What panel types have you used?
Throughout our various projects, we have utilized a wide array of different technologies depending on the characteristics of an individual project. Typically, we install traditional mono and poly silicon solar modules. We have also used thin-film laminates on TPO roofs, and high-efficiency modules when we are constrained by available roof space. In addition, we have used building integrated photovoltaic modules as a rooftop shade structure on a home in the Lower 9th Ward. We try not to be constrained by any one type of panel and continue to adopt more efficient and cost effective technologies as they emerge in the market.
How do you attach your panels to the roof?
Attachment methods are driven by the roofing style, the required wind load and the type of racking product selected for the project. For instance, most of Make It Right’s homes have a standing seam metal roof. With standing seam, we are able to attach the racking to the seams of the roof without having to penetrate the metal at any point. We use S-5! clamps which attach directly to the seam with set screws rather than lag bolts through the roof into the roof joists. For homes with traditional asphalt shingles, we spec quick mount PV flashing that integrates well into the shingles and requires a lag bolt into the rafters. Our TPO roof solution includes a ballasted racking system that integrates into the TPO and avoids any penetrations through the waterproof membrane.
Does Make It Right Solar employ installers?
Make It Right Solar does not directly employ solar installers. We contract local, fully-insured and licensed solar integrators to deliver high quality installations for all of our PV projects.
What installers have you used in Louisiana?
We have worked with more than 20 different solar installation companies based in Louisiana.
Do you work on projects other than Make It Right or outside of Louisiana?
Yes. We have worked on several projects outside of Make It Right’s work in the Lower 9th Ward. Within Louisiana, we have collaborated with Project Home Again, New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative (NONDC), Broadmoor Development Corporation, Volunteers of America, Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO). Outside of Louisiana, we have worked with Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City, MO and HELP USA in Newark, NJ.
Do you install solar on homeowners’ individual houses?
Although Make It Right Solar is not a solar contractor, we partner with companies across the nation that finance, install and maintain solar energy systems for individual homeowners. Please contact us to get more information about solar offerings for individual homeowners in your area.
How big of a solar array do you need to run your entire house?
Every situation is different and a professional system designer should take several variables into account to determine the optimal system size for a home or building. The most important variable to consider is the historical electricity usage for an existing structure, or for a new home, an electricity usage projection that can be generated by an energy rater. Assuming your roof is large enough and your budget can accommodate it, a solar array should be sized to offset 70-80% of your consumption needs. It is likely that you will increase the energy efficiency of the structure in the future and there is typically limited economic benefit to the system owner for producing more electricity than is needed.
Do you get government credits for installing solar?
Yes. There are Federal and State tax credits associated with investing in solar energy equipment.
Federal – There is a 30% Investment Tax Credit or Personal Tax Credit that is available to owners of solar systems. The Investment Tax Credit is available to companies and the Personal Tax Credit is available to homeowners.
State – In Louisiana, there is a 50% refundable tax credit that is available to owners of solar systems that are installed on residences only.
We are not CPAs and you should check with your accountant regarding your personal situation and qualifications for any tax credits. Please see DSIREusa.org for more information on solar energy incentives.
Does Louisiana support net metering?
Louisiana has retail net metering laws which means that for every kWh that your system produces more than your home demands during the day, the utility must credit your account. Additionally, net metering removes the need for expense batteries in a grid tied scenario. With net metering, not one kWh of energy is lost! It is a truly waste free policy that streamlines the adoption of solar power.
Are your houses hooked up to the grid?
Yes. We only install grid-tied PV systems. Our systems function in parallel with the public utility grid so when the grid is up and working, so are our solar systems. When there is an outage, grid-tied solar systems shut down to allow line workers to safely work to repair power lines and restore electricity.
What are the pros and cons of hooking up to the grid versus having a battery array?
Battery backup systems are intended for off grid systems where the home does not have a simple or accessible source of power, like a public grid. Batteries are expensive and require maintenance so grid-tied systems are more cost effective and hassle free. However, in the event of a power outage, the batter backed up array will continue working while the grid-tied system will not.
Are your panels in a chain or do you use micro-inverters? Why?
We utilize both central and micro inverters. If shading is a concern, then micro inverters maximize the energy production from the system. For large system and systems without shading concerns, centralized inverters are more than adequate and they are typically more cost effective. Micro inverters allow for greater system design flexibility and they have extremely detailed monitoring platforms due to the collected data from each panel and inverter working together.
What panel type is most efficient?
Monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels, which are more efficient than thin film solar modules. Sunpower is typically regarded as the most efficient solar panel available on the market. That means that they are able to generate more power with less space, or a high power density. When roof space is a project constraint, high efficiency modules like Sunpower may be an appropriate design strategy.
How much does a typical solar installation for Make It Right houses cost?
Residential systems can cost between $15,000 – $30,000.
There are a variety of payment options to consider including direct cash purchase, leasing and same-as-cash financing. If you have any questions about these options, please contact us.
What problems with your equipment have you run into?
A properly installed grid-tied PV system is virtually maintenance-free. Solar panels have a 25-year power production guarantee from the manufacturer. Depending on the inverter manufacturer, the inverter warranty will run between ten and 25 years. Cities such as New Orleans receive sufficient annual rainfall that it is unnecessary to clean the panels annually like you may in dryer climates.
Have you thought about using solar thermal?
Make It Right homes use tankless water heaters that were donated by Noritz as our source of hot water. With this configuration, a solar thermal system would be redundant feature. Solar thermal can be a very effective and efficient way to produce hot water using only the sun as the heating element.
Does solar work well for existing houses?
Yes! Solar PV systems are easily integrated into existing structures. The quality of the roof and the electrical service are important factors to consider on an existing structure but most solar systems are installed on existing homes rather than new homes.
What is the best way to size a solar array for my house?
There are many factors in sizing the appropriate solar system for your home. Factors such as roof size, roof orientation, shading and energy consumption should be factored when sizing an array for your home. The best way to size is to call a fully licensed and experienced solar integrator who can provide more details for your specific needs.
Who can I talk to about solar?
Please contact us here.
Are your houses totally run on solar?
Solar energy is a supplemental power source. Most houses with solar on the roof do not receive 100% of their power from the sun. A good target for how much energy consumption should be offset by solar is between 70-80%. A net zero home must be designed with extreme detailed analysis of anticipated energy consumption. A net zero utility bill should not be the goal of every homeowner that is interested in solar energy.