How can I see if solar is right for my home or business?

We provide comprehensive free solar assessments for homes and businesses. Contact us at 907-268-4188, company@arcticsolarventures.com or http://www.facebook.com/arcticsolarventures to see what solar energy can do for you.

How does solar work?

We can change sunlight directly to electricity using solar cells. Every day, light hits your solar panels with photons (particles of sunlight). The solar panel converts those photons into electrons of direct current (“DC”) electricity. The electrons flow out of the solar panel and into an inverter and other electrical safety devices. The inverter converts that “DC” power (commonly used in batteries) into alternating current or “AC” power. AC power is the kind of electrical that your television, computer, and toasters use when plugged into the wall outlet.

What is the maintenance on solar panels?

Solar panels are in it for the long haul. There are no digital processors, no delicate motherboards, no flywheels, no pumps and no fans. There are very few moving parts that can break or wear out, and as a result the require almost no maintenance. The components of the panel are durable and include a glass-protected solar cell that captures sunlight. A solar panel sits in one place and absorbs the sun.

How long do solar systems last?

Solar modules come with a manufacturer’s warranty for a lifecycle of 25 years. Depending on the quality and installation, systems will last 30 + years.

What is the solar tax credit?

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is currently a 30 percent federal tax credit claimed against the tax liability of residential (Section 25D) and commercial and utility (Section 48) investors in solar energy property. The Section 25D residential ITC allows the homeowner to apply the credit to his/her personal income taxes. This credit is used when homeowners purchase solar systems outright and have them installed on their homes. In the case of the Section 48 credit, the business that installs, develops and/or finances the project claims the credit. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the income taxes that a person or company claiming the credit would otherwise pay the federal government. The ITC is based on the amount of investment in solar property. Both the residential and commercial ITC are equal to 30 percent of the basis that is invested in eligible property which have commence construction through 2019.

How do solar panels perform in Alaska?

Solar performs much better in Alaska than people think because solar panels function more efficiently in the colder climates. Cooler temperatures and longer daylight hours give Alaska an enviable advantage for solar energy that it once did not have. Improved technology, higher efficiency, and lower costs have opened up an entirely new world for solar in Alaska. Our peak production season is between 8-9 months in most areas. Overproduction in the summer is banked with the utility and those credits carry-over into winter months. In most cases we can achieve 50%-100% solar offset for homes with net-metering.

What is net metering? Does Alaska have it?

Net metering is a billing system that allows electric customers to sell energy generated by a solar pv system on their home or business back to their electric utility. In effect this allows the utility to serve as a battery storing the energy generated from solar for use at a later date and time.

Every kWh produced in a given month within the threshold of total consumption will be credited at a dollar-for-dollar retail rate. Excess electricity in a given month will be credited at a wholesale rate. These credits can be used in subsequent months and do not expire.

Should I remove snow from my solar panels?

No, you don’t have to remove snow from your solar panels. We recommend against getting up on your roof to clear snow off of your panels. The panels are dark and gather enough heat to eventually melt snow, which will slide off the panels. In some cases, snow cover might even help production by reflecting sunlight. Removing snow yourself could harm a panel or catch the solar racking and the 25-year panel warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by the owner. Plus, getting up on a snowy roof would risk your safety, which is our most important concern.

Is it true that solar panels produce more electricity on clear winter days?

Yes it is! Solar panels actually produce more power and are more efficient at colder temperatures. Heat is hard on electronics, so winter provides more efficient energy production. Even with that fact, the shorter days of winter are real factors in determining PV potential throughout Alaska. We calculate year-round production so that you can count on over-producing during the summer.

What type of system loses should I expect to see modeled in my solar proposal?

Accurate and proper calculations of the difference environmental and electrical conditions that produce losses in the performance of your solar installation should be modeled in an accurate and scientific way by your solar provider.

You should expect to see types of system losses associated and evaluated with the following criteria:

Irradiance
This covers environmental losses as well as losses due to suboptimal tilt and orientation.

Irradiance at optimal tilt/orientation
This is the maximum annual irradiance that could fall on the modules if they were tilted and oriented optimally for the location.

Tilt/orientation
This represents how much of the potential irradiance is not captured by the solar panels due to the way they are oriented and tilted.

Shade
This is the loss of irradiance caused by shading. Trees, obstructions, walls/roofs, and other modules can cast shade on an array and reduce the overall irradiance.

Soiling
This is the loss due to soiling (dirt, sand, etc.) on the modules.

Snow
This is the loss in irradiance due to the time that snow is covering the modules.

Incidence angle modifier
The angle of the irradiance on a solar panel is typically not perfectly normal to the panel, meaning the light comes in at some angle. The loss given here represent the optical losses in transmission of the light through the modules.

DC
This category breaks down all the losses in DC energy, or in other words, all electrical losses that occur on the input side of the inverters.

Energy after PV conversion
This represents how much energy a design could produce given the incident irradiance, the efficiency of the modules, and the area of the modules: E = S × Σ(ηA) , where S is the irradiance in kWh/m2, η is the maximum module efficiency (usually at STC), A is the area of the module in m2, and Σ represents the sum of ηA for all modules in the design.

Environmental conditions
This is the first loss in the DC category, representing the energy lost due to the modules operating at varying irradiance and temperature conditions throughout the year. Because the panels are not operating at STC over the course of the year, the energy produced will be lower than the “energy after PV conversion” described above.

Module nameplate rating
This represents the loss due to inaccurate specification of the STC rating of a module. It is sometimes referred to as “power tolerance;” most modern solar panels have a positive power tolerance, meaning it is uncommon that a 300 W module you purchase will output less than 300 W (but it could output slightly more).

Light-­induced degradation
This is the same as the light­-induced degradation (LID) loss, representing a phenomenon wherein the electrical characteristics of crystalline silicon solar cells change upon exposure to light. LID only occurs within the first few hours of the panels being exposed to light, but because the effect can change the power output of a module relative to its STC rating, it is typically modeled as a fixed loss factor.

Connections
This is the loss due to internal wiring and soldering inside solar panels. The internal connections add electrical resistance to the circuit, which results in power loss.

Mismatch
Two modules of the same type from the same manufacturer are not perfectly identical; manufacturing variation leads to small variation in the electrical parameters of the modules. This loss represents these manufacturing variations. It is not applied for designs using micro-inverters or DC optimizers, because these module ­level power electronics isolate the modules from one another.

DC wiring
This is the loss due to the wiring that connects solar panels together in strings. The cabling adds electrical resistance to the circuit, which results in some power loss.

AC
This category includes all losses that occur on the output side of the inverter.

DC/AC conversion
No inverter operates at 100% efficiency, meaning the energy at the output (AC) side is never as large as the energy at the input (DC) side. Most inverters have an efficiency of 96­-98%, but that value varies with input DC power and voltage. For example, the DC/AC conversion loss may be very large if the DC system size is less than 30% of the inverter’s nameplate rating.

Inverter clipping
In some cases, a solar array may output more energy than the inverter is capable of converting to AC; when this occurs, the inverter “clips” the output power to its nameplate rating. The loss shown here represents how much DC energy is clipped throughout the year.


Other
The losses in this category are all applied to the AC energy, but are not explicit AC derates. They are miscellaneous losses that could affect the annual energy production of the system.

Age
This is the loss due to module weathering over time.

System availability
This represents the loss in available energy due to the system being taken offline for maintenance or due to grid outages.

What does residential solar cost?

Solar for your home typically will cost between $15,000 – $20,000 up front, of which you will also receive a 30% tax credit. Out of pocket expenses after the credit are $12,000 – $15,000, which get paid off through energy production in 8-10 years typically. That is as good as anywhere in the United States. Solar always produces electricity at less than the cost of your existing utility.

How does solar perform in high-wind areas?

All of our systems are fully designed and engineered to meet the required wind speeds of each AHJ in Alaska. In most cases that is 130mph. A properly designed and engineered system will have no problem with Alaska wind.

What is Community Solar and how/why is it good for Alaska?

Community solar is a program where multiple subscribers can purchase energy and share the benefits being produced at a nearby, centralized solar installation. “Utility” community solar is when a utility company builds and owns the community solar array and allows its customers to purchase renewable energy from the shared facility, often times resulting in lower annual utility payments for the customer. Community solar provides large amounts of clean energy to communities, reduces generator loads, and typically costs less than fossil fuels.

What are the maintenance and service costs of solar?

Solar typically has the least maintenance and service costs of any type of energy generation. If designed, engineered, and built correctly, a solar installation should be maintenance-free for the majority of its lifespan. In addition, we use all-metal hardware for cable management to ensure that no areas of the installation provide weak points for failures in the field.

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