Do I have to put any money down to get solar panels for my home?

No, there are zero upfront costs. If you can afford your electric bill, you can afford solar. We simply swap your electric bill with a fixed payment plan that goes towards the ownership of your equipment.

What is net metering?

Net metering (also known as net energy metering, or NEM) is a solar incentive that allows you to store energy in the electric grid. When your solar panels produce excess power, that energy is sent to the grid and in exchange, you can pull from the grid when your system is under-producing, for example during nighttime hours.

With the right sized home solar energy system, you can produce enough electricity to match what your home needs for the entire year. However, the amount of electricity your solar panels produce will vary throughout the year. Net metering helps you cover these differences by crediting the excess electricity your panels produce, so you can use it later.

Do I need HOA approvals to install solar panels on my home?

Florida law forbids any entity—including homeowner associations—from prohibiting the installation of solar or other renewable energy devices on Florida buildings. An association may require approval of a system installation and may establish restrictions for installations. However, any such restrictions must be reasonable, not arbitrary, and applied in a uniform manner for all association members. Also, any restrictions must not have the effect of impairing the performance, or increasing the cost, of a solar system.

In particular, a homeowner association may not prevent the installation of solar collectors on the roof of a home. The association may determine where on the roof the collectors may be installed, so long as the collectors face within 45 degrees of due south.

Finally, any requirement(s) that a system be screened from view by trees, fences, ground mounting racks, or a remote roof location that is hidden from the street, will generally violate the statute.

Read More…

Do I need batteries for solar power?

Battery systems are not required to go solar but there are times and situations where it makes sense to do so.  Whether one wants battery back-up protection or lives in a geographical location where the Utility Companies charge a Time of Use Rate( Read More); there are systems that will fit most people’s needs and budgets.

What's the Difference Between an AC Coupled and DC Coupled Batteries

AC vs. DC solar battery coupling: what you need to Know

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Solar batteries are becoming popular additions to solar energy projects of all scales. When it comes to the way your solar panels, batteries, and inverters are all wired together on your property, there are two main options: alternating current (AC) coupling and direct current (DC) coupling. Both AC and DC coupling have advantages and drawbacks that are dependent on the specifics of your solar plus storage installation.

AC vs. DC coupling: what’s the difference?

The key distinction between an AC-coupled and DC-coupled system lies in the path electricity takes once it is produced by solar panels. Solar panels generate DC electricity that must be transformed into AC electricity for your home’s appliances. However, solar batteries store electricity in DC form.

In an AC-coupled system, DC solar electricity flows from solar panels to a solar inverter that transforms the electricity into AC electricity. That AC electricity can then flow to your home appliances, or go to another inverter that transforms the electricity back to DC for storing in a battery system. With AC-coupled systems, any electricity that is stored in the battery system needs to be inverted three separate times before use.

ac coupled battery system diagram

In a DC-coupled system, DC solar electricity flows from solar panels to a charge controller that directly feeds into a battery system, meaning there is no inversion of solar electricity from DC to AC and back again before the electricity is stored in the battery. Any electricity produced by the solar panels will be inverted only once (from DC to AC), either as it flows from batteries to your home electrical setup or out to the electrical grid.

dc coupled battery system diagram

Historically, AC-coupled battery storage setups have been more common for residential and commercial solar installations, but as more DC options become available, DC coupling is gaining in popularity.

Pros and cons of AC coupling

The main advantage of AC-coupled solar battery systems is their ease of installation, especially for retrofit storage installations. Easier installations require less labor and time for solar installers, which often means a lower upfront cost.

An additional benefit of AC-coupled systems is that these setups allow batteries to charge from both solar panels and the grid. This means if your solar panel system isn’t generating enough electricity to fully charge your battery, you can still rely on the grid to fuel your battery for resiliency or electricity rate arbitrage benefits. This is also an important advantage if you’re hoping to participate in a utility energy storage pilot or another type of demand response program, as your electric utility may need to be able to control the flow of electricity in and out of the battery. 

As far as drawbacks are concerned, AC coupling means that stored solar electricity will need to be inverted three separate times before being used by home appliances. The process of inverting electricity from AC to DC, or from DC to AC, results in small efficiency losses, so the more inversions that take place, the larger the overall reduction in system efficiency. Most inverters have efficiency losses of about a few percentage points.

Pros and cons of DC coupling

DC-coupled solar energy systems have the advantage of being more efficient than AC-coupled systems. While solar electricity is converted between AC and DC three separate times in an AC-coupled storage setup, DC systems convert electricity from solar panels only once, leading to overall higher system efficiency.

That being said, DC-coupled options are more complicated to install, which can drive up upfront costs and installation time.

Which solar plus storage system is best for you?

If you already have a solar panel system installed on your property and are looking to add battery storage as a retrofit, an AC-coupled system is likely best for you. This is because you’ll already have a solar inverter system installed with your panels, and rewiring for a DC-coupled system is a complicated process that can increase installation costs.

That said, if you’re installing a solar panel system and battery setup at the same time, a DC-coupled system may be the better option because of the higher overall efficiency of DC-coupled setups. However, the installation time for DC-coupled systems is usually longer than for AC systems, so it’s important to factor in how that will impact your upfront installation costs.

Is solar worth the money?

  • In the long run, solar power is economical. Solar panels and installation involve high initial expenses, but this cost is soon offset by savings on energy bills.
  • Solar can increase the value of your home.
  • With a grid connection and net-metering rules, your solar power system can generate clean energy and share it with the grid.
  • Federal tax credits can offset 30% of your investment through 2019, 26% through 2020 and 22% through 2021.  As of now, the Federal Government has not extended the tax credit for residential.https://www.seia.org/initiatives/solar-investment-tax-credit-itc
  • Solar energy systems are safe, reliable, and durable—the panels are warranted for 25 years.

Once your initial investment in solar is paid off, the fuel is free. With fossil fuel costs and utility rates predicted to rise, solar can be a good way to lock in long-term savings now.

How Does The Solar Tax Credit Work

For the first time, homeowners can control their electricity costs by going solar instead of being at the mercy of ever-rising utility rates. And through the end of 2020, going solar is extra appealing thanks to the federal tax credit, which can be worth up to 26% of the total cost of your solar installation! Under current law, the 26% tax incentive will remain in effect through December 31, 2020. After that, it will drop to 22% for 2021, and to zero after 2023.

A tax credit is a reduction in the amount of taxes you owe. The typical homeowner that goes solar with Mosaic pays about $30,000 for a 7-kilowatt solar installation. So, in this example, the 26% federal tax credit could reduce your taxes by $7,800 – quite a nice bonus! Taking advantage of this credit is easy as A-B-C, if you know the eligibility requirements and how to claim it.

KEEP IN MIND: We’re solar people, not tax people, so we don’t give tax advice. Anything you read on this page is merely an example and may not be appropriate for your unique financial situation. Not everyone will be eligible, so please consult a tax professional before filing your tax credit.

Tax Credit Eligibility

To qualify for the 26% federal tax credit, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Your system must be installed by December 31, 2020.
  • You must own your home (renters are excluded, unfortunately).
  • Your Federal Tax liability must be sufficient to qualify for the 26% tax credit.
  • You must own your solar panels.

This last point isn’t quite as obvious as it might seem since many homeowners today actually lease their solar systems through third-party companies. While leasing may make sense in some situations, it means that the leasing company gets to claim the tax credit instead of you! By contrast, homeowners that buy their panels outright or finance them with a loan (from Sungage, for example) do get to claim the tax credit.

Tax Credit Versus Rebate

It’s important to understand that this is a tax credit and not a rebate. Tax credits offset the balance of tax due to the government (therefore, if you pay no tax, there is nothing to offset and you can’t take advantage of it). Tax rebates are payable to the taxpayer even if they pay no tax. While most people qualify for the federal tax credit, there are some who do not. Anyone who does not pay federal income taxes will not be able to benefit from the tax credit. And, if you’re on a fixed income, retired, or only worked part of the year, you may not pay enough taxes to take full advantage of this credit.

If you do pay sufficient federal taxes the year that you finance or purchase your system, then the credit can be applied to pay off the taxes paid. If you already paid taxes by withholding them from your paycheck, the federal government will apply the tax credit to a tax refund. This refund can be used to pay down the balance on a Mosaic loan. It’s important to note that the tax credit can be carried forward one year, which means that you can use any remainder from this year as a credit towards next year’s taxes.

Example 1:

Homeowner #1 buys a $30,000 solar system, meaning they are eligible for a $7,800 tax credit (26% of system costs). Through their employment, they pay the government $7,800 in taxes, but this is withheld on their W-9 so they end up paying nothing when they file. In this example, when the federal tax credit is applied to the $0 balance they pay the government, they receive a tax REFUND of $7,800 that they can then apply to their loan – or keep if they choose.

Example 2:

Homeowner #2 also buys a $30,000 solar system but they only pay the federal government $4,500 in taxes because they were on a fixed income. This customer did not withhold any money from their paychecks and pays the full $4,500 when they file. When the $7,800 tax credit is applied, they can only claim $4,500 of it because they only paid that much in taxes. In this example, the customer does not have to pay any taxes that year but they also will not receive a refund check from the IRS.

The upside is that any remaining tax credit can be carried forward and applied to next year’s taxes. In this scenario, if Homeowner #2 pays the government at least $3,300 in taxes for the following year, they can utilize the rest of the credit.

For More Information, here is a link to the Department of Energy.

Federal Tax Credit

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