DO I NEED TO NOTIFY MY UTILITY COMPANY AND HOW DOES NET METERING WORK?
To ensure that you benefit from 100% of the electrical energy that your solar system produces, you need to apply to your utility company for a ’net-meter’, which they will install for you at no additional cost. The net-meter will spin backward and the number on the dial will actually decrease when the solar array is producing more energy than your house is using, and then operate as a normal meter would at night or on a cloudy day. This allows you to store energy credits during the day for use at night, or -on a larger scale- during the summer months for use in the winter months.
CAN A SOLAR SYSTEM PROVIDE BACKUP POWER DURING GRID OUTAGES?
Standard grid-tied solar systems without batteries use inverters that are designed to shut-down during a grid outage as a safety precaution for linemen. But with the addition of batteries and proper electrical design of your backed-up circuits, you can live off of solar energy for weeks after a major outage. Common critical loads are well pumps, heating systems, fridges and freezers, and high-use lighting zones.
WHAT TYPE OF FINANCIAL INCENTIVES ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP WITH THE COST OF THE SYSTEM?
Any new system that is operational prior to the end of December 31st, 2016 is eligible to receive a 30% federal income tax credit. A $500 per individual tax credit ($1,000 per married couple) can be applied to your State of Montana income tax return.
WHEN BUILDING A NEW HOME- WHAT PREPARATIONS WILL I HAVE TO MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE A ROOF-MOUNT SOLAR SYSTEM?
If roofing your house with asphalt shingles, you should have flashed standoffs installed before the roofing contractor does any work. The solar array installation will be faster, you will avoid altering an otherwise finished shingle installation, and you will have a 100% guaranteed leak-proof attachment to your trusses. You can also pre-plan a space in a mechanical room or garage for the solar system's inverter, as well as run wires from the array to the inverter, an then on to the tie-in point at your meter location.
WHAT TYPE OF MAINTENANCE DOES A SOLAR SYSTEM REQUIRE?
Solar modules and inverters typically come with at least a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty, and a properly installed system requires virtually zero maintenance. It can be a good idea to spray-clean the array if pollen or dust collects on the surface, but generally the next rainfall will suffice. If it is a battery-backup system, the batteries will need to be replaced about every ten years.
Visit www.onsiteenergyinc.com for more information on Solar Energy for Montana