What Custom Utah Solar Looks Like
Something resonates deep inside when we hear the word “custom.” Everyone loves the idea of being unique and having a product fit their needs perfectly. However, in the Utah solar industry, this word is tossed around all too readily.
Weeding Out Fake Utah Solar Customization Claims
Solar panels can and should be customized to fit your Utah home’s energy needs. However, not every company is forthright about its customization.
It is important to understand what customization scams are out there, particularly in Utah. Here are some ways Utah solar companies have made empty customization claims.
Myth #1: Oversized Solar Arrays Are Not Good “Customization”
Some solar companies convince their customers that purchasing an oversized system is better. They argue that your extra solar production will be purchased by the utility. This, however, is not the way solar metering works. The only time a Utah solar company should oversize a system is if you’ve explicitly stated you will be adding things to your home that will increase energy usage.
Many utilities do pay or credit their customers for their excess solar energy. However, it isn’t unlimited. Excess solar energy offsets the cost of power that was pulled off the grid when the sun was down.
The only time it would be good to oversize your system is if you are anticipating more energy use in the near future. Adding an electric car or switching to electric appliances are some reasons why you might need a larger system.
Myth #2: Using Square Footage to Size a Residential Solar System
The square footage of a home can help determine the average energy use of a home that size. However, this is quite the opposite of being customized. In fact, using this method can drastically oversize or undersize your system.
The best way to accurately size your solar array is to acquire the last 12 months of energy usage from your utility company. Usage is the amount of electricity you are using, usually measured and billed to consumers by the power company in monthly increments. You can gather this information by looking at your power bills or by asking for your last 12 months of usage.
Usage tells the solar company exactly how much energy you use in a year at this particular location. However, this is still only one factor in the number of solar panels you will need to meet your energy needs.
Myth #3: Skewed Inverter-To-Solar Ratios
The third myth behind customized solar is skewed inverter sizing. There are some companies that say you need a smaller inverter than the one your solar array would demand. It is argued that a smaller inverter will allow you to maximize power output in low light.
This is true if more power is produced than the inverter can handle — it will then clip the excess power. If you aren’t careful, oversizing your solar array can decrease inverter production and life. The inverter is what transduces the sunlight absorbed by the solar modules into usable current within your home.
Some companies will oversize an inverter to ensure that it will convert all the power produced by your solar panels. However, if a Utah solar company oversizes your inverter, you won’t produce the desired amount of power, either.
It is best to keep your solar-panel-to-inverter ratio close to one. The suggested ratio between an inverter and solar panels is 1.15 to 1.25, however, you can have a ratio up to 1.55 without serious drawbacks.
The Truth Behind Customized Utah Solar Modules
Solar customization isn’t all fake. True customization allows you to match your solar array with personal energy needs.
Solar Arrays Sized for Your Energy Usage
The first way that your system can be customized is with proper sizing. The best way to get an accurately sized system is to acquire the last 12 months of kilowatt usage, as outlined above. This needs to be for the Utah residence for which you want solar.
The reason this helps customize your system is that every home is different. Even if you have the exact same floor plan as your neighbor, your energy habits are quite different.
Energy usage tells the solar company all about those habits, which allows them to accurately size a system that will account for your average energy use.
Solar Backup and Battery Backup Options
Another way to customize your solar array is through the addition of solar backup. Unfortunately, as far as backup is concerned, solar arrays only produce power when the sun is out. They also do not store excess solar power for later use. This is why most individuals stay connected to the power grid.
To clarify, backup solar solutions like our secure power supply do not store energy for later use, but rather supply power directly from the panels in standalone form, whereas battery backup accomplishes the same thing but takes it a step further by enabling you to store that power for use at a later date. Many Utah backup battery solutions have portable options, which mean you can power your battery with your home panels, then take the battery with you camping to charge headlamps, cell phones, and laptops.
Being connected to the grid, however, doesn’t solve energy needs during power outages. This is because it is mandatory for solar arrays to shut down during an outage.
If, however, you have some form of solar battery backup, you have control over when your excess solar is used. This means that you won’t have to replace all your food in the fridge because of a long outage.
The Future of Utah Solar Company Customization: Solar Plus
Currently, solar array and backup size are the pillars of solar customization. However, the future is around the corner. As time progresses, the integration of home updates with solar will increase. Today there are already energy updates available that increase your solar potential.
Updating Appliances To Efficient Electric
One of the best ways to increase the use of your Utah home’s solar array is to switch to electric appliances when your old ones die. Every appliance switched to electric is one more item that your solar array will power instead of the gas company.
Some of these updates include electric water heaters and Energy Star rated electric washers and dryers — all of which take up quite a bit of energy.
You can customize solar by accounting for these updates in your original solar installation. Or you can add more solar panels as you increase your electric use.
Home Upgrades That Enhance Solar
You can also enhance solar with smart home upgrades and solar plus solutions. These devices allow you to have more control over your energy consumption.
Smart Thermostats in Conjunction With Utah Solar
Smart thermostats are to in-home energy products what the remote was, and still is, to television.
Smart thermostats allow you to control your home temperature from anywhere. It heats up or cools down your home at times of the day most convenient for you. If you are gone most of the day, you don’t have to have your air conditioner or heater running the whole time.
A smart thermostat can turn off your heating or cooling system while you are gone. Then, when you are on your way back, you can tell it to start back up. You can also set the thermostat to an eco-friendly setting meant to help your home save the most energy.
When you combine solar with a smart thermostat, you have even more control. The combination allows you to save more money because you are producing your own energy.
The Idea Behind Smart Meters
Smart meters allow the power company to record energy use in real time. As the grid converts to the smart grid model, more smart meters are popping up.
This technology replaces the need for human meter readings, which decreases human error. It can also help decrease the power outage duration. If you have solar with a smart meter, it will also accurately read how much excess power you are generating.
This power can then be credited toward the energy pulled off the grid. This increases solar power compensation accuracy.
Energy Efficient Lighting
Lighting takes up a significant portion of a typical electric bill and it takes up even more if you are using incandescent bulbs. The majority of energy for an incandescent bulb comes in the form of heat, which means you end up using more power for less light.
When you switch to energy efficient lighting, you significantly decrease your power bill. And when efficient lighting is combined with solar, more of your solar power can be used for other energy needs.
Increasing Home Energy Efficiency
Another way to enhance your solar production is to determine whether your home is energy efficient. If your home is leaking air, it will require more power to stay at a comfortable temperature.
Taking care of air leaks is a great way to decrease your power bill. If it is done before your solar panel installation, it could also decrease the number of solar panels you need.
Sealing off Air Leaks in Your Utah Home
There are several different areas in a home that are prone to air leaks. Energy.gov points out 18 common air leak areas on their website. Once you have discovered what areas of your home are leaking air, you can determine how to seal them.
You might only need some new weather stripping and to calk a few gaps, or you might need to put insulation in between your walls or in the attic. One of the major air leak areas for Utah homeowners are windows.
Energy Efficient Window Treatments
Since windows are transparent, they allow both light and heat to come through. If you don’t have energy efficient windows they can also let the air from your home escape.
Solar with energy efficient upgrades enables better control of energy consumption, and therein greater customization. This is the ideal way to customize your Utah solar installation.