Commercial Solar FAQ

There are many reasons to install a solar power system.  Solar power will help reduce your current electric bill, contribute to energy independence and help save the environment.  Considering the high cost of other sources of energy and the very attractive rebates and tax credits available, installing solar today now makes more sense than ever.

Is there really enough sunshine in the Northwest?

Yes! Solar power works in the Northwest!

Although higher latitudes receive fewer annual hours of sunlight, solar panels operate at greater efficiency in cooler climates making the Northwest an excellent place for solar.  The Northwest additionally has long summer days with many months of high solar hours.  Even though the Northwest's winters are mostly overcast, solar still works in these conditions and these days are much less in duration than our long summer days.  Germany, which has latitudes equal to Seattle in its south and the southern tip of Alaska in its north, has 55% of the world's solar panels and is expecting to be 100% green in its national energy use by 2050.

This link talks about Washington State's solar potential: http://www.rnp.org/RenewTech/tech_solar.html.

The best part is that Washington has some of the best incentive programs in the country.  These incentives make solar more financially beneficial than in the majority of the southern states.  For a more detailed explanation of the above go to our Does It Work In the NW page.

What size solar electric system do I need?

The recommended size of your system depends on your power consumption.  If you want to completely offset your current electrical usage from the utility with a solar electric system, the first step is to review your annual energy consumption which can be obtained from your utility bill.  Commercial systems can range in sizes from 10,000W up to and beyond 100,000W, or 1,000 to 10,000 square feet of solar modules.  Your needs will depend upon the size of your facility and your energy loads.

Will solar increase my property value?

Yes.  According to a study published in The Appraisal Journal, every $1 of electricity that you offset through solar will increase the value of your building by $20.  This means that your property would increase in value immediately by about the total net cost of the system after rebates.  In environmentally conscious Washington, properties with solar systems will be in greater demand and according to a 2010 solar study by NREL, solar homes sold 20% faster and for 17% more.

Will solar improve my company’s image?

Definitely!  Going solar will demonstrate that your company is committed to environmental responsibility.  Consumers are increasingly demanding that the companies they do business with engage in sustainable business practices.  There is a huge amount of public interest in renewable energy and green technology.

How much roof space will my system need?

Every 1,000 Watts of solar modules will require 100 sq ft of roof space.  Since the majority of commercial systems range between 10,000W to 100,000W the roof space required will range from 1,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft.

Will the surrounding trees be a problem?

Unless there are tall trees in the SE to SW window of your sites location, tree shading should not be significant enough to prevent you from exploring solar options.  A rule of thumb is to have no shading from 10AM to 3PM.  Since the sun is higher in the horizon during the summer, tree shading usually provides more obstacles during the winter than in the summer.  For regions that have overcast conditions and short days during the winter, such as the Puget Sound area, any but the worst shading issues can be worked with.  Sunergy Systems will provide a complete site analysis to determine the impact that any trees and shading will have on your system.

What is the best orientation of my roof?

The best roof orientation for the Seattle and Portland regions is SE to SW with South being the best.  SE to SW orientations will result in only a slight annual energy reduction of 2% to 4%.  Even due West or East orientations are workable, but you can expect anywhere from 12% to 18% less production than a Southern orientation, if you have no shading issues then adding a couple more solar modules to your system size will compensate for these losses.

The best roof pitch or tilt angle is 15 to 45 degrees, with only 2% to 4% loss compared to the "perfect" pitch.  Even a flat pitch will only result in about a 10% annual output reduction; however, we recommend to "never" have a flat array due to major soiling issues that will require unacceptable maintenance schedules and reduction of the system life.  For flat pitched roofs, Sunergy Systems uses mounting equipment with integrated tilts to optimize the system's performance and help facilitate water runoff.

Does it matter what type of roof I have?

Yes and no.  Yes in that different roofing materials require different methods which can impact the system's installation costs.  Never allow amateurs or un-experienced contractors to penetrate a torchdown (membrane) or flat roof, only experienced professionals should ever work with these difficult roofs. If your roof will need to be replaced during the next ten years we recommend that you replace it before having your system installed. S olar modules can be installed on any roof with the expertise of the Sunergy Systems team.

How long will my solar electric system last?

Solar modules have been tested in controlled settings and in the field, with results showing module lifetimes in excess of 25 years.  Modules typically have 10 to 25 year performance warranties and 1 to 5 year workmanship warranties.  Sunergy Systems recommends and uses only modules which have a 25 year performance and 5 year workmanship warranties.

Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?

Sunergy Systems will handle every aspect of the installation including the filing of the rebate paperwork, the permits, the final inspections and the net metering approval.  Sunergy Systems is proud to offer a comprehensive turnkey package to every customer to ensure that installing a solar power system is an easy, pleasant experience for you.

Is there any system maintenance required?

Since there are no moving parts, the system is basically maintenance free.

Can the building owner sell power back to their utility?

Yes, through net metering any excess electricity generated will spin your meter backwards which has the effect of selling your excess power to the utility at a full retail rate.  On a monthly basis, you pay only the net of the power you used.  If you generate more power than you used in a month your utility company will forward your excess solar energy credits to be used during the next month.  This allows any excess energy generated in the summer to be used during the winter when there is less solar energy and usually higher energy usage.