This summer has been our busiest yet! Here's some photos of our most recent jobs!
The cost of solar continues to drop as technology advances and competition increases. For example, the cost to install solar in 2009 was between $8-10 per watt. This year we are seeing more like a $5-6 price per watt installed. And that's for a made in Washington panel and inverter system! If you get foreign or non-WA equipment, the price per watt plummets even more! However, the increasing number of residential solar installations isn't just the drop in price, although that is big. It's not just the incentives either, although that certainly makes a huge difference here in the state of Washington. But there is one additional factor that plays a part in regular homeowners installing solar: the availability of green loans, solar financing, energy smart loans or whatever you want to call them. These energy smart loans allow homeowners to pay for the cost of a solar installation in regular installments over a period of time instead of paying for everything up front. The payments are usually lower than the equivalent amount of electricity from the utility company. Thus, instead of paying one big utility bill every month, you pay a smaller combined amount from the payments on your solar system plus a much lower utility bill. If you need more information regarding a green loan, call or email and we will be glad to get you some info!
So how do solar panels actually work? Here's a quick, simplistic version (Because really, when you delve into the realm of light and electricity, it can get complicated and overwhelming pretty quickly)!The basic unit of a solar panel is a solar cell, which usually consists of one or two layers of silicon-based semiconductor wafers. The photons (energy particles) from the sun, traveling at high rates of speed toward the earth, strike the solar cells and create an electrical charge. This is called "photovoltaic effect" – producing voltage from photons. The flow of these electrons moves in a steady electrical current from one side of the cell to the other. Dozens of these photovoltaic cells are packaged together into solar modules, which in turn are packaged into solar panels. The panels then are ideally arranged to maximize their hours of exposure to direct sunlight. Because the electricity generated by all those solar cells is direct current (DC), it is then sent to an inverter that transforms the power into the same alternating current (AC) used by your appliances and the local utility distribution grid. This compatibility with the grid is important, because for a variety of reasons most solar homes only use solar to provide a portion of their electricity needs, relying on local utilities for backup when the sun isn't shining or if extra power is needed. The electricity produced by these panels is integrated seamlessly into your existing electricity service, so you can go solar without having to worry about your losing power whenever the sun isn't shining.