A photovoltaic (PV) system that is designed, installed and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your system is to have it installed and maintained properly.
Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation. Failed connections, insufficient wire size, components not rated for dc application, and so on, are the main culprits. The next most common cause of problems is the failure of the electronic parts in the balance of systems (BOS): the controller, inverter, and protection components. Batteries fail quickly if they're used outside their operating specification. For most applications (uses), batteries should be fully recharged shortly after use. In many PV systems, batteries are discharged AND recharged slowly, perhaps over a period of days or weeks. Some batteries quickly fail under these conditions. Be sure the batteries specified for your system are appropriate for the application.
A 10% efficient PV system in most areas of the United States will generate about 180 kilowatt-hours per square meter. A PV system rated at 1 kilowatt will produce about 1800 kilowatt-hours a year. Most PV panels are warranted to last 20 years or more (perhaps as many as 30 years) and to degrade (lose efficiency) at a rate of less than 1% per year. Under these conditions, a PV system could generate close to 36,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity over 20 years and close to 54,000 kilowatt-hours over 30 years. This means that your solar system can generate more than $10,000 worth of electricity over 30 years.
A solar photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Climate is not a big concern because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather and in fact, some modules actually work better in colder weather. Most solar systems are angled to catch the sun's rays, so any snow that collects on them usually melts quickly. There is thus enough sunlight to make solar energy systems useful and effective nearly everywhere in the United States.
Even hail won't harm most PV systems. Most homes have adequate roof space for a solar system, but you will have to size your system first to discover how much space is required. If you don't have adequate roof space, we can look at other options such as integrating the system into a wall or putting the system in the backyard. You could also use the system to cover a porch or patio in the backyard or mount the system on the roof or wall of a garage. Remember: an energy-efficient building requires a smaller solar system.
The size of your solar system will depend on several factors, including: how much electricity, hot water or space heat you use, how much sunshine is available where you are and the size of your roof.
People decide to buy solar energy systems for a variety of reasons. Some individuals buy solar products to preserve the Earth's finite fossil-fuel resources and to reduce air pollution. Others prefer to spend their money on an energy-producing improvement to their property rather than send their money to a utility company every month. Some people like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from their utility company because it makes them less vulnerable to future electricity price increases.
Also, if designed correctly, a solar system might be able to provide power during a utility power outage and add power reliability to your home. Finally, some individuals live in areas where the cost of extending power lines to their home is more expensive than buying a solar energy system to power their home.
Unfortunately, there is no single or simple answer. But a solar rebate and other incentives can reduce the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system. This cost depends on a number of factors, including whether it is a stand-alone system or integrated into the building design, the size of the system, and the particular system manufacturer, retailer, and installer. For solar water heaters and space heaters, you also have to consider the price of the fuel used to back up the system. In most cases, you would have to add the cost of natural gas or electricity to get a more accurate estimate of how much you can expect to pay for a solar energy system.
It is also difficult to say how much you will save with a solar energy system, because savings depend on how much you pay your utility for electricity or natural gas, and how much your utility will pay you for any excess power that you generate with your solar system. Ask us how much your new system will produce on an annual basis and you can compare that number to your annual electricity or hot water demand to get an idea of how much you will save.
A variety of state and local incentives are available:
To learn more about energy saving tips and renewable energy technologies, please visit U. S. Department of Energy's Energy Saver's website
To learn more about financial incentives in your area, please visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) and contact your State's Energy Office. One caveat: any time you work with a contractor, it's wise to check references.
Your U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regional support office may also be able to provide guidance.
Net metering is a policy that allows homeowners to receive the full retail value for the electricity that their solar energy system produces. The term net metering refers to the method of accounting for the solar photovoltaic (PV) system's electricity production. Net metering allows homeowners with PV systems to use any excess electricity they produce to offset their electric bill. As the homeowner's PV system produces electricity, the kilowatts are first used for any electric appliances in the home. If the system produces more electricity than the homeowner needs, the extra kilowatts are fed into the utility grid. Currently, more than 30 states have metering programs across the United States.
Yes. You can utilize a home equity loan for the purchase and installation costs of a solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar hot water system to take full advantage of federal tax deductions. Solar energy systems are viewed as a major home energy savings upgrade and there are financial tools out there that reward you for your efforts. Remember, installing a solar energy system is comparable to any other upgrade you might do to your home, such as installing a new deck or remodeling a kitchen.
Yes, PV systems can be used to provide the electrical input to run a heat pump and solar hot water can help with air to water heat pumps.
HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the unit is. HSPF is a ratio of BTU (heat) output compared to electricity used.
Air source heat pumps consist of two components, the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. Outdoor units are about 50-70 decibels and indoor units are a quiet whisper.
Hold your hand over a hot cup of coffee and feel the heat. The logical conclusion is that heat rises. Logical maybe, but incorrect! "Hot air" rises but "heat" can travel in any direction. That is why you can feel the heat of the cup when you place your hand to the side of it. Radiant energy transfer is caused by a warm surface giving up its heat to a cooler surface.
Whenever there is a temperature difference between two surfaces, both surfaces will attempt to equalize. Radiant energy travels through space without heating the space itself. It only turns into heat when it contacts a cooler surface. Our human comfort relies just as much on radiant heat transfer as it does on air temperature, yet the majority of heating and air-conditioning professionals think only in terms of air temperature. As a result, Americans are missing out on a truly
It’s common knowledge that hot air rises, but heat can actually travel in any direction. When you hold your hand over a cup of hot coffee, you can feel the heat and most people believe the heat is rising to your hand. While logical, this is incorrect. You can also feel the heat of the cup when you place your hand on the side of it. This is because radiant energy transfer causes a warm surface to give up it’s heat to a cooler surface.
When there’s a temperature difference between two surfaces, both will try to equalize. Radiant energy travels through the atmosphere without heating the space itself and only turns into heat when it comes into contact with a cooler surface. When it comes to temperature, our comfort level relies just as much on radiant heat transfer as it does on air temperature, but many heating and air-conditioning professionals only take air temperature into consideration. This results in many Americans missing out on a truly comfortable environment at home and at work. When you control both the air temperature and the radiant transfer, radiant panel systems deliver an ideal temperature for every room.
comfortable living environment in their own homes or places of business. By controlling both the air temperature and the radiant transfer, radiant panel systems deliver a comfort that is unsurpassed.
Floor, wall and ceiling panels are heated in one of three ways: via water pipes, electric elements or air channels that are embedded in the panel. Air is seldom used, so electric circuits and water pipes (also known as channels) are the most prevalent.
Electric panels utilize electricity as their sole utility, have a simple construction and usually have a lower upfront cost. On the other hand, water can be heated by natural gas, propane, oil, wood, solar or electricity, which makes it extremely versatile.
Generally, a simple wall thermostat is all that is required. A weather sensitive control may work in the background to adjust the panel temperature based on the temperature outside for increased comfort and economy. This gives the advantage of having a thermostat available in every room for additional comfort and energy savings since you can raise the temperature in rooms that aren’t occupied and lower it in rooms that are. Additional features like these increase the cost in the same way adding power windows can increase the price of purchasing a car. However, unlike car options, these added comfort features will have an ROI in the form of energy savings.
Thermal Mass is a material’s ability to retain heat. For example, a heated stone stays warm longer than a block of wood because of its higher density, which equates to more mass. The Earth’s mass can be used as a flywheel when heated under a radiant concrete slab. This heat storage can provide heat to an entire building even when energy isn’t available. Where off-peak electrical rates are available, utilizing a radiant floor along with the thermal storage from the Earth beneath the slab can produce much lower electricity bills.
Thermal mass in a heated shop or hangar floor responds rapidly to the change of air temperature when a big overhead door is opened. All the heat that has been "trickled" into the slab over time is released quickly to combat the cold air rolling in over the floor. This happens because of the sudden, dramatic increase in temperature difference between the slab and the air. Once the door is closed, the building returns to its normal comfort setting almost immediately.
The key to any radiant panel system is to provide an even surface temperature so some mass is required to spread the heat across the panel. This mass may be in the form of a gypsum or other cementitious material or metal plates in the panel construction.
Some underfloor systems simply rely on air currents within the joist space and the mass of the wood subfloor to spread the heat. When properly designed, these systems are a good alternative for retrofitting an existing building.
Radiant floor heating involves warm water circulating through flexible tubing, specially designed tubing (known as PEX) that is installed in the floor. The heat radiates evenly through the floor to provide comfortable temperature levels in the room for less money.
Traditional heating systems just warm the air whereas radiant heating warms the floor and objects that come into contact with the floor. As a result, the entire floor distributes an even and quiet heating. The outcome is no drafts of cold air as well as tile, marble and wood that isn’t cold to the touch.
Compared to other heating methods, radiant heat warms the floor’s surface and surrounding objects instead of warming the air. Radiant heat allows every object in the room to warm up and this heat is transferred to cooler objects (like people) to maintain an even, comfortable warmth with no air currents.
Radiant heat also enables you to feel comfortable at a lower thermostat setting, so your fuel bills will be lower. The system is also quiet, requires very little maintenance and operates more efficiently than any other heating system while offering superior comfort.
No. A properly designed and installed radiant floor heating system will deliver warmth that’s safe and comfortable to walk on (even with bare feet). If more heat is needed, additional warmth can easily be added with radiant walls and/or ceilings.
Radiantmax systems are designed to be used with low water temperatures, which results in floor temperatures that are slightly warmer than room temperature. The radiant temperatures from sunlight hitting the floor on a summer day are actually warmer the temperature of our radiant floor systems. Moreover, since floor temperatures are kept more uniform during all the seasons of the year, the expansion and contraction of the hardwood is minimized.
Definitely. Radiantmax floor systems allow you to choose which rooms you want to heat. For example, the bathroom is a common room to heat since people don't like to step onto cold tiles while guest rooms that aren’t occupied don’t need extra warmth.
Of course! Our Radiant Ready option is ideal. The PEX tubing can be installed directly into the concrete slab during construction and you can complete the system process at a later date. This adds little to the cost of a poured floor, but can add great value to your home later.
PEX (known as cross-linked polyethylene) tubing is a specially designed and distinctive plastic tubing with properties that are ideal for radiant floor heating and plumbing systems. Several billion feet of PEX tubing are in service worldwide along with ongoing product testing and monitoring, further proving its dependability.
We sell four main types of water heaters:
1. Heat pump water heater
2. Condensing tankless water heater
3. Condensing tank
4. Hybrid gas water heater
Heat pump water heaters extract heat from air and exchange it to the water through a copper heat exchanger. A heat pump water heater will cool the space it’s in by a few degrees and pull moisture as well, so the best space for these water heaters is a garage. Heat pumps are the same size as most standard 50 gallon water heaters and require a 240 volt circuit system that will integrate seamlessly with photovoltaic panels and solar hot water.
Tankless water heaters use natural gas, propane or electricity to efficiently heat water by passing it through a heat exchanger and absorbing the heat. They integrate well with solar hot water systems and because of the high efficiency of these units, condensation occurs when the flue gases cool. This condensate is slightly acidic and should be drained outdoors. Tankless electric heaters are best suited to point of use applications because they’re a large electric draw for a short amount of time.
A tank style condensing water heater uses natural gas or propane. While they resemble a normal water heater, they have a secondary heat exchanger and are power vented.
A hybrid gas water heater is tankless with a small 2-5 gallon buffer tank. The buffer makes the water heater cycle less often and prevents the “cold water sandwich" that is common with tankless water heaters, which is caused by turning the water off and back on during washing or bathing.
Yes, we've installed many solar hot water systems in Humboldt county and our preferred system works with four to eight solar electric panels along with a microinverter that will run an electric water heater element. Advantages of this system include its simplicity and the fact that it will continue to produce hot water even during power outages.
The most common water heater is an atmospheric gas water heater, which is very inefficient because a large amount of heat goes right up the flue pipe. If you currently have this type of water heater, you can place your hand on the flue pipe and feel the heat (and essentially, your hard-earned money) slowly slipping away!
A garage is the most ideal place to put a heat pump water heater because it will make your garage colder by a few degrees as it's extracting heat and it will also dehumidify your garage. If you prefer to not cool the space where the tank is located, we can also install a venting kit.
Some of our water heaters qualify for a small tax credit and PG&E rebate, but these rebates are always changing, so ask us for current details!
There are a couple of ways to produce hot water quickly. First, you can use a recirculation pump that will have a button on your sink that allows hot water from the water heater to recirculate to the fixture. The pump's sensor will shut off the pump when the water is hot. The second method involved installing a point-of-use tankless electric water heater.
Yes, it's possible for smaller homes with a smaller hot water demand, but a 200 amp main service panel is the minimum we would recommend. Tankless electric heaters are limited to about 3.8 gallons per minute, which is a low flow shower head and a sink running at the same time.
Indoor Air Quality & Duct Cleaning
Many items in your home can cause indoor air quality problems and produce harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Combustion sources such as gas stoves, furnaces and wood-burning stoves can all leak carbon monoxide if not properly maintained. Other things such as pesticides, dirty outdoor air, dirty heating systems and inadequate ventilation can also cause indoor air quality issues.
When your bathroom and kitchen’s spot ventilation is properly sized, it can help remove contaminants and humidity from your home. Ideal humidity levels should be maintained between 30% to 60% and it’s also beneficial to have any combustion appliances tested for proper operation and venting (we have products to address those needs). Air filtration and purification can also improve indoor air quality.
Contaminates can settle and collect throughout the internal surface area of your duct system. Dust, dirt, pet dander, mold and bacteria can also build up in your ducts and should be cleaned out periodically.
Your initial duct should be cleaned every 3 to 7 years if the heating equipment is maintained and high efficiency filters are installed. The frequency of duct cleaning also depends on other factors, including:
- Whether you have pets in the home.
- Smoking in the home.
- Residents who have allergies or asthma.
- Remodeling or construction dust.
- Floor or ceiling registers.
We charge an initial $95 site inspection fee prior to your duct cleaning to ensure our industrial machines are compatible with your ducting. If compatible, we provide a comprehensive system-wide cleaning that will include:
- All registers and grills.
- Brushing and vacuuming of plenums (and all supply and return runs).
- Bio-enzymatic sanitation application (to prevent mold and mildew growth).
- Furnace service with tuneup.
Depending on the equipment that needs cleaning, this can be an all-day process. Costs range from $1,000 to $1,400 depending on the size of your home.
First, the heating system supply and return registers are removed and cleaned. Then a powerful vacuum with a spinning brush is inserted into each duct, starting with the furthest away. This spinning brush loosens up the dirt and a HEPA vacuum system catches all the dirt in the machine. We then clean the heater blower housing and can also pull out the heater burners to clean them and perform a combustion safety test.
Modern homes are built more airtight than older homes and as we continue to upgrade older homes with new windows, insulation and air sealing, indoor air quality can become a big concern. Dust, dirt, mildew, pollen, pet dander, dust mites and building materials can be circulated throughout your home and can lead to asthma and allergy symptoms. Proper ventilation and filtration can also play an important role in cleaner indoor air quality. Properly sized and installed bathroom fans and kitchen hoods in conjunction with fresh outside air are important considerations along with proper filtration.
We offer a wide variety of add-on air filtration, whole home air purifiers and UV lights for your existing or new heating system. We also offer Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) that displaces stale air in the home while bringing in and heating fresh outside air.
If you’re concerned about the combustion of your home appliances, we can perform combustion safety testing on your natural gas or propane-burning appliances to ensure you don’t have harmful levels of carbon monoxide in your home.
Your health is important to us! Give us a call today to find out how we can help improve your home’s air quality.
We offer superior Lithium Iron phosphate (LiFepo4) that are safer and allow more charges and discharges over the life of the battery.
We'll work with you to design a system that will back up your critical loads, such as refrigeration, heat, lights and even well pumps.
Our battery systems are AC coupled, which means your existing or new solar is coupled to a central inverter, battery and solar panels. During an outage, your system will essentially fool your solar panels into thinking the grid is still present. Your batter will continue to charge and feed your backed-up home loads while preventing power from being sent back to the grid by the use of a microgrid interconnection device (MID).
All of our systems come with an app that allows you see your battery's current charge and reserve charge for future use if a storm is on its way.
Your system can operate in three different modes:
- Reserve mode. This will store 100% of your energy in the battery so you have full capacity in case of a power outage or blackout.
- Cost-savings mode. This mode will limit your grid energy at peak times when its most expensive.
- Self-supply mode. This mode will maximize the use of your solar panels by charging during the day and using your home battery when the sun goes down.
While the warranty on the battery is 10 years, the battery is expected to last up to 20 years.
Federal tax credits are available to offset up to a quarter of the cost of your battery installation. You must already have solar panels installed or in the process of adding a new solar system installation. To qualify for the federal tax credit, your battery must only be charged by your solar system. State rebates are always updated and changing, so ask us about current rebates during your project.
Your charge time depends on your solar panel system and battery size. For example, a 6-kilowatt solar array would take about two hours to charge. It's important to keep in mind that this is dependent on your energy consumption at the time and the amount of sunlight available.