Solar PV Power for Your Home or Business

Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Energy Systems

Carr Creek Electric Service can help get you started using renewable energy for your home or business. We offer a free consultation to talk about the options that are available and what would be best for your space and budget.

Here are some common questions that we get asked that will help determine if renewable energy is right for you. Many of the answers to these questions are simply “It depends” because each project is unique. We've identified some of those factors that can change per project so that you can better understand how renewable energy could affect your home/business.

Click on the question to view the answer.

What is the payback?

Payback depends on a few factors:

  1. Cost of the System. Although costs have come down nearly 50% in the last several years, it is still a significant investment into renewable energy.
  2. Incentives. Tax credits, grants, and rebates may be available based on your area, utility company, or the system you have installed.
  3. Utility Rate Paid for Producing Power. The amount that you are paid for producing power is known as net metering, and varies depending on the type of renewable energy technology (i.e. wind vs. solar) and the utility company that you're producing for. Some utilities offer what is called feed-in-tariffs that compensate the consumer a higher rate than retail.
  4. How fast will the cost of power increase? Like all things in the economy, prices are expected to rise over time. We can estimate payback based on historical rates of change to determine the expected rate growth in the future. It is expected that the rate of increase will accelerate quicker than in the past 30 years.
  5. Does the site have shading during the course of operation? Shading is a culprit that will rob your PV system of its potential energy production. A site analysis will answer whether your site is a good site or not.
Do you install larger systems for commercial and industrial applications?

Carr Creek Electric Service LLC has more than 16 years of experience in commercial construction techniques and products. Installing a solar PV array in this environment is simply an extension of these skills. We hire certified and licensed journeyman electricians so you can have peace of mind that your business is being worked on by skilled professionals.

How much does a solar power system cost?

The cost of a solar power system depends on whether the panels are on the ground or roof-mounted. Ground mounted arrays can be “trackers” that follow the sun or stationary. The location/site also has an impact. A roof pitch or difficult soil can add to the installation labor. The type of module/panel affects the efficiency of the system (how large is the system related to the power output). Typically, the more efficient the module, the more it will cost. The incentives available from the federal, state or utility company affect your overall cost.

What size of a system do I need?

The minimum size of your solar power system is determined by the utility and state rebate requirements. In order to net meter, the maximum size is a 20kW system in Wisconsin and 40kW in Minnesota. A system that produces 3-4 kW of power is fairly common.

However, the size that you choose is more about your budget that the load requirements of the utility. Think about how much cost you want to offset using solar power and how that affects your budget. We'll work with you to figure out what makes sense for you based on your budget.

You'll also want to consider how much energy you're currently using. The best way to determine this is to look at your electricity bills for the last 12 months.

Where should I put the solar panels or array?

When we do a site analysis to determine the best place for your system, here are some things that we consider:

  1. What is your location relative to the utility / electrical grid?
  2. What is the sun exposure throughout the year?
  3. Is there an open area that can be utilized?
  4. What is the pitch of the roof?

Roof-mounted solar panels or arrays are generally more aesthetically pleasing. They're hidden instead of taking up space in a yard or field. If the roof has a steep pitch, this usually works well because snow and other debris will run off, keeping the panel surface clean. However, because a roof tends to absorb heat due to the materials and darker color, excessive heat around the panels can cause them to run less efficiently. Cooler solar panels will run better.

Ground-mounted solar panels are similar in price and will run more efficiently because of the cooler temperature of the ground. Ground systems are also adjustable through the use of manual or automated systems. A Tracker system automatically tilts and rotates the array to maximize sun exposure throughout the seasons or time of day. They are also easily accessible for cleaning. Fixed ground mount arrays usually can be manually adjusted for seasonal sun angle.

Is there a warranty on a solar array?

Modules are usually have at least 10/20 year production warranty. This means your system will still be producing 90% of its rated power after 10 years, and 80% of its rated power after 20 years.

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More Helpful Resources

Find links to energy calculators, government sites for incentives, and other helpful links about renewable energy.

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