Why PV - The Basics

Selecting the "Right" PV Company

In selecting a PV company, customers need to consider that the system they purchase should last over 25 years. A buyer needs to find the right partner to help them throughout the entire process and be around for the long haul.

Currently, the Hawaii State Department of Planning and Permitting lists over 300 companies offering PV systems in Hawaii. Unfortunately, many of these companies may not be around for the long term. Solar Wave is one of the few local companies that owns and operates several large PV energy systems in Hawaii. We provide renewable solar power to schools, non-profits and businesses.

In addition, many of our agreements have 20 year terms and we plan to be available to service our customers beyond those terms.

In order to get full value from a system that will last 25 plus years, excellent design, continuous monitoring, regular maintenance, and working with a reliable and trustworhty company that has planned for the future is important.


The Importance of PV Design

The design of a PV system is a critical first step in making sure you get what you need for a sustainable and comfortable future and it all starts with a solar consultation.

At the consultation, one of our highly qualified designers will need your utility bill that provides the basic information needed for system sizing and analysis. Your bill, although not always accurate, is a starting point from which we can determine the panels that are possible options for your home. It also helps if you are able to inform us about things that may cause your electricity usage to fluctuate, such as:

  • Using Air Conditioning (A/C) more or less
  • Plans to add more A/C units
  • Renovations that will increase the square footage of your home
  • Using more or less hot water
  • Having more or less people living in the home
  • Plans to buy an electric vehicle
  • Plans to purchase other appliances that may require less electricity
  • Travelling more, or plans to occupy the home more than in the past

During the design phase we also take into consideration roof faces, shading, existing electric service limitations, and what the utility company will allow on your circuit. We also review optimization of performance choices, roof flashing choices, inverter selection, and panel options.

As a result of our analysis, we'll customize your system with the goal of reducing your bill to minimum charges with optimal performance.

This initial design consultation is an important step that not all solar PV companies include in their process. At Solar Wave this is the first critical step.

We offer sit-down sessions with our electrical engineer designers who will explain the materials choices, show the panel options and roof placement, and explain the effect of a PV system on your existing electrical system.

Because the systems are being designed for 25 years plus of service, it is best for all concerned to carefully engineer the system being installed.


Pricing Factors

The three main factors that help determine price of a PV system are:

  1. Roof type;
  2. Panel type and inverter selection; and
  3. Amount of work needed to connect the added amperage into the existing electric system.

First, each roof type dictates the waterproofing methods required. There are choices to be made, such as deciding to re-roof before installing a 25 plus year PV system. Alternatively, liquid applied coatings can be a viable option if the roof condition and type is appropriate.

Second, panel and inverter selections can cause over $1.00 per watt in system price differences.

Third, if your house has an older electric system, it may be best to upgrade to a 200 amp service for current and future safety reasons.

Other examples of added cost issues include: corroded equipment, missing data sheets from the original manufacturer, and an existing demand that is greater than your electrical system is currently rated for (i.e., A/C units being added without a permit).

Tax Incentives*

The federal and state governments allow an unrestricted 30% and restricted 35% in tax credits, respectively.

This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve your property with government assistance.

Before these benefits disappear, it is beneficial to take advantage of the tax credits to increase your home's sustainability. It is a rare occurence for governments to offer these benefits.

For commercial systems, there is the additional benefit of depreciation. It is a 5 year property with a federal basis of 85% and state 100%. The depreciation expense is the sleeper benefit. Depreciation drives the tax incentive payback time to less than 3 years.

*Note that upon legal advice and common sense, we must state, “Solar Wave cannot give tax advice you can rely upon. You are advised to consult your tax professional.”