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Decided to Add a Solar Kit to Your Building? 7 Commercial Solar Necessities

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Solar power is becoming more popular. Although only 3.5% of commercial buildings currently have solar panels installed, that figure is starting to grow. You can do your part and add a solar kit to your own building.

Installing a commercial solar system comes with a long list of benefits. It can help reduce your building’s overall dependence on the power grid or even eliminate the need entirely. It offers a way to become sustainable and ultimately help a business’s bottom line.

Oftentimes, when combining the federal, state and local incentives, owners can typically recoup the costs in a few short years. That means having decades of free, renewable energy with minimal maintenance.

Although the necessary equipment for a commercial solar power system will depend on the type installed, the base requirements are generally the same.

Various Types of Solar Power Systems

Depending on the location of your commercial building, the type of solar power system will vary.

The most common is a grid-tied system. This system connects to the grid to pull electricity when the panels don’t generate enough.

It’s commonly found in residential and commercial buildings and provides the benefit of reduced energy bills without worrying about never having power.

Off-grid systems are the complete opposite of grid-tied. These have zero connection to the grid, and the home or commercial building generates and stores 100 percent of its electricity. These are also called stand-alone systems and are generally much more cost-effective for remote locations.

In order to have an effective stand-alone system, it’s best to combine several renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines and hydropower.

The third type is a hybrid system. This combines the best of the other two. It pairs the panels with external battery storage to save for later use but also connects to the grid.

Which System Is Best?

The best commercial solar kit depends on your needs and goals. If the needs and goals skew more towards saving money on energy bills, then grid-tied systems may offer the most benefit. These are great for saving money, especially if your local utility provider offers net metering.

Off-grid systems are best for commercial buildings that have zero access to the grid and want to become 100 percent self-reliant. However, it comes with the disadvantage of always being conscious of daily energy production and consumption.

Hybrid systems are best for buildings located in areas with frequent power outages. It allows the building to pull from the grid and continue operations throughout a blackout. They’re best for building owners that want to maximize power usage sustainably.

Commercial Solar Necessities

One aspect of selecting the best solar kit for your building involves understanding the necessary components.

Panels and Cells

The first is the obvious solar panels. The role of these panels is to ensure they’re set at the right angle so that the solar cells within can capture the most hours of sunlight.

Without solar cells, the entire system is useless. Simply put, each of the cells generates an electrical charge when exposed to light.

A majority of solar cells today use monocrystalline material to balance efficiency and cost. However, there are numerous types of cells, each with its own pros and cons. Regardless of the system and cell material type, every single kit will come with solar panels fitted with cells.

Inverter

The inverter is an essential part of a solar kit that makes the electricity usable. The type of electricity that solar panels generate is direct current (DC).

Inverters are responsible for converting the DC into alternating current (AC), which most electrical systems require. The best type of inverter for a commercial building depends on several factors like the number of panels and shading, to name a few.

The least expensive type is the centralized or string inverter. They benefit from being cost-friendly but can be inefficient due to a drop in production with any amount of shading.

Microinverters are more expensive than centralized models because they’re individual components that attach to each panel. These are much more efficient because it offers full production even if shade covers some panels.

Lastly, there are power optimizers that aren’t inverters but play a contributing role. They’re installed in each panel and optimize the DC output when utilized. The output is then sent to a centralized or string inverter to convert to usable AC.

They’re not as expensive as microinverters and are essentially an add-on to optimize a string inverter.

Battery Storage

Commercial buildings can benefit from solar battery storage, especially during a power outage. For most businesses, shutting down operations due to a power outage can waste tens of thousands of dollars.

Battery storages allow a commercial solar kit to operate when the grid is down. Depending on the size of the building and type, some may require more batteries than others.

Generally, off-grid systems and larger facilities require more batteries because of power use and the lack of a grid to fall back on.

Charge Controller

If you decide to get extra battery storage for your commercial building, you’ll also want to invest in a charge controller.

These are specific to solar kits that use batteries. Charge controllers are components between the panels and the batteries. It works to prevent overcharging and from the battery catching fire.

It’s an essential component that prolongs your battery life and helps ensure a safe system.

Racking System

No matter if the kits are being installed on a large, flat roof or above a carport, it will require a racking system.

The panels mount the racking system in any solar kit, which are the components attached to the roof. The racking system optimizes the angle of the solar panels for most sun exposure.

Net Meter

This is an essential component for grid-tied systems in areas where net metering is offered. A net meter tracks a building’s electricity production and usage.

If your local utility company offers net metering, it essentially buys back any unused electricity in the form of a lowered electric bill.

Monitoring System

A solar monitoring system is an essential component of any commercial solar kit. It provides crucial information like performance changes and how much electricity your system generates down to the hour.

Installing a Commercial Solar Kit to Make Your Building Eco-Friendlier

There are a lot of ways to make your building eco-friendly, such as installing energy efficient windows. However, one of the best options is to add a solar kit.

Deciding to add a solar kit to your building can be a tough decision. However, it’s one that you can reap the benefits from for decades to come, both environmentally and financially.

Once you decide on the best type of solar power system for your building, you can better determine which components are critical for your system’s short- and long-term success.

Have some inspiration about going green in all aspect of life. Views are my own.

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