When is the best time to go solar? (Not summer)
Summer is the busiest season for any solar company out there. Despite this, summer may not actually be the best time to go solar. Summer is the best time to HAVE solar, but solar takes a while to design, get permits for, and install. To be ready to produce power in Summer, Winter and early Spring are actually the best times to buy and install solar.
There are three forces that we need to understand:
The longer days allow panels more time to absorb light. This results in more power production. Installations can take anywhere from 2-6 months. To be ready to run by summer you want to start your installation in winter or spring.
Time to let go of the old solar controllerEasy Upgrade GoPower Lithium AND Bluetooth GP-PWM-30-UL
Finally, net metering is the process that allows home and business owners to take excess solar power production and bank it up in the form of credits.These credits will cover you in the winter when production isn’t as high. We’ll go into each of these areas in more detail to make sense of it all.
Peak Sun Hours
Peak sun hours (PSH) is a measure used to evaluate the potential of a particular location for solar energy production. It represents the number of hours per day when sunlight is strong enough to generate maximum power output from a solar panel.
The peak sun hours concept takes into account several factors that affect the amount of solar radiation received by a solar panel. These factors include the angle of the sun’s rays, the atmospheric conditions that affect the scattering and absorption of light, and the position and orientation of the solar panel.
The number of peak sun hours at a particular location depends on several factors, including the latitude, altitude, and the time of year. For instance, areas close to the equator generally receive more peak sun hours per day than regions at higher latitudes.
Similarly, regions with high elevations tend to receive more peak sun hours due to the lower atmospheric attenuation at higher altitudes.
In the context of solar energy production, peak sun hours are critical because they help determine the amount of energy that a solar panel can produce.
For instance, a solar panel with a rated power output of 100 watts can generate 100 watt-hours of energy during one peak sun hour. However, the same panel may only produce 50 watt-hours during an hour of low sun intensity.
To calculate the peak sun hours for a particular location, our solar engineers use mathematical models that take into account various factors such as latitude, atmospheric conditions, and solar panel orientation.
The resulting values are used to determine the size and capacity of solar panel systems needed to meet a particular energy demand.
Seasonality of Peak Sun Hours
In the mountain west region of the United States, which includes states like Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, the length of peak sun hours varies throughout the year due to the region’s latitude and seasonal changes.
During the summer months, the days are longer, and the sun is up for more hours, providing more opportunities for solar panels to produce energy.
Conversely, in the winter months, the days are shorter, and the sun is up for fewer hours, leading to less energy production.
Another factor that affects solar panel production in the mountain west is the region’s weather patterns. Although the area is known for its sunny weather, it can experience cloudy days, especially during the winter months, which can reduce the amount of energy that solar panels produce.
Additionally, snow cover can reduce energy production by reflecting sunlight away from solar panels.
To optimize solar panel production in the mountain west, we consider peak sun hours and weather patterns. Solar panel installations should be positioned to maximize exposure to the sun during the day, and the system’s capacity should be designed to accommodate seasonal variations in daylight hours.
Regular maintenance, such as snow removal from panels, can also help ensure maximum energy production throughout the year.
The process of getting solar up on your roof is pretty quick. 95% of our jobs are done in 1-2 days. Virtually all of our jobs are done in a week or less. That’s not counting all of the paperwork, utility companies, and government agencies though.
Before we get into that, let’s go through the 7 steps of going solar.
- Site Survey – We get custom measurements of your home and electrical usage
- Plans Design – We use that information to make a tailored system design
- Permitting – We file with the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) or HOAs to get you approvals for solar
- Installation – 1-2 days, we set up panels, the inverter and/or batteries
- Inspections – The utility company and sometimes others make sure we did a good job
- Meter Swap – The utility company swaps out your old meter
- System Turn On Monitoring – We get the green light, and you just flip it on!
As you can see, there are many steps in the process. We can get through 1, 2 4 pretty quickly. The slowdown comes when we have to wait on AHJs, or other third parties for permits and other approvals.
In the winter time there’s less requests making this time of year when installs can be done more quickly.
The whole process can be anywhere from 2 months to 6 months long. This means that if you go solar in spring you’ll be up and running in the summer. If you solar in summer, the installation timeline will eat into those good production months.
The good news is that regardless of when you start, within a year the credit situation will balance out. If you’re wanting immediate production in the summer then get started before summer. Otherwise, it will balance out over time.
If you want to learn more about the solar process you can check out our 7 Steps of Solar article!
Net metering is a beneficial system that allows customers who have excess power generated by solar panels to be transferred back into the public grid and bought by utility companies. Although the price set for excess energy varies from utility company to utility company, each rate is some percentage of the amount that customers would have paid for power.
This credit can then be used to offset the cost of electricity that the homeowner draws from the grid when their solar panels are not producing enough electricity to meet their needs.
It can significantly reduce their electricity bills and increase the return on investment for their solar panels.
By selling excess electricity back to the grid, homeowners can earn credits that can offset the cost of their electricity bills, which can be especially beneficial during periods of high electricity consumption or when the price of electricity is high.
For net metering to work, a person must be producing an excess of power over the amount of power that they consume. This excess is virtually stored with the utility company and can then be redeemed in the winter.
If you go solar in summer, your system may finally be up and running in the winter. The winter season has less Peak Sun Hours leaving customers with less opportunities to store up energy credits.
If this does happen, it’s not a big deal as the upcoming summer will allow homeowners with a properly designed system to bank up enough credits to last through the next winter.
Materials you could use
Always be careful when using scissors!
This activity is all about how to create your own solar powered oven.
Carefully cut out a square in the lid but leave one side attached to the box to create a liftable flap.
Cut a black square of paper or card and stick it to the silver lining on the inside of your box, directly underneath the flap.
Cover the window in the lid with the cling film. You now have a completed solar smore oven! Place your biscuits and chocolate and marshmallows inside the oven, close the lid and then prop open the flap with the stick. Make sure you place the oven in a sunny spot!
How does it work?
The solar oven collects the sun’s heat energy.
The shiny flap in the lid reflects the heat into the box. The plastic window then acts as a greenhouse roof, trapping the heat inside. Alongside this, the black card absorbs the heat to help heat the food from the bottom!
The heat captured inside the solar oven melts the chocolate squares and warms the biscuits!
Step 2: What You’ll Need
After rummaging around my house, this is what I used to build a cooker:
- Poster board
- Foam board
- Tin foil
- Plastic wrap (optional)
- two blocks (can be anything.shoes, wood.rolls of tape)
- Various cutting supplies
- Packing tape, and scotch tape.
- The attached stencil
- A nice sunny day.
Step 3: Cut Some Shapes!
First, assemble the stencil. There are instructions in the zip file on doing this, but it’s pretty self explanatory. Then, trace it on to the foam board twice. Cut those out.
Now you need to cut a rectangle from the poster board. The short side of a standard piece of poster board is just the right length to wrap around the parabola. It should be about a foot wide.
Go Solar Before April 2023. EVERYTHING Is Changing!
Next, wrap one side of each cut out piece with the shiny side of tin foil. Make sure not to wrinkle the tin foil. Some other suggestions for what to wrap with (provided by other members) are:
Plastic mirrorThe material that chip bags are made of (use the inside, reflective side)
Draw a dot onto the foam board through the stencil where the point of FOCUS is. then poke a hole through that dot.
Step 4: A Bit of Assembly
Assemble the parts so it resembles a trough.with the foil on the inside. Tape along edges to keep everything together.
The two blocks are for keeping the cooker at the right angle. You put one on either side of the curve, and adjust everything to be just right. What is just right? That’s what we’re about to find out.
Tape two squares of scrap foam board onto the cooker. Using something sharp, poke a hole through the first one, and about halfway into the other. (while they’re stacked on top of each other) Tape the one with a hole all the way through it to the top, middle of the cooker, and the other to the bottom middle. they should be right above one another. Now, when you put the cooker out in the sun, there will be a shadow, with a dot on the ground. You just need to align the dot with the hole on the other square, and you will know that it’s all good to cook!
Note: It’s helpful to tape a small piece of board over the whole on this side. You need the hole for the skewer to rest on, but you don’t want it to stick out and obstruct your alignment dot. Not necessary, but helpful.
Step 6: Cooking
Woo, it’s time to cook your hot dog! Stick the dog on the skewer, and put it through the holes in the cooker. I like to cover the top of it with plastic wrap, so no bugs bother it. Now, use the blocks to align the cooker, and leave it to cook. Every few minutes, go out and re align it (the sun does move). Once the hot dog is finished, take it out, and enjoy!
Yes, it does work, and no, it doesn’t take an hour to cook. Sure, it takes a bit longer than a grill, but I would suggest that when you try it, after a few minutes, touch the hot dog. You’ll see just how hot it gets.
Side note. If you wanted to, you could make a parabolic trough frame out of knex, and then line the inside with something reflective.
Let me know if there are any problems.
What kind of service and maintenance do solar panels need?
Regular service and maintenance is essential to keeping your solar energy system operating correctly, safely, and efficiently. Optimum performance lets you enjoy maximum savings on your energy bills, and a well-mainted system can last for decades.
One of the main service and maintenance requirements for solar panels is to keep them clean. Dust and debris can accumulate on the surface of the solar panels, which can compromise the whole system’s performance. Additionally, water seepage and extreme weather like hail storms and excessive heat can cause system damage or production degradation.
The following is a list of some of the service and maintenance tasks that a solar service specialist might perform:
- Cleaning the panels and ensuring they are free of defects
- Inspecting parts for corrosion and deterioration
- Removing dust and debris from vents
- Confirming all electrical components are functioning properly
- Checking the wiring and switches for defects
- Ensuring that fittings and cables are secure
- Clearing the access to isolator switches
- Reviewing inverter data for any recorded faults
- Ensuring that emergency procedures are visible and legible
Pro Tip: Keep all the paperwork from your original solar installer, since the product warranty might cover some issues, but you’ll need to know who manufactured the equipment, when it was purchased, and other details that your paperwork should contain. In addition, keep in mind that many warranties require you to keep your solar equipment in good working order, so a service plan like Palmetto Protect is an easy way to show that you’ve stayed current with any maintenance and support needs.
Does every solar company offer service?
If you want to install new solar equipment on your home, it’s easy to find multiple installers that are ready to do that work. Unfortunately, locating a company that can diagnose and repair solar equipment is not as easy. Only about 0.1% of all solar companies FOCUS on service, so it can be difficult to know who you can trust to get your solar equipment working properly in a safe and efficient manner.
The shortage of qualified solar maintenance technicians is because many companies don’t want to invest in training people to do service. It’s easier to train people to install new solar equipment, compared to learning the details of a wide range of older equipment types and manufacturers, some of which may have gone out of business since the equipment was first installed.
For a high-performance solar energy system that serves you reliably throughout the year, partner with a full-service provider. Palmetto is proud to be one of the top five solar service companies in the United States, and we’re trained and equipped to deal with any issues that your photovoltaic power system might have.
What if I want to upgrade my solar power system?
The good news is, even if your solar company goes out of business, it’s usually still possible to upgrade your solar equipment or add additional solar panels. This work doesn’t have to be done by the original installer, but it is good to find a company that’s experienced with working on a wide range of solar equipment types, since they’ll know what equipment can be made to work together.
Keep in mind, most solar companies do have a minimum number of panels that can be installed, but they don’t specify a maximum limit. The minimum number helps ensure that the installation makes economic sense, but it might not take into account the future growth of your family and your long-term energy needs. Also, unplanned additions like the purchase of an electric vehicle might mean it’s time to upgrade your solar power system.
As with most solar projects, the cost associated with permitting and labor can be considerable, so you’ll want any upgrade project to be cost-effective. If you’re interested in learning more about your upgrade options, Contact Palmetto today so we can review your home and help create a plan for solar upgrades.
My solar power system isn’t working. What are my options?
There are a few things you can do yourself to fix minor problems with your solar energy system. For instance, you can remove obstructions like tree branches that may be preventing the panels from receiving maximum sunlight. You can also confirm that the inverter LED light is on (usually green) or switch on any circuit breaker switches that may have tripped.
If your solar power system isn’t working and your solar company goes out of business, it’s best to contact a solar service professional for any repairs. Palmetto has committed to providing comprehensive, long-term, and robust energy savings support to any solar homeowner, regardless of who installed your system, so if you need work done, submit a Service Request and we’ll gladly help you get your system back up and running.
An experienced solar service company like Palmetto will perform a comprehensive diagnosis that can help quickly pinpoint any faults in your installation. Once the issue has been diagnosed, experienced technicians will know the right parts for various solar equipment components to ensure that your equipment gets fixed safety, and will continue to provide reliable service for many more years.
Even if your original solar company has gone out of business, you can save on any solar operations, service, support, and maintenance needs with Palmetto Protect. With real time energy monitoring, one-click customer support, comprehensive energy recommendations, and best-in-class service, you can put your mind at ease knowing that your solar power system will always be running at peak efficiency, and that we’ve got your back if something isn’t working right.