There has been a lot of buzz about solar shingles and solar roofs the last couple of years. Is this new(er) solar medium worth the hype? Most experts in the industry agree unanimously, NO.
Tesla’s famous roof tiles made their debut in 2016 where they were presented as a non-functional prop at Universal Studios. Since then, many people have gotten attached to the idea of a more aesthetically pleasing look. Unfortunately, our advice to those people is to forgo the hype and install traditional solar modules on their existing roofs for the following reasons:
- Despite misleading prototypes and mock-ups, so far there has not been a company that has successfully constructed a full-scale solar roof. Currently there are solar shingles in production, but they are not designed to replace an existing roof entirely, just a section as traditional modules would.
- Solar shingle installations are more difficult and expensive. Installers must be very meticulous in preventing roof leaks as they integrate the solar shingles with the existing roof shingles. Additional attention and materials must be used to layer water barriers between the roof sheet and the solar shingles. The added labor and level of expertise needed drives up costs significantly.
- The productivity and efficiency of solar shingles has not yet come close to traditional solar modules. On average, the thin-film solar cells from that which solar shingles are made are about 10-12% efficient. Traditional modules, made of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon, average 17-20% efficiency.
- The market for solar shingles is very narrow. Buyers must be building a new home, need a roof replacement, or have the capital to fully replace a functional traditional shingle roof.
- Advertising of solar shingles often states that they are less expensive than replacing your shingles; but this is not entirely truthful. The fine print of this statement typically compares the cost of solar shingles to the sum of replacing your roof several times over many decades.
There is no doubt that solar panels of the future will take different forms and that the technology will change and improve. Research and development from around the globe is producing many different, promising photovoltaic technologies. But, for now, what is readily available on the market, is our installation of choice. For those worried about aesthetics, we offer all black solar panels with black racking. If you ask us, it looks great and functionality is top notch.
Call us at (828) 332-3003 or Click Here for a free quote!
Enphase Energy’s Ensemble
Enphase’s newest and eighth generation microinverter, the IQ8, debuts with a new “grid agnostic” system. Enphase has now officially stepped into the hybrid PV system arena with energy storage under the name Ensemble. With convenient features like smart phone monitoring and virtual assistant integration with Alexa, Enphase is giving homeowners easy control and understanding of their system and its performance.
Ensemble’s AC battery provides you with energy during a grid outage, and continuous solar energy production. Solar production during an outage is crucial to recharge your battery and power loads in the home when the sun is shining. Whether you have an outage lasting hours or days, Enphase’s Ensemble is capable of powering you through.
Ensemble is expected to be released mid 2020 and will be compatible with existing IQ6 and IQ7 systems. If you have an existing installation and are interested in battery backup we’d be happy to provide you a quote.
Here’s an informative video by Enphase introducing Ensemble:
What is a microinverter?
A microinverter is a small inverter that typically connects to only one solar panel. A microinverter solar energy system will have a microinverter placed under, and connected to, each individual solar panel on your roof.
Why use a microinverter?
Microinverters offer several incentives over their string inverter counterparts: Microinverters are great at reducing the impact of shading. Should you have trees or structures casting shadows over your installation area micro’s will minimize the losses. Micro’s also operate completely independent of each other. Each solar panel then has the opportunity to reach peak performance without its neighbors bringing it down. In contrast, string inverters utilize strings of several solar panels all connected in series. When a solar panel in a strings’ performance is low it has the potential to bring down its neighbors with it; reducing the output of the whole string of solar panels.
Why use anything other than a microinverter?
Microinverters are a great option for smaller systems, say less than 10kW, where shading will be an issue and, formally, when battery backup was of no interest. On larger system installations microinverters quickly become more costly to install. There are other options to minimize shading losses, such as optimizers, when utilizing a string inverter for bigger solar energy arrays.
Subsidies in the form of tax credits, rebates, and other incentives for clean energy have been a major contributing factor to the growth of solar installations in recent years. Detractors of renewable energy often use the argument that renewables cannot survive without these subsidies. What these detractors are often not aware of is the staggering amount of fossil fuel subsidies spent both nationally and internationally on the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel subsidies keep the cost of this outdated and dirty energy source affordable to the public.
Recently the International Monetary Fund released a report with some scary findings: China and the United States are the two leading players in the world, spending well over 25% of the global GDP in 2015 on oil, gas, and coal subsidies. In the United States, we spend more money subsidizing fossil fuels than on our entire military defense budget- yes, you read that correctly. We spent over ten times the funds defending outdated fossil fuels than what was approved for education.
Besides the almost unfathomable monetary amount spent, there is also a huge toll on human lives and welfare. Another recent study shows that if fossil fuels would have been fairly priced starting in 2015, carbon emissions worldwide would be reduced by almost 30% and nearly half of human lives lost to air pollution could have been saved.
As a part of the solar and renewable energy industry, we believe government subsidies should be aligned with the welfare of all people and the progression of technology, jobs, and sustainability. The International Monetary Fund determined without fossil fuel subsidies, the global net economic gains would have been more than $1.3 trillion. The findings of these reports are shocking and we hope this information may serve as a wake up call to how important it is that we make the switch to renewable energy.
Anyone who has lived near Asheville, NC for any amount of time has seen how competitive the real estate market has become. There are homes being built and sold every day at a premium. A recent study has shown there is an earth-friendly way to increase the resale value of your home (vs a kitchen or bath remodel) and make it more appealing to buyers amongst the myriad of other listings.
Real Estate Resale Study
A yearlong study by Zillow.com has shown that installing a Solar Energy System on your residence will increase the value by over 4%. In Asheville, the average home sale price is $284,500 which would result in raising the listing price by at least an additional $11,380. Another study by Berkeley Lab and the US Dept. of Energy found home buyers are willing to pay over $15,000 extra for a home with an already installed solar energy system. Both of these amounts are above the net cost for installing an average sized solar energy system, making the homeowner extra cash even before considering net metering savings on electric utility bills.
One of the most common worries we hear from people interested in residential solar is that they may have to sell their home or are unsure if they will move in the next few years. This should make their decision even easier! It truly is a no-brainer to make the switch to use clean and renewable energy, lower utility bills, and make money when it comes time to sell your home.
Going Solar For Less
For those interested in solar financing, SolFarm offers zero down, unsecured, penalty free (pay the loan off whenever you like) solar loans. Combining a solar loan with the Duke Energy rebate, and the Federal ITC (30% until the end of 2019! Drops to 26% January 2020.), can help you go solar for a whole lot less than you may expect. Contact us for your free quote!
Recently, Washington D.C.’s city council voted unanimously to require the district to use 100% renewable energy by 2032. Additionally, all public transport vehicles and privately-owned fleets will be required to be emissions free by 2045. With the threat of climate change becoming more and more prevalent, this fast-tracked plan will hopefully set a precedent across the country. Quite a few cities have already set renewable energy goals, but D.C. has by far the biggest. There are only two statewide policies, in California and Hawaii, of becoming 100% renewable energy dependent. As we see federal regulations becoming more lax, it is inspiring to see so much change at the lower levels of government.
Much of the funding for this initiative will come from large utility companies who will be making payments into the Renewable Energy Development Fund. Some D.C. residents are already paying additional rates for using natural gas and electricity, which have been funding the REDF. Part of the funding will be allocated to low-income residents, as transitioning a home to clean energy can require more of an upfront cost.
With this push for clean energy, we are pleased to see a boom in solar energy. Washington D.C. mandated that at least 10% of its energy be from the sun by 2041. On the other side of the country, California has already implemented a requirement that every new construction build to include solar panels. There have been countless smaller solar subsidies in other areas that have progressed the industry; including North and South Carolina.
Did you know the price of solar energy has dropped 99% since its major debut four decades ago?! A recent analysis by MIT researchers contributes this radical reduction in pricing to not only innovations in technology but also, and mostly, to government policy.
Solar energy, not unlike most technologies, has benefited greatly from the common contributors: research and development, private investment, and growing economy of scale. Researchers found that private investment and R&D only got the technology so far in its early years. It wasn’t until policy began stimulating market growth that solar energy really began to advance. Policy changes included renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs and subsidies. With government invested in the growth of solar energy technology R&D funding followed; this funding accounted for even more reduction in costs.
Now, with a much larger economy of scale, manufacturers had the financial means to push the limits and reach for greater efficiencies from the many pieces of equipment used in solar energy systems. Solar panels themselves continue to become more energy dense; capable of capturing more energy given a smaller surface area. Inverters are nearing 100% efficiency and utility grids are adapting to make better use of distributed energy sources.
With these findings it is easy to see how policy can play a critical role in the progress of technology. Researchers feel that there is still more to come for the solar industry and see potential for continued advancements in the technology and also further reductions in costs.
To read the article in full please follow the link: