With energy costs seemingly always on the rise, now may be the right time for your business to convert to solar energy. Of course, there are some things you’ll want to think over to ensure you make decisions that are right for your company. Here are some questions to consider before pulling the plug on traditional electricity.
Do You Know How Solar Energy Powers Businesses?
Simply put, solar power systems capture the energy of the sun and turn it into electricity. Solar panels are made up of cells that absorb energy from the sun in order to produce direct current electricity, which is then processed through an inverter to provide the alternating current electricity used by homes and businesses. Interestingly, neither direct sunlight nor heat are required for energy generation, as it is the photons in daylight itself that produce electricity. Even in cloudy weather energy can still be generated by solar panels.
With a solar energy system, you are still connected to your local electricity grid. However, how little or how much energy you pull from your municipal system will depend on what your panels generate and how much of that solar power your business uses. The electricity that is produced by solar panels can flow directly to lights, office equipment, appliances or any other energy-consuming devices, or it can be stored for future use. By adding a solar panel battery system, you can help ensure that you will have access to electricity even when your usage is heavier than normal or the traditional power grid is down.
Can Your Business Afford the Cost?
While the expenses associated with installing a solar energy system are dependent on the needs of your business, making the switch to solar can be a wise investment for many companies. Although installing solar panels may have been very expensive when the technology was new, in recent years installation costs have dropped significantly. Even if you have explored the idea of converting to solar in the past it may be worth revisiting. Once you commit to installing a solar system you won’t have to wait months to begin seeing the payoff; your energy expenditures are likely to decrease on day one. According to Energy Sage, the average commercial property owner can expect to see an 89% reduction in energy costs.
There is also a federal income tax credit available for adding solar panels to your business, and some states and municipalities offer additional incentives to convert. Professional installers frequently advertise discounts, rebates, affordable financing or other terms that can also offset the cost of your initial investment. Leasing can be an option as well; many lease agreements also include maintenance programs that may save you money in the long term. Additionally, it’s possible in some regions to sell back any excess energy your system produces to the municipal grid, which can further reduce your utility bills. It is not inconceivable to pay nothing at all for the electricity your business consumes.
Is Your Building Suitable for Solar Panels?
Fortunately, most roofing materials used in modern commercial buildings are compatible with solar panels. Whether your roof is metal seam, asphalt, rubber or polyvinyl, it is likely to be appropriate for panel installation. That being said, you will want to check that your roof is in good repair before committing to the installation. Most panels have a lifespan of upwards of 25 years, so you want to be sure your roof won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. A trusted solar panel expert can inspect your roof to determine its suitability. Sometimes minor repairs are recommended in order to add years of usability to your roof.
You’ll also want to be mindful of the direction in which the roof faces. While true south is considered the ideal orientation for solar panels, with well-designed framework and other devices your panels can generate significant energy from almost any position. Even if your roof’s orientation and condition aren’t the best, you may still have the option to mount panels nearby on the ground or on another building such as a garage or parking structure. Again, turn to an expert for guidance on whether installation on your building’s roof, or elsewhere, is the best choice.
There are many things to consider before making the decision to move your business off the traditional electricity grid. After understanding how solar power works, then evaluating cost concerns and the suitability of your location, you may find that now is the right time for your company to go solar.