You might be wondering whether it makes sense to go solar on your business premises. The answer is a very clear “Yes”, and in fact, solar installations are perhaps even more beneficial for commercial customers than residential ones. Here we look at the commercial solar installation process for a business.
The Benefits of Commercial Solar for Your Business
First up let’s look at the main reasons why you should consider commercial solar energy to help power your business.
Massive Savings on Energy Bills
Every business wants to lower its operating costs. Energy bills are a big part of your ongoing expenses that affect your cash flow. Unless you have solar battery storage, free energy from the sun needs to be used as it is generated to get the maximum savings, which is perfect for most businesses.
If you conduct most of your operations during daylight hours, you’ll be wiping out much of your energy bill with a big enough solar system because your business will run primarily on solar. You’ll only use energy from the main grid during times when the sun isn’t shining or your system isn’t producing enough to power your whole building or business.
Finance Payments May be Tax-Deductible
There is an upfront cost to installing a solar system, and many businesses choose to finance this cost. The great thing is these finance payments may be tax-deductible (always check with your accountant first). Secondly, the savings you make on your energy bills is usually more than the monthly finance payment. So, it’s actually a cash-flow-positive move. Of course, this is not financial advice, and you should seek professional taxation and financial advice prior to making a decision.
The System Pays for Itself
Before too long, your solar system will pay for itself. By that, we mean the savings you’ve made on your electricity bills will outweigh the upfront cost/finance costs for the system. After that, you begin to realise the full benefit and maximum savings because you’ll have no finance payments and reduced electricity bills.
Commercial Solar Installation Process Explained
The commercial solar installation process is more complex than residential solar. With a stronger emphasis on planning and design, this is where you need experienced professionals on your side. Here are the 4 main steps of getting your commercial solar system installed.
1. Site Evaluation and Power Use Analysis
All commercial solar installations start with a site evaluation. Your solar installer will look over your site to determine how your system will connect to the grid. They will also evaluate the building itself, checking for shaded rooftop areas that may limit solar production, as well as undertaking any surveys required.
Prior to designing a system, the solar provider will analyse your current energy consumption and usage patterns to determine the size of the system you’ll need. It is best to give them your bills for the previous 12 months so they can see the usage patterns and seasonal variations.
This information will allow them to understand your actual costs per kWh so they are able to calculate your estimated savings and return on investment. Understand that the power costs for businesses per kWh are lower than for domestic consumers. Other costs are made of fixed fees and charges such as your daily connection cost, which will remain the same after solar.
2. System Design
All commercial buildings are different, and installing solar panels is usually more complex than a residential rooftop. So, careful planning is required to design a system that provides you with maximum benefit. The system design will not only show where the panels will be mounted (rooftop, ground, other structures), but they will also show how they will be arranged to ensure the system catches maximum sunlight.
As part of the system design, the solar retailer will provide details of the estimated power output of the system using specialized solar mapping software. Using this information, they will be able to model your estimated financial savings and return on investment.
Your solar supplier will need to advise you on the regulatory and local government requirements regarding a commercial solar installation. For systems over 10kW in size, most councils require you to seek approval. The installer will also advise you regarding any special requirements from the energy distributor.
Any system up to 30kW is subject to the same grid connection rules as residential solar. Commercial solar systems between 30 and 100kW have special requirements to protect the power grid from all the power that they produce.
In many cases, the power distributor will insist on an export limiter being fixed to the system. This limits the amount of power that can be sent back to the grid. This will be stated in the documentation from the power distributor covering the permission to connect. Ensure that you see this documentation prior to installation.
3. Construction and Installation of your System
The time it takes to construct your system can vary depending on the size of the system and the complexity of installation. Because most commercial buildings have flat roofs, in some cases the solar panels need to be mounted on tilts to achieve an optimal angle.
Cherrypickers will need to be used to access the roof. In larger installations with taller buildings, cranes may be used to lift the panels and the mounting rails and materials onto the roof.
The installation time frame will vary with the size and complexity of the system and whether the system requires tilt mounts. Your installer will advise you regarding installation timing.
It’s crucial to work with solar installers who are experienced in commercial work because they will complete the construction and installation phase with minimal disruption to your business.
Finally, it’s time to connect your system. The system will have been tested and checked and now commissioned. This is the final step, where your installer confirms that your system is up and running, and your energy retailer is notified of the change in your energy setup.
Make sure that the installer has set up a good monitoring system for your commercial solar system that allows you to measure both the power production of the system as well as your power consumption and trained you on how to use it. This should allow you to check production and consumption down the hour. Make sure someone in your business has the responsibility to check this at least once a week.
Your solar provider should have also provided an inspection and maintenance schedule for your system.
If you want expert advice, experienced commercial system designers and the highest standard of workmanship, look no further than Solar Bright. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses realise the benefits of solar, and we tailor every installation to suit the needs and budget of each business. Contact the professional team at Solar Bright and find out how you can start saving money.