Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Photovoltaic and Off the grid living at the Realtors Association of Maui. It was a great event with enough information for a couple of different blog posts. The main speaker for the event was Michael Schwartz of Sunsation LLC. Michael does both on the grid net metered photo voltaic systems and off the grid photo voltaic systems. He has also been living off the grid using PV for 20 years. Rising energy prices is leading to increasing interest in photovoltaic systems both on Maui and throughout the rest of the country. The following are some of the facts that I thought may be of value for those that are considering installing a PV system.
- If you are within easy access to the grid, it makes the most sense to do a net metered system. Off the grid works the best where tying into existing electric infrastructure is too costly.
- Maui net metered systems don’t pay you for your surplus of energy, but it allows you to build credits for times when you need to draw power from the grid.
- On the grid PV systems are subject to power outages. You need to install a battery back up system if you to want to keep continuous power during grid outages.
- Off the grid living necessitates some increased measures of conservation. Using energy efficient appliances like front loading washing machines and Sun Frost Refrigerators can be a big help.
- Grid tied pv systems do not require as much of a change in lifestyle.
- PV systems can still work on rainy days, but energy output is usually less than 50% of usual.
- Vog or Volcanic haze can have a bigger effect on PV systems. Heavy vog days can reduce output to as low as 20%.
- Panels require cleaning on a regular basis to ensure maximum energy output. Companies like Sunsation LLC offer maintenance contracts after install.
- PV panels work best on a good South facing roof
- If a south facing roof is not available and you have adequate land, a ground based system is an option.
- PV panels are light so almost all roofs are sufficient for install. Older plantation homes may need some work as they often have very narrow trusses for affixing a PV system.
- If you have an older roof, you may want to consider re-roofing prior to install as current PV panels have a lifespan of 25+years.
- Talk with your CPA about available tax credits from PV that can be applied towards your tax liability. PV companies can do phased installs with larger systems to help you with your tax benefits.
These are just some of the thoughts that stood out in my notes from Friday. I will have some additional information on wind power and water catchment on future posts on the Maui Real Estate Blog. Contact us if you are interested in green properties and properties with PV systems.