How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar State Buying Guide for Georgia
There’s a lot of talk in the news and on the internet about the benefits of solar power, and many states have embraced the change offering incentives for home and business owners to make the conversion. In Georgia, property owners have many reasons for choosing solar power: from eliminating their dependency on a local utility company to marketing their property as environmentally friendly. By reading through this state Solar Buyer’s Guide, you’ll find general information as well as answers to frequently asked questions from Georgians.
Solar Panels and How They Work in Georgia
Solar panels are a popular choice for property owners to experience clean energy through a simple process. The panels are comprised of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert solar rays into electricity. As the particles of light free electrons form atoms, the result is electricity. Solar panels are durable, require minimal maintenance, and have an estimated lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
A solar array system can be installed on the roof as long as:
- the roof is in good repair
- the roof is capable of holding the weight
- there are no obstructions to the panels
- the roof has enough slope so panels can be adjusted at an angle
- panels can face south
- solar panels will have access to the sun from morning until late afternoon.
A ground-mounted solar array system is also available should your roof not pass inspection for a solar installation or you prefer to use a sun-friendly portion of your property versus the roof.
Georgia’s Climate Towards Solar Power
Georgia’s welcoming climate of sunny days, moderate fall and spring temperatures, moderate winters, and below average snowfall make the state a prime candidate for solar power. Until recently, the state has been slow to promote the changeover and instead relied on natural resources. That has changed recently with legislation that supports and promotes residential and commercial owners to take advantage of the state’s seasonal weather by installing renewable energy products.
Types of Solar Panel and Solar Water Heater Systems in Georgia
When discussing solar panel options with your contractor or solar sales representative, along with roof design and structural durability, you’ll decide on the solar system that provides the optimum energy to your property. Whether you choose to be totally connected or partially connected to solar power depends on your particular situation and/or property needs.
Solar panel systems are available to property owners in three types: Grid Tie, Battery Back-up, and Grid Tie Plus Battery Back-up.
With the Grid-Tie system, the photovoltaic cells work all day absorbing solar rays and converting them into electricity. This can result in an excess of energy. With the Grid-Tie system, this energy is fed back into the main grid of the utility company and known as net-metering. This results in a credit to your utility bill each month the system generates energy your property does not need.
The Grid-Tie option is not only energy efficient, but also a way of lowering your bill and even making money. The monthly savings multiplied by the life of the system more than covers the initial cost of the equipment and installation. Your property also has access to power from the main grid should it be needed.
The Off-Grid system is totally independent from the main grid. The solar paneling system generates all of the power to your property with excess stored in a battery backup system. When needed, such as at night or days when there isn’t a lot of sun due to inclement weather, the backup system powers the property. This type of system is a good choice for homes in remote areas, vacation or second homes.
When your property is connected with a Grid Tie and Battery Backup system, your property is covered should the main grid fail. Your property is tied into the main grid and the solar panels generate power throughout the day that is stored in a backup system. If the grid fails, the solar system disengages from the grid and taps into the backup system to provide power, through a designated power panel, to critical areas of the property such as the stove and refrigerator.
Solar Water Heaters in Georgia
The use of solar powered water heaters is also on the rise. This system is available as an active or passive unit. The active system uses either a direct or indirect process. The direct system uses a series of pumps, valves and controllers to circulate the water through solar collectors. This system works well in areas that do not experience frequent winter freezes.
The other option is the indirect solar water heater system. With this system, a special non-freezing fluid is used versus water for circulation. The fluid goes through the collector to a heat exchanger where water is then heated. This system is recommended for areas where frequent freezing is the standard.
The passive solar water heating system uses a thermosyphon or integral collector/storage system. Integral systems are recommended for areas that do not experience extremely low temperatures.
A thermosyphon system does not rely on any pumps or controls to circulate water. The system uses a collector and a rooftop mounted storage tank. The design and slope of the roof is important for this system.
Permits for Solar Installation in Georgia
Permits are required for any type of solar installation because it involves many steps to ensure the products are installed properly and wired correctly according to city code. A permit also ensures the contractor doing the work is licensed. Because electrical wiring is involved, you want to know it is done safely by a licensed expert. The installation will be inspected by a city inspector to validate everything is up to code. Do not bypass the permit process or hire someone who does not carry a current Georgia state license that allows him to do the type of work necessary for solar installation.
Contractors for Solar Installation in Georgia
Choosing a contractor that has the experience of installing solar products is recommended. There are multiple steps involved with the process which include, sizing the property and determining if the roof is compatible. While an inspection of the roof is necessary by a city inspector, you want a contractor that will guide you in the right choice of product and one that has the necessary knowledge of solar products. One thing you’ll want to do is verify your contractor’s license and make sure it’s current. The Secretary of State Professional Licensing website offers a free search and verify service. Checking with your city’s local Better Business Bureau can provide additional information about a contractor or business. You can find out if any negative comments or complaints or lawsuits have been filed.
Benefits of Converting to Solar Power Products in Georgia
- Lower monthly utility bills for the lifetime of the solar product.
- A return on your investment over time.
- Clean energy use versus fossil fuels and gas emissions.
- Lessen you carbon footprint.
- Creating a “green” environment in your home or business.
- Marketability of your property as being environmentally friendly.
- An immediate increase to your property’s value.
Cost and Savings of Solar Paneling in Georgia
The cost will be determined by the number of solar panels needed. This is calculated by your contractor or solar sales representative using the square footage of the property.
A 4 KW solar system that costs $26,000, for example, with an average monthly electric bill of $250, can be reduced by using tax credits, rebates and incentives totaling $16,900 resulting in the net cost of $9,100. With the lifetime of a solar system estimated at 25 years, that results in a $16,507 savings which is a 5.4 percent ROI (return on investment.)
Preparing Your Home for Solar Installation in Georgia
A short checklist of things to look for and repair or replace prior to solar installation can help ensure energy efficiency and proper operation of the equipment.
- Roof repair and/or replacement which will be determined by an inspection.
- Repairing doorways by replacing deteriorated weather stripping.
- Caulking cracks and crevices around windows.
- Sealing any holes or areas where there is air leakage into or out of the property.
- Cutting back any trees or tall bushes that can interfere with solar panels.
Information and Resources Available for Georgia Property Owners
- Clean Energy Authority – Provides information about rebates and incentives in Georgia.
- daSolar.com – Information on Georgia tax credits, solar rebates and incentives.
- Rural Energy for America Program – For small businesses and agricultural produces, there are several guaranteed grants and loans available.
- Energy Star – Solar water heaters from Energy Star are eligible for the current rate of 30 percent of the initial cost. The federal tax credit is in effect through December 31, 2019. The credit decreases to 26 percent in 2020, and to 22 percent in 2021 when it is set to expire on December 31.
- Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy – This program is funded by the Department of Energy and offers many programs for both residential and commercial property owners. Currently Georgia has 74 available programs.
An investment in solar power is an investment in the future of the environment as it eases the depletion of the earth’s natural resources, reduces unhealthy gas emissions and doesn’t leave a carbon footprint. In addition, your property will be more energy efficient using the free resources of sun, will increase in value, and will continue to generate savings throughout the lifetime of the solar system.