In order to assess a site for solar in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, there are several major considerations:
- Electric usage – the three year average annual electric usage is used to size the system. The system can not produce more electricity annually than the three year average. Armed with this information, the rough roof area required for the system can be determined. After it is understood how many roof planes will be utilized, each plane can be individually assessed.
- Pictures of the roof support structure of each plane are taken; rafter size and spacing is noted. This information will be passed on to the structural engineer to determine if the roof plane can support the added weight of the solar system.
- Pictures of the roof plane are taken and locations of obstructions are measured.
- A shading analysis using a tool called Aurora Solar (TM) of the roof is performed to determine the total solar resource fraction (TSRF) for each roof. At the left are two shading the reports – the top one is poor (the TSRF is 71%). This is due to the orientation (east facing) and the trees around the roof. The bottom one is much better. Though there is shading to the east of the roof (that will shade the roof in the morning), the roof is facing south and has a TSRF of 94%. This means the roof has 94% of the sun available to it as compared to an south facing roof that has no shading.
- Armed with all of this information, the system design can be completed.
System Design & Engineering
After the site assessment, we take the information gathered to produce a formal design. Three major documents are produced:
- A Single Line Diagram – this diagram details the electrical design of the project, including the panels and inverter that have been selected for the project.
- A Site Design Diagram – this diagram details the major aspects of the project including where the panels are going to be placed on the roof. This diagram is often stamped by a professional engineer.
- Structural Certification – local building departments require a certification that the roof can support the added weight of the solar system. This certification is also stamped by a professional engineer.
Examples of some of these documents are shown above.
After the design is complete, the contracts are signed, and deposit monies received, Sunwatt will procure all of the necessary materials for the solar project and arrange to have major materials drop shipped to the project site:
- PV Modules
- Miscellaneous electrical components
SunWatt will compile a complete package of information to be submitted to the local building department to apply for the building and electrical permits for the solar project. Construction can commence when the permits have been issued.
SunWatt manages the solar project from beginning to end. This process involves our project management staff, our Master Electrician, and our installation staff. We strive to maintain the highest quality throughout the process to ensure an excellent installation with minimal disruption. At the completion of the installation, the system is commissioned, tested and reinspected, making sure it will produce the projected amount of energy.
Sunwatt manages the application process with the electric utility. We work with National Grid in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as Eversource and municipal utilities. Each utility has a different process and our administration team is versed in all of the details and specifics of each in every region we serve. In addition, we manage the application process for state incentive programs. Rhode Island solar incentives and Massachusetts solar incentives are unique to each state. It is SunWatt’s goal to help the project owner realize the maximum financial benefit possible from the installation of their solar system.
Service and Maintanence
Sunwatt warrants every system we install. If there is an issue with your Sunwatt installed solar system, please call us at 844-SUNWATT (844-786-9288) and will take care of the issue right away. Though PV systems are relatively maintenance free, we offer a maintenance program of periodic inspection and adjustments to make sure that your PV system is operating at optimal efficiency.
We know that PV systems are a substantial investment. There are several different options available to finance your solar system:
- if you have the cash to invest, the combination of the Federal Investment Tax Credit (FITC) and state incentive programs provide an attractive investment opportunity. Internal Rate of Returns in excess of 15% can be achieved over the 20+ year life of the project. Such returns are a rarity in today’s investment environment.
- Equity Loans – We can help you pull together the information necessary to borrow against the equity in your home or business. Equity loans are often at a lower interest rate than commercial products available to finance solar systems.
- Massachusetts Solar Loan – Massachusetts subsidizes loans for solar projects. This program can provide similar interest rates to home equity loans for Massachusetts residents.
- Sunwatt has a relationship with Spruce Finacial (www.sprucefinance.com). Spruce offers a loan program for financing solar projects. Spruce offers additional finance or lease options for Massachusetts residents.
- REAP – Sunwatt has experience for applying for grant money under the US Rural Energy for America Program. If your farm or business is in a rural area, this program is an excellent way to finance part of the cost of your system.
- RI Renewable Energy Fund (REF) – Rhode Island Residents can apply for grant money under the RI REF to finance a part of the cost of your system.
As you can see, there are many options for PV system financing. Sunwatt Solar can help you sort through the various options that are available to you in your unique situation.