Purchasing a good quality commercial solar lighting system can be a daunting task; the numbers alone can make you cringe. The savings are sometimes missed when you are looking at the initial costs of a project. But don’t be disconcerted, there is are ways to help budget your commercial solar lighting projects and make them more affordable. Here are a few tips that can help make or break your project.
1. Find out what your budget is and tell your specifier in the beginning stages of the project. If they know what your budget is, they will be more apt to follow with that then just quote you whatever they think will work. Giving them something to go on takes away the initial sticker shock of a purchase and allows them to work within your budget when designing the initial project.
This is especially key when comparing electrical costs vs solar. The initial installation of electrical can be much higher than a solar project, especially when you are having to trench in grid power to the location. However, if electric already exists and is in full working order, the pricing of solar will be much higher. Depending on why solar has become an option, and explaining your reasoning to the specifier will help them understand what the end purpose is and allow them to help you determine the best course of action.
2. If you don’t have a budget planned out, but you want to find a way to lower the costs from what the original quote was, check out incentives for using renewable energy. There are grants and tax incentives available for just about any business looking to use solar lighting for their facility. Some great resources are: The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE), Department of Energy and contacting your local power company for additional information. The best first step is seeing if you qualify for the Federal Tax Incentive of 30%, which includes the purchase and installation of your solar system. Just note, this incentive will reduce over time, but is not going away at this point.
3. Complete the project in phases when the entire project cannot be purchased all at once. Breaking the project down to ensure that the most appropriate and important part of the project can be completed first will allow you to budget better for the overall project and break up the investment over time.
4. Don’t forget to take into consideration the short and long term costs associated with a commercial solar lighting project such as installation and maintenance. Review all documents to ensure that the company stands by their product with a warranty and provides you’re the length of coverage for each component, not just a system as a whole. Since different parts of the system have a range of life span, the warranty should reflect this and not just be an overall warranty on the product.
These are some of the best tips to making sure your commercial solar lighting project stays within your budget and the project is finished with great success. Working with your solar lighting specifier will ensure that your project will meet your needs and not kill your bottom line.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.