Commercial Solar in California
Commercial Solar in California
Installing solar panels on your business
Business owners understand how smart financial decisions in the short-term lead to long-term successes.
Going solar with your business simply makes financial sense. Investing in a rooftop solar system lets you lock in your electricity rates, lowers your monthly bills, and pays for itself in a matter of years.
However, even if thousands of business owners across California are seeing the benefits solar provides, you might not be convinced. Understanding the installation process will help you decide if solar is the right choice for your business.
- Planning for solar panels
- Explore how much you could save on bills, solar incentives, and total installation costs
- Designing your rooftop system
- Inspecting the installation site and choosing equipment
- The installation phase
- Mounting the solar panels and integrating them with your electric system
- The post-installation phase
- Inspecting the new system and connecting to the grid
Planning for solar panels
How much are you spending on electricity each month?
If you’re like many California companies, your business primarily operates during the daytime, when electricity rates are at their most expensive. That means much of your revenues are lost on power bills, rather than being invested in your business.
When you contact a solar installer, they’ll walk you through your monthly electricity expenditures, helping you calculate how much you could save with solar panels. Installers typically conduct an in-depth analysis of energy use and cost for commercial properties that helps you project:
- Total installation costs
- Annual savings on electricity
- Time span for return on investment
Installers will discuss alternative financing options with you, such as solar leasing. Since commercial solar systems tend to be expensive, solar leasing is becoming more popular with business owners.
While commercial systems are expensive, prices have fallen significantly over the years – consider that between 2011 and 2012, the average price for a completed commercial system fell by 14%. Even still, incentives exist to lower prices further for those who choose to fully own their systems.
Incentives like the federal Investment Tax Credit and the Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) can lower your total installation costs by up to 50%. You’ll also be able to take advantage of solar rebates still available for commercial systems through the California Solar Initiative.
Designing your rooftop system
If you elect to move forward with a new solar system, an inspector will visit your business to analyze the installation site.
During this stage, the site inspector will explore possible locations for the solar system, such as the roof, ground, or awning. You’ll also learn about any potential challenges, such as roof direction, shading, or architectural issues.
After the inspection, your installation company will present you with a variety of options regarding equipment and system design. This includes the type of solar panels you install and inverter.
You’ll have a say in the overall system design to ensure it’s aesthetically appealing to your customers. Depending on your preferences, that might include raising or lowering the elevation of the panels to display or hide them.
With a completed design, the installation process may begin.
The installation phase
While installing solar panels on residential buildings is fairly simple, commercial systems present more challenges.
Depending on how large your business is, you might have a more complicated electrical system that takes additional time to integrate with your new panels. Additionally, flat, metal roofs may require different mounting systems to position the solar panels correctly.
Installing a commercial solar system typically takes between several weeks to a month, depending on your unique circumstances. You might need to close your business for several days at a time in certain cases, but proper planning will let you avoid unnecessary setbacks.
Once installation is complete, there are still several steps before turning the system on.
The post-installation phase
Before you start generating clean electricity, the system must be inspected to ensure it’s up to standards. Your installation company will contact city and county inspectors who will visit the site, check to see that it meets regulations, and issue permitting fees.
Next, your utility company will send their own inspectors to complete the process, connecting the system to the grid and installing a new net meter at your business. Your new meter will run forwards and backwards, providing you with visible evidence of your renewable electricity generation.
At this point, your system is up and running, and your installer will take you through one final walkthrough to demonstrate how the system works. You’ll have the opportunity to ask any final questions, such as system output monitoring or maintenance concerns.
Solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular option with businesses looking to save money in the long run. During the first half of 2012, the Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that over 3,600 non-residential solar systems came online – that’s an average of one every 72 minutes.
You can join the growing number of businesses who are savings thousands each month on power bills by contacting local installers today. You’ll not only demonstrate your commitment to the community and environment, but also be making a smart business decision that will lead to future success.