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A Guide To Maximizing Solar Panel Energy Savings in Oregon & Washington

Installing rooftop solar panels isn’t just good for the environment. They are also an excellent way to virtually eliminate electricity bills in the Pacific Northwest. However, we have learned from years of experience in the solar power industry that there are many dos and don’ts when maximizing solar panel savings in Oregon & Washington. Read on to learn our expert tips on getting the most benefit from solar panels on your home. Importance of Optimizing Solar Energy Savings for Homeowners Maximizing your solar energy system’s efficiency reduces your reliance on fossil fuels while minimizing your power bill savings. You can take numerous steps when installing your system that reduces the time it takes for your solar system to pay for itself through energy bill savings. Whether you use Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, Puget Sound Energy, or an electric coop, there are certain steps you can take to boost your solar panel energy savings for decades. Solar Power Potential in Oregon & Washington Oregon and Washington have significant solar power potential despite their reputation for cloudy weather. Both states receive ample sunlight, especially during the summer when the air conditioning systems are cranking, and power bills can soar. While cloud cover may sometimes reduce solar irradiance, advancements in solar technology, such as high-efficiency solar panels, help maximize your solar panel energy savings even under overcast conditions. The Pacific Northwest’s long daylight hours in the summer also contribute to favorable solar energy production. Solar Irradiance and Weather Patterns in Oregon & Washington Oregon’s climate varies significantly from west to east. The western region, including Salem, Portland, and Eugene, has milder temperatures and more precipitation. The eastern region, which includes Bend and Pendleton, enjoys drier conditions and more sunshine. Similarly, Washington’s weather varies between the coast, including Seattle and Tacoma, to the drier inland areas, with the eastern part, such as Spokane and Yakima. Despite occasional cloud cover, both states still receive enough solar irradiance to make solar energy a viable and valuable renewable energy option for homeowners and businesses. Factors Influencing Solar Energy Production in the Pacific Northwest Many factors can boost solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation and, therefore, solar panel energy savings when installing a rooftop solar panel system. The solar system designers at Smart Solar Energy take these into account to customize the ideal solar system for your home. The first step in installing solar panels is to contact the Smart Solar Energy Team. GET A FREE SOLAR AUDIT Choosing the Right Solar Panel System In Oregon & Washington There are ways to boost the solar panel savings from your system so you get the most from your solar investment. It’s critical to consider these factors. Proper Solar PV System Sizing Ideal sizing is key to designing the ideal solar panel system for your home in Oregon and Washington. By accurately assessing your home energy needs and available space for a solar installation, you can ensure that your system is optimized for maximum energy production and efficiency. If you undersize your solar system, you miss potential solar energy savings. But, if you oversize your PV system, you will get more solar credits than you can use on your power bills. Proper sizing ensures that your solar PV system meets your home energy goals while maximizing your return on investment and solar panel energy savings. It’s also helpful to consider whether your energy needs will change shortly. For example, will you buy an electric vehicle soon and want to charge it at home? Are you planning to convert your stove or water heater from gas to electric? Are you installing heat pumps for home heating and cooling? If so, accounting for these changes is critical to maximizing your solar panel savings. Selecting the Best Solar Panels & Inverters for the Pacific Northwest When considering PV panels and solar inverters for your home in the Pacific Northwest, it’s essential to prioritize components designed to thrive in our climate. Choose high-efficiency solar panels, especially if roof space is limited. Look for solar inverters equipped with advanced technology to maximize clean energy production. By selecting the best-suited panels and inverters for the Pacific Northwest, you can confidently invest in a solar energy solution that delivers reliable solar electricity production and significant energy savings for years to come. Maximizing Solar Energy Production Before you install your solar panels, it’s critical to consider how to get the most solar electricity generation from your system to boost your solar panel energy savings. Proper planning can boost your return on investment and your carbon footprint. Solar Panel Orientation & Tilt Angle For Greater Solar Panel Energy Savings Optimizing your solar panel orientation and tilt angle is crucial for maximizing solar power output in Oregon and Washington. Since these regions experience varying sunlight angles throughout the year, adjusting your panels to face the direction of the sun’s path can significantly boost energy production. Typically, south-facing panels receive the most sunlight, making them ideal for maximizing solar energy savings. However, adjusting panel tilt angles to around 30 to 40 degrees in the Pacific Northwest can help capture more sunlight, especially during winter when the sun sits lower in the sky. By fine-tuning your solar panel orientation and tilt angle to suit the local climate, you can ensure optimal energy generation and maximize solar savings on your electricity bills. Mitigating Shading on Solar Panels When maximizing solar panel energy savings in Oregon and Washington, mitigating shading on your solar modules is essential. Identify any potential sources of shade, such as nearby trees, buildings, or structures, that could obstruct sunlight and reduce panel efficiency. Although there are many benefits to having beautiful Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars, and Sitka Spruce on your property, they can cast shade on your PV panels. In Oregon and Washington, planting trees on the north side of your home is ideal to avoid shading your solar panels. By planting trees to the north, you ensure they won’t cast shadows on your solar panels, maximizing their

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Can I Expand My Existing Solar System

Can I Expand My Existing Solar System?

Many Oregon and Washington homeowners have installed solar panels but want to generate more solar power. Their energy needs have often increased since they initially installed solar panels. Perhaps they are now charging an electric vehicle at home, using a heat pump for home heating, or more people now live in the home. If you are considering adding more solar panels to your solar system, read on to learn if it’s possible to upgrade your solar photovoltaic (PV) system. Why add more solar panels? Adding solar panels to an existing solar system can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to increase your renewable energy production. Adding more solar panels can help future-proof your energy needs against rising utility rates and energy demand, providing greater energy independence in the long run. Generating more solar energy helps reduce your carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels, contributing to a healthier environment and combating climate change. Also, a larger solar PV system with additional panels can increase the value of your property, making it more attractive to potential buyers in the future. Can I upgrade my solar PV system by adding solar panels? Many homes with rooftop solar systems in Oregon and Washington can add more solar panels. But, there are a few critical considerations. Roof Space For Additional Solar Panels Available space for more PV panels is a crucial factor. It’s important to assess whether your roof has sufficient space for additional panels. However, it’s critical to orient the solar panels so they produce the most clean energy. Ideally, you will have additional south-facing roof space for solar panels, but east or west-facing roofs are sufficient. Solar Exposure of Your Roof Shading can impact the energy generation of your solar panels. Even partial shading can reduce the output, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the most intense. When adding new panels, it is essential to ensure they will not be severely shaded by obstacles such as trees, neighboring buildings, or dormers. Aesthetic Considerations When adding solar panels to an existing system, an important aesthetic consideration is to try and match the look of the new panels with the existing PV modules. This helps create a cohesive and uniform appearance, minimizing the visual impact of the added panels. When upgrading a solar PV system, Smart Solar Energy tries to source solar panels with similar dimensions, frame colors, and even cell arrangement. By selecting panels that closely resemble your existing ones, the added solar panels will blend seamlessly and maintain a consistent appearance. Greater Home Energy Use Another key consideration is the need for more solar power. Evaluate your current energy consumption and assess whether your existing system adequately meets your electricity needs. If you are experiencing increased energy usage or seeking to further offset your utility bills, adding more solar panels can help bridge this gap and save you money each month. The Smart Solar Energy team is skilled at assessing homes for solar system upgrades. We can determine whether you have sufficient space for more solar panels, if shading is an issue, and how much more you can save on your electricity bills. GET A FREE SOLAR AUDIT Adding Solar Battery Storage Capacity Winter storms and public safety power shutoffs have caused widespread power outages across the Pacific Northwest in recent years. As a result, solar batteries have become popular in Oregon and Washington. In addition, Oregon residents are eligible for up to $2,500 in rebates for installing solar batteries. It is possible to add a solar battery to your existing solar system. This allows you to store excess energy generated by your solar panels for later use, increasing your energy independence and providing backup power during outages. Time-of-Use Electricity Rates in Oregon & Washington If you have a time-of-use electricity rate plan from your electric company, you can increase your utility bill savings by installing a solar battery in Oregon and Washington. Many utility companies offer these rate plans, including: Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) Idaho Power Pacific Power Portland General Electric (PGE) Puget Sound Energy (PSE). For example, PGE charges $0.052 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for off-peak times and $0.277 per kWh during peak times. Therefore, in Portland, Oregon homeowners can supply electricity to the grid during times when electricity rates are higher, increasing their electricity bill savings. Quality of the Original Solar System Although there are many reputable solar companies in the Pacific Northwest, not all solar installers complete quality work, and some solar components can degrade over time. Unfortunately, there are also some solar systems in Oregon and Washington with improper wiring, code violations, faulty equipment, and other issues. For example, corrosion on the racking system can require us to replace parts or even the entire racking system if we need to move the solar array over to make space for more solar panels. How much does it cost to add panels to my existing PV system? The cost of adding solar panels varies depending on the number of panels you add and other factors, such as your solar inverter. Your inverter converts the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used in your home or fed back into the grid. When expanding your system, you may need to upgrade your inverter or add an additional one to accommodate the increased power output. The cost of the inverter can vary depending on its capacity and functionality. Different types of inverters, such as string inverters with power optimizers and microinverters, have different price ranges. Additionally, the specific requirements of your electrical system may affect the cost. For example, some homes must upgrade their electrical panels for solar system upgrades. Although adding more panels is costly, it can also lead to greater energy production and potential long-term savings. By generating more electricity from your solar system, you can reduce your reliance on the grid and offset

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Net metering process

The Net Metering Process in Oregon and Washington

As the world becomes more eco-conscious, solar energy has soared in popularity, especially in Oregon and Washington. Rooftop solar energy systems contribute to a greener environment and significantly reduce home electricity costs. However, integrating your solar power system with the local power grid can be complex and intimidating in Oregon and Washington. This guide aims to simplify the solar interconnection process in the Pacific Northwest, ensuring a smooth transition to renewable energy. Remember that if Smart Solar Energy installs a solar panel system on your home, we handle the permitting, interconnection and solar system inspection on your behalf. This ensures you can start seeing electricity bill savings as soon as possible. What is solar interconnection? Solar system interconnection is the process of connecting a solar energy system to your home or business so you can reduce your energy bills by using the power generated from your panels. This process typically involves a solar contractor or electrician working with your local utility company to ensure that the solar panels can safely and efficiently feed power to your property and that you comply with any relevant regulations. Federal, state, and local policies and regulations pertaining to renewable energy systems impact project development. Understanding the policy landscape is essential in the early stages of the development process. To avoid delays, safety issues, and even fines, it is critical to select a solar installation company, such as Smart Solar Energy, that is familiar with Oregon and Washington regulations. Why is utility interconnection necessary for solar energy projects? In Oregon and Washington, utility interconnection is necessary for your solar energy project because it allows for the seamless integration of solar-generated electricity into the grid. By connecting your solar energy system to the existing power infrastructure, you can both consume electricity from the grid when your solar production is insufficient and export excess solar energy to the grid when your production exceeds your consumption. Net Metering in Oregon & Washington One crucial aspect of utility interconnection is access to net metering programs, which directly benefit you as a solar energy system owner. With net metering, you receive credit for the excess electricity you generate and supply to the power grid. Your utility company will credit you for this solar power production, which can offset your electricity costs. During times when your energy consumption exceeds your solar system production, you can draw electricity from the grid and use these credits to help reduce your overall energy expenses. Benefits of Net Metering Programs Utility interconnection and net metering offer several advantages. Firstly, they provide you with an economic incentive by allowing you to offset your electricity bills with credits earned from excess production. This can save you money and make solar energy systems more financially appealing. Also, net metering programs in Oregon and Washington help maintain grid stability by balancing the supply and demand of electricity. It allows your excess energy to be distributed to other nearby power consumers, reducing the need for fossil fuel-based generation. Conversely, when your solar production is low, you can draw electricity from the grid, ensuring a continuous and reliable energy supply to your home. By taking advantage of utility interconnection and net metering, you can maximize the financial and environmental benefits of your solar energy system in Oregon and Washington. Solar Interconnection in Oregon Oregon’s interconnection process has recently been updated to streamline the connection of distributed energy resources (DERs) to the electric grid. The new rules, implemented by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission, aim to incorporate best practices for reviewing renewable and energy storage projects, making the interconnection process more efficient and effective. When it comes to electric utility companies in Oregon, some of the most popular ones include: Pacific Power: Pacific Power serves approximately 600,000 customers in Oregon and provides electricity in central, southern, and eastern Oregon. Portland General Electric (PGE): PGE is one of the largest electric utility companies in Oregon and serves around 900,000 customers in northwest Oregon, including Portland, Salem, Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Clackamas. Idaho Power: While primarily serving Idaho, Idaho Power also serves some parts of eastern Oregon, providing electricity to customers in locations such as Ontario and Baker City. Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB): EWEB is a publicly owned utility company that provides both electric and water services. It serves the city of Eugene and surrounding areas. Salem Electric: It provides electric service in Salem, Oregon, in Marion County, and offers net metering for renewable energy systems that are less than 25 kW in size These electric utility companies play a vital role in the solar interconnection process by coordinating and facilitating the connection of solar energy systems to the Oregon electric grid. They provide the necessary guidance, technical requirements, and application processes to ensure smooth interconnection and operation of these systems. Recent Changes to Solar Interconnection in Oregon Recently, there have been changes to the interconnection requirements in Oregon aimed at modernizing and streamlining how clean energy systems connect to the grid. Starting on June 1, 2024, all distributed energy resource systems applying for interconnection in Oregon will be required to utilize smart inverters that comply with the requirements of IEEE 1547-2018. This technical standard ensures that the screens used reflect the actual behavior and operation of the systems. Also, the new rules in Oregon recognize a category of clean energy projects called non- and limited-export projects. These projects may have export limitations or do not export energy to the grid at all. Recognizing this category provides flexibility for certain types of clean energy installations. These changes are part of ongoing efforts by the Oregon Public Utility Commission to update and enhance the state’s interconnection procedures. The aim is to facilitate greater integration of renewable energy systems into the grid while maintaining system reliability and safety standards. Solar Interconnection in Washington The interconnection process for electric utilities in Washington involves several steps and regulations. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) regulates private, investor-owned electric utilities in the state. Popular electric utility

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