FAQS For Buying/Building a
If you have a question that is not shown here, you may contact us via email or call 888.642.0226 or 512.850.6503 and we will be happy to educate and answer your questions about renewable energy systems and sustainable living. .
How much does solar cost?
Solar pricing has dramatically come down in price for hardware, primarily the solar panels. The average across for a complete system and installation in or near a major city is about $3.70 per watt. So to install an 8000 Watt Grid Tie system is about $22,200 on average. Just 6 years ago, this same system would have been $45-50K. If you live in the country or further outside a major city expect to pay a min of $4-5 per watt since there are less competent installers and engineers in the country. It is also more difficult for logistics in getting some of the major components for a solar system. We at GreenTechFusion help the customer bring down the complete cost of either a Grid Tie or Off Grid solar system as well as wind power by consulting with the customer to do a DIY install for the solar mounting and labor. Our typical costs for the solar panels is $1 per watt on 220 Watt to 400 Watt panels plus the cost of the Grid Tie or Off Grid Inverter, wiring and other balance of system (BOS) components like emergency disconnects and breakers. For power backup systems with batteries or Off Grid customers, the cost goes up substantially due to the slightly higher costs for batteries, wiring and the addition of one or more solar charge controllers to charge the battery bank. Off Grid Inverters are slightly more money per watt than Grid Inverters of the same wattage.
How is the efficiency of solar?
Every year solar efficiency increases and as of 2016, we can get solar panels in the 20-22% efficiency range. Other solar panels manufactured within the past few years are in the 13-17% efficiency range and will of course last well over 40-50 years with the energy output dropping to about 60-80% around the 30 year mark. Panels are increasing in efficiency, getting smaller and lighter and also going down in price!
How does solar power work at night and when I'm not home?
A standard Grid Tied solar (or any other renewable energy system) does not use batteries for night time
energy usage but use the grid instead. During the day your solar system will generate enough energy (if large enough)
to cover your daytime energy needs almost 100% and if you use more energy than your system can create, then you pull energy
from the grid as normal. This is all automatic.
Companies like Tesla have introduced 14 kWh Lithium battery systems for your home or business which can be daisy changed together to offer enough energy storage offset or even cover 100% of your night time energy needs. A typical small home uses about 9-20 kWh's at night depending on if air conditioning is being used and can be covered by 3 of the Tesla batteries. These battery systems are charged during the day from excess solar energy that is not being used by your home or business so you can use at night. Again, this is all automated with programming. We will keep up with new emerging battery or energy storage technology as it becomes available!
What is Grid Tie Solar?
A Grid Tie solar system is the simplest and easiest to install and start with with the fewest components. A Grid Tie system consist of the solar panels, the solar amounting hardware or solar tracker and the Grid Tie Inverter or Inverters if using Micro Inverters. Grid Tie inverters are built to synchronize with your utility grid electricity at 60Hz and allow two way communication and energy transfer from the grid or to the grid when you generate more electricity than you need.
There are no batteries or other hardware needed for a Grid Tie system unless the customer wishes to have a battery backup system as well.
A Grid Tie inverter only works when the utility grid is live and up. In an emergency or natural distorter where the grid goes down, your solar system will also shutdown for safety reason required by the utility company. You can discuss with us on how to have a solar battery backup system in place for when the grid goes down. There are Hybrid Grid Tie Inverters with battery backup capability with auto switching however they are quite expensive and are one point of failure. We recommend keeping the backup battery system separate form the Grid Tie system and add some auto switching hardware and separate Off Grid Inverter that can pair with a Grid Tie inverter.
What is Off Grid Solar?
An Off Grid solar system is a complete self sufficient setup with solar panels and mounting, Off Grid Inverter, solar charge controller or
controllers, large battery bank and other balance of system components (BOS) such as wiring for solar, wiring for battery bank, emergency shutoffs,
DC fuses and DC breakers.
The most costly part of going Off Grid is still the batteries and the battery bank in general. We are starting to see a number of huge improvements to battery technology in the electric vehicle world and smaller emergency backup systems using Lithium Ion battery chemistry. The Tesla 7kWh battery as an example is a $3500 Lithium battery for Grid Tie customers that wish to offset their nighttime electric usage with excess solar they created during the day. The Tesla battery automatically starts putting energy back into the Grid Tie inverter and feed the house during the evening. This same battery can also be used in an Off Grid configuration as well however you would need about 6-10 of the these 7kWh batteries ($21,000 plus installation and tax) in order to use for Off Grid. The costs for standard deep cycle solar batteries various by manufacture and Amp hrs, sealed or maintenance free verses wet cell batteries so it is difficult to gage the cost until we consult with the customer. A good stating point is $20-25K on average to a typical small house of complete Off Grid cabin with very efficient AC unit and other energy efficiencies in place such as LED lighting..
What is an emergency or battery backup system and is it the same is an Off Grid system?
An emergency backup system is typically a big enough battery bank to handle only appliances and equipment you wish to keep running for a certain amount of time if the grid goes down or in a short term emergency. In a disaster, the battery bank would need to be charge on a daily bases and that is where solar, wind or backup generator like diesel or propane come in. The battery bank is typically much smaller and more affordable than a complete Off Grid setup where the batteries have to run your house 24/7 whether the sun shines or not.
Emergency backup systems can be configured to run a whole house or business with the correct size battery bank and enough Amp hr capacity to meet your needs. We typically recommend to customers to split off a few important circuits from the house main electrical panel and put them in a stub panel connected directly to the Off Grid or Point of Use inverter. A Point Of Use Inverter are the smaller inverters that connect directly to the battery bank and the appliances plugs directly into the inverter. You can get these all the way up to 6000 and 10,000 Watts. Once you get over 4000 Watt inverter, they tend to change to 24v and 48v units which require your battery bank to be configured as a 24v battery bank or 48v battery bank. In and Off Grid setup for whole house, the system is typically a 24v or 48v battery and Inverter configuration in order to handle the higher Amp requirements from AC units and and 220v AC appliances if you have them.
We also build and sell smaller mobile emergency solar power systems that can handle a fridge or microwave and lighting in an emergency or while mobile. Contact today to discuss more on mobile solar generators.
Can you have wind power and solar power? Which is better?
The short answer is yes, you can have a hybrid solar and wind generator setup and you will find in most cases of Off Grid living, customers typically have both since they compliment each other. Your location and area of the world really dictates if it is feasible to add wind power and an extensive site survey with a wind meter and few months of data is recommended before investing in wind power. If you are not on the coast or on a high mountain or ridge, you mostly likely can add wind without extensive surveys.
Adding a wind generator to your existing solar power system is a bit different for Grid Tie systems and Off Grid systems. You always most likely have to add extra battery charging components for wind as well as match the wind generator for each type of configuration and we can help with that. Most solar inverter and charges do not not have wind connections and we do not recommend using single comment charge controller/inverters that do wind and solar both. That is one point of failure and there are different fluctuating power inputs form solar and wind which really need to managed separately. The solar charge controller and a wind charge controller can both be connected to the same battery bank as long as they are both configured for the correct voltage of the battery bank being 12v, 24v or 48v typically.
There are two main types of residential and commercial wind generators on the market and we recommend a generator depending on the customer site and the type of usage either fixed or mobile setup. HAWT or Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines are the predominate wind gens in the US as well as large scale onshore and offshore wind farms. You will find more VAWT or Vertical Axis Wind Turbines in Europe and Asia since they are ahead of the US on wind technology.
As far as which one is better you have to look at the use of the generator. The VAWT is about 3 x more money per watt than the standard HAWT wind generator however the VAWT does have more benefits in certain situations. VAWTs can spin up in low wind conditions and typically can generate power in low wind up to 20mph while the HAWT wind generator must have a sustained wind condition of 20-26mph to generate any usable energy.
VAWTs are also much more quieter than HAWTs due to how the wind enters the blades and such so are best used in areas where you require less noise and low wind. When choosing VAWTs is is recommended to buy ones that are MagLev or Magnetic Levitation of the rotor which allows the generator to last much much longer than a typical HAWT design. You may find small VAWT wind generators to test for yourself up to 50 Watt until you desired to invest in a larger scale VAWT. We also recommend HAWTs from Missouri Wind and Solar whom build a custom wind generator ranging from 1000 watts to 5000 watts at a price of less than $.50 per watt.
Can I lease a solar system instead of purchase outright?
If a customer has purchased a home or has a business in one of the coverage areas of SolarCity or one of the other solar leasing companies, you may be eligible for a 0% down Grid Tie solar system. Leasing a system from SolarCity is a very complicated so we recommend you contact us first to discuss the pros and cons of leasing compared to outright purchase or owning your system.
You may click here as well to find out for yourself first if your eligible for a lease system and which leasing program is best for you.
I wish to purchase my solar system, what kind of financing is available?
GreenTechFusion does not offer direct financing at this time however we will in the future. We can help you find financing from third parties or work with you in looking at Home Equity Loans as well as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program.
Home Equity Loans require you to get money for solar and installation from you existing equity of your home.
The PACE program is a way to finance solar systems or energy efficiency retrofits, where the city offers you a loan, and you pay it back through your property tax bills over 15 to 20 years. This program is better than a Home Equity loan since the program doesn't require shelling out any cash up front or reducing equity in your home. The value of your home goes up in either case depending on the market your in.
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