Going Solar: Key Considerations for Commercial Building Owners
These 10 factors can determine whether solar power is right for you
It seems like most of the news related to climate change is pretty dire. We are frequently bombarded with headlines saying that changes have to be made and made quickly to avoid disaster.
The good news is that regardless of any government action (or inaction), business owners don’t need to wait to implement their own green initiatives. One thing that can make a huge difference with energy consumption is converting a building to solar power. Not only does this help the planet, but it also helps the bottom line of a business owner or landlord. If you are thinking about going solar, these are areas to keep in mind.
Access to sunlight
For the best results, solar panels should be installed in direct sunlight. However, if your building is frequently shaded by trees or other structures, this doesn’t mean you can’t use solar energy. Solar panels are designed to produce energy from the photons in the natural light, so the panels will still work in shaded areas but will put out less energy.
Type of roof
Solar technology has come a long way in recent years, so even if you have a roof with an awkward shape, you should be able to find the right solution. Small roofs, however, can pose a challenge, but there are other options available, including ground-mounted systems.
The weight capacity of your roof will play a big role in whether or not solar panels will work. Buildings are designed to support roofs of certain weights, and a thorough analysis will have to be made to determine if yours can withstand the added weight of a solar system.
Condition of the roof
If your roof is several years old or not in the best shape, adding solar panels to it in its current state is not a great idea. It is important to take care of any repairs or replace the roof beforehand. Failing to do this will result in higher expenses, as the panels will have to be removed – and then reinstalled – once the roof work is completed.
Type of system
There are two main types of solar energy systems to choose from. Photovoltaic uses cells to convert sunlight into electricity, while thermal uses that light to heat the air and water in the building. To figure out which kind is best, you will need to think about how your building uses energy, along with things like how the panels will affect it, as well as the installation costs.
One big reason to think about solar now: The tax credit for adding a new system to a building is substantial. Right now owners can deduct up to 30 percent of the cost of their system. However, this will only last until the end of 2019. After that, this credit shrinks every year until 2022, when it will drop to 10 percent. Your state or local government may also offer incentives for switching to solar power.
Return on investment
Even if one of your goals with solar energy is to do your part for the Earth, you’re probably also thinking about the money you can save on your energy costs. Factoring in the cost of installation – along with those incentives – and seeing how much you can save each year will help you determine your return on investment.
Putting in a solar energy system is a major project, so you should ensure that everything will be covered in case something goes wrong. In addition to a warranty on the equipment, you should make sure the labor is covered as well, so you have total protection.
Often, the main problems that occur with commercial roofs or their add-ons are due to poor workmanship from installers. It is wise to do your homework and find a company you can be sure will do outstanding work.
Do the research on what kind of experience and knowledge their contractors have, along with essentials like licenses and insurance. It is also important to look at how long a company has been in business, as you want to be sure your installer will be able to provide support for the life of your solar panels.
Even before your system is up and running, you should think about its long-term health. While most systems don’t require a lot of maintenance, they can’t just be ignored. It is important to put a plan in place that involves regular inspections and monitoring to ensure that everything is running as it should and giving you optimal performance.
Whether your motivation is helping the environment or saving money, solar power can be a sound choice. And when a building owner decides to switch from an old power system to one that uses renewable energy, this can have a huge impact on both areas.
If you’re considering solar, you need to find a company that specializes in commercial buildings. With Peck Brothers, you know you will get contractors and technicians who have extensive experience with both roofing and solar power systems. This will ensure that both areas will be covered during installation. To get more information or a free quote on your project, you can call us at 201-791-3235 or contact us through our website.