I am building a new home and considering solar. What are some of the things I should consider?
Congratulations! Installing solar on your new home will automatically increase your home’s value. And yes, there are some things to consider whether you install the solar panels at time of construction or at a later date.
First, consult with your Contractor about your plans for a solar array. It will be important for him and your solar professional to have an understanding of what needs to be done. These professionals will be an important part of including some areas of design that will help increase the efficiency and ease of installing your solar array.
1. Orientation. Orientating solar panels to face the South maximizes the effectiveness of energy collection.
2. Shading: When landscaping, consider the trees to be planted and their location. Small trees today that turn into large trees in a few years could dramatically reduce your solar array effectiveness.
3. Roof: The size of your roof space will determine how many panels you can add. It is important to keep in mind that Chimneys and vents can interfere with space that may be needed to place a solar panel.
4. Wiring: Even if you don’t install solar at the time of initial construction, you can do a couple of things that can help later. First, make your home “Solar Ready” . By this I mean, your home can be pre-wired for solar. This will eliminate the need for additional wiring later and could save the cost and time of having to add a sub panel. Second, installing an automatic transfer switch will make your home ready for a back up power source such as a generator. With very little cost, these items can save time and money at a later date.
5. Financing: When taking out a home construction loan, consider including the cost of your solar installation. This will make adding a solar system easier. Mississippi Solar does off financing for the installation of solar panels and generators. Contact us for more information.
Most Contractors will not offer these ideas. It is important to consult with an experienced, professional Solar installer before you begin construction on your new home.
It is still fun to say we were the FIRST school to have a Grid tied solar array! and now almost 5 years latter I can say it has truly been a trouble free/ maintenance free project! We are using it as a teaching tool for the students and community . The students will be using the the solar system to learn about how these systems generate energy and then they will be using solar energy to build and power their inventions. We have had three different Solar/Be a Hero Days where the Venture class students set up multiple stations that taught the other students in the school what they had learned about solar power by using hands on activities for them to engage in and ask questions.It is a really interesting thing to see students teaching other students ! They all seem to have a great time!
We started with a 16 panel array with intentions of seeing how many panels it would take to power a single classroom! With the data we have collected , we believe we can say that 16 panels will power two standard size classrooms! There are many factors like the building envelope, the HVAC systems, number of computers and other electronics etc but we believe 16 panels will supply two very well equipped standard size classrooms.
We built it so it can be added on to with the intentions having fund raisers or getting donations to buy more panels ! We still only have the 16 we started with as of now!
We could not have done any of this without the generous help from Mississippi Solar, Central Electric Power Association, and many other installers and electricians! We are very grateful for all their help!
Energy Management Coord.
Rankin County School District
Mississippi just introduced HB 1378 and 354, incentive bills for energy efficiency and renewable energy. What are they, how will this affect the industry, and what should we be doing?
Is Mississippi about to have some sustainability incentives? On January 20th of this year, two bills were introduced and referred into the Energy and Ways and Means Committee. While these incentives seem like a good idea, why should Mississippi taxpayers (businesses and individuals a like) be concerned? First let’s look at the build of both bills, compare and contrast, and review some facts about the state.
So what do these bills do? HB 354 was introduced by David Baria, a Democrat from Hancock district. It emphasises energy efficiency projects, space heaters and such, giving upwards of $500 max to space heater and energy efficiency projects, with specific amounts for particular types specified within. It also gives a 50% tax credit, up to $12,500, for solar thermal (hot water), Solar PV panels (electricity), and wind projects, spreadable over 5 tax years.
HB 1378 was introduced by Thomas U. Reynolds, a Democrat for Lafayette, Tallahatchie, and Yalobusha district. This bill has a significantly larger incentive for both energy efficiency and solar projects, with 50% up to $12,500 for energy efficiency projects, and 50% up to $25,000 for solar projects or $6.00 per Watt installation cost.
What makes these two bills so different isn’t just the drastic increase in amount, but also what a consumer is allowed to do with their tax credit, as well as when the bill takes effect. HB 1378 has an effective starting date of July 2014, which seems reasonable at first because the deadline for this bill leaving committee is February 28, later than other bills because it is a revenue bill. However, this same thing happened in 2013 when HB 1591, yet another solar incentive bill, passed with a vote of 116 yea to 3 nay. The bill also had a late effective starting date, which caused a huge rippling effect in the minds of consumers. Why should they go ahead with a project, when they could just wait for this larger incentive to pass, then decide whether to continue their projects? That’s what many homeowners did, and when the bill failed, it caused them to miss the then current TVA incentive opportunity. This pushed many projects back a year or even indefinitely, punishing consumers and installers with false hope. In contrast, HB 354 has a retroactive starting date of January 2014, fixing this problem altogether.
The second problem is that HB 1378 allows the transference of tax credits from the home owners to a 3rd party or financier, opening the door to solar leasing companies across the entire country. This in itself isn’t the biggest issue, as increased solar presence still continues to diversify our energy sources and adds energy security to our state. The problem is coupled with two other problems, the state’s lack of standardized interconnection agreement and business operating requirements, and the extreme difference in established cost per Watt and actual cost.
Mississippi currently lacks any standards for interconnection agreements between utilities and home & business owners. Each utilities in the state have their own definitions and requirements for connecting solar to the grid. This makes it difficult for solar installers to properly plan and install solar arrays in different parts of the state. On the other hand, the requirements for becoming a solar installer in Mississippi has seen improvements over the years. Where solar electrical work used to only require a plumbers licence, now at least a Mississippi State Board of Contractors Licence is required to operate within the state.
On the other hand, the licensing process to become a solar installer actually has seen improvements from the days where solar electric installations were only required to have a plumbers licence, even if you weren’t installing solar water heaters. Now at least a Mississippi State Board of Contractors Licence is required to operate within the State.
6 dollars per Watt is a lot compared to the cost of locally available installers, which is around 3~4 dollars per Watt. This combined with the other two factors are a welcoming invitation for “solar sharks,” companies that form up to abuse a state’s incentives and quickly dissolve after completing a few installations, if even completing them at all. This can leave consumers with a decade long financial agreement and a depreciating asset sitting on their roof that they don’t own. Louisiana, New Mexico and many other states have already had their fair share of these cookie-cutter companies, and Mississippi looks to be an easy target.
Ultimately, it boils down to a matter of consumer protection and preference. Consumers must be protected from bad businesses, and the good businesses must be able prosper and provide long term services to Mississippi consumers. We at Mississippi Solar fully support HB 354 and the continual growth of the sustainability and housing industry as a whole. However, we cannot support, and will actively oppose and call for reform on such bills that will endanger consumers and businesses within the state.
Have you ever walked to your car after a long summer work day, after being blasted by the refreshing air of the air conditioner the entire time? Your body was already in shock from hitting the wall of steam emanating from the tar on the street, but now as you open your car door, you are greeted by a cloud of burning plastic fumes. Morning car commuters often rush to the solitary trees that dot the parking lot, fighting over its time dependent shade, forgetting that these green pillars of refuge are natural sundials.
Beyond your personal discomfort, there is an energy cost as well as a missed opportunity. The heat build up prompts people to max out their air conditioners as they roll down their windows to cool their car down. A good bit of energy is expended here, courtesy of the sun giving you the wrong kind of energy. Air conditioning use lowers vehicle energy-efficiency by about 22% for starters. Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) researchers calculated that for air condensers, every degree Fahrenheit the energy efficiency ratio of your equipment drops 1.2%. So when there is a 20 degree + temperature difference in the shade, that’s around a 20% drop. If you roll down the windows to get some air flow, that’s another ~20% increase in fuel consumption for sedans at around 85 degrees F, according to SAE. But instead of having the sun cook your employee and customer’s dashboard, fuel and forgotten french fries, why not attempt to harvest the sun?
Solar carports can be a great way to get two birds with one stone: get the shading people want, and get the electricity & energy savings you need. For example, apartment complexes could install solar carports as premium shaded parking spots, or put solar on their existing shaded parking. Larger companies with large parking spaces can benefit greatly from this as well, taking advantage of what is essentially wasted space to generate savings that offset their facility maintenance costs.
Mississippi Solar has, in addition to standard solar array designs, been installing solar carports for nearly a decade now. We’ve even installed a solar carport near our HQ where our CEO Will Hegman parks and charges his Tesla Roadster everyday (see pictures below). The cost for us to install one is estimated to be around $15,400 ($10,780 after Federal rebates), not including what rebates or incentives that may be available at the time. We are also a strong supporter of electric vehicles (EV) and a licenced EV charging station installer for ChargePoint, so we would love to discussion your options for installing a EV charging station in your solar carport as well. Need a testimonial? The carport in the pictures below has produced enough energy for the Tesla to drive 24,000 miles per year (plus household energy cost
reduction of $491.30 under TVA).