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 City Buying Guide for Virginia Beach
Solar power is a clean and sustainable energy source that is eco-friendly and becoming more affordable through new technologies every day. Virginia Beach residents and small business owners wishing to take advantage of this natural resource can use this solar buying guide to get started. The outline below will introduce you to the common types of solar systems used today as well as point out some important considerations when hiring a solar contractor. Not only will this buying guide help you decide if a solar panel system is right for your home or business, but it could also save you a great deal of money through the rebates and other incentive programs listed at the bottom.
Types of Solar Power Configurations in Virginia Beach
Solar panel configurations can vary depending on the specific needs and desires of the property owner. Listed below are some typical configurations used in residential and small business applications.
Systems that connect to the main power grid are commonly referred to as grid-tie systems. Grid-tie systems connect to the main power grid and include a net meter that 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 utility company. Excess energy produced by the panels and calculated by the net meter is routed back into the main power grid and sold to the applicable power company on your behalf.
Sometimes, a bank of batteries is incorporated into a grid-tie system for back up power storage. This dual function system produces electricity for immediate use, diverts excess power to the grid and maintains a full charge on the battery banks. In the event of a power outage, the system automatically disconnects from the grid and diverts the solar power to the battery banks that supply power to the home or business.
A solar water heater is another form of solar power used to produce free, domestic hot water. These efficient systems use solar energy — heat — from the sun to heat water. Most solar water heating systems incorporate a roof-mounted solar panel and storage tank that connects to the home’s plumbing system. Most systems can supply 100% of residential hot water needs, however you can expect diminished performance during cloudy, rainy, or foggy days. A comprehensive guide to solar water heaters is provided at the Department of Energy website.
Hiring a Solar Contractor in Virginia Beach
While many property owners might consider installing a solar panel system their self, due to the permit requirements, licensing and complicated nature of the project, it is recommended that you hire an experienced solar contractor who possesses the knowledge and experience for a quality installation. A lot of legwork goes into a solar panel installation. The contractor must size, design, pull the necessary permits and install the system correctly, which will maximize your energy efficiency and investment. While a solar panel system installed by a professional will raise your property value, the same can be said for a poorly or DIY installed system that can lower your property value. Keep in mind that your solar contractor is your go-to-guy and is the single, most important element of the entire process.
Obtaining Solar Permits in Virginia Beach
While a homeowner can apply for and receive a solar permit, it must be noted that whoever applies for the solar permit is responsible for the entire project. This is why it is recommended that your solar contractor obtain the permit. The Virginia Beach Permits and Inspections Department is located at 2405 Courthouse Drive, Building 2, Virginia Beach, VA. You can reach them by phone by dialing (757) 385-4211, fax (757) 385-5777 or email at email@example.com.
Climate Concerns for Solar in Virginia Beach
Different climate conditions can affect solar panel performance. The information below defines the potential panel efficiency changes you can expect associated with outside elements.
- Cloudy and rainy days — panel efficiency can drop 40 to 90-percent depending on how dark and heavy the rain and corresponding clouds are.
- Heavy fog — can lead to a 15 to 20-percent drop in efficiency.
- Light fog –– can reduce panel efficiency between 8 and 15-percent.
- Dirty panels — can reduce energy production 1 to 5-percent.
- Age — affects solar panel efficiency with an annual drop of between 0.5 and 1-percent.
Virginia Beach receives approximately 48 inches or rain per year spread over 102 days with any measureable precipitation. Annual snowfall is 7 inches, considerably less than the national average of 25 inches. Temperatures in mid July can reach a high of 87 degrees with winter lows in mid January dipping to 32 degrees. Since Virginia Beach enjoys approximately 213 days of sunshine per year, solar power is a viable option for this area.
Solar panel systems for your home or business can be expensive and require significant upfront costs. You may qualify for solar rebate and incentive programs available to Virginia Beach residents. Visit the Department of Energy’s DSIRE “Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency” website to search via zip code for active programs in your area.