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 Buyer’s Guide for Philadelphia
With approximately 207 sunny days per year, Philadelphia is a prime location for solar energy production. In addition, many rebates and incentive programs are in place to reduce installation costs and promote renewable energy. Philadelphia residents who wish to harness solar energy from the sun to provide a cheaper and cleaner alternative to power their homes and businesses will find this solar Buyer’s Guide useful. The following solar information is an easy to follow road map designed to point Philadelphia residents in the right direction to solar power.
Assess Home Energy Efficiency in Philadelphia
Home energy audits are an important first step in preparing your home for solar power. Since folks interested in solar power are likely looking for ways to save money on energy costs, reinforcing your home’s ability to reduce energy loss can provide significant savings on it own merits. With a grant from the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Philadelphia and its surrounding counties started EnergyWorks — a public program designed to make energy efficiency improvements easy and affordable. Many home improvement contractors also offer free home energy audits in the hopes they will obtain your business.
Determine the Best Location for Solar Panels in Philadelphia
Most solar panel systems are mounted on rooftops, however they can be ground-based systems when space limitations are not a concern. Optimum configurations are south facing panels mounted at 30-degree angles.
Inspect Your Philadelphia Rooftop
Before installing roof-mounted systems, most municipalities require a structural inspection of the roof to verify it can support the weight of the panels. It is recommended that you hire a local roofing contractor to inspect the condition of your roof before installing a solar panel system. Rooftops in need of repair or those expected to fail in the near future are not good candidates for a solar panel system until repair or replacement.
Finding a Philadelphia Solar Contractor
Philadelphia residents would be wise to hire a local, licensed, certified and insured solar contractor for solar installation. Hiring a solar contractor is the most important decision you will make during the project, as the technology is complicated and equipment requires connection to your service panel or main grid. A solar contractor will oversee the entire project including:
- Assessing structural and rooftop conditions prior to installation
- Determining the best system configuration suited for your property
- Designing the system to provide maximum efficiency
- Ordering necessary equipment
- Applying for and obtaining the necessary permits from the city of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania
- Controlling the quality of the entire installation from start to finish
Solar Panel Configurations in Philadelphia
There are three solar panel configurations common in Philadelphia used to produce electricity. Systems that connect to the main power grid are commonly referred to as grid-tie systems. Grid-tie systems utilize a net meter, which monitors the amount of electricity produced by the solar panels. The solar energy they produce replaces the electricity that you would otherwise purchase from the grid. Excess energy you do not use is routed into the main power grid and sold to the applicable power company on your behalf.
A grid-tie system utilizes a bank of batteries for back up power storage and is commonly referred to as a grid-tie/battery backup package. Its design allows it to produce electricity for immediate use, divert excess power to the grid and to charge a battery bank. In the event of a power outage, the system automatically disconnects from the grid and charges the batteries. DC — Direct Current — power from the battery banks then passes through the inverter and is converted to AC — Alternating Current — to supply your home or business with electricity.
The least common of the three is a stand alone off-grid solar panel configuration. These systems are for use in remote locations or on terrain where grid access is not possible. These systems provide immediate power to the home and to a battery bank for storage. They are designed to supply 100 percent of your electricity requirements.
About Solar Powered Water Heaters in Philadelphia
Another solar product to consider is a solar powered water heater system. It offers a cost effective way to produce domestic hot water for your home or business. These systems are suitable for any climate and require electricity only during evening hours or on cloudy days when the sun’s energy is diminished.
Available Solar Savings in Philadelphia
The State of Pennsylvania offers residents and business owners’ incentives and rebates for renewable energy including solar photovoltaics and thermal energy. You can discover many money-saving options available to Philadelphia residents who purchase renewable energy technology by visiting CleanEnergyAuthority.com. In addition, The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website provides a searchable database of renewable policies, incentives and rebates by state.
Finally, you may qualify for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit offered by the federal government. This program allows taxpayers to claim 30 percent of the cost of the system as a tax credit through the end of 2016. Since solar power is the future of electricity production, you would be wise to consider a solar power system for your home today.