Commercial Solar Power: At What Point Is It Worth It?
You’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of rooftop solar panel systems, but did you know that many companies are also installing solar panels? It’s true! In fact, commercial solar installations are often significantly more effective at generating vast amounts of renewable energy thanks to their wide, flat roofs. Read on to learn more about commercial solar power and at what point it’s worth it.
How Commercial Solar Differs From Residential
The largest difference between commercial and residential solar panel systems is the scope. Since a single home requires far less energy than a commercial building, homeowners can get away with smaller systems.
Additionally, while most residential solar panel owners keep their systems on the roof, commercial systems don’t share the same limitation. While the roof is usually the first place that installers think to put solar panels, commercial buildings often have carports or lots with excess space for solar panels.
Depending on your operation, you may even use a “power tower,” which is an array of mirrors designed to FOCUS rays onto your solar panels for better energy production.
The angle of the roof also restricts residential solar owners. While it’s ideal to set up your solar panels so that they face south, you can’t do anything to change your home’s orientation. Commercial buildings typically have flat roofs, which means installers can easily orient solar panels to be in an optimal position.
Finally, a commercial solar installation typically allows you to opt for the most efficient solar panels. Residential installations are often curtailed by the high cost of the initial investment, while commercial installations generally seek to find the quickest return on investment.
efficient panels allow you to make back your money quickly, since you need less space, fewer materials, and less planning. On top of that, the most efficient systems also tend to last the longest.
Commercial Solar Costs
Since commercial applications require far more solar panels to create a viable renewable energy source, the initial investment cost is also higher. While no two businesses are the same, you can expect a commercial system for a small organization to cost around 50,000. If you have a large industrial facility, your system may end up costing closer to 1 million.
While that number may seem high, remember that the speed of recouping your investment goes up as the scale of your system increases.
Additionally, remember that tax credits, rebates, and government incentives exist for businesses just as they do for residential systems. For example, the federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of the system.
Benefits of Commercial Solar
If you’re familiar with the benefits of solar panels for residential settings, you also know how incredible solar power can be for commercial applications. The only difference is that the scale of the benefits is much larger.
Average residential energy production with solar panels is between five and 10 kW, while many commercial solar panel systems can easily produce 50kW—your business may produce 10 times more energy than a residential system!
If your business is committed to sustainability, installing solar panels is an effective way of showing it. Conventional energy generation emits hundreds (and sometimes thousands, depending on the size of your business) of metric tons of carbon dioxide. The 50-kW system we mentioned before can produce about 65,000 kWh of clean energy every year.
Consumers consistently choose to support companies that communicate eco-friendliness as one of their core tenets, so solar energy gives you the opportunity to present a concrete way that your business is helping fight climate change.
You know better than most that energy costs are among the most expensive aspects of running a business. Energy Star estimates that America’s small businesses spend over 60 billion on electricity every year, and those costs are not projected to go down in time.
Solar panel systems give you the opportunity to offset your energy costs predictably with fixed rates. Since most solar panels last around 25 years, you can reliably budget energy costs for the next few decades. After a few years of savings, you’ll pay off the initial investment and you can reinvest all that money into your organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you pull the trigger and call us about commercial solar installation, check out these frequently asked questions to put your mind at ease.
What Value Do Solar Panels Give?
Solar panels are an invaluable asset for any business. They can help you offset huge chunks (if not all) of your energy costs while fostering an image of sustainability for your company. With all the governmental incentives to get into solar power, there’s no better time than now to make the investment for your company.
How Many Panels Will You Need?
Your solar panel needs will vary greatly from other businesses. There are a few ways to calculate the number of solar panels you will need. You may need to maximize space with fewer high-efficiency panels, or you may have all the space in the world and want to opt for less expensive options. Usually, businesses purchase only the panels they need to offset their energy costs—to determine this magic number, you should reach out to a local solar installer and get a proposal.
Can You Use Them in Industrial and Commercial Applications?
Of course! Most of the time, commercial and industrial applications are more valuable than residential panels. As the scale of your system increases, the price-per-watt decreases, which means you get more bang for your buck. Since commercial and industrial applications don’t preclude you from net metering, solar tax credits, and other deductions, it’s a great investment.
How Long Is the Installation Process?
The installation process is typically longer for commercial applications than residential systems. Depending on the size you’re hoping for, installation can take weeks or months to complete. The easiest way to learn how long your installation will take is to contact an installer and get a quote.
Now that you know more about commercial solar power and when it’s worth it, reach out to us to get a solar quote today. You’ll never believe how much money you can save with this incredible process!
Stop Paying For Electricity. Own It!
Once you decide to get solar, we take care of it from start to finish. We will provide the design, permitting, equipment, installation, interconnection, monitoring, and service after the installation. We want everyone to go solar and we truly believe that we and our clients can all win in the process.
Commercial Solar Energy
SunFarm Energy’s turnkey, customized commercial solar power systems allow our clients to enjoy the benefits of solar without any of the hassle. We offer a wide array of products for commercial and large-scale projects including ground mounts, car port canopies, and rooftop arrays. Check out some of our commercial project highlights.
Take advantage of a 30% Federal Tax Credit, special state and county incentives, accelerated amortization, and let all of your customers know that you are running a “green” business! Give us a call today at (850) 472-0341.
Commercial Solar Incentives
Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
The federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows businesses to receive a 26% Federal Tax Credit for the gross cost of their Solar System.
Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS)
Under the federal Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS), businesses may recover investments in certain property through depreciation deductions.
The MACRS establishes a set of class lives for various types of property, ranging from three to 50 years, over which the property may be depreciated.
All SunFarm Energy installations are backed by a 30-year comprehensive, third-party, industry-leading warranty. Find peace of mind knowing your system is protected for generations and backed by an A-rated insurance company with specific experience in the solar industry.
- Complete System Protection: Coverage on system components including panels, inverters, optimizers, and racking.
- Parts Labor: No hidden fees or surprise labor expenses.
- Transferable Ownership: Easily transfer from homeowner to homeowner with no fee.
- Roof Penetrations: With an included workmanship warranty, you’re protected from any costly penetrations from the environment.
Financing for Commercial Solar Projects
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is funding available to qualified property owners to make energy efficiency, renewable generation, and wind mitigation improvements and repairs. The funding is repaid through an assessment included on the annual property tax bill.
Businesses often face capital budgets constraints that force owners to choose between capital improvements. Using PACE financing enables business to take advantage of fixed rates and longer terms that allow capital costs to be annually and significantly reduced by savings associated with energy efficiency, renewables and wind resistance improvements.
In addition, PACE financing is an off-balance sheet transaction that maintains your company’s cash position while allowing capital projects to be advanced immediately.
Commercial Solar Panel Installation
Installing solar panels offers commercial property owners the opportunity to power their businesses while reducing the amount spent on utility bills. Additionally, solar panels are an effective way to make businesses more eco-friendly. What’s more is that solar panels have dipped in cost over the years, making them incredibly affordable when combined with tax incentives.
At Lippolis Electric, we offer high-quality commercial solar panel services to help your New York business thrive. Lippolis Electric is an electrical contracting company with over 37 years of experience and Solar Energy International certification. Serving Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, we’re dedicated to providing professional solar solutions for you and your business.
If you’re curious about how solar panels could work for your commercial property, continue reading to learn more about solar and why Lippolis Electric is one of the best commercial solar installation companies in New York and surrounding areas.
Brief History of Solar Energy
The big push for solar energy in the United States started in the early 1970s, primarily due to the energy crisis that was happening in the U.S. at that time. The government saw great potential in the energy source and started passing pro-solar power legislation. Specific federal agencies were tasked with research and development, which led to incredible gains in solar technology. By the 1980s, there were functioning solar-powered cars and aircraft.
From the 1970s through the 1990s, solar manufacturers prioritized making solar cells smaller and less expensive, therefore more accessible to the masses. As progress continued, developers were building more and more solar power plants. In the 1990s, the first grid-supported solar PV system was made, marking the beginning of solar power becoming a mainstream power source.
In 2005, the U.S. passed the Energy Policy Act, which established a 30% investment tax credit to residential and commercial buildings using solar energy systems. Since then, the constant evolution has caused the cost of solar energy to decrease significantly, allowing Americans to invest in the energy source on an even greater scale.
Today, this sustainable energy source has taken the nation by storm. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that as of 2019, there are more than 2 million solar panel installations in the U.S. This success isn’t limited to the U.S., either — solar power is a popular energy source worldwide. Did you know that the Eiffel Tower runs on a combination of solar power and wind turbines?
Since its origins, continuous technological advancements have made solar energy accessible to both residential and commercial spaces on a wide scale.
Benefits of Switching to Solar for Your Business
It’s a reasonable assumption that only big corporations have the capability to utilize solar energy in their business operations. However, with specific solar energy advancements, it’s no longer restricted to businesses of a certain size — companies of all kinds can stand to benefit from switching to solar power.
The benefits of solar energy for businesses include the following:
- Increases sustainability: Thanks to solar energy, your company can use fewer fossil fuels, reduce pollution and diminish its carbon footprint. As a result, your business will be doing its part to help fight climate change, all while you improve your brand image by making the switch to more eco-friendly operations.
- Low operating costs: Using a solar power system can reduce or eliminate electric bill costs. Most businesses find that the cost to install their solar systems is minuscule compared to the amount saved during the system’s lifespan, generating a high return on investment. Ultimately, electricity bills become more affordable and are easier to predict, as you no longer have to worry about wildly fluctuating energy expenses.
- Higher property value: Adding solar panels can increase your property value significantly, especially as interest in renewable energy continues to grow.
- Reduces maintenance: The solar cells in a solar power panel are safely enclosed in tempered, protective glass and framed with non-corrosive aluminum. Due to this arrangement, and the fact that solar panels are built to be exposed to all conditions, they can typically withstand harsh weather without any wear and tear.
- Offers tax benefits: With concern about the environment rising and becoming more of a national priority, local, state and federal governments support those moving towards a clean energy source. In New York, you may be eligible for certain tax credits or rebates. Another commercial solar incentive you receive for moving your business to solar power is accelerated depreciation. Normally, equipment depreciation tax deductions are spread over the entirety of the object’s lifespan. With the Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System, you can write off your total solar system in the first year, improving your cash flow.
Solar Solutions From Lippolis Electric
Lippolis Electric can help your business go solar with ease. While transitioning to solar energy may seem like a big shift, we’re here to support you the entire way through. Outside of aiding in the switch from traditional power wiring to the wiring necessary for solar panels, our experienced professionals can work closely with management to execute planning, budgets and site work.
Below, you’ll find four types of solar panel installations you can consider for your business.
Types of Solar Solutions
There are four primary solar installation methods we offer, including:
- Ground Mount Systems: These solar systems are solar panels mounted to the ground of your property. For the system to be secured, a foundation — usually made on concrete — must be built. This is an additional step in the installation process that offers an extra level of convenience, as it makes the panels simple to keep clean. These systems are ideal for commercial buildings with a roof facing the opposite path of direct sunlight.
- Roof Mount Systems: With this method, solar racking is installed to hold the panels in place directly on top of the roof. The benefit of roof mount systems is that you don’t have to use land that could be used for other operations. Points to consider before deciding to install a roof mount system are the age and condition of your roof, as your roof must be in good shape to provide the solar panel system with a secure foundation.
- Canopy Mount Systems: This type of system is an alternative to rooftop solar panels. It involves elevated outdoor structures that host solar panels while providing shade. The solar panels can be orientated to generate the maximum electricity, making them the ideal choice for businesses with significant electricity needs. Typically, canopy mount systems are located in parking lots and other paved areas.
- Pole Mount Systems: This option allows the solar panels to be slightly more off the ground than a standard ground mount system. With pole mount systems, you can install as many solar panels as you want, as long as you have the outdoor space for them. These solar systems are ideal for businesses with high energy requirements and a considerable amount of unused land.
Contact Us About Installing Commercial Solar Panels for Your New York Business
Are you interested in receiving the benefits that come with operating on solar energy? Lippolis Electric can help. Contact our experts to learn more about how your business can transition to solar energy.
What to Know About the Commercial Solar Installation Process
Making the decision to add solar to your business is a wise financial choice. After all, when you lower your electricity bills and reduce your carbon footprint by making your own clean electricity, the financial rewards and positive environmental impact are felt for decades. You’ll also be joining the ranks of successful companies, like Amazon, Apple, and Walmart, and Microsoft, who’ve made the switch to solar, along with helping make your business more attractive for current and future employees.
To help ease the transition, there are limited-time tax benefits that can make going solar more affordable for your organization. The 30% federal investment tax credit is one of the most lucrative benefits. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the solar tax credit was reinstated to its previous 30% and extended through the year 2032. The Act also introduced additional savings depending on what materials you use and where you choose to install your commercial solar project. We recommend speaking to a qualified commercial solar installer to learn more about the tax incentives available to your organization.
Once you’ve decided to add a commercial solar energy system to your business, it’s natural to want the process to be done as quickly as possible so that you can start reaping the numerous benefits right away. The process of going solar, however, can vary in time depending on the type and size of the system you’re installing, as well as the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which you operate. But no matter what solar path you choose to go down, there are five basic steps that most commercial solar projects follow. Let’s take a brief look at each.
All commercial solar projects have this as their first step. The building blocks of the solar design and installation plans are based on this initial site evaluation. This step includes:
- Legal reviews to ensure you have the right to build a solar energy system on the property.
- Determining where and how your solar energy system will connect to the grid.
- Evaluation of the property including shade analysis, structural evaluations, and topographical and geological surveys.
Once the site evaluation is complete, the system design phase formalizes the plans for the solar installation. You will receive a design drawing that outlines how the panels will be arranged to capture the maximum sunlight, as well as the construction details. Depending on your preferences and requirements, the design may include rooftop-mounted, ground-mounted, or solar carports.
The process of construction can vary depending on your project type and system size. Smaller rooftop systems can be as quick as 2-3 weeks, whereas larger and more complex systems can take up to several months. While well-thought-out plans have minimal disruption to normal operations, you’ll still want to prepare for things like alternate parking spots and temporary power shutdowns, depending on the nature of your business and the size of the system. Most experienced solar installers have clever workarounds that will help to minimize disruptions to your normal operations. Picking a reputable and experienced installer is critical in this regard.
Commissioning is the next and final step once construction is complete. This is when your solar provider confirms that your solar installation was built according to plan, and the utility grants you permission to connect and operate your solar energy system with the local power grid. Congratulations, you’re now producing your own clean energy!
System Operation and Maintenance (OM)
As with anything, proper care and maintenance will give your solar energy system a longer lifespan, as well as ensure maximum efficiency and power generation throughout its lifespan. Your contract should specify your organization’s level of involvement in OM. Be sure to select a solar design and installation team with proven OM resources and a reputation for excellence in long-term support. The best OM packages generally include basic annual inspections and warranty repair, performance monitoring, and even routine cleanings in some instances.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot that goes into the commercial solar installation process. If you’re hoping to reap some of the lucrative tax benefits, time is of the essence! With an unprecedented demand for solar, installer’s schedules are already filling up for this year, so we recommend getting your project started as soon as possible to claim this benefit on your business taxes.
If you’re interested in learning how solar can help your business and about the substantial tax benefits you can claim, we invite you to start your solar project today by scheduling a consultation with a member of our commercial solar team.