Shasta College Residential Photovoltaic Installation Class
Halcyon Solar Construction teaches a Residential Photovoltaic Installation Class at Shasta College
(Turn Up Your Volume the Video is Quiet)
Here are a few photo's from the Class at Shasta College
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Andy giving the students a walk-through of the Redding Municipal Airport Array
Andy giving the students a hand with their ground mount construction
Students learning how to work safely with fall protection equipment
Students installing solar panels on the mock roof at Shasta College
A couple of students getting accustomed to working safely on a roof
FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
How Does it Work?
The term photovoltaic derives from the Greek work “phos” meaning light and the word “volt” a measurement of electricity.
The process begins by gathering light onto the individual photovoltaic cells, which are specially coated silicon wafers. Photons, which are what light is made of, strike the silicon wafers. How the wafers are coated causes the electricity to flow in a continuous circle of usable electricity.
The solar panels gather the light and transfer the DC power to an inverter where it changes the power from DC to AC so that the consumer can use it. Any power that is not being used by the consumer will be what is known as back-fed into the utility grid. The utility meter will read this as a credit so that when the sun is no longer out, such as night or cloudy days, the consumer uses those credits to counteract what they use from the utility company. If you choose, at the end of your billing year you pay your net total.
What is a solar system made of?
A typical solar system is comprised of three main components. Solar panels to gather sunlight and convert it into usable power, a mounting system to hold the solar panels in place, and an inverter to convert the power generated from the solar panels into usable AC current for the consumer to use in their household or business.
What is the difference between DC and AC?
Many companies rate their systems in terms of DC. They do this so that you feel that you are getting a larger system for your money. The reason that you should view everything in AC terms is because AC is real production after you factor in conversion losses, heat losses, etc. The other reason is that the CEC rebate is based on the AC rating of a system, not the DC rating. For example: a 2.970 kW system (DC Rated) is the same as a 2.431 system (AC Rated). Production estimates and the rebates are based on the AC rating.
Does a solar system work at night or on cloudy days?
Solar systems do not produce any electricity at night; however, they do produce power on cloudy and even some rainy days. Although, they will not produce nearly as much energy as they will on sunny days.
What happens if I lose power from the utility?
In the event that you lose power from the utility the solar system is designed to automatically turned off. This is safety feature that is required for the inverter to turn off to help prevent a lineman from being electrocuted in the event that they need to work on power lines that they believe to be de-energized.
Is there any kind of warranty?
Solar panels typically have a 25 year production warranty, meaning that 25 years down the road the panels will still be producing 80% of their rated capacity as the day they were installed. Inverters typically have a 10 year warranty but depending on the application and home or business owners request that warranty can be extended to 25 years.
What kind of maintenance is required?
There is little to no maintenance for most solar systems because there are typically no moving parts. It is recommended to possibly wash your solar array 1-2 times per year to help increase the production if they are heavily soiled from dirt or dust. You don’t need to squeegee the panels clean, usually a simple hosing off is all that they need. When we design a system we take into account that the panels will get dirty and reduce or de-rate the production the system will produce annually.
Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?
All solar electric systems must be permitted through the local building department. Halcyon Solar will handle every aspect of the installation from filing of the rebate paperwork, to the permits, to the final inspections, and Net Metering Approval.
What size system do I need?
If you install solar in any capacity for your home or business, you will enter into a Net Metering Agreement with your local Utility Company. Instead of billing you once a month, they will change you to a yearly billing cycle. Since this is done on a yearly basis, you will need to acquire a 12 month history of your power usage in order to determine your average use in kWh/day over the course of one year. You then take this number and divide if by the number of peak sunshine hours that youa re expected to get at your particular location, and factor in any efficiency losses for shading, orientation, or pitch. For Example: If you usage is 20kWh/day and you get 5.5 hours of peak sunshine, you divide 20/5.5 = 3.64 kW system (AC Rated). If you had a 5% efficiency loss because your roof was not at an optimal direction or pitch, your final system size would be (3.64 x 1.05) or a 3.82 kW (AC Rated) to eliminate your entire electric bill. Let Halcyon Solar Construction help you determine the system size.
What is Net Metering?
Net Metering is the agreement between the home or business owner and the local Utility Company that allows you to spin the meter backwards. The Net Metering Agreement is for one 12 month period at a time. You can be a net produced or net consumer during this period. At the end of each 12 month period, if your solar energy system did not produce enough power, you will need to pay the difference. It is important to remember that if your system overproduces, the local Utility Company is typically required to pay you for the net production, however it is not anywhere near what they charge you and therefore is not recommended to oversize the system you need.
Does my system need batteries?
With Net Metering you do not need any batteries. Most of today’s systems are grid-tied, which means that they are connected directly to the local Utility power lines. You would only need batteries for stand-alone applications or if you wanted emergency power if there was a power outage. If emergency backup power is a concern, Halcyon would also recommend that you install a transfer switch and go to generator power.
What is the typical payback period?
Each system will have a different payback period. Typically smaller system have a payback period of approximately 10 years and larger system approximately 7 years. Commercial systems usually have a payback period of closer to or under 7 years due to the additional tax credits available. Besides the economic payback, the system will also have an environmental payback. Along with each proposal, we will send you an environmental impact summary that shows you how your system is helping to save the environment.
What type of roof do I need?
Most solar installations are installed on the roof of the home or business. Halcyon Solar can do an installation on any type of roofing: composite shingle, wood shake, flat tile, Spanish tile, or ceramic tile. If you do not want the solar installed on the roof, you can also utilize a ground mount. Most homeowners who have a lot or available un-shaded acreage choose this type of installation. Besides the roof or ground, you can also install the modules on a carport, garage, patio cover, or on poles. A south facing roof or ground area without shading is ideal, but even west facing roofs or hillsides can work with minimal efficiency losses.