FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


10 Interesting facts about HVAC systems

HVAC facts
  1. The invention of the air conditioning system improved the air quality in closed places. As a result, diseases were cured, and less people suffered from illnesses like asthma.
  2. The first man who built the air conditioning system was Willis Carrier in 1902. Now his company Carrier Corporation is the world leader in the HVAC sector.
  3. The annual energy used for air conditioning by the US is the same as the whole continent of Africa's annual energy usage for all power needs.
  4. The lifetime of properly maintained and installed HVAC systems is estimated to be 10 to 15 years, depending on the manufacturer of the product.
  5. Research shows that the invention of AC has reduced the human’s natural tolerance changes in extreme heat. Now people are used to temperatures up to 90 °F. Above this temperature, people feel uncomfortable.
  6. The first building with an air conditioning system installed was the New York Stock Exchange.
  7. Many commercial and government offices took two-month vacations during summer before air conditioning was popular and known. The phrase “summer break” can relate to that fact.
  8. Air conditioners reduce home air humidity. Homes that have moist air feel warmer than buildings where the level of humidity is low.
  9. The average family spends more than 2000$ on their bills annually. More than half of these bills are related to heating and cooling systems.
  10. Installing a programmable controller with a thermostat can reduce the heating and cooling bills by 10 %.

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California Rolling Blackouts and Solar Energy

It’s 106 degrees Fahrenheit outside and all of the sudden, the air conditioner and fans in your house begin to power down. What do you do?

What is a rolling blackout?

In August 2020, California experienced rolling blackouts. This meant that refrigerators, air conditioners, medical equipment and landlines or phone chargers were inoperable. All of the “what-ifs” suddenly begin to surface.

  • What if someone is dependent on medication that requires refrigeration? No electricity from the power grid? The medication goes bad. 
  • What if someone was breaking into the house and the phone was dead? No electricity from the power grid? People could lose their possessions, let alone be seriously injured. 
  • What if your elderly grandmother was in a small home with the temperature steadily rising to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above? No electricity from the power gridThe air conditioning will go out and older adults have a significantly higher chance of heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke.

California has been known to experience droughts and heatwaves. However, just within the past 10 years, Southern California has experienced an average temperature increase of three degrees Fahrenheit. This is attributed to carbon dioxide equivalent emissionsThe heatwaves, droughts and wildfires are just getting worse. When the temperature increases, more people use electricity as they work to keep their homes cool. 

With this in mind, these blackouts may become more commonplace. It is important to keep in mind that the rolling blackouts are necessary in order to prevent uncontrolled electricity outages. Losing power unexpectedly in a hospital could result in an unpredictable degree of harm. 

 

So, what can Californians do?

California is already on the right track when it comes to combating the effects of climate change. A climate law was passed in 2018 that states in 2045, CA will be “zero-carbon.” However, this will not be an easy feat.  

So, if California is doing it right, why were there blackouts?

Although California is increasing its renewable energy infrastructure, renewable energy sources can be unpredictable. The wind may not be strong one day, or the sky may be cloudy. However, we can’t blame the Earth’s natural processes for our air conditioners shutting down. In only one hour, the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface could sustain the energy requirements of humans for over a year. The amount of infrastructure dedicated to renewable energy production is just not enough to sustain the population of California during a heatwave.  

What is needed is a way to store the energy produced renewable sources

This is where battery storage comes into play. Sometimes solar panels can produce more energy than irequired, like during the later afternoon in California. Solar panels without a battery will send this excess to the power grid and credits will be earned. Read more about net metering hereThis means that when the solar panels are not producing the amount of energy needed, resources will be pulled from the power grid. 

This will not work if there is a blackout. Solar batteries are a good back-up plan. When more energy is produced than needed, the solar panels can store the excess in the battery storage. After this is charged, it will send any further energy to the grid and you will earn credits. What this solar battery does is ensure that you have power, even during a blackout, since you won’t have to pull energy from the grid.  This means that the medications will be refrigerated, you can call 911 if someone is breaking into your home, and grandma can relax in her 70-degree Fahrenheit apartment. 

We are ready to help you prepare for a blackout. Contact us to learn more!

Comparison of Solar Energy to Fossil Fuels

What are the advantages of solar energy in comparison to fossil fuels? Cheaper? More environmentally friendly? More reliable? Does switching to solar energy save money? Is a solar power plant reliable in generating electricity? Does solar energy have a positive effect on the environment?

We provide the answers.

solar energy compared to fossil fuels

Is solar energy cheaper than fossil fuels?

There is no general yes or no to this question. Unfortunately, there are cases where solar energy is not cheaper for the individual. Nevertheless, we have made the experience that it is worthwhile for most people to switch to solar energy. Because it is actually quite simple: You have to pay for the electricity you use anyway. So every month a certain amount of money goes to the electricity provider. Instead of paying this amount monthly to someone else (and the money is gone), you can also invest it in your own solar system. And thus invest in the value of your own building.

Furthermore, energy costs are rising. They have been rising for many years and they will continue to rise. For solar, on the other hand, there are different tax benefits nationwide and different incentive programs depending on the state you live in. Our renewable energy experts will be happy to help you if you would like to answer the question for yourself. Be it residential solar or commercial.

Is solar energy reliable?

An exciting question. After all, you don’t want to sit in the dark just because a cloud moves in front of the sun and the solar system cannot produce energy.
There was a time when concerns about the reliability of production were well-founded. Nowadays, however, solar panels cannot be compared to the early days of solar systems. They are much more effectiveStudies show that the reliability of solar panels is excellent.

Whether a solar system is a reliable energy source for you depends on individual details. Do you want to install solar panels on your roof – which direction faces your roof? The more direct sunlight, the better, of course. But this does not mean that a roof that is not facing south is not suitable for a solar system. Alternatively, the system can be built on your property as a ground installation. This gives you more possibilities to align the panels in the best possible way. There are other components to consider. Is there a lot of shading on the property, for example from trees?

solar panel system in sunny forest

Which energy source is best for the environment?

Let’s look at different energy sources to answer this question. We will concentrate on some of the most common energy sources to give you an overview. Of course, there are other energy sources.

Coal

Coal is certainly bad for the environment. Whether reliable and cheap or not, coal is definitely not a good, sustainable source of energy in terms of its impact on the environment. It emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. The environment is also affected by mining and burning, just to name a few aspects.

Hydropower

No emissions are produced during energy production and large amounts of energy can be generated. However, dams are repeatedly built where the environment, be it nature or local residents, depend on the normal flow of water. Here Hydropower intervenes in the natural habitat and has a negative effect on the environment.

Petroleum

Petroleum also has high CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the amount of petroleum available is limited.

Solar energy

No environmental pollution is produced during the production of energy. Of course, this does not apply in the same way to production. And of course, this is also the case with the other energy sources mentioned in this list in different ways. However, in this article, we are concentrating primarily on solar energy, which is why we are taking a closer look at it again here.

Of course, energy has to be generated to produce the solar panels first. Also, different chemicals are used for production. However, in the long run, the environmental impact is less severe than with some other energy sources mentioned before. This is why we are convinced that we are doing something good for the environment with solar energy.

Uranium

Energy generated in nuclear power plants does not produce greenhouse gas or CO2 emissions. However, there is still no perfect solution for the storage of nuclear waste that is regularly generated. We do not even want to start talking about the possible consequences if there is an accident in one of the nuclear power plants. So there is still room for improvement here!

Wind Energy

No emissions. Has only a minor impact on the ecosystem – it depends on where it is built. But it does not make sense to install wind turbines everywhere. And of course, not everyone can just put a wind turbine in their garden – it requires a larger area of land.

Conclusion

So, does solar energy make sense overall? Does it make more sense than fossil fuels? Does it make sense to switch to solar energy? We answer these questions with YES! How it looks like in the individual case financially and concerning the productivity – we will find out for you.

Do I have to replace my traditional energy meter with a smart one?

The answer to this question is no. The main reason for installing a smart energy meter is not to replace the traditional electric energy meter used by the utility for billing purposes, but to gain knowledge about the details of energy consumption in a household. These two metering devices can operate and measure energy simultaneously without conflict. The best way to get a smart energy meter is to install one in addition to the existing electricity supplier's metering device. This kind of energy metering setup keeps all of the features of the standard energy meter so that the utility company can still use its data when preparing the bills for their customer. At the same time, the additional smart energy meter provides a homeowner with valuable insight into energy efficiency and how to reduce their future energy bills.

FIND OUT HOW MUCH ENERGY YOU CAN SAVE WITH SOLAR
Enlighten Energy does not directly install your energy savings projects. We connect homeowners to energy savings professionals, guiding them through the process to ensure they are not overpaying for their project and stay in control of their energy savings project. We are always available to advise and support our customers during the journey.

Does a Solar System Also Produce Energy in Winter?

Question Number 1: Does my solar system also produce energy in winter?

When the days get shorter and the sun shines less, the productivity, of course, decreases a bit, let’s not fool ourselves. But you don’t have to live in Florida or California to produce your own solar energy. First of all, the days with less sunshine are limited to a few months. In these few months, there is usually no continuous snow. And even on cloudy days, your system can produce energy. You also have to see it from the other side: if you live further north and therefore further away from the equator, the days in summer are all longer and therefore also the time in which the solar system can produce power.

The answer to this question is: yes!
solar system in snow winter

Question Number 2: Does my solar system also produce energy when it snows?

If the solar panels are covered with snow, they do not produce. However, snow usually doesn’t stay on the panels for long. They shed the snow very well because they are designed to attract the heat of the sun, usually, they are laid out in the direction of the sun and mounted down. All this helps free the panels from snow more quickly. In addition, the sunlight can also shine through smaller amounts of snow, so even a thin layer of snow on the panel can generate energy. In general: Attention! Please do not remove the snow yourself. This can damage the panels and that would be a real shame.

The answer to this question is: as long as there is sunlight shining through the snow, the panels will produce energy.

Question Number 3: What about the productivity of my panels when it's freezing cold?

The cold doesn’t bother the solar system. You have to know that solar energy is not produced by the heat of the sun, but by its light. Energy production is more efficient at colder temperatures, so the amount of electricity produced daily can be increased despite less sunlight during the day.

The answer to this question is: the productivity of the panels is not negatively affected by the cold.
solar system panel with snow

Question Number 4: Why does a solar system generate energy more efficiently when it is colder?

Now it’s getting a little more scientific, but we’re trying to explain it in a simple way. Electrons move around atoms. If it’s cooler they don’t move. But they are activated by increasing sunlight because it means energy. The resulting difference in voltage makes a solar module produce more energy. In summer, however, when it is warmer, the total energy level of the electrons is higher. The energy difference is, therefore, smaller and less energy is produced. The amount of sunlight hitting a solar system is not affected by the outside temperature. However, the latter has an influence on how much energy is produced in the solar cells. So that means: If the solar radiation duration on day A and day B is the same, but the temperature is different, more energy is produced on the colder day.

Another fact: depending on a so-called peak temperature, the manufacturers of solar panels evaluate the output. This is the moment when the panels work most efficiently. If the temperature rises above this point, the system is less efficient and generates less energy. The probability that this point will be reached in winter is therefore much less likely.

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Does Solar Make Sense For My Seasonal Home?

If you own a holiday home or a seasonal home, you might ask yourself: Does it make sense to install a solar system there?

We say: Yes of course! Find out why.

solar on seasonal holiday home

Why solar makes sens on a seasonal home

Your solar system produces electricity. Whether on your main house, your summer or winter house, your barn, … And it does that no matter if you are around or not at home. The difference is that when you are home, you use electricity. When you’re not there, you don’t use it. The excess electricity is then fed back into the grid.

Unused energy goes back into the power grid

The net-metering takes place monthly. But you can have the electricity fed back into the grid credited to you. So if the solar system produces more electricity than you use in a month, this amount is carried over to a month in which you use more electricity than the system produced.

A solar system is cost efficient

The homeowner’s usage pattern has no impact on cost efficiency, so homeowners who live in the house mainly during the cloudy winter months still save the same amount of energy on an annual basis as homeowners who live there during the summer months.

Save monthly costs

The great opportunity to be able to sell back additional electricity when it is not needed and buy additional electricity when it is needed makes photovoltaic economically more affordable. But don’t just think about it and stop speculating. We would be happy to look at your individual case, come by to get an idea of your options and then show you what they are! Make your seasonal home green with solar and save money.

Contact us!

Earn Great Returns

Installing a solar system is an excellent investment that allows you to earn returns. Returns are the benefits that you receive from purchasing an investment. Returns are great ways to gain money or save costs when purchasing solar systems. They offer many superior characteristics for buyers that are listed in this article. These characteristics are beneficial for both homeowners and businesses.

Solar industry provides jobs

Long term returns

Solar systems are designed to last more than 25 years. IGS has a 25-year warranty to ensure our solar panels have a long-life span. With a long lifespan, our panels are not only durable but also require minimal maintenance. During the duration of a solar system’s lifespan, you can generate returns in savings. Since solar panels significantly reduce electricity bills, the savings will outweigh the cost you would have to pay for your utilities.

Property value

Owning a solar system increases the value of your property. You can increase the value of your property through upgrades with the savings you have earned from your solar system but also from the solar system itself. Properties equipped with solar systems increase the value significantly more than properties without solar. According to Energy.gov, when you decide to sell your property, you can sell your property faster. Buyers are also willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for your property. Solar systems make homes more energy-efficient, which in turn lowers your electricity bills. Buyers are also interested in energy-efficient homes because it reduces their environmental impact. You can learn more about increasing your property value.

Solar renewable energy certificates

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs, are an incentive for electricity generation from renewable energy sources. You may be able to sell your system’s SRECs, depending on your state. Your state or even your utility may have a market for you to sell your SRECs. Purchasing and installing solar panels can be expensive to pay for upfront. Many buyers tend to get a loan and pay for their solar systems over time. SRECs can help you break even on your solar investment faster and even generate additional income!

Electricity rates

Electricity rates vary per state. The higher your electricity rates, the more money you can save when transitioning into solar. Installing a solar system allows you to become energy independent to avoid extra costs. Because electricity is constantly increasing, you will be able to save more with solar. The graph below shows what you would save with solar.

cumulative us solar installations

Cost

Similar to how electricity rates continue to rise, the cost of electricity will also increase, making your new electricity bill with solar low-risk and consistent over its lifespan.

Financial incentives

Some states offer a solar tax credit for installing a solar panel system. The federal government also provides buyers with solar credits, otherwise known as the federal investment tax credit (ITC). ITC allows buyers to deduct solar costs from taxes by allowing you to apply 26 percent of your solar system’s value as a tax credit to your income tax bill as of 2020. Additionally, tax rebates encourage solar installation. Homeowners and businesses can receive a cash rebate from their state, their utility company, or from organizations that promote solar energy. Companies can take advantage of the depreciation tax benefits using accelerated depreciation, which reduces businesses’ tax burden and increases solar return. You can learn more about financial incentives in our cost-benefit section: When is the Right Time For Me to Go Solar?

Business Benefits

Solar systems provide you with the benefit of solar investment, otherwise known as return on investment. Businesses who transition to solar will experience increased sales from customers who are attracted to the company’s sustainable values.

Electricity and Gas Costs will Rise for NYSEG Customers

Electricity costs for customers of New York State Electric & Gas Corp. could rise by up to 23.7% in the near future.

The increase is due to the company’s vegetation management program. According to NYSEG and RG&E President Carl Taylor, the company is investing heavily in its power infrastructure and vegetation management to increase the reliability of the system, especially in heavy storms. Both utilities will keep prices stable until May 2020 after an 11-month review by the PSC.

Before electricity prices rise: switch to solar power

If the tariff request is approved as requested by the power company, NYSEG and RG&E will increase revenues by $200 million.

“NYSEG has 900,000 electric customers and 260,000 natural gas clients over a patchwork area of New York covering 20,000 square miles, about 40% of the upstate New York region. RG&E has 375,000 electric connections and 308,000 natural gas customers in a service territory covering 2,700 square miles in a nine-county region centered around Rochester,” says poughkeepsie journal article.

Everything You Need to Know About Solar Panel Recycling

The solar industry is booming, and with it, there are growing concerns about the waste it produces. Fear not! We want to assure you that solar panels can be environmentally friendly and recycled! Much research and development are focused on improving the efficiency of solar panels. Conversations on the topic of recycling solar panels are particularly uncommon. In this article, we tell you all you need to know about solar panel recycling.

The benefits of solar panel recycling

If solar power systems are to genuinely be sustainable and environmentally ethical, the waste reduction associated with solar components must be addressed. End-of-life solar panel recycling can save an abundance of natural resources and reduce production costs. 

Solar panel recycling can be beneficial both environmentally and economically because the energy and cost needed to recover the silicon material from recycled solar panels are only about one-third of what it would be for manufacturing silicon directly. Solar panel recycling can help finance future solar industries because 96% of the materials can be reused to produce new solar panels. It is estimated that recycled material could save USD 450 million by 2030 and USD 15 billion by 2050. Research also shows that around 60 million new solar panels can be produced from recycling by 2030 and around 2 billion by 2050. In addition, recycling plants can create more employment opportunities for job seekers. 

solar panel system in sunny forest

How can solar panels be recycled?

Presently, Europe, Japan, and the United States are the main countries behind solar panel recycling research. The crystalline silicon and other rare metals in PV panels can be recycled for new equipment production using different emerging technologies. Most solar panel recycling research has focused on recycling rare metal elements and silicon extraction. Currently, there are four methods for solar panel waste processing: 

  1. Component repair 
  2. Module separation 
  3. Recycling of silicon  
  4. Recycling of rare metal elements 
Technology Methods Advantages
Component Repair Two methods to dismantle and analyse faults in the junction box. Can increase the output power of old solar panels.
Module Separation Mechanical separation of broken panels but no separation of any particular type of material involved. Obtained a mixture of different types of materials.

Silicon panel recovered without damage.

Recycling of Silicon Cement-based thermal insulation system and chemical method. Recycling of silicon.
Recycling of Rare Metals Physical methods such as panel breakage and heat-treated or broken by a hammer.

Chemical methods such as blasting, mechanical processing, ion exchange, etc.

Recycling by wet mechanical treatment such as grinding.

Recycling of indium and gallium.

Mix of recycled polysilicon, amorphous silicon, glass.

Policies in place

In 2012, the European Union included PV components under the ten categories of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive. Thus, solar PV elements must be collected and recycled. The waste management regulations require that all solar panels must be dealt with and manufacturers of PV panels who supply to the European market must pay a recycling fee. The US does fall behind Europe in its waste management policies, however, the state of California (one of the largest solar markets) in the past has proposed supervision and control of the processing of solar equipment.  

The research revolved around solar panels needs to be more focused on managing waste. There is evidence of economic, social, and environmental benefits with recycling solar panels. More effective policy planning and research must take place to reap the environmental benefits of solar systems.  

With over 20 years of experience in the solar energy industry, Enlighten.energy is committed to helping you go solar. Contact us if you have any questions!

Policies in place

In 2012, the European Union included PV components under the ten categories of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive. Thus, solar PV elements must be collected and recycled. The waste management regulations require that all solar panels must be dealt with and manufacturers of PV panels who supply to the European market must pay a recycling fee. The US does fall behind Europe in its waste management policies, however, the state of California (one of the largest solar markets) in the past has proposed supervision and control of the processing of solar equipment.  

The research revolved around solar panels needs to be more focused on managing waste. There is evidence of economic, social, and environmental benefits with recycling solar panels. More effective policy planning and research must take place to reap the environmental benefits of solar systems.  

With over 20 years of experience in the solar energy industry, Enlighten.energy is committed to helping you go solar. Contact us if you have any questions!