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How Do Solar Electrical Systems Work?
Will Solar Work Well at My Home?
How Much Do Solar Electrical Systems Cost?
What Will I Save on My Electrical Bill?
Are There Incentives and Financing Opportunities?
Where Can I Find a Solar Power Contractor?
Nearly every homeowner can benefit from solar power - and incentives make it more accessible than ever. A solar electrical system can reduce your energy costs and earn credits for excess power generated from peak producing times that is sent back into the local power grid.
Solar energy is Maryland’s largest energy resource - it is available everywhere in the state, can be readily deployed, and can be easily added to our existing energy system without the need for expensive transmission lines or lengthy environmental impact hearings. Did you know . . . that the summer sun in Maryland generates more energy in 1 day than our power plants could produce in 1 year?
Solar is a growing source of jobs in Maryland - over 1,000 professionals are employed by the solar industry in Maryland. Leading firms including BP Solar World headquarters, SunEdison headquarters, Standard Solar and groSolar are currently based in Maryland. Many new electrical and plumbing contractors that are offering solar technologies as part of their product line are also based in Maryland.
Solar electrical is the direct conversion of solar energy radiation into electrical energy, creating a voltage and current to deliver power. Solar electrical systems typically use photovoltaic (PV) cells or modules to capture the sun’s energy. PV modules are typically assembled into arrays that are mounted on a building or on the ground. PV modules may also be built into building materials like roofing shingles or siding products. New thin-film PV technologies use very thin (2 microns) coatings of active material deposited on glass and sandwiched between two glass sheets. Thin-films can be layered together and coated on other materials.
PV systems capture energy and then its modules transform it into direct current (DC). An inverter can convert DC to alternating current (AC). These inverters can send power either to the local grid or to an independent system. Very little power is sacrificed in the conversion of DC to AC power with modern inverters. Grid interconnection is the most popular use of solar electricity in Maryland and is made possible by the interconnection and net metering laws that the state has enacted.
Solar electrical systems can also be used to provide:
Work with a solar contractor or general professional who understands solar paths and shading to evaluate the viability of solar for you. This analysis evaluates:
Solar energy systems need 4-8 hours of sunlight per day depending on the season and daylength. Solar contractors measure the sun’s position relative to the installation site to determine viability.
There are several factors which will affect costs but generally solar PV costs about $12 per watt installed. A complete solar electric system, including panels, an inverter and installation can cost between $20,000 and $50,000. But don’t get sticker shock! Many cities and counties in Maryland offer low or no interest loans and property tax incentives for the purchase of solar electrical systems. Rebates, tax credits, and exemptions are available from the Federal and state governments too. See the MCEC Residential Financial Incentives page for more details.
A growing number of Maryland homeowners associations and communities are joining together to learn more about how to provide their own energy and are creating solar “hot spots” in Maryland through cooperatives to purchase a group of systems, rather than purchasing them individually, to reduce costs. See: Common Cents Solar
Savings can run from 50% to over 100% of traditional electrical systems depending on the specifics of your system. And each year you save more by avoiding increases in fossil fuel costs.
The solar industry has received several financial incentives to be more attractive to building owners and those willing to invest in producing their own energy. Solar Electric systems often increase the value of your home. Estimates are that every $1000 off your traditional electric costs per year translates to $20,000 in increased property value.
The Federal government is offering the Investment Tax Credit—a 30% credit against income taxes due to the IRS.
The state of Maryland offers a Clean Energy Production Tax Credit for residents who generate electricity from solar and other clean energy sources.
Maryland provides funding for up to $10,000 for residential solar systems up to 20 kilowatts.
Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) provides Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC).
An SREC is created when a solar system generates 1,000 kilowatt hours, or 1 megawatt hour of power. You receive an account where your system’s credits are deposited and can be sold, traded, or given to another firm to sell on your behalf.
Many local jurisdictions offer exemptions and credits on personal property taxes that can offset the cost of installing solar electric systems. For an expansive list of programs from local as well as federal and state governments, go to the MCEC Residential Financial Incentives page.
Additional resources for the latest in financial incentives can be found at the Maryland Energy Administration’s Incentives & Resources page and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Maryland is fortunate to have many qualified solar companies throughout the state to provide you with the solar services you need. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a solar contractor:
Use the MCEC resource directory to identify Maryland companies who specialize in residential solar installations.