What system type best balances my budget>goal>space?
The three limiting factors to every system design are budget, customer goals, and available space. Space for a system on a roof or in a yard is usually pretty hard and fast. Budget and goals are generally more flexible from customer to customer. Consider the following system types to determine which best fits your needs.
Battery Storage Systems
At GAI, we’ve been installing solar in the Midwest for more than a decade. Based on the “interesting” times we’ve had squirming through attics, crawl spaces, and basements, and running wires on top of or behind finished walls, we have experience-based advice we can offer that will make your new home take to a PV solar installation as easily possible.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider for a ground-mounted array:
Looking strictly at performance and future energy production, ground mounts are our strong recommendation. However, if you can’t go with a ground mount, you’ll want to provide the best roof-mounted solution you can.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider for a roof-mounted array:
A roof-top array will add up to 4 pounds per square foot of distributed dead load. The house designer should assure that the load-bearing ability of the roof can accommodate the load of that hardware in addition to the snow load of your region (in most of the Midwest, that is about 20 psf, higher in lake-effect areas).
A PV array can be expected to have a 30-year life. If the array is roof-mounted, that longevity should be matched by the roofing.
The following will future-proof a house for the addition of battery storage at some point in the future. Additional grounding or other approvals may be required by local code.
In today’s world the utilities allow interconnection through an application and agreement process. During this process we will submit site plans, electrical drawings and component information to the utility. They will review these plans and if they approve the design an agreement is put in place with you, the utility customer. During this process you will be asked to provide a copy of your bill and proof of personal liability insurance. Each utility has its own level of liability insurance they expect you to carry.
Once the system is installed you will get a bi-directional meter from the utility. They will then monitor what you pull in from them to use in your house and what you push back to their grid. Anything pushed will be credited at a wholesale rate. Anything you pull in from the utility is billed at a retail rate. This can create a longer payback on your system if you try to put in enough solar to cover all you electrical usage with the solar – you will push too often.
There are a couple ways to make sure your system pays for itself in a timely manner.
Solar still makes sense financially if you are careful with your design!
It is best to reduce your usage even before adding solar. You can do this through some simple and usually affordable efficiency upgrades.
Heating and Cooling Systems
Other Air Leakage
Shading and Screening
Implementing any of the above in addition to solar will cut your bills further!
We partner with Generac and SolarEdge to provide fully integrated solar storage and home energy monitoring capabilities with our installations. These solutions are customizable to fit your budget and can harness the power of banked energy when you need it the most. Supported by an innovative energy monitoring system, these systems allow homeowners to draw on their saved energy during times of power outage and schedule their energy usage to save on utility costs.
The end goal is greater independence from the grid. Storing the energy you create from your solar panels is an emerging technology that allows you greater benefits from investing in solar!