Emergent Solar’s Most Frequently Asked Questions
Basics of Commercial Solar
How do solar panels work?
Photovoltaic panels are comprised of many silicon semiconductor cells. Phosphorous and boron are added to the silicon; these elements create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons.
When activated with energy from sunlight, electrons move across the cell into the electrical circuit connected to the solar panel. One cell produces very little power on its own, but when strung together in a series, the cells work together to create substantially more power.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar electric systems are generally useful for 30 years or more. Emergent Solar panels come with a 25-year production warranty, ensuring that the system is running at maximum efficiency throughout its useful life
Are solar panels safe?
Businesses looking to invest in solar can be assured that the technology is sound, reliable, and presents very little additional risk to building or personnel safety.
While it’s important to work with a reputable solar provider to ensure the system is properly engineered and installed, all solar providers are required to comply with stringent federal code requirements for components and system integration, designed to protect property owners and occupants from danger.
For more information, visit the blog post Are there Fire Risks Associated with Rooftop Solar PV?
Will solar provide backup power to my business in case of an outage?
The short answer is no. Because your PV system is connected to the grid, it is required to automatically shut down in the event of a utility power outage per the National Electric Code.
Battery storage is an option, however, the technology is still cost-prohibitive for most businesses. Investing in a backup generator for such occasions would be a more economical decision for businesses requiring uninterrupted power.
Does a solar PV system require battery storage?
In most cases, battery storage is not necessary and will lengthen the return on investment of the system. This is particularly true in instances where the utility provides a favorable Net Metering arrangement, where excess power that is generated by your solar PV system is “stored” for you in the grid in the form of utility credits. Emergent Solar can help you determine if including battery storage with the solar PV system is a good fit for your operations.
What are the marketing benefits of commercial solar?
Solar provides a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate and communicate your company’s commitment to sustainability and long-term cost controls. These two powerful marketing messages resonate not only with customers but with other important business stakeholders, including employees.
As worldwide concerns continue to grow regarding climate change, industrial pollution, and the depletion of fossil fuels, companies have a unique opportunity to stand out against competitors by taking a proactive approach. Emergent Solar includes real-time monitoring software on every installation, showing both historical and real-time energy production. This can be showcased on a website, or even displayed on a physical monitor in the entrance lobby as many of our clients choose to do.
Does a solar installation require a building permit?
A building permit is normally required, but requirements may vary depending on your local jurisdictional rules. Emergent Solar takes care of all permitting, paperwork, and inspections on behalf of the customer.
Can solar be installed on a flat roof?
Yes. Most commercial and industrial facilities with flat or low-pitch roofs are very conducive to a solar PV installation*. This type of roof is ideal for a ballasted (weighted) system, whereby panels can be mounted to the roof using concrete blocks.
This type of application is advantageous as it requires no penetration of the roof membrane, therefore the possibility of roof leakage from the addition of solar is virtually eliminated. For flat-roof installations, Emergent Solar often uses an East-West (dual-tilt) design, which offers a low profile and maximizes the energy production capabilities of the available roof space.
*As with all installations, a site assessment is required to confirm the roof structure and roofing material have the structural integrity to withstand the weight of the system.
Will my insurance coverage change with the addition of solar?
Standard business insurance policies typically cover the system with no additional premium costs, but it is still prudent to talk with your insurance provider. Emergent Solar has extensive experience working with commercial insurers and can help with the placement of the required insurance on your commercial project if necessary.
What is the difference between solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems?
Solar photovoltaic systems use photovoltaic panels to produce electricity. Solar hot water, or thermal, systems capture sunlight to heat water. Emergent Solar exclusively provides solar photovoltaic systems.
Project Cost & Financing
How do I figure out ROI/simple payback for solar?
The payback period for solar panels varies based on several factors. These considerations include the facility’s current electrical usage, the rate (cost) of utility power per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the size of the solar PV system and the percentage of utility power it will offset, the cost of the solar PV system, and the availability of tax credits or other financial incentives. A reputable solar provider can help you figure out when your business will break even on the investment.
What incentives or rebates are available to businesses investing in solar?
The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is still available to businesses investing in solar. Currently, the ITC grants businesses a 26% dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their solar investment. There is a scheduled reduction in benefits over the next few years that is important to understand. Depending on the location of your facility(s), additional state or local incentives may be available. More specific information about the ITC and the accelerated depreciation benefits of solar can be found here.
It’s also important to note that many states and local entities offer financial incentives to businesses adopting solar. As an included service, Emergent Solar project developers research and apply for local incentives on behalf of every customer. They can provide more information on specific incentives available in your area.
Between state and local incentives, it is possible to offset the cost of the system significantly, sometimes upwards of 50% of the initial project cost.
Operations & Maintenance
How much maintenance is required for solar?
Emergent Solar’s solar systems have no moving parts, so unlike other equipment that wears out with use, very little maintenance is required. In most instances, occasional rain is sufficient to keep the panels clean and functioning optimally.
With Emergent Solar’s cloud-based monitoring platform, energy production and system data are communicated 24/7 to both the customer and the operations and maintenance team at Emergent Solar. If a panel or component needs attention, Emergent Solar can assist with diagnosis and repair. All of the components are warrantied, and Emergent Solar manages all warranty claims on behalf of its customers.