Solar 101

Solar FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most frequently-asked questions about commercial solar

What is the typical Return on Investment for a solar array?

When business owners consider installing solar power the core calculation is inevitable: What is my return on investment, and how quickly will I see it?

First, consider the fact that solar is one of the few things you can purchase that pays for itself. The alternative is to continue paying utility companies for providing energy from unknown sources with costs that can fluctuate depending on load demand and marketplace.

The Return On Investment  can fluctuate depending on system size, sun-capturing placement and energy usage for your site.  

 Studies show solar pay back will happen 2-4 times over 30 years. We have found that our Solar power payback occurs in 4-8 years which leaves 22+ years of viable savings over the remaining life of the system.  More information on incentives and ROI can be found on our Going Solar page.

What financing options are available for solar?

There are several options available to business owners:

  • Cash: A one-time cost. The business would own the system hardware, can take advantage of depreciation and tax benefits. The cash option would require access to capital.
  • Third-Party Financing: Minimal to no upfront capital cost.  The business would own the system hardware, can take advantage of depreciation and tax benefits. Low-cost construction or energy loans are available.
  • C-PACE Financing: No upfront costs with positive cash flows on day one.  The business would still own the system hardware; can take advantage of the tax benefits shared with the C-PACE lender.  Low cost, fixed-rate financing paid through property tax bill.

More detailed information is available on our Financing page.

Will solar work for our site?

First consider how much sun your site receives. Your property should have clear, unobstructed access to the sun for most of the day, and through out the year. In our region, the sun is always in the southern half of the sky and is higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

The best orientation for a PV system is  on a south-facing roof; however, roofs that face east or west may also be acceptable.

Flat roofs also work well for solar systems because the PV array can be mounted either flat on the roof facing the sky or on frames tilted toward the south at an optimal angle. If a rooftop cannot be used, your PV array can also be placed on the ground mount, oriented toward the south to maximize the amount of electricity it generates. Another great option gaining popularity is a carport awning, serving dual purposes: providing ample space to mount a solar array while keeping vehicles cooler underneath the awning instead of enduring daily sun exposure.  More information on different installation types can be found on our Installation Type page.

How much would a PV system cost if we purchase it?

The cost of a system depends largely on what equipment you would like installed at your site.  Panels we typically install range in price per Watt.  There are a number of module options available, and our sales team can review them with you.  As an installer with decades of experience we can tell you what the benefits are of each type of module and what the drawbacks may be for your specific needs.

What incentives are available for commercial solar?

For most sites, nearly 48% of the system cost will be recouped by federal incentives.  For more information, checkout the DSIRE webpage.

Additionally, depending on where your site is located, there are a number of different incentives available by state, district and sometimes by county.  Check out current incentives on our Going Solar page

How long do commercial solar installations take?

Full life cycle of any installation will depend largely on the difficulty of the design, and permitting requirements in a given jurisdiction.  The typical amount of time needed for the actual panel installation per mounting type are as follows:

  • Rooftop installation: These are generally the quickest and easiest to construct, taking only 5 to 6 weeks (or less) to complete. Equipment is moved to the roof using an overhead crane, variable reach forklift or a lift mounted to the side of the building. During this phase, employees may have limited access to the building because of safety concerns. Careful scheduling can limit this potential disruption.
  • Ground or field installation: This type of project generally takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete, with limited disruptions to your organization’s day-to-day operations. If not already naturally secure due to being in a remote location with little public access, a work area for a field installation may need to be fenced off for safety. Before solar equipment is delivered, it may be necessary to remove vegetation and create access roads. Assuming the geological survey has a green light to proceed, poles are then driven into the ground to support the new solar array. Trenching for connecting cables will also be necessary.
  • Carport construction: A favorite among auto dealers and public works facilities, these are the most complex commercial solar installation projects taking 8 to 12 weeks to complete. Additional inspections are often required to satisfy state and federal regulations. (It may be prudent to hire your own architect to monitor holes drilled, rebar and concrete used and the steel being fabricated throughout this process.) Pre-construction demolition and post-construction patching and painting may also be necessary. While a lack of parking may be inconvenient during construction, employees will appreciate the covered spaces once the project is completed.

The timeline for the entire process, not just installation timeframes, should be understood as well when considering solar.

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