Are you looking into ways to save money on your energy costs and become a “green” building while improving your Chicago Energy Benchmarking Score and taking advantage of certain tax credits and energy rebates? If you answered yes, installing solar panels on your roof or at ground level may be the answer.
Why Commercial Solar Panel Installation?
- Renewable energy is a sustainable way to decrease energy costs
- Take advantage of current tax incentives
- Earn the 'green' label
Our team will walk you through the process from start to finish. We serve all industrial and commercial facilities throughout Chicagoland.
Design/Build Solar Panel Installation Services in Chicago
Here at Althoff, serving Chicago and the surrounding communities, we have a team of professionals that can design, build and install the new solar arrays at your commercial or industrial facility. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and meet any requirements for solar tax credits, rebates and financial incentives.
1. Consultation and Site/System Design
We start by listening to your needs and taking a deep look at your existing energy bills (have you looked at all the line item charges lately?). Next, we calculate your building total energy usage and design a system that meets your requirements and your financial goals.
Our plan will maximize all renewable energy options and ensure you are able to take advantage of financial incentives available to your commercial business. Financial incentives include:
- Federal Investment Tax Credit and Accelerated Depreciation Schedule for Solar
- Illinois Shines Adjustable Block Program
- Illinois Smart Inverter Rebate
Once you approve the design for your system, we put our entire team to work, which is headed by a dedicated project manager. We proceed to handle the paperwork, secure financial incentives and apply for the building permits to install your new solar array. Once everything is in place, we work with you to schedule your installation at a time that works for your business.
2. Solar Panel Installation
Your entire solar panel installation from start to finish is overseen by one of our experienced project managers who ensures each piece of frame and solar panel is carefully and precisely installed, according to the solar panel system schematics.
Once your system is installed, we test it to ensure it is working correctly, and we show you how to monitor and use the software that is included. We help monitor error codes, ensure your system is hitting production targets, and answer any questions that arise after it is commissioned.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panel Installation in Chicagoland
Before you commit to installing solar panels on your commercial building in Chicago, you probably have a few questions. Here are the most common questions we receive about solar panel installation. If you have additional questions, give us a call, we’d be happy to tell you about all your solar panel options and how they can help you save money on your monthly energy bills and help reduce your building’s overhead.
1. Is it Expensive?
Solar arrays continue to get better every year, and the cost of many components has decreased over the last few decades. Some factors that can impact the overall cost of a solar system include the type of installation (roof vs ground), the size of the array, and your existing electrical infrastructure. In the Chicagoland area, with current incentives, it is not uncommon to see an array pay for itself in under 3-5 years.
2. How Much Space Is Needed to Install My Solar Panels?
Ultimately, the amount of space required for solar is directly related to your annual energy usage. Ideal installations have ground available near the facility, or clear and open roof space to accommodate the array. The engineering team can be creative in some tight spaces, and work within your existing (and future) facility footprint.
3. What Are Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)?
From the Illinois Shines website: “RECs represent the environmental value of the electricity generated from solar panels, but not the electricity itself. Whoever owns the RECs has the right to say they used that solar power. Utilities must purchase RECs to meet their obligation to supply a certain amount of power from renewable energy. RECs can also be valuable to businesses seeking to be able to say that they use solar power. By participating in Illinois Shines, you will transfer the RECs from your PV system to an Illinois electric utility. Selling your RECs will not affect your PV system’s production or your net metering credits.”
4. What about Extreme Weather? (Rain, Snow, Cold)
The entire solar array is designed and tested so it can be installed in areas with extreme weather. This includes pounding rain, hail, freezing temperatures, snow, ice and high winds. Today’s equipment is designed and rated to meet certain thresholds of various inclement weather conditions. Specifically with respect to hail, all of our panels meet UL-1703 and UL-61703 standards which means they can withstand 1.3” hailstones at terminal velocity.
5. Are Solar Panels Effective when It Is Cloudy?
Solar panels work by taking the photons that are emitted by the sun and converting them into usable electricity for your building. This process does not require full, direct sunlight on the panels. However, the solar panels’ efficiency is reduced on cloudy days to about 10 to 25 percent of their usual maximum, which means even on cloudy days, your panels will still produce some energy. It is important to keep in mind that a solar array is designed to meet an annual energy profile and we factor in cloudy days. The engineering team will pull local weather data and look at long term averages on the number of sunlight hours in your area during the design process. Furthermore, Illinois allows net metering which allows for virtual energy “credits” to be swapped for your system’s under or overproduction during cloudy or sunny days, respectively.
6. What if There Is a Power Outage?
Solar arrays are tied to the grid. If the grid goes down and you lose power currently, the same result would happen if you have installed solar. The reasoning is you don’t want your system producing power and sending it back across the grid while repairs are taking place. A battery backup functions in a similar fashion to current generator backup solutions. If you have a specific backup requirement at your facility, give us a call, so we can discuss the best solution for you.
7. Where Is the Energy Stored?
Solar panel energy can be used right away to power lights, appliances, computers and other systems in your building. Excess power can be stored in battery backups, or be fed back through the grid to the electric company. When the latter happens, your electric meter runs backward, which shows up as a credit on your electricity bill, also known as net-metering.
8. What Solar Equipment Companies Do You Work With?
We only work with Tier-1 solar panel manufacturers and companies that we have fully vetted and are confident in their products. This is so that we can provide you with extremely durable and energy-efficient solar panels that will last decades after they are installed. When possible, we also prefer to work with companies based in Illinois or within the United States.
9. How Much Maintenance Is Involved?
Solar panels are low maintenance. They are constructed of extremely durable tempered glass, have almost no moving parts (tracking arrays notwithstanding), and are designed to last decades. If the solar panels accumulate snow or ice after a storm, the best thing you can do is nothing. After a day or two, the sun will melt the snow and ice from the solar panels, even if the ground is still covered in snow and ice. Today, all solar arrays come with remote monitoring so you will know if your system is underproducing for any reason. If you do notice a reduction in energy production, it’s best to call a solar maintenance professional so that the panels can be inspected for damage or loose connections and cleaned. The good news is that most solar panels are designed to remain in operation for decades with very little maintenance.