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 Oklahoma
While Oklahoma is synonymous with energy production—it is a major player in oil and gas production and a leader in wind power—it lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to solar power. Oklahoma does not rank near the bottom of solar rankings due to a lack of sunshine but because of state policies that are holding back solar power growth. For example, Oklahoma is one of a few states that block third-party ownership, one of the biggest drivers in solar energy growth. Property owners interested in solar panel installation for their home or business should not get discouraged however, as rising energy costs could eventually tip the Oklahoma state policy scale in their favor. If you are considering the purchase and installation of a solar power system in your home or business, the following buying guide contains valuable information to help get you started on the path to clean electricity production.
The list below is a quick reference guide to information within the article:
- Introduction to Oklahoma Solar Power
- Hiring a Solar Contractor in Oklahoma
- Permitting Process in Oklahoma
- Climate Considerations in Oklahoma
- Solar Panel Maintenance
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Solar Power in Oklahoma
- Solar Panel Components
- Solar Panel Configurations in Oklahoma
- Solar Water Heaters in Oklahoma
- Return on Investment
- Solar Resources in Oklahoma
Introduction to Oklahoma Solar Power
Solar power has been in use for decades but unavailable to the mainstream public mostly because of the costs. However, as time passed, the technology improved in both efficiency and manufacturing, driving down the costs. Today, state and federal government solar incentive programs combined with the lower costs of photovoltaics make solar power a very, attractive investment.
A solar array’s—panels—function is to utilize Panels of photovoltaic cells, which are used to absorb the sun’s radiation. Electrons, a byproduct created during the absorption process, are harnessed to produce electricity.
Solar panel systems used in residential applications often produce between 4KW and 10KW depending on the size of the home. An average sized home encompassing roughly 2000 square feet is often equipped with a 4KW to 5KW solar panel system. Solar arrays are installed on rooftops mainly due to space limitations with most properties, but can also be installed on the ground when land space is not a concern. Optimum conditions require that the solar panels be installed at a 30 to 45-degree angle, facing due south in areas with direct access to sunlight during the daytime hours.
Cloud cover, rainy days and shade will limit or decrease a solar panels electricity output. While you cannot control the weather, you can avoid placing them in shaded areas on your property. In short, the more sunlight solar panels receive the more electricity they produce which translates to cheaper electricity prices for you and less dependency on electricity produced by dirty fossil fuels.
Hiring a Solar Contractor in Oklahoma
Unless you plan to install a solar panel system yourself—not recommended—you will require the services of a solar contractor or company for the project. An experienced solar contractor is your project point man from start to finish. They are the most important factor of the process as they are responsible for obtaining necessary permits, sizing, designing and installing the equipment.
It should be mandatory before hiring a solar contractor that you verify the status of their license and insurance coverage. By doing so, you are protecting yourself from unlicensed/uninsured individuals who could perform shoddy work, damage your property or cause legal ramifications. Residents can visit the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board or click here to verify license status. Verify insurance coverage by contacting the applicable insurance company regarding said contractor.
Solar Permitting Process in Oklahoma
Solar panel installation is a complicated process involving structural concerns and electrical applications. A building permit with applicable inspections is required to ensure the system is installed correctly, safely and according to the Oklahoma Uniform Building code. Permitting is handled at the local level and can vary between cities. Contact your local building department for permitting application requirements.
Oklahoma’s Climate Considerations for Solar
Solar panels require sunshine to produce electricity. On average, Oklahoma receives 235 days of sunshine per year. This figure is based on days with 30-percent cloud cover or less. Your solar panels will still produce electricity on days when cloud cover is greater, or inclement weather sets it, just not as much.
Solar Panel Maintenance in Oklahoma
Since there are no moving parts in a solar panel system, maintenance is minimal. A simple cleaning of their clear, protective covers, once or twice a year, is all that is necessary to maintain your solar panels.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Solar Power in Oklahoma
Solar energy is a clean, renewable and sustainable energy source. Below you will find the many benefits of solar power along with a few drawbacks.
- Solar energy is an infinite energy source
- Energy from the sun is abundant as it produces over 20,000 times more energy than the earth consumes per day
- It is an eco-friendly energy source producing little to no carbon emissions or pollution
- Reduces the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in our atmosphere created by dirty fossil fuels
- Solar panel systems have an expected lifespan of 25 to 30 years with only periodic cleaning and adjustments necessary
- Out-of-pocket expense can be high during initial installation
- Solar panel electricity production is intermittent, producing power only when sunlight is available. Battery backup or grid connection is required for sustainable power
- Since solar panel systems require space, they are often installed on rooftops due to the lack of available land space. Installation requires a structurally sound roof in good repair
Typical Solar Panel Components
A typical solar panel system has no moving parts, which lends to its durability and long life span. There are four main components of a common solar panel system.
Solar Panels—are comprised of photovoltaic cells encased within the panels that convert sunlight into direct current “DC” electricity.
Inverter—converts the DC electrical current into alternating “AC” current.
Main Electric Service Panel—receives the solar electricity and distributes it to your home or power grid.
Net Meter—measures the electricity produced by your solar panels that you contribute to the main power grid.
Solar Panel Configurations in Oklahoma
The three most common solar panel configurations are referred to as a Grid-Tie system, Grid-Tie/battery backup system and a Stand Alone/Off-Grid system.
Grid-tie systems are systems that are wired into the main power grid. These are the most common system types used in residential applications and small business applications. A net meter measures the amount of electricity produced by your solar panels that is contributed to the main power grid. In many states, excess energy you do not use is diverted into the main power grid through the net meter and sold to the applicable power company.
A grid-tie/battery backup package is designed to produce power for immediate use, divert excess power to the grid and charge a bank of power storing batteries. In the event of a grid failure, the system disconnects from the grid and charges the batteries, which in turn power the inverter to supply power to your home or business.
A stand alone/off grid solar panel package utilizes a bank of batteries for power storage. This system is designed for remote locations when grid power is unattainable or too expensive to access. These systems while more expensive, are designed to produce 100% of your power needs immediately when the panels are producing power, or later, with power supplied from the storage batteries.
Solar Water Heaters in Oklahoma
Aside from producing electricity, solar energy is also used to heat water for domestic hot water needs. Solar thermal water heaters utilize both a well-insulated storage tank and solar collectors, most often mounted on the rooftop, to provide domestic hot water. In warmer climates, these energy efficient systems use the sun to heat the water directly. In areas prone to freezing temperatures, a non-freezing fluid is necessary to collect thermal energy from the sun and transfer the heat to freshwater through a heat exchanger.
Return of Solar Investment in Oklahoma
Solar power is an outstanding investment with annual returns averaging 10 to 15-percent rivaling many of those found on Wall Street. However, while a high-efficiency solar panel system will offset the monthly costs of electricity immediately, it could take several years for the solar panels’ payback to even out. In addition, utilizing natural resources that provide clean energy is an investment in the long-term health of our planet.
Solar Power Resources in Oklahoma
While Oklahoma’s state policy does not offer much in the form of cost-cutting solar incentives, the federal government does. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides a 30-percent tax credit for qualifying renewable systems. The credit, extended through 2019, is a dollar for dollar tax credit, not a deduction, which amounts to a huge savings on the cost of a solar panel system. Click here to view IRS form 5695, which covers residential energy credits.
Solar policy is constantly changing or evolving as programs expire and new ones are created. Solar power is the future and it is just a matter of time before all states join the solar energy movement. Stay up-to-date with rebate and incentive programs available in your area by visiting the DSIRE “Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency” website.