What is solar power? How does it work? Where can it be installed? How much energy usage will be reduced by using solar?

These are questions that most people have when discussing solar power at their home or business. With the new opportunities in Georgia, solar has become a big conversation. Below are commonly asked questions.

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How does solar work?

Solar panels absorb energy from the sun by way of a semiconductor (typically silicon) and generate a direct current electrical source. An inverter is used to convert the source to an alternating current source.
The first step in this process would be to check your local city ordinances and any applicable neighborhood association rules. The second step in the process would be to select a location for installation that is clear of obstructions that will block the sun light. Some shading may be unavoidable, but you want it to be un-shaded most of the time.
PV system size is directly related to how much generation you need and the available area you have. By observing your monthly and annual usage, an ideal PV system size can be calculated.
For each kilowatt of capacity, you’ll need 100 square feet of space that faces south and is mostly un-shaded. Panels may be mounted on a flat or sloped roof or in your yard. In addition to the panels, you’ll need an inverter—which converts direct current to alternating current—a tie-in to the grid and, in many cases, a monitoring system that tells the installer how much power you’re producing.
Clouds can diffuse and or block sun light; which will in turn restrict the amount of sunlight absorbed by the solar panels and can reduce the energy output by 40–90%. Photovoltaic panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.
It depends, in part, on how much electricity you use and how efficient the appliances are that you operate. A combination of energy efficient appliances and light bulbs can help reduce your homes energy bill by over two-thirds.
Yes, minimal maintenance is required. Panels should be cleaned of debris, and anything that can block the sun to ensure maximum output. Some components may need regular inspection by a professional.
We recommend using a solar installer who is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Learn more about NABCEP and find certified professionals in Georgia.
Price is only one factor to consider when selecting a renewable energy installer. Here are some other considerations: Is the company certified? Is the company experienced? Will the company provide a copy of their current business license? Does the company have any judgments or liens? Will the company provide references? Does the company have a record with the Better Business Bureau? How many systems has the company installed in the last year? How long will the installation process take? How long will the company monitor the installations after they are completed? What is the warranty period? What does it cover? What repair services are offered? What are the rates? What type of operation or maintenance training is available?
Grid connect systems supply solar electricity thought an inverter directly to the household (or business) and to the electricity grid if the system is providing more energy than the house or business needs. When power is supplied to the main grid, the homeowner or business owner usually receives a credit or payment for that electricity. You will need to check with your local utility provider to inquire about their Distribution Generation Rate Tariff and how credits are applied.
In Georgia, climate and sun penetration would make it hard for one to go off the grid using only solar energy. However, with the addition of properly sized battery storage this option becomes more of a reality.
It can be with the installation of battery storage, but these can be quite costly. A standard solar system is designed to be directly connected to the grid so that when the solar system isn’t producing electricity for usage (night time hours, cloudy days, etc.) power will be drawn directly from the grid through your local utility provider.
Depending on location, technology and infrastructure, the installed cost of Solar PV systems can range from $5,000 - $7,000 per kW.
An uncapped 30% federal income tax credit is available to homeowners for solar equipment placed in service before January 1, 2017. Find information about tax incentives at the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy. Please consult your tax advisor to determine how this federal incentive may apply to your particular circumstances.
Homeowners can claim a 35% income tax credit on solar electric and solar water heating devices installed on a residence (maximum of $10,500 credit for solar electric and $2,500 for solar water heating property). Credit availability is subject to limitations and installation of a Solar System does not guarantee a tax credit. Learn more from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. Please consult your tax advisor to determine how this state incentive may apply to your particular circumstances.