Updated: Jul 3
Solar energy is becoming more and more popular among commercial property owners. The possibility of lower energy bills, higher property value, and doing good for our planet is hard to resist. But the switch to solar can also bring a bunch of questions. In this blog, we at GAIN Renewables will break down some of the biggest questions about solar energy.
1. How Does Solar Energy Work?
Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity. They are made up of smaller units called photovoltaic cells (solar cells). These cells convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity is then converted to alternating current (AC) electricity by an inverter, which can be used to power your building.
2. How Much Can I Save by Going Solar?
The potential savings from going solar depend on several factors, including your property's location, its orientation and tilt, the rate your utility charges for electricity, and the size of your solar system. On average, commercial property owners can expect to reduce their electricity bills by 50–75%. Additionally, you may qualify for various federal, state, or local incentives, which can further lower your costs.
3. What Are the Maintenance Costs for Solar Panels?
Solar panels are known for their low maintenance requirements. They have no moving parts, reducing the likelihood of mechanical failure. Periodic cleaning to remove dirt, leaves, or snow is generally the only maintenance required. Additionally, most solar panel manufacturers offer long-term warranties, typically around 25 years, covering most unexpected repairs.
4. Can My Business Run on Solar Energy Alone?
Technically, it is possible for your business to run solely on solar power, but it depends on your energy consumption and the size of your solar system. However, many businesses opt for a grid-tied system. This means your system is connected to the grid, allowing you to use grid electricity when your panels aren't producing enough (such as during the night or on cloudy days) and feed excess power back into the grid when you're producing more than you need.
5. How Do Solar Panels Impact My Property Value?
Multiple studies have shown that solar panels can significantly increase property values. The exact amount can vary, but commercial properties with solar panels are often valued higher due to the potential for reduced operating costs. In a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, buildings with solar panels sold for a premium compared to similar properties without solar systems.
6. What's the Lifecycle of a Solar Panel?
Solar panels are built to last and typically come with a warranty of 25 years. However, this doesn't mean they stop working after this period. It simply means their efficiency slightly decreases over time. Most solar panels can continue producing electricity efficiently for 30–35 years or more.
7. Can Solar Panels Work in Cold or Cloudy Climates?
Solar panels are actually more efficient in cooler temperatures. Cloudy days will decrease production slightly, but panels will still produce energy. Even areas known for their cloud cover have successful solar installations. It's the availability of sunlight over the course of the year, not the temperature or daily weather, that's most important.
8. What Are the Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy?