Solar is back in Las Vegas. The industry took a hit in 2015 after the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided to apply changes to the “net metering” policies making solar a less viable or desirable option in the state. However, in 2017 those policies were challenged and reversed, turning Las Vegas into a great place to go solar.
We know how overwhelming the prospect of going solar in Las Vegas can be and you may have a lot of questions about the process or how it all works. We have put together a guide to help you learn what going solar in Las Vegas looks like and what to expect on your investment.
While the equipment needed to install solar in your home is not exactly complicated, it might seem a little overwhelming simply because it is new to you. Below you’ll find the components needed in order to turn your home into a solar dream.
- Solar Panels – The one piece of equipment you’re likely most familiar with are the solar panels. You will need a number of these panels according to the amount of energy your household demands. This is different for everyone and we will help you determine what you will need based on your unique home and environment.
- Batteries – Did you know that batteries are an essential part of going solar? These batteries are different than others you might be more familiar with and are designed to be charged and depleted over and over again. The batteries will also ensure that you have access to power in the evening hours.
- The Change Controller – This is a simple piece of equipment designed to protect your batteries. The sun is powerful, in fact, so powerful that it can literally fry your solar panel system if there aren’t safe guides in place. A change controller will make sure the sun doesn’t overcharge your batteries or damage them. This will not only protect the batteries, but it will improve their performance and give them
a longershelf life.
- The Power Inverter – You might be familiar with inverters and their use as they can be found on larger RVs and even boats. Since your home is likely not going to be operating on battery alone, an inverter is needed in order to change the makeup of your electricity. You will be dealing with both DC and AC power. An inverter will be able to appropriately change the electricity frequency so you can fuel your appliances and still remain on the city grid system. (more about why you want to do that below)
Now that you’re familiar with what you’ll need in order to take your Las Vegas home solar, let’s talk about the process. This part of going solar is going to be the most complex. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as walking into a store to acquire your system and taking it home to install. However, we are here to make sure this process goes as smooth as possible and that you are included in every part of the process.
- A Site Visit and Paperwork – This will be the first step in your solar journey. We visit your home and begin determining where your panels could go, inspect the location of where the panels will be installed, learn about your energy uses and your demand, and a host of other factors. This is the point in which we can lay out everything you’ll need and present you with the proper contract. This process can take 1-3 weeks depending on scheduling and how quickly you would like to move on your solar project.
- Design and Layout – After we have all the unique details about your home, our certified professional designers will construct a design best suited for your home. This will include any wiring schematics, connections, or layouts for equipment so you are clear about where everything goes and why you need it. This will ultimately be based on your final approval of the design. This process can take 1-2 weeks.
- Permitting – In Clark County, a permit will be required in order to install a solar panel system at your home. We will be walking you through this process, but it’s important to mention here as it’s a required part of the install process. Once the permit is applied for, you’ll await the approval. This can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks.
- Installation – The tasks and length of time of this part of the process are completely determined on your home’s unique footprint and needs. Some systems are very simple and can be done in just one day, while others will require a more complicated process and take a week. We will give you a clear picture about this early in this process.
- Approval and Switch On – After your solar panel system installation, there will be a final approval to ensure it meets all the proper ordinances and we can switch your system on. You will still be connected to the main utility grid for the days that the sun isn’t shining and so you can take advantage of net metering programs. (more on that to come)
At this point, you likely have a good understanding of everything that goes into a solar installation. Let’s talk about the investment you’re making and the various ways you can purchase a solar panel system. We know that solar installs are not a simple financial decision, which is why we talk about it being an investment rather than a “cost.” You make purchases every day that “cost” you a lot of money, but with solar, you really are making an investment.
A typical 5kWh system in Nevada averages $16,700 according to statewide data. Now, before that number crushes your solar panel dreams, there are a number of things to consider. Solar loans are becoming a popular financial option for purchasing solar for your home. These kinds of loans typically do not require any money down. There are also tax incentives that will turn this purchase into something a little more doable. Until the year 2020, there is a Federal Tax incentive of 30%. That number will decrease in percentage points starting in 2021. So that $16,700 investment is now closer to $12,700 right out of the gate. There is also the benefit of net metering, which something we will explain further into the guide.
How this looks on your utility bills
Annual Electric Cost in Nevada
Annual Solar Electric Cost in Nevada
The Lease Option
A lease option may sound rather backward considering you’re trying to eliminate power-related bills by going solar. Stay with us here. Lease options might be good for the homeowner who doesn’t have the money to purchase a solar system but still wants to reap the sustainable rewards. Here is one example of when a lease option is a good choice.
Let’s say you don’t plan on staying in your current Las Vegas home for 25 years, but want to live more sustainable and have a lower monthly power bill. When you lease a system, typically with no money down, you will not own it until the moment the agreement allows you to purchase it. You can plan for that expense if you do want to go ahead and own it at that point. If you decide to sell your home, however, not only are homes with solar more desirable, you might be able to pass the cost on to the next homeowner. Meaning, you can ask for more money for your home (because it is more valuable) and pay off your solar lease after the purchase. You would need to calculate your home value to ensure your neighborhood could benefit from this (and not price your out of the market) but it does make for a good option in many cases.
The Power Purchase Agreement
The final way we will discuss going solar is through a power purchase agreement. This type of agreement is where a developer will make the arrangements to take on the permitting, design and full installation of a solar panel system at no cost (or little) to you. The developer will then sell this power to you at a discount which is lower than your annual electricity bills. The developer will be the entity that will be selling the energy made back to the utility company and also receive those tax incentives mentioned earlier. This type of solar structure is less about money savings and is more about becoming a renewable energy user.
If you’re unfamiliar with net metering, in a nutshell, it’s when you get to sell back the energy you make to the public utility company you’re connected to. In order to be able to do this, you’ll have to be connected to the public utility grid. The new net metering laws in Nevada will be in effect for the next 20-years. The agreement allows homeowners to sell back the energy at 95% of the retail cost, and that rate will get better as more people decide to install solar in the state.
Nevada Solar Incentive
- SolarGenerations Program – This is a rebate program where you’ll receive $.20/kWh on solar that you have installed. In the 5kWh system
examplewe’ve been using above, that can add up to $1000.
We hope this has given you a look into why solar in Las Vegas is a great option for residents who not only want to live more sustainably but also, save money while they do it. We know you might still have questions about the process so we invite you to visit our “How it Works” page, or better yet, please give us a call at 888.543.6267 and let us talk about your specific needs