<img src="https://d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net/atrk.gif?account=YfGCg1asOv002Q" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="Alexa"> Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

What Light Pollution Means to the Future of Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

4/6/15 10:00 AM

Florida Coast by The City Dark DocumentaryWe are from a small town, so the difference between us and a place like New York City as far as light pollution is way different; however, we all experience some form of light pollution. Light pollution isn’t something you think of, but does it really affect us?

Light pollution is the way light shines upwards illuminating dust and debris in the air and creates a cloud effect that blocks out the night sky. Since the beginning of time, we have depended on the night sky for information in regards to location, seasons, direction, etc., but with modern technology, we don’t rely on this for our information, but does it still affect us? And if so, what can we do to change the light pollution factor of areas?

Granted, all light cannot be lost at night and we will never have the dark sky at all times at night that happened hundreds of years ago, but light pollution can be reduced. Providing light in the areas they are required at the times they are required, and using dark sky compliant fixtures, will lower the amount of light pollution and increase our visibility to the night sky. The US spends 1.5 billion dollars every year on wasted energy due to light pollution. Towns all over the US are setting light ordinances moving towards using full cutoff fixtures only to preserve the night sky as well as reducing costs.

I recently wanted a documentary on this very subject called The City Dark and learned a lot about how we see the night sky in different locations. The films looked at the light in New York City and out in Arizona and the differences were amazing.

The light pollution doesn’t just affect animals, but humans as well. The US National Library of Medicine did a study on the health effects of light pollution.  Decreased melatonin produced in the body effects our hormonal system and sleep cycles. Melatonin deficiencies cause an increased risk of cancers, especially breast cancer, and it is unknown what other risk factors this produces. Many sleep disorders are also caused by light pollution. The study says we are only at the tip of the ice burg in research at this point.

Turtle Friendly Solar Light in Bradenton Beach FloridaSo what does this mean for the light industry? California has taken the light pollution into consideration, as well as the wasted energy, and implemented Title 24 Energy Efficient Standards. These standards are for residential and non-residential areas to decrease their use when the light is not required, like after a facility is closed, and using full cutoff fixtures with motion sensor or adaptive lighting controls. This is set to lower the consumption of electricity in the state.

Other states, like Hawaii, require LPS lamps for their telescope areas with a full cutoff fixture so there is little to no light pollution and any light will not affect their telescopes when looking at the night sky. Areas like Florida are required to use amber color light with full cutoff along coastal areas due to sea turtles. All these different steps are being taken to help reduce light pollution and the affects they have on nature.

What can you do? Take steps to not waste light where it is not needed, provide high efficiency lights, look at local ordinances when installing new lighting and turn it off when you don’t need it. Small steps can be taken in both a residential and business to ensure that we all do our part in reducing the impact we have on the environment and us as a species.

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting Design, Turtle Friendly Lighting, Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

How Does A Solar Light Work

Posted by SEPCO

3/30/15 10:00 AM

How Does A Solar Light WorkWhether you are talking about the small garden stake lights you find at any big box store or a commercially produced solar lighting system, they provide the same functionality. The difference between them is in the design. Here is a basic overview of how does a solar light work.

There are four major components to any light; the solar panel, battery, control electronics and the light fixture. During the day, the solar panel produces power to charge the battery by the photons produced by the sun’s rays collecting and stimulating electrons in the silicon cells. These electrons are knocked off and collected by the wiring of the solar panel and fed to the battery for storage. This happens from the time the sun starts to rise till the sun is set. Full power production doesn’t actually occur till mid-day; however, the panels can produce power in almost any circumstance there is sunlight.

The battery then stores the power produces during the day. The control electronics determine when it is dark out by noticing the reduced power production of the solar panels. This triggers the system to stop feeding the battery and turn on the light fixture. The light fixture will then feed off the battery for its energy to produce the light. The fixture then operates the schedule profile it is set to operate, whether that is dusk to dawn, or in some lights, when the battery is empty. The light will then turn off when the battery becomes too low or the control electronics notice there is power being produced by the solar panel again.

This cycle continues day after day.

The only differences between solar light systems are the operation profile and system components that are used to build the light. Small lights you find at a home improvement store for your garden provide typically one night’s worth of power. They charge small batteries during the day and operate the light fixture only as long as the batteries have charge. This full depth of discharge only provides a short period of time before the batteries would need changing.

Some larger solar lighting systems manufacturers think the above design is okay for commercial practices; however, there is a large system failure since there are differences between locations and applications that need to be considered when designing the system. Large commercially produced lights must take into consideration the project location, the application that it will be used, and other project specifics. A minimum of five nights autonomy, or backup power, should be implemented to lower the maintenance of the system and provide enough backup for little to no failures when there are periods of inclement weather.

Light fixtures specific to the application should also be used. If you have a large area that requires lighting, a small spot light will not produce the required lighting levels. Instead, using light fixtures that produce specific optics and distribution patterns will ensure the light fixtures meet the needs of the project. The lumen output of the fixture, not the wattage, also needs to be taken into consideration. A lighting analysis and calculations can show all this and can be provided by any reputable solar light systems manufacturer.

So that’s basically it. Sun charges the batteries with the help of solar panels during the day and then the light fixture feeds off the battery at night. Want to learn about other ways to use solar for lighting? Check out 3 Types of Solar Street Light Retrofit Systems and learn about the three different ways solar can be used in lighting applications.

Blog Checklist CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

Earth Hour 2015: Let’s Turn It Off for One Hour

Posted by SEPCO

3/23/15 10:00 AM

wwf_earth_hour_300x250_ccc

Well, it is that time of year again. Earth Hour is this Saturday, March 28th at 8:30 PM your local time, and I am so looking forward to this again. Check out their official 2015 video:

If you are new to the Earth Hour community, check out our past articles for tips and advice on what goes on in the community:

Join In on Earth Hour 2012 and Help the Earth

Let’s Make Earth Hour 2014 Bigger and Better Together

You should also go to a local event, which can be found online through Meetups and Earth Hour Tracker.

Earth Hour is a global environmental movement by the WWF and partners with companies all over the world to provide awareness through social impact. Earth Hour was started in 2007 and the community continues to grow year after year. You can watch videos as they post them on their Earth Hour YouTube Channel to see what has been going on in years past as well as the developments around the world on Earth Hour.

If you decide to join in this year, I would love to see what everyone does to celebrate this hour. Visit us on social media and post your photos, videos and statements. We would love to create a feature showing off how our community celebrated this great hour.

Read More

Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday, Conservation

Benefits of Off Grid Solar Power Light Systems

Posted by SEPCO

3/16/15 10:00 AM

Off Grid Solar Power Light SystemThere are two types of commercial lighting systems, grid powered and off grid powered. Solar powered light systems that are off grid provide different benefits to grid tied light systems such as: light when there is no power for additional safety and security, lack of electric bills, easier installation, and light wherever you need it. Customizing a system for each application will ensure that your light system meets the needs of your project completely.

Light with No Power –

If you live in an area that is prone to blackouts and brownouts, then off grid solar power light systems provide you the safety and security knowing that your lights will still function. Since they are not powered by the grid, if the electrical company has an issue, your lights will still operate just as they are supposed to.

If you area is not effected with these issues, the benefits are similar since you can rely on knowing that no matter what is going on with grid power in the area, your lights will still function. This provides additional safety and security and is popular for military and government facilities since the inception of the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 that states federally owned property and buildings are mandated to materially reduce current energy use while also improving energy “security,” by employing renewable power that operates independent of electrical utility grid.

Lack of Electric Bills –

Off grid power systems do not use electric from the grid and therefore cost you nothing in monthly electric bills. Since the inception and popularity of LED fixtures, the maintenance on such systems has also reduced greatly. The only thing that requires maintenance now on a standard solar lighting system is changing the battery every so often. Depending on your nights of autonomy, this can vary greatly between manufacturers. Ask your manufacturer how much their system’s autonomy, or backup power, is standard and what their maintenance schedule is. The more autonomy, the longer the batteries will last and the lower the maintenance costs will be.

Converting your existing electric grid powered lights to solar is not always the most cost feasible if everything is operating correctly. Instead, making simple changes such as switching out the fixtures to LED fixtures, installing control options that reduce the lighting, or even turn in off, when it is not required will help reduce power bills greatly. If you are looking for a way to eliminate the electric bill of your current lights, installing grid tied solar, after making the other changes, based on your average sun insolation and usage will allow for a NET Zero project.

Easier Installation –

Off grid solar power light systems provide a much easier installation. The light can be located where it is required. Unlike the constraints of traditional grid powered lighting where you have to use existing poles and infrastructure, or complete costly trenching to put the power where you need it, solar powered light systems can be installed just about anywhere. This lowers costs by allowing existing structures and areas to be undisturbed for installation. This is especially helpful in cases where grid power is far from the location of where the light is required and times where you discover, after doing upgrades to an area, that the power lines are deteriorated and would need replacing.

Light Where You Need It –

Like discussed in installation, the light can be placed exactly where it is required. Have a dark area in a parking lot? Or a pathway around a park where there is no electricity? Solar powered light systems can be installed in just about any location. If your lights are needed in a shady area, the solar power systems can be installed up to 50’ to 100’ from the actual light so that the solar can be exposed to full sun while your light can be installed where it is needed.

Now that you know some of the benefits of off grid solar power light systems, you will be able to make a better decision when determining your needs. Want to move forward with your off grid solar light project? Learn about common design questions that need to be answered before a system is configured. This will ensure that the manufacturer is designing a system that will meet the needs of your project.

Blog Checklist CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting, LED Lighting, Solar Lighting Design, Installation

What Is EPA and Why Does It Matter?

Posted by SEPCO

3/9/15 10:00 AM

WindandEPA
EPA stands for Effective Projected Area and is used in many applications, including solar lighting system design, construction and installation. The EPA is calculated to help determine the strength of the pole needed to provide support to the solar lighting system during wind events. This calculation takes into consideration the entire area that the solar power system and light fixture will take up at the top of a pole and helps manufacturers determine the size of pole, the type of anchors used, the embedment and foundations used at installation, and the types of brackets required to keep everything mounted during a high wind event.

EPA and AASHTO Standards are used when calculating the requirements for the pole used in any solar lighting application. These two factors are used to determine the size of pole required to ensure that the light will still be standing after a wind event up to a certain mile per hour.

The EPA of any system varies depending on angles, shapes, and size of the systems. Even the shape of the pole can change the EPA of a complete system as square poles have a larger EPA than a round pole. When designing a solar power system, the angle of the system affects both the EPA and the solar power production of the system. All these factors must be taken into consideration when designing a project as well as ensuring the installation will withstand for years to come.

So why does this all matter? When designing a system, the EPA of the complete system needs to be taken into consideration to ensure that the solar power assembly will not blow apart during a storm, the pole won’t be knocked over due to the large area at the top of the pole, etc. To find local AASHTO wind load ratings, you can look online or talk to your pole manufacturer, solar lighting specialist or local engineering firm.

Different locations, such as mountainous areas, coastal areas and areas around the Great Lakes have different wind speed requirements than other inland areas. Consulting a local authority is the best way to ensure you are purchasing equipment that can stand up to these windy areas. The best way to determine the requirements of the project is to:

  1. Determine the site location

  2. Determine to total weight and EPA of the equipment

  3. Determine the wind load requirement

  4. Talk to your manufacturer to ensure the pole can hold up

If you are still unsure, additional engineering calculations can be performed. These typically are a small fee ranging from $500 - $1000 for signed and sealed calculations. These calculations are performed by a third party engineering firm.

In the end, talking to your manufacturer or local engineering firm will help you determine what size and type of pole will ensure your equipment will withstand local wind events. Learning about different options when it comes to poles will also educate you on the final decision when it comes to system design. Check out: My Pole or Yours? Why Solar Light Poles Differ

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting Design, Poles

Advantages of Solar Power Lights at Military and Government Facilities

Posted by SEPCO

3/2/15 10:00 AM

Solar Power LighingThe US Government decided years ago to make their military bases and government facilities as green as possible. Reducing energy and fuel usage, becoming energy independent by installing solar and wind power, and increasing efficiencies in building all contributes to lower costs and energy strength. Using solar power lights is just another step in achieving their goals.

There are quite a few advantages of solar power lights at these types of facilities. Solar powered lighting can provide an off grid option for the facilities as they are not only self-sustaining, but also does not require extra pull from their solar and wind power applications needed for building power, lowering the amount of solar plants and wind farms needed. Since every solar powered light provides its own power, each light works independently from the other. This allows for two goals to be met: Energy Independence and Energy Security.

SolarPowerLighsBy having the lights work independently from the grid, whether powered by solar, wind, nuclear, coal, etc., will increase safety at the facility as no attack can take out every light simultaneously. The lights can also come equipped with a radio transmitter for intentional blackouts, but are not standard to most installations.

One great solar power light application is roadway lighting for the roads around and through the facility or base. These lights provide additional safety by adding visual assistance at night for traffic and pedestrians. It would also allow security to easily spot issues.

Another solar light application would be parking lot lights. At military housing, offices, and other government facilities there are always parking lots. These areas require adequate lighting for people going to and from work for safety to both their person and their vehicle. And using LED lights would give the added benefit of better vision due to the better lighting. LEDs also last longer, do not produce heat and are mercury free.

There are many other applications for solar powered lights at any military base or government facility. Making sure you do your research on the best possible light for the application is key to purchasing a long lasting light.

Blog Solar Lighting CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting

A New Way to Think About Lumens and Watts

Posted by SEPCO

2/16/15 10:00 AM

Lumens and Watts

I keep being asked to meet the Lumens or Watts from a HPS, MH, or just about any other type of light, but this isn’t comparing apples to apples. This is trying to compare apples to spaghetti (I love spaghetti). A while back, I wrote an article Wattage vs Lumens: Know the Difference for Better Lighting to help readers understand the difference between comparing a 400 Watt HPS lamp to a 30 Watt LED, but I think it is time to expand on that.

A Lumen is a Lumen and a Watt is a Watt; however, the two don’t really have much to do with each other in the LED world. One LED may produce only 50 Lumens per Watt, where as another may produce closer to 100 Lumens per Watt. Therefore, one company’s 30 Watt fixture may be brighter or less bright than another company’s. Most companies publish their efficiency ratings on their specification sheets, and if you don’t find it there, contacting someone at the company or a local representative will help you determine exactly what the light output of a certain LED fixture is.

Another huge misconception is how many Lumens it will take to light a specific area. Other lamps, like some 400 Watt Metal Halide lamps, produce around 36k Lumens; however, these lumens are spread out shining in all directions, not just down. This means that only a fraction of the 36k Lumens actually reaches the area below the fixture.

Directional LEDs are very different. All of the light is directed to a specific direction and produces task specific lighting. All Lumens are in the area they are required and not wasted in areas where they are not needed. This lowers the amount of Lumens required for a specific lighting task while also lowering the wattage of the fixture draw and the electrical requirements.

For example: a street light requires the light to be shone down on the street, possibly even on a walkway / sidewalk along the street. The light is not needed on the building across the street, nor is it needed up high in the sky. The same concept goes for a coach fixture in an HOA, a sign light, parking lot light, etc. The light should be specified to the task that is required, and light level requirements should be figured before determining the Wattage or Lumens that it will take to meet those requirements.

If light level requirements are unknown, then standard IES requirements for most applications can be a good starting point for just about any project. Standard IES for a parking lot, for example, is .2 foot candle average. Depending on the height of the fixture, the Lumens per Watt produced (efficiency rating), and a few other factors, this may be achieved by a range of different fixtures and fixture Wattages available.

The best way to determine what you need for Wattage and Lumens is to have a lighting plan completed. Lighting designers will place the lights where they are needed within a design and help determine what is needed to properly illuminate a space. If there is dimming being used, you can always ask for one light plan showing what the light output will be on full intensity and an additional light plan to show what the light output will be at dimming. This way you can verify exactly what the light fixtures will do at any point.

Remember, there is no one-to-one comparison when it comes to Lumens and Watts, especially when changing companies and types of lamping options. Instead of asking for an equivalent fixture, ask for a specific lighting level requirement and you will see better results. And always ask for a lighting plan if you are unsure…you may be surprised at what the lighting plan reveals.

Blog Checklist CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Lighting Design

Versatility and Cost Savings through Commercial Solar Lighting Systems

Posted by SEPCO

2/9/15 10:00 AM

It is estimated that lighting alone accounts for 12% of the total U.S. electrical consumption every year, using upwards of 461 billion kWh of electricity. This is a heavy cost to businesses, cities and municipalities. Solar lighting can provide both a financial relief as well as a green alternative to traditional lighting. They are self-contained and grid free, and with LED technology, requiring almost no maintenance throughout their lifespan. These lower installation costs compared with utility powered lighting and continue huge savings in the short and long run for most installations.

SEPCO provides versatile solar lighting systems that can easily adapt to most lighting requirements. From large parking lots, roadways, security perimeters and such, all the way down to small sign, flag and bus stop / shelter lighting systems, each project is specified to meet the needs of the application. With over 30 years in the lighting industry, SEPCO solar lighting systems have provided illumination to thousands of projects all over the world.

Martin County Airport Street Lighting

Locally, we have installed a number of projects, Airport Road in Stuart, FL being one. The Martin County Project Manager Paul Bangs chose SEPCO solar lighting systems “to do something innovative” along this stretch of roadway leading into the local airport. The solar lighting systems will save the county money both in the short and long-term as there is no need to run permanent power and the lights are easy to assemble and install. These systems use efficient LED fixtures that provide even lighting along the roadway and are dark sky compliant so no light is wasted.

If a roadway is in a landmark area, more decorative and architecturally designed fixtures may be required. SEPCO’s partnership with Hubbell Lighting allows us to easily adapt almost any style fixture to our solar power systems. This allows us to provide large decorative fixtures for roadway applications without sacrificing lighting levels.

Bradenton Beach Turtle Friendly Street Lighting

The City of Bradenton Beach required just that. The city was looking to use renewable energy to lower the city’s electric bill and become more environmentally friendly. This coastal city has streets of beautiful architecture, homes and shops, and required something a little more than a standard street light system. Using the Urban fixture, we were able to provide a solar lighting system that matched the look of the area, and by powder coating the entire system, blended the solar lighting systems in well with the surrounding buildings and landscape. The lights in Bradenton Beach are a beautiful example of how solar and decorative fixtures work well together to provide the needed lighting for the area while not compromising the architectural looks of an area.

MCAS BEQ Retrofit Pathway Lighting

Mandates that have been set forth by the US Federal Government have required federal facilities to reduce energy and improve energy security by installing renewable energy that operates independent of the electrical grid. The US Marine Corps Bachelor Enlisted Quarters complied with this by retrofitting their current lighting systems with solar power and replacing the fixtures with LEDs to increase visibility. Their parking lots and walkways have all been fitted with solar powered LED systems replacing the old High Pressure Sodium lamps with LED fixtures, even matching the style of the old fixtures along the walkways with Beacon’s Slide fixture.

US Military MH Parking Lot Lighting

LED lights are not the only style fixtures that can be adapted. A secure US Military facility required Metal Halide fixtures to be used for their roadway and parking lot area application. We were able to adapt a standard shoebox fixture with Metal Halide lamps to provide this facility light along their roadways, entrances and parking lot areas. This helped the facility to meet its energy reduction goal and provide security through grid free lighting.

Fort McHenry Flag and Street and Parking Lot Lighting

Fort McHenry has been using our solar powered lighting systems for their entrance and parking lots since 2001; however, in 2009 they installed a solar lighting system to light the Star Spangled Banner flag, replacing the 400 Watt metal halide flood lights that were bulky, compromising the aesthetics of the site, and consumed unnecessary energy. They installed a 24 Watt and a 17 Watt flood fixture along with the solar power system on the rooftop of the fort, unseen from tourists. These illuminate the oversized reproduction 15-star 15-stripe original flag for all night. The switch from the metal halide fixtures to LED increased the visibility and allows the flag to show its true colors at night.

SEPCO’s founder Steve Robbins invented the first commercial solar street light over 25 years ago and has been a leader in the industry since SEPCO was founded in 1994. Systems are manufactured to specifications laid out by the project designer with help from our lighting specialists. Each system is custom built and takes into account the geographical location, available sun, light level requirements and weather of each installation location to determine the best system to meet the needs of the customer. SEPCO systems provide a minimum of five nights autonomy, more in the northern areas, and have a life span of 25 to 30 years, providing long term benefit to every solar lighting system installed.

SEPCO also provides custom solar power systems for many different applications. From cameras, Wi-Fi, meters, monitoring systems, the stand alone solar power stations can provide the needed power for almost any application where grid power is not available. These types of systems have been installed all over the world and are primarily used for military and government applications.

In the end, commercial solar lighting systems can provide the necessary security and reduce our energy consumption while maintaining the architectural integrity of the project. With a wide range of choices and custom built designs, SEPCO can easily adapt to the project requirements without sacrificing the lighting level requirements of the area..

***Above is the article feature in November in the Electrical Products and Solutions magazine.

Blog Solar Lighting CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting, Street Lighting, Parking Lot Lighting, Pathway Lighting

6 Reasons to Use LED Solar Flood Lights for Security

Posted by SEPCO

2/2/15 10:00 AM

Secure-RV-3LED solar flood lights have been gaining popularity due to the ability to provide lighting in even the most remote locations for safety and security. These solar flood lights can be installed in just about any location with no need for access to traditional power. Here are the six reasons to implement LED solar flood lights for security.

  1. Provide clear visibility of areas from a distance to see anyone moving in or around the area.

This can be achieved by having the lights operate all night long or by using a motion detector. Motion provides the same security levels; however, allows for much less power consumption as the lights will only operate when something moves in the area. Once motion is detected, the lights come on for a set period of time and allow for someone to visibly see what set off the motion detectors. These motion detectors can have the sensitivity set for a range of movement so that a passing small animal does not trigger the lights to come on.

  1. Remove potential hiding places around routes that are traveled by pedestrians.

Security lighting can light up an entire area and remove hiding places around routes that pedestrians must travel. Their light spread is typically much larger and leaves much less area in the dark. This can provide added safety and security to pedestrians in any area whether it is walking in a park, towards a parking lot, or down an alleyway.

  1. Provide facial recognition at a distance of about 30’.

LED lights provide a much better light and allows for better visibility since the lighting levels are much closer to daylight than other types of lamps. Good LED lighting provides the ability to provide facial recognition from around 30’ away. This allows people to recognize what is in their surroundings and provide more detailed than other security light lamps used in the past.

  1. Assist the use of other safety devices such as cameras in the area.

LED lights also provide better lighting for cameras to visually see what is in the area at a given time. The solar LED flood lights can operate at a lower light level for camera use and then switch to a high powered light when motion activated to increase visibility and distance of the camera’s sight. This would ensure that security in the area has full visibility to what is going on at a specific location at a precise time. You can even combine the solar powered flood lighting and camera system into one.

  1. Deter crime against property and people.

Deterring crime is the biggest role that a LED security light offers, and solar allows them to operate even when the power is out. Criminals are not known for operating where they can easily be caught, and lighting the area with good LED fixtures that operate no matter what will help deter crime in the area and also provide easy recognition if something was to occur.

  1. Increase nighttime pedestrian traffic and feeling of security.

Providing added safety and security through lighting of an area can increase pedestrian traffic and make people in the area have a sense of safety and security. For business owners, this is beneficial two fold; first by increasing customer traffic and second by increased safety for employees. If customers feel that your establishment has provided the lighting and created a safe place to visit, they will be more apt to return. For employees, it provides a sense of well-being that the employer provided the necessary lighting to ensure their safety and make them feel like their security is top priority. No one wants to come to an establishment where they feel unsafe. Same goes for a personal home that has no lighting.

In the end, security lighting provides a benefit to all those around them. Providing additional safety and security at night is top priority, and using good lighting provides much better details to the surroundings than any other lamp option in the past. What other reasons should you use LED solar flood lights for security?

Blog Parking Lot Lighting CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Lighting, Security Lighting

Solar Tax Credit Facts and Information: Use It Before It Runs Out

Posted by SEPCO

1/26/15 10:00 AM

Federal-Solar-Tax-CreditThe solar tax credit helps homeowners and businesses alike to lower the cost of using solar for their home and business. This tax credit provides a 30% Federal Tax Credit that can be applied to homeowners towards their personal income tax or to businesses to apply towards their Federal business income tax. This can add up to huge savings. And if all of the money isn’t used that year, it can be rolled over to the next, up to five consecutive years.

The Federal Solar Tax Credit is only good till December 31st, 2016 and the solar project needs to be purchased and installed before that date. This leaves just under 2 years left to take advantage of this and there is no word yet to extend the program. The best information in regards to the Federal Incentives is DSIRE – Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Best of all, they have a complete list of all state and local incentives as well sorted by state to increase the savings of a renewable energy project, not just solar.

Who Qualifies?

Residences qualify for their home, whether new construction or existing, and for their first and second residences; however, rental properties do not fall under this program. This is for full installations and not for PPA – Solar Power Purchase Agreements or Solar Leases as the tax credit goes to the company  you work with instead as the savings is typically already figured into your agreement.

For Profit Businesses qualify for their business, both new and existing construction. These systems typically are much a larger scale than a system for a residential application and are almost always completely owned by the business.

How To Calculate?

Both residential and businesses applications include the purchase and installation when calculating the tax credit; the only difference is how discounts are calculated. With residential applications, if the owner is able to get a state, local or utility rebate, that amount is deducted before you do the final calculation for the Federal Tax Credit. For example, a $20k system that qualifies for a $5k state rebate is then only calculated as $15k on the Federal side.

Businesses on the other hand get the complete $20k as their Federal Tax Incentive regardless of the rebates and other incentives they qualify for. This is due to the way the IRS considers the other incentives. Businesses pay taxes on all incentives as the IRS considers it income, whereas with residential, the IRS considers it a reduction in cost.

Other Incentives

There is a lot of information in regards to all other types of incentives on DSIRE’s website; however, there are other resources available. Doing a good search online and asking your local solar representative is the best way to find all the incentives available for you. Most solar companies have a good familiarity with incentives that are available and would be able to do the search to help you find everything that is available.

What About Nonprofits?

Nonprofit companies are not able to take advantage of the Federal Tax Credits and are stuck with the whole bill; however, there is some hope. There are grants that nonprofits are able to take advantage of which can be found online. Other suggestions include fundraising (get your community involved in what you are trying to accomplish), crowdfunding (so much good can come from a crowdfunding campaign) and leasing (let the solar company take advantage of the incentives and give you a lower price). There are more details in a post done last year: Finding Funds for Nonprofits Renewable Energy Projects.

In the end, no matter what your project is backed by, there is funds available to make your solar project come to life. Speak to your solar specialist to see what they can do to help work through the red tape and make the sun shine on your solar system.

Blog Solar Lighting CTA

Read More

Topics: Solar Power, Funding

Subscribe to Email Updates

Become a  Guest Blogger