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 panels on your commercial or industrial building so that they 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 the percentage of power consumption you’d like your solar panels to produce. Next, we calculate your building total energy usage and design a system that meets your requirements and your solar panel budget. Then, we present you with estimates for several different solar panel system designs so that you can make an informed decision.
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:
Once you approve a design and system, we apply for the building permits to install your new solar panels. Once the permits have been approved, we custom order your system and set an installation date.
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 comes with your panels. In your have an existing BAS system, we can integrate your solar panels into your BAS for easier operation and monitoring.
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 panels are becoming increasingly affordable. Over the last five years, the cost of purchasing and installing solars panels has decreased by 23 percent. The average cost per watt ranges from $2.99 to $3.36, not including the solar tax credit, which is currently 30 percent of the cost of a new system. In 2020, that credit is reduced to 26 percent, then 22 percent in 2021. In 2022 and beyond, the credit is reduced to 10 percent.
Of course, the total cost of your system will depend on the type of panel and the size of the system. Currently, there are three types of panels, including monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film.
- Monocrystalline – Most energy-efficient with the ability to convert between 17 and 24 percent of the sun’s light into usable electricity. The panels, without installation, cost between $1 to $1.50 per Watt. They have a lifespan of between 25 and 35 years.
- Polycrystalline – These panels convert between 15 and 20 percent of the sun’s energy into usable electricity, and they cost between .90 and $1 per Watt. They have a lifespan of between 23 and 27 years.
- Thin Film – These panels are between 7 and 14 percent energy-efficient and cost between .70 and $1 per Watt. They have a lifespan of between 14 and 17 years.
2. How Much Space Is Needed to Install My Solar Panels?
Solar panels are installed on either fixed or movable frames. When solar panels are installed on fixed frames, the panels are positioned according to the average position of the sun around your building in order to maximize the amount of sunlight that the panels receive. Movable frames can be electronically adjusted, according to the sun’s position. If movable frames are used, there must be enough space for the frame, panels and their range of motion, which can increase the amount of square footage needed. With that being said, Monocrystalline panels need between 65 and 100 square feet per kilowatt. Polycrystalline panels need between 85 and 100 square feet per kilowatt, and Thin Film panels need between 100 and 215 square feet per kilowatt.
3. What Are Solar Energy Renewable Credits (SERCs)
Solar Energy Renewable Credits (SERCS) are certificates that can be sold to the utility company for money. It is estimated that 1,000 kilowatts can be worth as much as $300 in states that have Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plans (LTRRPP). The good news is that Illinois does have a LTRRPP, and the state goal is to have 25 percent of its power come from renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.
4. What about Extreme Weather? (Rain, Snow, Cold)
Solar panels can be installed in areas with extreme weather. This includes pounding rain, freezing temperatures, snow, ice and high winds. This is because load calculations are performed for your building and the panels prior to the installation. These calculations are designed to determine if your building can withstand the added weight of the rooftop solar panels and any extreme weather that you may experience in the area. Once the calculations are performed, the system is custom designed for your building and those plans are submitted to the city for approval.
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 dark, cloudy days, your panels will still produce some energy, even on extremely overcast days.
6. What if There Is a Power Outage?
Solar panels can be the stop-gap between losing all your power during a power outage and having partial or full power still available in your building. This depends on how much power your solar panels produce and the size of your battery backup system. If your solar panels do have a battery backup system, most of the power in your building will remain on until the batteries are drained. Of course, your solar panels will continue to produce electricity as long as the sun is shining regardless of whether the main power grid is operating.
7. Where Is the Energy Stored?
Solar panel energy can be used right away to power lights, appliances, computer and other electricity using systems in your building. Excess power can be stored in battery backups, or excess power can be fed back through the grid and to the electric company. When the latter happens, your electric meter runs backward, which shows up as a credit on your electricity bill.
8. What Solar Companies Do You Work With?
We only work with solar panel manufactures 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 and within the United States.
9. How Much Maintenance Is Involved?
Solar panels are reasonably low maintenance. They are constructed of extremely durable tempered glass, and the load calculations ensure that they are anchored extremely well to their frames and your roof. For general maintenance, solar panels should be cleaned every three months. This can be performed with a simple garden hose. 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. If you do notice a reduction in energy efficiency, it’s best to call a maintenance professional so that the panels can be inspected for damage and loose connections and cleaned. The good news is that most solar panels are designed to remain in operation for between 20 and 25 years with very little maintenance.