As a customer, student or future employee of solar, the first bit of information that everyone wants to know is what questions do I ask so I can understand solar.
Here are some suggestions and it will teach you about how much solar cost, how it works and what it can do for you.
The first question to ask yourself is how much power do I use?
Power is measured and billed by the kWh, kilowatt hour. 1 kWh is equal to 1000 watts. So, if I burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours, that is 1000 watts or 1 kWh.
Next, how much does your power company charge per kWh?
The average price per kWh across the US is about 14 cents per kWh. Your power bill should show a factor or price somewhere. If not, you can inquire by calling your power company or check online.
Then we want to know how much power can we expect from a solar array?
If we build 1000 watts worth of panels, four 250 watt panels or any other configuration, we can expect anywhere from 110 to 170 kWh of power each month, depending on the location and design of the system. 1000 watts worth of panels is equal to a 1 kW system.
How do I know if I’m a good candidate for solar? First, we usually recommend that you look up your location on google earth or google maps. The bottom of the screen is directly south. That general area is where we need to be facing. Southeast and southwest can work as well but that gives you an idea of what a solar system designer is looking for. Then take a look where you may want the solar panels and see how much shade you have on the proposed area. A solar integrator will go into much greater detail but this will give you a good idea.
How do you calculate the ROI or return on your investment? A proposal will usually calculate many variable averages that will give you the most comprehensive information. Here are some of the variables that a professional proposal will calculate. The current rate of energy, the minimum expected rate of power increase annually, power production of the solar panels in the projected design configuration, all state and federal incentives, utility rebates and incentives and the performance of money invested in the system.
The simple way to understand how the system works for you is to understand today’s cost of energy against the futures price.
To learn about the cost of solar panels please see our Cost And Incentives page.