industrial roof mounted solar panels

An Increasing Amount of People Are Going Solar Each Year

In the early 2000’s, using solar power was often seen as something only millionaires were able to do. In less than two decades, that has completely changed. In the year 2000, the cost per watt for solar panels was about $10. These days, it’s reduced to $2 to $3. Solar panel efficiency has also increased. In 2012, the greatest efficiency was a little over 17 percent. Five years later in 2017, researchers created a prototype cell which could reach a little over 44 percent efficiency. The intrigue of clean energy such as solar, has led to many local governments, states, and even electricity providers providing financial incentives designed to help more homeowners and business owners invest in solar systems.

industrial solar panels

This increasing trend of folks using solar is having a significant effect on the general electrical production for the United States, as well. Renewable energy, in 2010,  accounted for fewer than 5 percent of the electrical production for the U.S. Nowadays, less than a decade later, it is nearly 15 percent. Plus, utility-scale generation alone is predicted to increase by an additional 17 percent in 2020. Most utility providers who traditionally utilized fossil fuels are now changing over to renewable, clean energy due to the sizable financial savings they’ll bring. Renewable industries such as the solar sector aren’t just booming in the United States. One Bloomberg report claims that by 2050, it is predicted that 50 percent of electricity produced worldwide will come from renewable sources like solar.

It is estimated that the United States will be producing its share of that 50 percent. Currently, 37 states possess renewable portfolio goals or standards for its electricity providers to meet. Thirty-eight states possess net metering, or likewise programs. And it is expected that by the year 2025, state standards are going to support 103GW of renewable energy. By going solar, owners of homes will have the ability to save cash and reduce their utility bill, instead of worrying about increasing electricity rates because of the rising price of fossil fuels. Want to learn more about options involved in changing over to clean, green solar power? Call us at Tri-State Electrical Contractors today!

ground mounted solar panels

The Twenty Six Percent Federal Solar Tax Credit

Technological advancements and rapidly growing interest are giving way to solar panels that are more efficient and less expensive. They are an excellent investment, whether you need them for your business, or your home. However, like with any investment, you want to ensure you are receiving the perfect deal for the perfect price. If you are searching for an incentive to try solar, search no further than the twenty six percent Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit.

ground mounted solar panels

This credit, also referred to as the Federal Solar Tax Credit, or ITC, is an incentive that is available to everyone. Whether you are a homeowner, operate a small business, or operate a large corporation, it is possible to take advantage of the incentive. Here’s how it works:

As you invest in solar panels, it’s possible to utilize the Federal Solar Tax Credit to receive 26 percent of the overall expense of the system back in tax credits. This means that more than 1/4 of the price is decreased from the beginning. Plus, if you do not use all of your tax credits in the first year, do not be concerned- they will simply roll directly on over to the next.

Therefore, if you invested in a $20,000 solar panel system, which includes installation, you would receive $5,200 back in tax credits. It would decrease the price of your solar panels to $14,800. Plus, with other potential local and state incentives, you could further decrease the price of your system.

The 26% Federal Solar Tax Credit is an excellent method of getting solar panels for an outstanding cost. But, if you want to take advantage of that incentive and change to solar, you will need to act rapidly. The twenty six percent credit is only available until the end of 2020. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the credit will decrease to twenty two percent. Plus, in 2022, it will be fully unavailable for homes. If you would like to talk with someone about solar integration, contact our team at Tri-State Electrical Contractors.

solar panel roof

Could Solar Panels Soon Generate Power at Night?

solar panel roof

As advantageous as existing solar panel technology has been in our search to switch over to renewable energy, historically, these types of panels cannot generate electricity in the evening. New studies now suggest it might be possible to make panels capable of working around the clock.

Below optimum conditions, in the evening, these uniquely made photovoltaic cells might generate 1/4 of the energy they generate in the daytime.

Integration of thermoradiative cells (devices which produce energy because of radiative cooling, in which heat or infrared radiation exits the cell and generates a small quantity of energy within the process) would be needed to accomplish this.

Such cells already are being tested in fields like manufacturing, where they’re utilized to convert waste heat, like the high temperatures produced by an engine.

In the instance of a night-time panel, pointing this type of a cell at the cool night sky is one method of harnessing this process.

According to computer and electrical engineer Jeremy Munday, from the University of California, he was thinking, what if we took one of those devices and placed it inside a warm area then pointed it at the sky?

To accomplish this effect using infrared radiation, it would require various types of materials, similar to standard solar panels, which usually focus on visible light.

Step two includes figuring out what mixture of electronics and materials may generate an efficient panel that may utilize the night space and sky as a heat sink. The underlying math checks out.

Munday adds that a standard solar cell produces power by absorbing sunlight, causing a voltage to appear across the device, as well as for current to flow. In those new devices, light, instead, gets emitted and the voltage and current run in the opposite direction, yet you still produce power.

Under ideal conditions, solar farms might generate as much as 50 watts of power/ square meter, according to the scientists’ calculations – increasing energy generation by around 12% overall in arid, open environments in which many solar farms already are based.

It is a concept that several groups are analyzing. In 2019 we saw an experimental system, established by Stanford University researchers, which additionally utilized the heat imbalance between the night sky and Earth to produce electricity from infrared radiation.

While there is still a long way to go to correctly scale up the technology so that it is useful – currently Munday and his co-workers only have prototypes in development – it’s potentially a fairly inexpensive method of keeping solar cells working 24 hours per day.

The researchers concluded in their published paper that deep space provides an interesting low-temperature thermal sink with the possibility of helping to offer electrical power at day and night through the use of materials science, optics, and photonics.

tesla storage certification

Tesla Storage Certification

Tri-State Electrical Contractors’s Solar Division has received the Tesla Storage Certification and are now Tesla Charging Certified. This means that we will now be able to offer a solar plus battery solution customized for your specific needs.

Our certified installers are trained to install Powerwall and adhere to strict inspection, permitting, and quality standards. When a Powerwall is installed by a certified installer, you will automatically get access to support and software updates.

As a certified installer, we’re able to help you harness solar energy in an effective manner. The solar battery backup system is beneficial to both businesses and homeowners and helps in energy savings.

Tesla Powerwall

Tesla Powerwall enables you to store solar energy for later use. Energy produced during the day charges the batteries, this happens as sunlight shines on the solar panels. So,at night or during outages, you will be able to draw electricity from the battery, enabling you to power your home with clean and sustainable energy 24/7.

Benefits of Tesla Powerwall:

  • Use More of Solar Energy – Powerwall will help store solar energy. The surplus solar energy is utilized later when the sun is not shining.
  • Load Shifting – The unit charges during a low rate period. This is when the demand for electricity is low. It discharges when the electricity demand is higher and expensive.
  • Back-Up Power – Even if you have a grid failure, you are assured of power.

Powerwall AC Version

The Powerwall AC version consists of lithium-ion (13.2 kWh) battery pack, an integrated inverter, liquid thermal control system, and software that sends electricity when it is needed. The unit can be mounted indoors or outdoors on the wall or ground.

With Powerwall, you can reduce reliance on the grid and even keep the lights on even during a blackout. Our Solar Division at Tri-State Electrical Contractors understands how to fully leverage this innovative solar power system. Installing Tesla Powerwall is easy as we take care of everything from system design to installation and permitting. Want complete control and energy security? Contact our team today to learn more about battery storage that keeps energy needs clean and independent.

Tri-State Electrical Contractors

How to Maximize Plant Downtime

Planned plant shutdowns are a great time to run critical tests, perform upgrades, plan for the future and optimize automation. Even remote or small access plants may benefit from utilizing this downtime in a productive manner.

Tri-State Electrical Contractors

The holiday months are an excellent time to arrange downtime or a complete shutdown. With decreased staff numbers inside the building, machines may be individually tested  and data may be collected in a controlled, isolated environment. If you missed the opportunity to schedule a shutdown this past holiday season, you and your operations team can look ahead to prepare for the next major holiday.

Thinking about the future is a critical component of plant operations. Planned downtimes are the perfect time to audit processes, mitigate risk by updating all safety protocols, perform machine upgrades, test connectivity and reporting between platforms, or test abilities for future implementation. Consider taking your audit a step further by leveraging the time to:

  • Gather data and perform tests to identify issues that might come up in the future.
  • Perform network testing, simple electrical upgrades, and substation maintenance.
  • Do a walkthrough of all equipment to ensure it is still within warranty and running optimally.
  • Assess maintenance processes and existing output abilities.

Speaking of looking ahead…

Let us say you have plans to increase in output or have an upcoming expansion, is your facility able to handle it? Testing before a shutdown lets you know if sufficient capacity for an upgrade exists. What’s your power availability? Are your panels able to handle more output? Tests during a shutdown will evaluate where you stand, and Tri-State Electrical Contractors can help.

Preventative maintenance is a big part of planning for the future. Tri-State Electrical Contractors provides predictive testing designed to evaluate risk and identify non-compliance issues. Comprehensive reporting, which includes IFR Heat Scans and power distribution inspection, panel and breaker testing, and much more, ensure facilities are performing optimally and are up to code. Preparing for your future allows you to decrease overall downtime, avoid expensive upkeep and replace equipment before it malfunctions. In the long run, it pays to make the best use of such downtimes. For plants of every size, from multi-function beverage and food packaging and processing plants to large scale electrical projects, contact us to find out how partnering with Tri-State Electrical Contractors will help you maximize your plant’s downtime.

advances in solar energy

Advances in Solar Energy

As solar begins to attain mainstream status, an increasing amount of homeowners are considering going solar – even the ones with roofs which are less than ideal for solar panels. Due to this growth, ground mounted solar is now becoming a viable option for clean energy, because of tracking mount technology.

solar energy Tri-State Electrical Contractors Chattanooga TN

Trackers permit solar panels to maximize electricity generation by following the sun when it moves around the sky. PV tracking systems shift and tilt the angle of a solar array when the day passes to best fit the placement of the sun. Although the panel add-on has been on the scene for quite some time, solar manufacturers are really embracing this technology. Recently, GTM Research unveiled a report showing a major upward trend in tracking systems’ popularity. GTM foresees a 254% year-upon-year increase for the PV tracking marketplace this year. The report claimed that by the year 2021, almost 50% of all ground mount arrays will involve solar tracking ability.

Solar panel efficiency advances

The past couple of years in the solar sector have been a race to the top as far as solar cell efficiency is concerned, and recent times haven’t been any different. Numerous accomplishments by a variety of panel manufacturers have brought us to an increasingly higher amount of maximum efficiencies every year.

The solar cell types utilized in mainstream marketplaces could also see huge improvements in cost per watt – a metric comparing solar panels’ relative affordability. Because of American and Swiss scientists, Perovskite solar cells have seen some big breakthroughs in the last 2 years. The result is set to produce a solar panel capable of generating over 20% efficiency while still providing a low cost solution in the market.

Battery Breakthroughs

We’ve seen many advances in battery technology in recent years as well. According to New Atlas, 2019 brought us “tech that could charge electric vehicles in 10 minutes, batteries that suck carbon dioxide out of the air and news that the world’s biggest battery is set to get even bigger.” New Atlas also reports that Neoen and the South Australia government have entered another agreement with Tesla to add a further 64.5 MWh of capacity and 50 MW of output. This upgrade is planned for mid-2020 and will increase the size of the world’s biggest battery by around 50 percent.

At a consumer level, Tesla’s Powerwall proves to be an impressive option for homeowners while the Powerpack provides cutting-edge, scalable solutions for businesses. When combined with solar, Powerwall can meet the energy demands of most homes. When the grid goes down, solar energy can power an entire home while charging the Powerwall. As for Powerpack, this solution for commercial consumers and energy providers supports a host of applications that offer precise control, increased efficiency and reliability across the electric grid.

At Tri-State Electrical Contractors, we’re proud to hold both Tesla Storage and Tesla Charging certifications. Contact us today for more insight on how Powerwall and/or Powerpack can support energy optimization efforts in a home or business.


What Happens to the Federal Solar Tax Credit After 2019?

An investment in solar energy could significantly impact your federal income taxes through a solar tax credit. But time is running out. The sun is setting on an opportunity for homeowners and business owners to take advantage of a 30% income tax credit. That savings is made possible through The Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC. This federal incentive has not only paved the way for U.S. solar industry growth (at a rate of more than 10,000% according to SEIA),  but it has also allowed homeowners and business owners to embrace a clean energy source capable of indefinitely decreasing long-term energy costs.

residential solar panel home

Currently available for solar panel systems on both residential and commercial properties, the tax credit drops to 26% at the conclusion of 2019. This rate remains in effect through the conclusion of 2020. In 2021, the rate drops to 22%. After 2021, the residential tax credit completely phases out, however a 10% credit will remain in effect for businesses. 

How does a federal tax credit work?

A tax credit reduces the amount of federal income taxes a person or company would otherwise be required to pay. With the ITC, the reduction is based on the amount an individual or business invests into solar property. So, let’s say you invest $12,000 in qualifying solar property before the end of 2019. At the existing solar tax credit rate of 30%, you would qualify for a $3,600 credit. Wait, and it goes down to $3,120 in 2020. In 2021, the credit would drop to $2,640. Wait even longer, and you’ll really miss out on potential savings. Once again, in 2022 the solar tax credit for homeowners completely disappears. However, as a business owner, your company could be eligible for a $1,200 credit at a rate of 10%.

Saving with solar power

As electricity costs from traditional sources continue to climb, switching to solar energy makes sense for many homeowners and businesses owners. A recent report from Lazard revealed the cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity is now around $50 for solar power. That’s less than half the cost it would take coal to produce the same amount of electricity. Bankrate has a closer look at the numbers and what they could mean in terms of savings for your home or business.

How do you qualify for the solar tax credit?

It’s best to verify all information with your tax representative, but for general purposes, here is an overview of what you can expect:

To take advantage of the 30% solar tax credit, you’ll need to:

  • have your solar system installed by December 31, 2019
  • own (and not rent – rental properties do not qualify) the home or business receiving the solar upfitting
  • own (not lease) the solar panels 

Since there’s no cap on how much your system costs, you’ll get to claim the full 30% off regardless of whether you spend $10,000 or $100,000 on a solar system installation. Be sure to document and save all receipts related to the project! Qualifying expenses generally include: 

  • Solar consulting fees
  • Solar equipment
  • Tools and equipment
  • Installation fees
  • Engineer fees
  • Electrician fees
  • Permitting fees

At Tri-State Electrical Contractors, our solar division regularly designs and installs custom solar energy systems for residential, commercial and industrial settings throughout Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Timing is everything. Contact us today so you can take full advantage of the federal solar tax credit before it decreases.