Solar Panels | Increase Your Texas Home Value

Solar Panels | Increase Your Texas Home Value

Solar panels will increase your home’s value in Texas.  Solar energy is produced from the sun and is a clean energy source which will also reduce your carbon footprint.  Solar panels take that energy to power your home, but how is that done?  Here is a quick lesson for you:

    • Photovoltaic cells capture the sun’s energy and change it to DC electricity
    • The solar inverter converts DC electricity from the solar panels to AC electricity, which is used by the home appliances
    • Powering electronic devices, electricity flows through a home
    • Excess electricity generated by solar panels is moved to the electric grid
Texas Home Value

Now technology on solar panels systems is always improving and there are many value adds of having solar panels in your home; some of them are described below.

    • Reduce electricity bills – One of the main advantages of having solar panels in your home is the reduction of electricity bills to a minimal, zero or even making money back from the electricity company. It will increase the value of your home to install solar panels on your home.
    • Long term investment – The solar panel installation for homes have become more affordable due to competition. The solar panel system has a long life without having the need for any maintenance. Solar panels can be resold at a reasonable price or can be easily shifted to another place.
    • Property tax – Another main advantage of solar panel system installation for homes, it can increase the value, but the property tax will not increase. With no increase in property taxes, Texas residents can also take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit.
    • Modern technology – Solar panel systems are constantly evolving. Solar panels are considered advanced technology, and people always prefer to have new technology in their homes. So, it will increase the value of the home in which the solar system is installed.

Solar technology is improving rapidly as our ability to capturing the sun’s abundant energy is on the rise while the cost of going solar is dropping quickly. Solar energy is getting more efficient and affordable. However, you will need a good solar panel installation company to install your solar panel system for your home. And if you live in Texas, then Sunshine Renewable Solutions is the best option to have solar for installed in your home in increase the value.

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What is Solar Net Metering?

What is Solar Net Metering?

Solar net metering is a question we get when discussing solar panel installations. When considering solar as a way to power your home, you will inevitably stumble upon the realization that you consume electricity 24 hours a day. At the same time, the sun only shines about half of that time. How can solar provide all the energy your household requires when it only produces during the day? The key to getting around this fact is called ‘net metering.’ Here’s how net metering works in most areas in Texas for a residential solar panel energy system without a battery-backup system.

Solar Net Metering

How Solar Net Metering Works

Residential solar energy systems can peak in production during the morning, midday, or afternoon. These factors all depend on the orientation of the solar panels. For example, if they face predominantly toward the East, they’ll generate the most significant amount of solar energy at some time during the morning. When they peak in production, they’ll produce much more solar energy than can be utilized by the appliances in your house. This surplus energy is sent back to the electric grid, ‘spinning’ your meter in one direction. Conversely, when your AC turns on to keep your home comfortable while you sleep at night—since your solar panel system won’t be producing at that time—that energy is pulled straight from the utility grid, spinning your meter in the opposite direction. At the end of your billing period, what is read by your retail electric provider is the net result of all kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity that flowed through your meter in both directions, hence, net metering.

Solar Net Metering in Texas

Most electric markets in Texas are deregulated, meaning that the utility companies merely maintain the local grid infrastructure and ensure reliable distribution to the areas they serve. Homeowners within these deregulated areas have the freedom to choose whichever retail electric provider (‘REP’) they prefer. This REP will be responsible for setting the billing rate and billing for measured consumption. If your home is in a deregulated market, you’ll be able to switch to a ‘one-to-one’ solar-buyback plan with a REP such as Green Mountain Energy or Reliant Energy. With a 1:1 buyback plan, your account will be credited for each surplus of kWh generated that gets pushed onto the electric grid at the same per-kWh rate that you’re charged for each kWh of electricity that you pull from the grid. For example, if, during one billing period, you consume 1,000 kWh from the grid and contribute 850 kWh to the grid, you’ll effectively only be billed for the net difference of 150 kWh. A useful metaphor is to think of the local electric grid as a giant battery that you’re able to pull from or contribute to at will.

What is Solar Net Metering

Full Offset System Design | Net Metering

A typical approach to residential solar energy design is what we call a full offset system. With a full-offset system in place on your home, you’ll contribute to and pull from the electric grid at varying rates throughout the year, but by the end of a full, 12-month period, the amount contributed will be roughly equivalent to the amount consumed. In other words, the net will be zero. The full offset system setup is an ideal configuration because it effectively reduces a household’s electric bill to $0. Doing so provides the greatest return on investment by offering a complete alternative to paying higher electric rates and hedging against future escalation of those rates.

 

Thanks to net metering in deregulated Texas markets, solar adoption doesn’t mean having to plan out electric consumption to coincide with the day’s high-production times. We’re free to use electricity as we usually would while our solar energy systems do their thing.  Want to learn more about net metering?  Sunshine Renewable Solutions is your Texas solar installation company.  We design solar panel systems with elements like net metering in mind.  Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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Understanding Solar Panel Placement on Your Roof

Understanding Solar Panel Placement on Your Roof

If you’re considering powering your home with solar panels, one common place to install them is on your roof.  Understanding the placement of the solar panels may require online resources such as our blog. Your second step will likely be to request a formal proposal from your local solar installation pro. As a newcomer to solar, some aspects of the proposal you receive may be somewhat perplexing. A very common head-scratcher is the litany of factors that weigh into a system designer’s decision about where to place your panels on your roof. Gaining an understanding of the forces at play will help you to properly evaluate a proposed solar panel system design, as well as grasp a real sense of your home’s solar generation potential.

Understanding Solar Panel Placement on Your Roof: IBC Codes | Roof Mount

Most residences are both connected to the local utility grid and within the jurisdiction of the local municipality. Before any other factors are considered, these authorities must be satisfied. Each will require strict adherence to many standardized codebooks which pertain to aspects of your solar panel system design such as electrical, structural, and fire safety. It’s fire-safety compliance that a system designer must keep top-of-mind when first assessing where to place panels on a rooftop. At the time of this writing, most authority-having jurisdictions (AHJs) in the US adhere to the 2018 version of the International Building Code (IBC), which dictates that unobstructed “paths to the ridge” must be left between the arrays.

Solar Panel Provider for Residence

This allows space for firefighters to easily find access to the highest point of a burning structure to cut vent holes to let the smoke out, as this is the first thing done by firefighters when arriving at a structure fire. The real danger in a structural fire is the buildup of smoke and the lack of oxygen inside of the structure, so this is the firefighter’s highest priority upon arrival on site. Making their already dangerous job more dangerous by requiring them to ascend a roof surface of glass solar panels is not something any of us want, so here’s what is done instead. Solar arrays on two adjoining surfaces of a pitched, residential rooftop will each be set back by at least 18 inches from the two planes’ meeting (typically referred to as either a ‘hip’ or a ‘valley’). Solar arrays on surfaces that end abruptly at the edge of a gabled, or ‘A-frame,’ structure are set back from that edge (commonly referred to as a ‘rake’) by at least 36 inches.

And finally, solar arrays placed on a surface that meets another surface facing the opposite direction, along a horizontal peak (known as a ‘ridge’), will be set back at least 36 inches from that peak. Of course, there are many unique circumstances outlined in the IBC which allow for variations on this theme, but that’s the gist of what is considered at this early part of the process for every residential solar panel design.

Understanding Solar Panel Placement on Your Roof: Solar Irradiance | Roof Mount

Once the boundary lines have been drawn around the usable roof area on your house, it’s all about that thing that solar energy systems turn into electricity—solar irradiance. Solar irradiance is a measure of the amount and intensity of the solar energy that lands on your roof. We call it ‘Total Solar Resource Fraction,’ or TSRF, which varies significantly across most houses. A professional solar energy system designer can model the TSRF on each square inch of your roof. To do this, they will factor in all potential sources of TSRF loss. Proximity to a source of shade, such as a tree or chimney, can factor in heavily. Among other factors considered are the tilt and orientation of each surface. The optimal tilt of a solar panel is a product of the latitude at which it’s installed—the higher the latitude, the higher the tilt. In the northern hemisphere, the optimal orientation of a solar panel is a south-facing position because the Sun appears within our southern sky during most of the day. The opposite goes for the panels installed in the southern hemisphere.

The final panel-placement considerations are rooftop obstructions such as plumbing and attic vents, restrictions placed by a homeowner’s association or historic district, and of course, your preference as a homeowner. By most accounts, solar panels look great on most homes, but their modern, industrial aesthetic may not mesh well with some more-traditional architectural styles. It’s for this reason that the professional installer proposing a solar panel system design for your home will be happy to make considerations for your preferences of yours as a homeowner or that of your neighborhood’s. Some also choose a product such as solar skin to add to the curb appeal

When all of these factors have been accounted for, your system designer will place your panels on the highest-irradiance, remaining portions of your roof which are large enough to accommodate their size. We hope you now have a better understanding of solar panel placements on roofs.  There are other mounting options if the roof mount is not feasible for your project.  You can find more information on mounting options, here.   If you are ready to take the next step and see where solar panels would go on your roof, contact Sunshine Renewable Solutions today.  We offer free solar panel system consultations.

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“How Much Electricity Will Your System Actually Produce?”

How Much Electricity Will Your System Actually Produce?

So, you’ve decided to generate your own clean electricity with solar. Great! You’ve taken the first big step toward doing the right thing for your wallet and our beloved planet. Now, it’s time to make sense of the numbers projected by your solar installer. Does installing a 9 kW solar-energy system mean you’ll be generating 9 kW of electricity? Well, not exactly. The answer to this question begins with a term commonly used in our industry, called ‘system losses.’ 

 

Photovoltaic modules, commonly known as solar panels, generate a direct current (DC) of energy when exposed to sunshine. The amount of electricity a solar panel can generate (in watts, ‘W’) is determined by testing in a laboratory, under strictly controlled Standardized Testing Conditions (STC), meant to represent an ideal production scenario. This laboratory-derived production value is, in essence, the greatest amount of power that a tested panel could be expected to produce on a clear, sunny day, at an ideal operating temperature of 77ºF, and when installed at the ideal tilt and azimuth (N, S, E, W)—with no shading. Obviously, this isn’t what can be expected of a panel once installed on a house in the real world. Typical rooftop residential solar installations consist of panels at non-ideal tilts and azimuths, which are often exposed to at least some shading from nearby trees or structures, and which tend to heat up to a much higher operating temperature than 77ºF when the sun is shining with all its might. All of this means that projections for production of an installed, ‘300-watt’ panel are rarely close to that 300-watt STC nameplate rating. Cumulative DC system losses for an installed residential solar system typically hover around 10%. This means you’re likely to get an average peak production of 280 watts out of a 300 watt panel—then, there are AC system losses. 

How Much Electricity Will Your System Actually Produce? : Part 2

Thanks to Nikola Tesla, electric grids around the world carry alternating current (AC), and our modern electric appliances are designed to receive the same. Alternating current can more safely and effectively be transmitted over the long distances that we need it to travel. This means that your DC electricity generated from sunshine will need to be inverted to AC before it can be either utilized by your appliances or sent to the electric grid for a bill credit. Modern PV inverters reduce overall PV generation by about 4% through the process of inversion from direct current to alternating current.

 

All this amounts to an average total system loss of about 14% for residential solar-energy systems. Let’s take a closer look at our example system size. Let’s say you install 30, ‘300-watt’ panels, for a total ‘DC system size’ of 9 kilowatts (kW). If your PV inverter is sized appropriately for the 9 kW of panels on your roof, it could be expected to produce roughly 7.740 kW during the middle of a sunny day. 

How Much Electricity Will Your System Actually Produce?

With this knowledge, you’re ready to interpret the production values projected by your installer, and you’ll know just what to expect when it comes time to power up your system. Of course, the example figures presented here are averages. Actual production factors can vary greatly from house to house. An experienced professional installation company can help you understand the factors unique to your home and show you very precisely what you should expect to produce from your rooftop solar array(s). If your goal is to offset your household consumption entirely with solar-generated energy, understanding system losses as they factor into your home’s solar-generation potential will inform the DC system size that’s right for you. In addition, the software your installer uses to calculate this number is a big factor. For example, we’ve consistently seen our system installs produce more energy than we projected for our customer. Conversely, we’ve seen competitor estimations that left us scratching our heads. Don’t take their word for it, call a trusted source or do a quick calculation yourself using this blog as a guide. Whether or not you decide to go solar with Sunshine, we are always willing to help!

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On Texas’s Big Blackout and Why It Happened

On Texas's Big Blackout and Why It Happened

More often than not, Texas outages are due to weather physically knocking homes offline by way of fallen trees, high wind speeds, etc. These outages are known as unintentional blackouts. Unintentional blackouts also happen when an issue arises with the power plants generating and distributing our electricity. The least likely culprit is major grid failure due to exceeding our energy production with abnormally high consumption, which we came close to doing during the recent freeze in Texas. ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) oversees this balance to ensure a major failure never occurs. If it were to happen, we could experience weeks without power.

Texas resident without power during Texas's Big Blackout

Rolling blackouts occur when electricity is shut off to specific geographic areas in a scheduled and (ideally) timely manner for short periods to spread the burden across multiple communities. This allows for more stability and allows everyone to cook, boil water, and heat or cool their homes. Internally, it prevents catastrophic grid failure and gives utilities time to generate more electricity as facilities are brought back online.

 

What we experienced last week was a combination of unintentional and rolling blackouts. The unintentional blackout was caused by frozen equipment at natural gas facilities, frozen wind turbines, and other physical, weather-related problems, which resulted in outages exceeding 35 consecutive hours. Once utilities began to come back online and produce energy, rolling blackouts were carried out by utility companies who executed them in 15–45-minute intervals on rotation throughout the community. As you can see, the entire situation was complicated.

 

In Texas, our post-1999 deregulated market, and “wild west” style of energy sales (a decision that both parties supported and the public) does not incentivize electric companies to keep and store energy for a rainy day. Also, utilities are not allowed to store energy with batteries. While ERCOT does require that a certain amount of energy be stored, the technology and equipment used to do so are antiquated and barely operable. So, we can presume those were not available in this freezing weather.

Showing the benefits of having a solar Benefits of having a solar panel battery backup for hurricane season
Battery Backup Powering Home During Blackout

On Texas's Big Blackout and Why It Happened : Continued

For a bit more historical insight, in the 1930s, Texas decided to have an independent power grid separate from the rest of the US to avoid federal regulations and protect free-market energy sales. This means that we cannot pull electricity from neighboring states when in need, or it will be regulated. Oddly, there are a few exceptions to this as we have three ties to Mexico and one tie to Oklahoma, which do not require federal regulation.  These were used during the freeze of 2011. So, why were they not used this time? I do not know. Why did we not learn from the 2011 event? Because private business is for profit, and if preparing for a once-a-decade weather event means cutting into that already thin margin, you can bet it’s not going to happen. As continues to be the case, lives must be lost for precautions to be taken. In this case, people from all socioeconomic backgrounds were affected, so you can expect change to come a bit faster than usual.

 

So, what’s the solution? Several governmental and regulatory changes need to be made and will come in time. In the meantime, a generator will do the trick if you have the means to purchase and reliable access to gas (which was scarce this time around). The best solution I know of that guarantees energy independence is a combination of solar and battery backup. It only requires the sun to operate, and Texas has plenty. Besides, these systems can be financed for close to what you’re already paying monthly in energy bills, and they will never increase. The utilities hold the reigns as long as they produce the energy, but those days are numbered, and Texas is ready to progress. 

 

Ready to gain control of your energy needs?  Sunshine Renewable Solutions offers a free solar estimate.  What are you waiting for, another freeze?  Contact us today

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