What is solar energy?
The sun radiates energy in the form of photons. Solar panels collect these photons, transforming them into solar energy for electricity. This process of converting the sun’s energy into electricity is called photovoltaic.
What kind of system should I use?
This depends on your situation. The following definitions will help you understand the different systems. Please contact us for more information.
We offer three types of photovoltaic systems:
Off-grid: All of the electricity needed is produced on-site and stored in a battery bank. This system is best for remote homes and camps where power lines are too expensive to bring in. The important pieces of this system are the panels, the batteries, charge controller, and inverter. Learn more about off-grid solar.
Grid-tie: With this system, homeowners become their own power plant, with the solar panels generating electricity which is then used in the home. Excess power is sent back into the grid. The homeowner receives kW credits from the utility company. This is called Net Metering. Vermont has recently passed a law stating that utility companies must credit the homeowner at no less than .20/kW hour. The important components of this system are the panels and the inverter. Learn more about grid-tie solar.
Grid-tie with battery backup: This system is a hybrid design. There is the benefit of net metering from the grid-tie system, but with power storage from the included batteries, like in an off-grid system. Some homeowners choose this option because they do not want to utilize a generator when grid power fails.
How much does a system cost?
System size and cost are directly related to your power needs and energy use. The more energy you conserve, the less your system will cost. Be sure your appliances are energy-efficient, your light bulbs are compact fluorescents, and you practice “energy awareness”— this can involve simply using energy-efficient appliances or taking further measures such as air drying clothes, using a comforter rather than an electric blanket, and so on. Again, energy use, and therefore system cost, is directly related to lifestyle choices.
I’ve heard there are incentives to off-set the cost of installation. What are these incentives?
A 30% tax credit is available from the federal government for grid-tied systems. The State of Vermont no longer has incentives to reduce the cost of a system.