Frequently Asked Questions
In layperson terms, photovoltaic cells are comprised of a semiconductor material such as silicon. Added to the silicon are the elements phosphorous and boron which create conductivity within the cell and activate the movement of electrons. The electrons move across the cell when activated by the sunlight’s energy into the electrical circuit hooked up to the solar panel.
A solar panel turns the sun’s light into electricity! We see electricity at work every day. For instance, when you turn on a lamp, electrons move through the cord and light up the bulb. That flow of electrons is called electricity.
One solar panel is made up of many small solar cells. Each of these cells uses light to make electrons move. The cell is made up of two different layers that are stuck together. The first layer is loaded with electrons, so the electrons are ready to jump from this layer to the second layer. That second layer has had some electrons taken away, so it is ready to take in more electrons.
When the light hits an electron in the first layer, the electron jumps to the second layer. That electron makes another electron move, which makes another electron move, and so on. It was the sunlight that started the flow of electrons, or electricity.
A 5kW solar electric system installed and working will cost approximately $17,500 or $3.50 per watt. The typical cost as of the first quarter of 2016 for solar panels is at less than $1 a watt. Micro inverters or optimizers with a central inverter average about $2,500 or $0.50 a watt. Solar Gateways range from $200 to $500 depending on brand or $0.10 a watt. The standard racking for a perfect south facing room usually cost around $1,500 or $0.30 a watt. Cables, Wiring, Conduit, and Tool Usage cost around $650 or $0.13 – $0.15 a watt. The last two costs include labor and back office CRM and CMS software and management. Just labor alone is a large cost, which varies from location to location but may average about $1 a watt. The back office software is charged monthly and ranges from $50 a month to over $200 per month depending on size and options, which if you install 10 systems a month makes the back office software and licensing cost about $0.02 a watt. The last cost to not forget about includes the master electrician, city and power inspectors, and other related permits and fees, which come to almost $0.30 per watt.
Of course this is a relative question, which you can check your monthly electric bill to get an idea of how much you use and then depending on the amount of sun and the size of your system, you can save up to the amount of your electric bill minus some base fee that come city’s charge. An example of a few systems that we installed then the houses were two stories, with two AC units, and about 3200 square feet. To cover there electric bill, then a 8 kW system was needed, which cost them about $25,900 and saved them each month about $205 per month. Using a financing option, with a 12 year term, their new monthly cost, with a solar system came to $103 per month payments. The first year saving averaged about $1,224.