.
Another possible issue for some with solar shingles is the typical installation period. Solar roof tiles are pretty new on the market, and this means there aren’t as many qualified installers – and those who do have these licenses will see their schedules fill up faster. This may lead to longer wait times for your installation.
Due to the way solar shingles are installed, there are also questions from some about their ability to be as efficient as traditional tiles. They match the slope and angle of the roof by nature – but this means that if there are sections of the roof that don’t get great sunlight, these areas can’t be as efficient. Solar panels, however, can be placed individually and turned to catch optimal sunlight, all without interfering with the roof material underneath them.
In addition, solar shingles tend to have higher failure rates. This is because you need numerous such shingles for a single roof, and these all need to be connected together electronically – which increases the potential number of failure points. Solar panels have much lower rates.
And finally, it can be very difficult to move around if you have solar shingles, which actually attach to the roof. Transferring if you move is much easier with solar panels.
For more on some of the possible concerns with solar shingles compared to solar panels, or to learn about any of our solar power services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
As the world of solar power has expanded, so has the range of products available within it. One good example of a product that’s closely related to solar panels you’re likely familiar with, but is not technically the same: Solar shingles.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re happy to provide a wide range of both residential and commercial solar power solutions, plus information on all the latest solar technology out there and which parts of it might be right for your needs. While solar shingles are a somewhat newer addition to the solar lineup, there are some situations where they might be the ideal purchase for you – but also some others where sticking to traditional solar panels is the way to go. This two-part blog series will go over everything you need to know about solar shingles.
Firstly, what exactly are solar shingles? This is a name that’s been given to small-scale solar panels that are able to be permanently attached to the roof of the home – they will sometimes also be referred to as solar roof tiles or simply a solar roof in other settings.
In terms of their general operation, solar shingles operate in the same way as standard solar panels. They use a photovoltaic system to generate energy using the sun’s rays, and will be connected to an inverter. They are able to operate either on the grid or off the grid.
While the cost of solar shingles has decreased significantly since they first hit the market, they are still on the expensive side when compared to other solar panel type. Much of the actual difference here will depend on the precise area you choose to install solar shingles on, but their costs tend top run around $22 per square foot on average.
Are solar shingles worth this expense? For some, absolutely. However, because the benefits of these shingles are pretty much identical to those of normal solar panels, and the latter comes at a lower cost, solar panels are still the more common selection.
Our next few sections will go over some of the benefits and drawbacks of solar shingles if you’re considering them.
One of the key issues with solar shingles is their relative youth in the market. They’ve been around for such a short period of time that the industry itself doesn’t have accurate information on their lifespan and longevity – while some solar shingle manufacturers have built their shingles to last 30 years, we cannot fully confirm whether they actually tend to last this long. However, it’s reasonable to expect they’ll last about the same amount of time as standard solar panels, given they work in the same ways.
One area that’s often a key factor in choosing solar shingles over standard panels: Aesthetics. Solar shingles blend in perfectly with modern roofs, built to mirror the appearance of your previous asphalt shingles so the aesthetic of your home doesn’t change at all. For those who want the benefits of solar without the sight of panels on their roof, shingles are a great alternative.
For more on solar power shingles, or to learn about any of our solar panel installation or maintenance services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
"All of the photos on this website are of real projects that Intermountain Wind & Solar has designed and installed.
We are proud to show off and stand behind our work."