DO YOU HAVE SOLAR QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS.
At SolarWholesale our goal is to provide the best solar equipment at the best prices
Solar panels, or photovoltaic (PV) panels, are the panels you see on many roofs or in solar farms found around the world. PV panels convert sunlight directly to DC electricity. Simply put, solar panels work by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels are comprised of many small units called photovoltaic cells. All these cells linked together make up a solar panel. The DC electricity is then sent from the solar panel to an inverter which converts the DC (direct current) in to AC (alternating current) which is the electricity used in a home.
The best part of solar electricity, other than power being free, the power you don’t use, is sold back to the grid by obtaining a Renewable energy certificate from the government. Not only are you going green, but you can potentially make a little “green” too!
Virtually unlimited power is available from our nearest star, the Sun. In just one hour, our planet receives more energy from the sun than the entire world uses during an entire year. Electricity-producing solar panels have only been around for the last 60 years, yet they have completely transformed how we harness solar energy
In 1839, a nineteen year-old French physicist named Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel discovered the operating principle of the solar cell, known as the photovoltaic effect. It wasn’t until 1876 that this effect materialized into a viable method of producing electricity with the work of William Grylls Adams. He discovered that by illuminating a junction between selenium and platinum, a photovoltaic effect occurs; electricity could now be produced without moving parts.
Revolutionary as they may have been, the selenium solar cells were not efficient enough to power electrical equipment. That ability occurred in 1953 when a Bell Laboratories employee Gerald Pearson had the bright idea of making a solar cell with silicon instead of selenium. The New York Times heralded the discovery as “The beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization”.
Just in time for the space race, the first solar panels made their debut in the satellite industry. Vanguard I, the first solar-powered satellite celebrated its 53rd birthday this year, setting mileage records and holding the title of being the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit.
The first solar modules were only efficient enough for space applications, where the Sun’s radiation is much stronger. Eventually satellite research paved the way for Earth-based technology. The 1990’s were pivotal years for photovoltaic technology. Innovations in solar cells allowed for greater efficiency while lowering the cost of production. Germany and Japan led the way with long-term solar power incentive programs helping lower the cost to the public, and spurring the growth of a robust Photovoltaic industry in both countries.
Equipment that converts the power from DC to AC is known as an solar inverter, and they come in a few varieties, modified sine wave or pure sine wave. They are further classified based on which type of system it is to be used in, whether it is off-grid or grid interconnected. Recently the innovation of micro inverters has greatly simplified installations, and makes it easy to add on panels to an installation. Each solar module is paired with its own micro inverter, which then coverts the power directly at the panel. For off grid installations the use of a charge controller is necessary to properly manage the power harvest, charge the batteries, and prevent overcharging.
The greatest innovation in charge controllers would have to be the relatively new feature called maximum power point tracking (MPPT). This innovative method of charging batteries constantly monitors peak power voltage from the array and input voltage on the batteries adjusting amperage to compensate for the fluctuations. This provides the most efficient means to manage the power harvest. The function of MPPT charge controllers is analogous to the transmission of a car, keeping your charging system in the “right gear”. Other components of the solar system would include the wiring and mounting hardware, while some installations use a tracker that changes its tilt angle and direction throughout the day.
Solar panels are classified into three classes: mono-crystalline (single crystal), poly-crystalline (multiple crystals), or amorphous silicon. Mono-crystalline is indicative of the continuous and unbroken sample of silicon in which the cell is manufactured from. This method uses very pure silicon grown in a complex growth process, and then sliced into wafers that compose the individual cells. This was the first method used to manufacture solar cells, and are still highly regarded for their efficiency ratios.
Poly-crystalline panels are composed of many crystallites of varying size and orientation. These multi-crystalline panels are generally less expensive and slightly less efficient than mono-crystalline modules, yet lately the difference in efficiency is very small. Like their mono-crystalline counterpart, the cells are also cut into wafers that make up the individual cells of a solar panel.
Amorphous solar panels use the non-crystalline, allotropic form of silicon, in which a thin layer of this silicon substrate is applied to the back of a plate of glass. These panels are much cheaper and less energy efficient, yet they are more versatile in how they can be used. For example, amorphous solar panels can be manufactured into long sheets of roofing material. Thin Film solar panels also fall into the amorphous category. This type of cells can be mounted on a flexible backing, making them more suited for mobile applications.
Each of the solar panel types is estimated to last at least twenty-five years. Instead of stopping production completely, electricity production will decline a little, gradually, over decades. The longevity of a solar panel refers to the number of years before the unit starts producing only 80 percent of its original power rating. The industry standard for warranties is 20 to 25 years, although it is not uncommon for panels to produce adequate power for over 30 years.
- Easy to reach sales and supports staff
- Unbeatable prices
- Outstanding technical support
- Superior customer service
- Wide variety of solar systems to choose from with up to date pricing
- Consultation and planning
- Quick turnaround on all quotes, support, and services
- Unbelievable technical support
- Always offer the best pricing
Solar Wholesale’s mission is to help fit your solar needs. We have seen what other solar companies have to offer and a lot of them left us confused. We were once solar customers and we all felt the process needed to be simple. We have created what we think are the best kits for DIY customers. Solar can be a little overwhelming and electricity is something a lot of us never deal with on a day to day basis. We designed our kits in such a way to not overwhelm you and to just get you started on saving money and producing your own electricity. You don’t need to have exact information because we make it easy to add to your solar array.
By simplifying the process we think everyone can begin to feel like going solar is a great experience and in some cases actually empowering. Let’s start slow and we’ll all get there. The sun isn’t going anywhere!
Solar panels are used extensively in rural areas, where access to the grid is non-existent or inaccessible. These installations are called off grid (or independent, stand-alone) solar power systems, and require the use of batteries to store the energy for use at night or on long stretches of overcast weather. The energy stored in the batteries leaves the batteries as DC electricity which can power DC appliances (as in RV’s) or be converted to alternating current (AC) for use with conventional appliances. Much like running your own mini utility company, this method gives you full independence from the national grid.
You can eliminate the cost of batteries by going with a system that connects right into your home’s main junction box and use the grid as your power source at night or on long stretches of inclement weather. These installations are known as grid-tied or grid-interconnected systems. This version of solar system enables you to sell any excess power you produce back to the utility companies who have chosen to support “net metering”. Once you are signed up on a net metering program, your utility company will have a smart meter installed known as a Time of Use Meter, which will actually run backwards when you are producing excess power. It is wise to keep in mind that Grid tied systems without a battery backup, are only functional when the grid is operational. Due to anti-islanding features on grid tied inverters, which protect utility workers from working on a live line, grid-tied systems without a battery back up will not continue to produce power during a power outage regardless of whether you have sunshine or not.
Since solar panels produce DC, or direct current, they must be coupled with a solar inverter to convert the energy from DC to AC, or alternating current. In a grid tied system this can be done by a large central inverter, or each solar panel can be outfitted with its own micro inverter. Once the power is converted to alternating current and its phase is synchronized with that of the grid, it is then tied in to your main junction box, which is ultimately interconnected to the national grid.
The Residential tax credit is claimed by an individual taxpayer and is NON-REFUNDABLE, meaning it can only be claimed against your State of Utah tax liability. You will not receive this credit in the form of cash. Examples below include:
- If you have a State of Utah tax liability of $2,000, and you receive a Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit for $2,000, then the tax credit of$2,000 will reduce your tax liability to $0.
- If you have a tax liability of $3,500 and you receive a Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit for $2,000, then your State of Utah tax liability will be$1,500.
- If you have a tax liability of $1,200 and you receive a Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit of $2,000, then your tax liability will be $0 and the remaining Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit of $800 will roll forward to the next year. You will be able to use the remaining tax credit of $800 in the next tax year. Again, you will not receive the remaining credit in the form of cash. This is not a rebate.
Commercial tax credit is REFUNDABLE. The tax credit can be claimed by a business, corporation, LLC, or other entity. The business can claim a Commercial Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit when they file their corporate taxes with the State of Utah. Any portion that is not negated from a tax liability is then issued in a tax return. An individual taxpayer will not be able to apply for a Commercial Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit because the credit must be claimed by a corporation.
Should you apply for the residential or commercial credit if you run your business out of your home or primary residence?
- You can apply for either the Residential or the Commercial credit. The Residential credit is issued to individuals who purchased and installed the renewable energy system. The Commercial credit is issued to a business, corporation, or LLC. The Commercial credit is available for a business entity when they claim it during tax filings. An individual taxpayer cannot claim a Commercial renewable energy systems tax credit.
Are you a landlord that owns a multi-unit residential structure?
- If you install multiple renewable energy systems on separate, unique addresses, you can claim a non-refundable residential tax credit for each system.
- If you install a large renewable energy system for the entire building, the business that runs and operates the multi-unit residential structure can claim a (one) refundable commercial credit.
Applications and Deadlines
When will the Utah tax credit for renewable energy systems end?
- The tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2017.
When do I have to complete and submit the application to the Governor’s Office of Energy Development?
- You do not have to application filled out by the end of 2017 but we highly recommend submitting your complete application as soon as possible. Individuals or businesses that wait until the end of the year will face longer processing times.
How long is the processing time?
- Depending on the time of the year, processing time can take up to 6 weeks.
What types of pictures of the renewable energy system are required for the Renewable Energy System Tax Credit?
- For Solar PV systems: photos of the installed solar panels and inverter(s), the meter, and disconnect box.
- For Solar Thermal systems: photos of the solar collectors and the piping that feeds the hot water into the hot water tank.
- For Geothermal Heat Pump systems: photos of the heat pump unit and piping. If you have pictures of constructing, please include them as well.
What is a schematic?
- A schematic is a representation of the renewable energy system. Other terms that are similar to a schematic include: diagram, blueprint, and CADD file.
What is a net metering agreement?
- A net metering agreement is a contract between the owner of a renewable energy system and their local electrical utility provider. The agreement states that the excess electricity generated from the renewable energy system, not used by the building or residence, is placed onto the utility’s electricity grid.
Do you need a net metering agreement if you plan to install a renewable energy system?
- Yes. You must have a net metering agreement in place before you can turn on your renewable energy system, so long as your building or residence resides in a utility provider service territory.
Where can I get a net metering agreement for my renewable energy system – including Solar PV, Wind, and Hydro renewable energy technologies?
- You will need to contact your utility service provider.
- If Rocky Mountain Power is your service provider, you can contact them by calling their helpline at 1-888-221-7070. You should request a signed and approved net metering agreement.
- If you live within a municipality utility service provider territory (such as Logan City, Kaysville, Bountiful, Murray, Lehi, Provo, Springville, Spanish Fork, St. George, and Washington City) you will need to call your local utility and request a signed and approved net metering agreement.
For the Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit, the requested net metering agreement will have to be signed by the utility. Where can I find the signed agreement?
- If you are a Rocky Mountain Power customer, you will need the 20-page contract that must be signed by you and Rocky Mountain Power (on page 16). Depending on their availability, Rocky Mountain Power may send you the signed and finalized 20-page agreement contract or a closure letter. The closure letter is a one page formal letter on Rocky Mountain Power letterhead stating all requirements were met, and the new meter was installed. OED can accept the signed and approved 20-page agreement or the one page formal closure letter.
- If you are a local utility customer, the net metering agreements differ. Most local utilities will issue a formal letter for your records. Other utilities require higher levels of approval, such as a mayor’s signature.
What is the solar tax credit?
The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems, and there is no cap on its value.
What does the federal solar tax credit extension mean for the solar industry?
The federal ITC was originally established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was set to expire at the end of 2007. A series of extensions pushed the expiration date back to the end of 2016, but experts believed that an additional five-year extension would bring the solar industry to its full maturity. Thanks to the spending bill that Congress passed in late December 2015, the tax credit is now available to homeowners in some form through 2021. Here are the specifics:
- 2016 – 2019: The tax credit remains at 30% of the cost of the system.
- 2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26% of the cost of the system from their taxes.
- 2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22% of the cost of the system from their taxes.
- 2022 onwards: Owners of new commercial solar energy systems can deduct 10% of the cost of the system from their taxes. There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems.
Additionally, in previous years, owners of new solar energy systems could not claim the tax credit unless their system was operational. Now, the legislation allows them to claim it as soon as the construction of the system begins, as long as it is operational by December 31, 2023.
Do I qualify for the solar panel tax credit?
As long as you own your solar energy system, you are eligible for the solar tax credit. Even if you don’t have enough tax liability to claim the entire credit in one year, you can “roll over” the remaining credits into future years for as long as the tax credit is in effect. However, remember that if you sign a lease or PPA with a solar installer, you are not the owner of the system, and thus you cannot receive the tax credit.
How do I claim the solar tax credit?
You claim the solar tax credit when you file your yearly federal tax return
Resources on the extension of the federal ITC
- The Wall Street Journal explores the legislation and what it means for today’s homeowners.
- Greentech Media conducted an in-depth analysis of the solar tax credit extension’s impact on the broader solar industry.
- Read the language of the official bill (Section 303, beginning on pg. 2005, details the specifics of the extension).