4 Considerations When Installing Solar Panels for a Commercial Building
As global support for sustainability and energy efficiency grows by the day, more and more commercial establishments are looking into energy sources that are better for the planet. Out of all the different sustainable energy options, commercial building owners can turn to, the one that’s being favored by many is solar energy.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, American solar power can offset as much as 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. To put that into perspective, that’s like planting over 1.2 billion trees. Moreover, solar panels are relatively easy to install and regular ones can already generate a lot of energy. A common-sized solar panel array, which usually takes up around 400 sq. ft. of space, is capable of producing around 350-850 kWh of AC energy per month. If the average electricity rate is $0.30 to $.50 per kWh, an array like this can already cut a commercial building’s electricity cost by around $105 to $425 per month.
So if you looking to install solar panels onto your commercial building and reap the benefits described above, then here are some of the things you need to know before proceeding with your plan:
The Types of Solar Panels
Solar panels can be categorized into three major types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels both have photovoltaic or photoelectric cells made of silicon wafers. The two differ based on the composition of the silicon itself.
While the silicon on monocrystalline solar panels is cut from a single, pure crystal of silicon, those that can be found in polycrystalline ones are made of silicon crystal fragments melted together in a mold. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are both incredibly efficient, but they require a lot of space and are significantly more expensive than thin-film ones.
Unlike the two aforementioned types, thin-film solar panels are composed of various materials. They can be made from cadmium telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon (a-Si), or a combination of copper, indium, gallium, and selenide (CIGS). Despite their low energy output, thin-film solar panels are still preferred by many because of how portable, flexible, lightweight, and aesthetically pleasing they can be.
While naturally heat-resistant, panels like these are still covered with a glass layer to protect the sensitive parts of the circuit board, which is where the panel’s important data structures are stored. A broken thin-film circuit board is not easily repaired because of the complexity involved in its development process, so make sure to double-check its components and see to it that they are in perfect working condition.
Your Current Electricity Charges
Now that you are familiar with the different types of solar panels out there, the next thing you have to have a deeper understanding of is your current electricity charges. This simple tip will help you get a better idea of just how many arrays of solar panels you will really need to, say, make your building completely reliant on solar energy.
Knowing your current electricity charges will also help you undertake as many energy-conservation measures before having your solar panels installed. Practices like this not only maximize your building’s energy efficiency and reduce overall electricity demand, but also aid in realizing the full potential of a solar power system.
The Cost of Having a Solar Power System
A solar power system is such a big investment. The cost per watt is normally around $10 to $12, and typically, small and midsize commercial buildings use an average of 15 kWh of electricity per sq. ft. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can make the cost of a solar power system more manageable. For instance, you can plan just how many panels you will buy at a time. You can also make full use of the incentives the government offers to establishments that would like to install solar electricity.
The Firm to Perform the Installation
Despite the number of articles and videos detailing how to install a solar panel yourself, it is recommended that you get them installed by professionals. Hooking all the panels up and running the wires can be a pretty complex job, especially if there are fire and safety codes to be considered. So hiring a professional will help ensure that the installation, in no way, cause damages to your building, and can last you for years to come.