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Project Solar Services/Processes
Project Solar holds your hand through the entire solar process. The steps involved are as follows:
- After checkout, we send a design within 24 hours which shows how your panels will look on your house.
- We create electrical and structural engineering plans to send to the city for permits
- Together we set a date for install and shipment of equipment
- Procurement of equipment and delivery to your house/roof
- Install (either DIY or full service)
- Electrical grid tie by one of our partnered electricians
- Final city inspection/utility approval
- Power on
Project Solar does all of the site design, engineering, permitting, and final electrical work. We can even have the panels delivered on top of your roof! All you need to do is get on your roof, install the anchors and racking, screw the panels onto the rails, and run the wires to your electrical box. If you're willing to do that, DIY will save you thousands of dollars and you will experience a fantastic feeling of accomplishment.
If Project Solar installs for you, we will do everything A-Z. You'll need to sign the permits before we submit to the city, schedule an install day, and then pay for the system, but besides that, we do all the heavy lifting. Literally.
Your panels need the sunlight to produce energy, so they will still produce electricity on a cloudy day; however, they will not produce electricity when covered by snow. Typically, panels are installed at a slant so the snow will slide off once the weather clears up and you can keep producing.
Rooftop delivery means the equipment will literally be delivered on top of your roof. The panels will be secured, and you will have 2 weeks to finish the install. Our delivery team will also come pick up the trash and the racking used to hold the panels on the roof.
Yes, a battery can be added to your system later. At Project Solar, we use premium technology, micro inverters, which means you'll need to install batteries that handle AC power. Batteries such as the Enphase Encharge and the Tesla Powerwall 2 are designed for the input of AC power.
Current battery pricing and longevity don't make sense for most homes that have an electrical company. Batteries add 10's of thousands of cost and are only warrantied for 10 years, as apposed to 25 years for the rest of your system. When battery technology progresses to the point where it makes financial sense, we will add batteries to our offering.
Your panels generate electricity to be used by your house right away. Extra power is sent back to the electricity company for storage. Since maintenance workers need to work on the electrical lines during a power outage, your panels will actually shut off when they sense the power has gone down.
If you are concerned about power outages, we recommend purchasing a plug-in battery for emergency use, such as the Goal Zero Yeti 3000. This can be plugged into a standard outlet and is not part of your solar build.
Batteries allow you to go completely off grid and are necessary when trying to run solar for a home or cabin where there is no electrical company available. If you have an electrical company in your area, it makes the most financial sense to go solar without batteries. Batteries can more than double the price of your solar system and include warranties that last less than half as long as the other parts of your system.
General Solar Questions
Sunlight excites electrons to motion in a process called the photovoltaic effect. This generates DC power, which is collected and sent to an inverter (or "microinverter" in our case), to be used by your home or sent back to the grid.
This process creates renewable energy by harvesting the power of the sun, verse traditional electrification generated by the burning of fossil fuels.
Right now, electricity company burn fuel to turn a complex machine that makes electricity. That process creates pollution. By going solar, you create energy from the sun, which saves the planet from additional pollution. In fact, for every kilowatt of solar you install, the carbon that is not sent into the atmosphere is the equivalent of planting about 40 trees.
You solar system should last well over 25 years. In fact, the warranty ensures you will be at at least 80% of your original efficiency by year 25. The general rule of thumb in the solar industry is if your roof is 25-30 years old, you should look at replacing your roof before getting solar. At the very least, have it inspected before hand.
If you put solar on a roof that needs replaced a couple years later, it's not a big deal. Just work with a roofer who is comfortable taking the panels off and putting back on. Most are these days.
Your panels generate DC power, but your home runs off AC. So you need an inverter to make the switch. There are 3 primary types of inverters. String inverters, micro inverters, and a hybrid system of string inverter with power optimizers.
String inverters - This is the oldest and most common method. All of the inversion occurs in one inverter, usually placed next to your main service panel. There are quite a few downsides, such as, the often make a load humming sound, they do not offer panel level control/information, and they often don't last as long as micro inverters. Perhaps the biggest down side is that they are less efficient than micro inverters. If a panel in a cluster of interconnected panels (called a string) is obstructed by a leaf or other shading, then the whole string will have its output reduced. With micro inverters, the efficiency loss stops with the panel.
Micro inverters - This is cream of the crop. Micro inverters are small inverters attached to each panel, giving you panel level control/visibility for easy maintenance (usually managed through an app). It converts the electricity to AC at the panel and usually results in less electricity loss (higher efficiency). They generally cost more, but because we've standardized our equipment offering at Project Solar, we offer top tier equipment at the lowest prices in the nation. String or micro inverters, our pricing wont be beat. Micro inverters through Project Solar are warrantied for 25 years.
Power Optimizers - This is a hybrid between the two, offering panel level visibility and higher efficiency than string inverter. However, this generally has more problems than micro inverters with more points of failure and often a higher cost, when all is said and done.
Think of going solar like upgrading your kitchen. You might spend 10 to 15 thousand, but is the overall price of your home going up more than that? With solar, studies have shown home value goes up around 3X the size of the system. Our home value increase calculator will show you how much your home value will increase if you decide to go solar.
Most electrical panels have an amperage range of 100-225 amps. A good general rule of thumb is 100 amps can handle 4.5kW PV system, and a 200 amp can handle 12kW. But this will be fully flushed out in our engineering stage. Most homes build within the last 25 years do not require the upgrade.
If a main panel upgrade is required, it usually ads $1800-2500 to the total price. Good news, however, is this upgrade cost would be subject to the federal incentive, reducing the cost by 26%.
Since there are so many variables in solar, the way to compare systems is by looking at how much you're paying per watt (calculated by taking the cost That said, there are two "price-per-watt" numbers: Price per watt before government incentives, and price per watt after government incentives. Most solar companies show you prices after incentives, which is fair, but know that you must be able to handle paying the total price until you receive your tax credit.
For Do it Yourselfers...
Cash gives you the best return on your investment (ROI). If you pay cash, we take a $250 deposit up front, and then you pay for the system before it is delivered. If you do a loan, we still need the $250 deposit before we get going on your project, and then you'll need to apply for a loan through us, or through your bank. Payment will be due before the system is delivered.
If you want Project Solar to install...
When Project Solar installs, you pay a $250 deposit (goes toward system design and engineering). Once the system is ready to be delivered, the equipment payment is due in full. When the final inspection is finished, we collect the second half of the payment.
Look at how much you are saving every year by going solar. Divide that number by the overall cost of your system. That is your ROI.
Example: A system costs $10,000. The system saves you $1,000 a year on electricity. You're making a 10% return on your investment because 1,000/10,000 = 10%.
Note: Average Project Solar year 1 ROI is 18%. S&P 500 market average ROI is 9.8%. Average home value appreciation is 3.2%.
Another way to calculate ROI is to look at the total amount of energy your system will generate in 25 years.
Traditional solar sales tactics price system builds as high as possible, while slightly lower the customers monthly bill. A win-win, right? Well, not exactly. This usually leaves the customer way over paying for solar. Usually paying $10,000-13,000 to the salesmen, and another $10-15k to the company.
At Project Solar our main focus is getting you the best return on your investment. By cutting out the door knockers and bloated infrastructure, we can charge less than half of the industry average. We still use the best equipment in the industry, and with our highly efficient processes, we're able to dramatically decrease your solar cost, and increase your ROI.
Project Solar uses black-on-black, 320 watt panels with Enphase micro inverters and IronRidge racking. All equipment is rated tier 1 and comes with a 25 year warranty. Panel brand depends on availability, but are either Aptos, Jinko, or QCells.
Project Solar only uses tier 1, black-on-black panels and Enphase micro inverters, both of which come with 25 year efficiency warranties. Most national installers also use tier one panels with 25 year warranties; however, the the big differentiator is the inverter. A majority of installers will use string inverters, which do not give you panel-level visibility to more easily maintain or troubleshoot your system. In addition, with string inverters, if one panel is shaded, all of the panels wired in the same string will lose some production until the sun returns. String inverters are cheaper for solar companies to source, and therefore they use them to keep margins high, but we have decided to only use micro inverters because they are much better for your investment over the lifetime of your system.
We utilize 3rd party engineering firms to design and asses wind and snow load possibilities and to tweak your design based on needs. The city then reviews the plans and issues a build permit. So yes, the equipment will be supplied for your needs.
We have pricing discounts with many of the worlds top manufacturers. If you want something specific, we are happy to oblige. If the equipment costs more than the equipment we provide at default, we simply adjust the cost to cover the increase. However, 99% of customers are more than satisfied with our standard equipment.
For most people, our standard panel is more than enough for their needs. However, if you have minimum space and NEED a higher output panel, we can help. We recommend reviewing this article on why higher wattage panels don't always make sense.
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