How Does Solar Work?
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, typically made of silicone, generate DC electric power when photons of light are absorbed by the cell and electrons start flowing in the cell. Strings of cells make up a solar electric module, or panel. The energy is converted from D/C to A/C power by utilizing an inverter, and is then available for immediate (or delayed) usage.
Which Proposal Types Do You Offer?
Universal Solar is flexible in that we can step in at any time to assist with a solar electric system. We offer consulting services, design services, engineering services, installation-only, and turn-key options. We have a team dedicated to EPC requests, RFP’s, IFB/ITB’s, and LSTK proposals for any size commercial solar electric system (as either the main contractor or as a subcontractor). If you are ready to proceed, click here.
Where Can Solar Electric Be Installed?
Solar electric systems are generally placed on commercial rooftops. However, they can also be used on ancillary buildings, ground-racks, or canopies. Popular options include solar canopies for commercial patios or car ports, and ground-rack systems for large solar electric “farms”, utilizing undeveloped land adjacent to a commercial building, or when roof space is limited.
What are Universal Solar’s PV Qualifications?
It takes years of technical training and on-site evaluations to become proficient in the design of solar electric systems. The best solar professionals and/or companies will be certified as a NABCEP PV Installation Professional. NABCEP Solar PV Installation Professional Certification is North America’s only renewable energy personnel certification that has been ANSI accredited to the internationally recognized ISO/IEC 17024 standard. NABCEP certification is voluntary and was designed to provide a national set of standards for PV installation and design practices. Universal Solar has 2 in-house NABCEP PV Installation Professionals: Christopher Maingot & Nicholas Arceneaux. More information on our expertise can be found here.
What Options Do We Have for Solar PV?
There are different types of solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) systems: grid-tie solar electric system, stand-alone / off-grid solar electric system, and solar electric grid-tie / battery backup system. Depending on your energy goals, needs, and budget, we can analyze which system would work best for your organization and generate a custom proposal.
Grid-Tie Solar PV Systems
A grid-tie solar electric system consists of multiple solar electric panels that make up an array that is connected to an inverter / micro-inverters which convert the DC electricity into AC electricity. The electricity is fed from the inverter to a back fed circuit breaker in your electric service panel. When the system is making more electricity than the business is using, the excess is fed back into the electric grid through the electric meter that the business’s electric system is connected to. This type of system is the most common type of solar electric system. Since these systems are connected to the electric grid, it is not necessary to produce 100% of your electricity through solar alone, and excess production can be sold back to the utility company. Monitoring equipment can be installed that shows in detail the amount of solar electric generation that is taking place.
Stand-Alone PV Systems
A stand-alone / off-grid solar electric system consists of a solar PV array that is connected to an inverter, a transfer switch, a charge controller, and a battery bank. The charge controller charges the battery bank that feeds the inverter with DC electricity that is converted to AC electricity that is supplied to electric circuits. There may be additional DC circuits that are fed directly through the batteries and charge control. This electric system is not connected to the electric grid. These systems are typically seen in remote locations without utility service or stand-alone lighting. These systems depend on producing 100% of the energy needs either immediately or as excess that is stored in the battery system until needed (usually at night time or during peak hours in daytime). Monitoring equipment has to be used in conjunction with these systems to ensure that usage is kept below output / battery storage.
Combination PV Systems
A solar electric grid-tie / battery backup system is a combination of the two previous systems. During daylight hours, the solar electric array charges the batteries and supplies power to a special dedicated load electric service panel. Any excess power is fed to the grid. In the event of a grid failure / outage, the system disconnects from the grid and the solar array charges the batteries which supply power to the inverter to power the loads in the dedicated load service panel. When the grid is down, only the loads in the dedicated load panel are powered, not the entire business. Critical business loads are typically refrigerators, computers/servers, phone/fax/alarm systems, fans, and some lighting.