Solar energy is the use of energy from the sun, either directly as thermal energy (heat) or by using photovoltaic cells in solar panels and transparent photovoltaic glass to generate solar electricity .
The photovoltaic solar panels standard application are more efficient photovoltaics. However, photovoltaic glass allows the generation of surfaces such as window construction that were previously incapable of anything other than passive solar energy and also allows other options, such as the choice of color.
What is solar electricity?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, also known as solar power systems, capture energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity.
Photovoltaic systems can be used to power everything in your home, from lights and appliances to an electric vehicle.
Installing solar PV on your multi-family property can provide many benefits. As a multi-family property owner, you have two options:
- Install solar power to offset a single common area charge (1 meter)
- Install solar power to offset common area and / or multi-tenant loads (2+ meters)
For systems that compensate a single meter, the net energy metering (NEM) will be used.
For systems that offset multiple meters on a property, virtual net energy metering (VNEM) will be used. For more information on apartment and condo virtual net metering,
Different versions of NEM and VNEM are offered throughout the country. Check with your local utility to see what programs they offer.
For systems that compensate only one meter and use NEM, the following graphic explains how solar electricity is produced , where the energy flows, and the bill accreditation mechanism known as “net energy metering”.
- Individual photovoltaic (PV) cells are embedded in the panels. Sunlight hitting the panels is chemically converted into direct current (DC) electricity
- The DC electricity goes to an inverter that transforms it into alternating current (AC) for use at your site.
- The utility meter records the net amount of energy (in kilowatt-hours or kWh) consumed. When the system generates more electricity than is needed on site, the meter “flips backwards” and the excess electricity is released into the power grid and “credited” to your utility bill. These credits help offset the cost of using kWh at night or on cloudy days when PV systems don’t produce as much electricity.
How can I decide which solar panels to compare?
Photovoltaic panels can be evaluated for cost, efficiency, and power capacity. Generally, the higher the power rating and efficiency, the higher the cost of the panel.
Talk to your contractor about the expected performance of each type of panel to understand whether producing kWh from a higher efficiency rating can offset the higher cost of the panel.
How do I choose an investor?
There are different types of central solar inverters and microinverters
Central Investors : One individual investor per pool. This is the classic technology that is installed with most solar systems. The kW size of these inverters is determined by the total number of panels linked to it.
Therefore, any plans to increase the size of the system due to future device additions should be considered during the initial stages of design. While the main drawback of central inverters is limited performance, such as shading tolerance, this can be improved with the installation of power optimizers .
Microinverters : one individual inverter per panel. Microinverters allow systems in general to be more shade tolerant by allowing electrons to bypass shaded cells, preventing a severe drop in overall production and allowing for more flexible system placement. They make it easier to add panels in the future simply by adding an additional microinverter for each additional panel.
Will monitoring be included?
Both central inverters and microinverters have the option of including online monitoring which may have an additional cost. If you lease the system or enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), monitoring will be included in the package.
With a monitoring system, you will be able to track the production of your PV system on your smartphone or computer.
Benefits of monitoring your system
- Production visibility at the panel level and in real time
- Identify system problems / failures quickly to minimize system production losses
- Easy to fix cause of system problems
Do solar panels and inverters come with a warranty?
PV panels come with a 25-year production warranty. A central inverter comes with a 10-year warranty, while microinverters have a 25-year warranty.
Most central inverter manufacturers offer an additional 10-year warranty at an additional cost.
Manufacturer’s warranties do not cover damage from natural disasters. It is highly recommended to add your solar PV system to your homeowner’s insurance policy.
What size PV system should I install?
Every site is different and the needs of the system owner vary. The size of the system depends on several factors, including the amount of electricity (kWh) that is consumed at the site annually, the orientation and inclination of the system, the space available for the solar PV system and the capital.
The first step is to compile the last 12 months of electricity consumption. Next, you want to determine how much you want to save on your electricity bill and how much you want to spend.