TRUTH IN SOLAR
Solar panels (AKA "Modules") are often thought of as the most important piece of equipment in terms of system selection. Truth is, there are dozens of quality panel manufacturers that will deliver lasting value in your system. Our approach allows us to design your system with panels that best suit your objectives and concerns.
Energy storage has become the cornerstone of a great grid-tied hybrid as well as off-grid system. Significant advancements in technology as well as cost have enabled energy storage and back-up power to become accessible to homeowners and businesses alike, allowing for increased energy savings and power when the grid goes down. It has also facilitated what we like to call the modern off-grid system, where homeowners can enjoy the independence of being off-grid without the headaches and limitations of traditional off-grid systems.
Solar inverters are perhaps the most underrated element of a PV system. Everyone sees the panels on the roof, but the inverter is the true workhorse in the relationship. Investing in a quality inverter that has the appropriate capabilities will render benefits many times in costs in the mid and long term. Unlike solar panels, there are actually very significant difference in capabilities between inverter platforms. No matter who you go with, make sure you understand the basis for the inverter being utilized and explore it's contrasts to its alternatives.
The ideal project funding is a factor of your capital limitations, future plans, your tax appetite, system design possibilities, and the broad spectrum of financing options that exist. For example, a retired home owner with no future plans to sell may be best suited for a HELOC where they enjoy net savings from day 1, recover tax credits over several years, and retain the equity in their property with the value of the system. However, a small business with moderate capital may be best off funding the project directly
Leases and PPA's (Power Purchase Agreements) present a great financing structure for non-profits who do not otherwise have access to tax incentives. However, for home owners and businesses, they will rarely ever provide a net financial benefit in comparison to the slew of other project financing options where you retain ownership of the tax incentives. Currently, for a home owner, the cash benefit under a zero down financing program like GEMS will render more positive cash flows in the first year than a lease/PPA will provide over 20 years!
While a properly installed system will not compromise the integrity of your roof, it will make a roof in poor condition more difficult and expensive to deal with down the road. Good rule of thumb is to assume your PV system will be functional for 20+ years. It is best to deal with any roof issues before hand, and general best practice is, if you would intend to replace or paint your roof within the next 5-10 years, it is best to do it before you install solar.
GOOD OR BAD
Historically, utilities have been highly detached when it comes to customer relationships. With the rise of distributed energy (i.e. solar on your house/business) utilities have had to dramatically shift their business model of just managing the generation, distribution and retail sale of energy to actually working with private entities, business, and home owners in facilitating tens of thousands of remotely sited generating assets in Hawaii's effort to move to 100% renewable energy. Now customers can own their own systems with the grid still in place, a big improvement!
Tax incentives offer a considerable financial benefit for installing solar. The Hawaii State credit is 35% (non-refundable, 24.5% refundable) and the Federal credit is 26% and act much like a gift card against your personal or corporate income tax (unused portions can be carried forward). For commercial projects, additional incentives are realized through tax savings on accelerated depreciation. Collectively, home owners may see 60%+ (80%+ for businesses) of their project cost back in incentives.
Great systems are achieved through combining the components and system design that fit your objectives and limitations the best with the appropriate financing facilitating the investment. There is no one size fits all solutions for components, site design or financing.