What is the difference between solar electric and solar for my hot water?
Many people are familiar with the black rectangle panels up on the roof that are used to harvest radiant heat from the sun to heat water. Solar electric (photovoltaic – PV for short) utilize panels that look similar but are smaller and thinner. Whereas the panels for hot water are hooked up to your plumbing, PV panels are connected to your home’s electrical system. If you have a Solar Power System installed or plan on investing in one, it is vital to have your electric water heater changed to a solar water heater or gas water heater. Visit our associates site for more on solar water heating systems
Is my roof facing the right direction for a solar electric system?
Ideally the PV (photovoltaic) modules should be mounted on a roof surface pointing directly south. However, if your roof has a general south bearing you can still harvest a substantial amount of electricity. We can evaluate the exact situation of your home or business and predict the amount of electricity you can expect from a system mounted on your roof.
How much does a PV (photovoltaic) system cost for a typical home?
Energy use varies widely among households. Look at your electric bills and determine your average monthly cost. As a rule of thumb think in terms of paying $1200 to save $10 on your monthly bill. For example, you could spend approximately $24,000 to zero out a $200 monthly KIUC bill. But remember, that’s not the final cost. It’s much less.
With tax incentives your real cost is about half of the up-front cost. With anticipated electricity savings you can expect healthy returns on your investment, or, if you borrow the money on your home, positive cash each month!*
For more detailed investment analysis contact XMX Power for a free evaluation.
What are the tax incentives to install a photovoltaic system on my home?
They are slightly different if you are a homeowner or a business.
Residential tax incentives include 30% credit from Federal and 35% from the State. These are tax credits not deductions which means it directly reduces the amount of money you pay in tax. As you can see this means that between the State and Federal contributions they pay for 65% of your system! However, since you are taxed at a Fed level for the State incentives your true total incentive will likely be closer to 54%. For more detailed explanation of the tax incentives visit our Incentives for Residences pages.
Commercial tax incentives include 30% credit from Federal and 35% from the State. Businesses can also depreciation the solar asset for yet another level of tax benefits. In 2012 you can even take 50% of the depreciation in the first year! What this all boils down to is that the government will pay up to 85% to go solar! See details on our Incentives for Businesses page.
What do I have to do to take advantage of the tax incentives?
We have prepared an information package that contains all the forms and reference material to properly claim the tax incentives. This package will provide all the necessary materials for you or your accountant to apply for the government incentives.
Can I expense the system under the Section 179 tax code?
Businesses cannot elect to expense a PV (Photovoltaic) system under the section 179 and take the section 38/48 tax credits (see IRC regulations 1.179-1(g)). However, you are able to take a “Bonus Depreciation” which allows you to fully depreciate 85% of your solar asset within the first year.
Is there any risk that having the PV (photovoltaic) system on my roof will cause a leak?
We only use the highest quality mounting hardware and sealant products. These products are designed to keep your roof leak free for the life of your roofing material.
How long will the PV (photovoltaic) equipment last?
The two main components of the PV system are the modules and the inverters. The PV modules are warranted for 25 years and may continue to produce power for up to 50 years. The microinverters we use carry a 25 year warranty but are also expected to last much longer.
Over 90% of all solar panels significantly outperform even the most optimistic predictions for their in-service life with only a slight drop in output.
In tests conducted by the European Union’s Energy Institute, for example, during which solar cells were subjected to the sort of accelerated ageing through extremes of heat, cold and humidity that has long been a benchmark for the car industry, solar panels proved to be such a good long-term investment that, as Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink of the EU Energy Institute says, “banks should offer mortgages on them like they do on homes (since) they can predict the value of the solar panel much more safely than they can predict the value of the house in a volatile market.”
What payment options do I have?
We accept bank checks. We usually require a 10% initial deposit, 1/2 deposit at start of installation, and the rest at completion. If needed we can help you find financing options best suited to your situation.
What makes XMX Power different from other solar energy installation companies?
The managing partners, Jim and Joe Psaila, are brothers. Both have a strong construction and business background with over 33 years of combined experience in general construction and electrical power systems qualifying us for both Electrical and General Contractors license (license BC 30277). We have a thorough understanding of the latest government incentive programs. We perform a sophisticated evaluation of your particular project to determine your solar harvest potential. This enables us to provide you accurate recommendations for a PV system to meet your needs and provide you the best value. Our financial and technical skill set allow us to provide a high level of service for our customers.
Our broad range of experience also enables us to identify innovative installation options to maximize the potential of your investment. We have the ability to provide a computerized 3D modeling of your home or business to help you evaluate different options and the aesthetic implications of an installation.
We are a Kauai company with a focus on Kauai and we are long-time residents with a reputation to uphold in the community. We only install systems on Kauai. This focuses our attention on the specific needs of Kauai residents. If there is ever any need to repair a system component we are able to respond immediately.
Will I have electricity if the power from the electric company goes off?
Typically, no. However we can provide this option – to keep the power on when KIUC power goes down. This would entail installing battery backup and other special equipment which does add to the expense of the system and will require some ongoing maintenance. Depending on your pattern of electricity usage this option may also make your system more efficient under KIUC’s schedule Q rate plan. We can help you evaluate your circumstances to see if this option makes sense for you.
What does XMX stand for?
Our family name, Psaila, is Maltese (Malta is a little island off the cost of Sicily). In Malta the word for “sun” is “xemx”. We have taken the liberty to abbreviate by taking out the middle e. Therefore, when translated our name reads “Sun Power”.
What if my roof is going to need replacing in the next few years?
You can choose to reroof the section where the PV system will be installed or the whole roof before we install your PV system. However, if there is still substantial life left in your roof it may make sense to install the system now and temporarily dismantle the system later when needing to reroof. We can provide this professional service at minimal cost.
I would also like to do solar hot water. Does XMX do that?
We can certainly help coordinate that for you. However, to take advantage of the rebate program you need to hire a KIUC certified plumbing contractor. It is important that the design and location of the solar hot water is compatible with your PV system. Therefore please make sure to get us involved before installing your solar hot water system.
Will the PV (photovoltaic) system require any maintenance?
One of the beautiful things about a PV system is that it has no moving parts! Therefore there is little to wear out or go wrong. However, there are some simple maintenance items that can maximize system performance and prolong the life of the system. We can provide simple maintenance guidelines for you or you can hire us to do it for you.
What if something stops working? Is there a warranty?
Yes. We provide you a 5 year workmanship warranty and most of the equipment comes with a 25 year manufacturer’s warranty.
How does KIUC feel about us putting in a PV (photovoltaic) system?
As long as you have a KIUC meter they are in the business of providing you a service. They provide a reliable power source and in turn you compensate them for this service. Regardless of whether you have a PV system or not they have to provide and maintain the infrastructure of the power grid in your behalf. Under KIUC’s schedule Q they agree to buy your PV power during peak sun hours at a lesser rate and sell it back to you at a higher rate. This differential provides them a reasonable compensation for providing the power grid service. It is possible that the PUC will mandate a new Net Metering tariff in the future. This would limit KIUC’s compensation for providing the grid service. Therefore they do not favor Net Metering programs.
On the other hand there is big pressure both at State and Federal levels for utility companies to reduce carbon emissions. 92% of our electricity on Kauai comes from Diesel generators. For KIUC to comply with these carbon reduction initiatives they need renewable energy sources. We are providing that for Kauai.
What is Net Metering and how does it affect me?
Net metering is not currently available for new PV installations on Kauai.
Net metering basically allows you to use KIUC’s power grid as a virtual battery for your PV system. When your PV system produces more power than you need your meter runs backwards sending power back to KIUC. When your PV system does not produce enough power for your household needs then the KIUC power grid gives you back the power and your meter runs forward. Ideally the amount that your meter runs backwards offsets how much it runs forward so that at the end of the month you don’t owe anything!
KIUC was mandated by the PUC to fulfill a certain amount of their customer base on Net Metering. They have fulfilled that quota and it is unclear when or if net metering will become available again. In case net metering does come available again there is a waiting list maintained by KIUC. Subscribing to Schedule Q automatically puts you on the waiting list for Net Metering.
What is Schedule Q?
Currently KIUC is offering a Schedule Q program where excess PV power is bought by KIUC at the “avoided cost” rate, which is roughly 50% of the normal rate they charge you. A PV system typically over-produces power during peak sun hours so that this power can be used during cloudy or nighttime hours. When this excess power is bought by KIUC at the low rate and then sold to you later that evening at the higher rate there is a differential that cost you money. Homes or businesses that are heavy power users during daylight hours are less affected by the downside of this program.
A way to mimic net metering is to use batteries to temporarily store your excess PV power during peak sunlight hours. In addition to saving you money on your electric bill battery systems provide the additional convenience of power outage protection. We can help you evaluate if a battery system is right for you.
Have more questions? Please email us your questions and we will get back to you promptly.