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- Is solar in Nevada worth it?
- 1. Household energy consumption in Nevada
- 2. How much is electricity per month in Nevada?
- 3. Cost of solar panels in Nevada
- 4. Nevada solar incentives
- 5. How much power do you get from solar panels in NV?
- 6. NV energy net metering rates
- 7. Calculate if solar is worth it for your home in Nevada
- Solar Panel Sizing Calculator
- What is needed to connect up solar panels to my house?
- How does a grid connected solar system work?
- Solar panel diagram with explanation
- What are the factors affecting PV systems output?
- What is the best direction for solar panel alignment in Nevada?
- What is the best tilt angle for solar panels in Nevada?
- Peak sun hour values 12 months for Las Vegas, Ca – power output Vs Tilt
- How much does solar cost in Nevada?
- Related Questions:
Is solar in Nevada worth it?
Nevada is ranked #3 out of the US states for the amount of sunshine available for solar energy production. On the face of it, with 158 clear days, the conditions for generating solar electricity appear to be just right.
It should make great sense to install solar panels in this state, but there are other factors involved, such as the level of financial incentives and how much a solar system would save each year.
In this post I’ve outlined a simple procedure you can go through to work out if solar power is worth it for your home in Nevada.
Solar is worth it in Nevada when you take into account solar installation costs of $2.60/kW and the average solar payback period of 9.3 years. Solar costs are reduced by the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Nevada State rebate schemes and generous electricity buy-back rates, making solar worth installing in Nevada.
To work it out for your home you will need to go through these 7 steps:
- How much energy does your home use in kWh each year?
- What is the cost of electricity per kWh in Nevada?
- How much does a solar panel system installation cost in Nevada?
- What Federal and Nevada State incentives are available?
- How much sunshine energy is available in Nevada for solar panels?
- What is the domestic electricity buy-back rate in Nevada?
- Use Steps 1-5 to calculate if solar power is worth it in Nevada.
1. Household energy consumption in Nevada
Through the USA most electricity is consumed by heating (64%). This is obviously not the case in Nevada, but of course more is spent on air conditioning than in many other states.
The average home in Nevada is around 920kWh/month (kilowatt-hours per month), not too much more than the US average of 877kWh/month.
This equates to 11040kWh/year and it’s this figure we’ll use for the solar calculation.
Power consumption in home
It’s possible to go into great detail, listing all your appliances and estimating how much you use them, but this is a very time-consuming and inaccurate way of assessing energy home consumption.
By far the easiest and most accurate way is to simply find out how much your home consumed the previous year. Do this by checking your monthly utility bill – see below:
Once you’ve assessed last year’s energy usage, we can move on to the next step.
Note: You might have to adjust if you have had any significant changes to your electrical system, such as upgraded AC, for example.
2. How much is electricity per month in Nevada?
The average cost of electricity in the state is 11.83 cents/kWh, which is pretty close to the national average of 11.88 cents/kWh.
The biggest provider is NV Energy with current rates of 8.6 cents/kWh in Northern Nevada and 10.2 cents/kWh in Southern Nevada.
I’ll use the state average of 11.83 cents/kWh for the example below. If yours is very different, simply substitute the rate.
3. Cost of solar panels in Nevada
The average cost of a solar installation in Nevada is currently $2.60 per watt installed, making the cost of the average 6Kw system:
6kW x $2.6 = $15600
The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and should be deducted from this figure before working out any solar savings and payback period.
4. Nevada solar incentives
In 2021 the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is currently 26% and is a simple tax credit.
How does the solar federal tax credit work?
26% of the cost of a domestic solar installation is entered as a credit in next year’s IRS return and is deducted dollar-for-dollar. For example:
- Tax liability = $7000
- Solar cost = $15000
- Tax due = 7000 – (15000 x 26%) = 7000 – 3900 = $3100
At this time there are no state-wide solar rebates of tax incentives, although some solar supply companies have their own rebate schemes.
Other incentives include NV Energy’s 20% rebate on the purchase of a Tesla Powerwall home energy storage system. (The rebate rate depends on the sign-up plan.)
Does solar increase home value in Nevada?
According to Zillow the average value home increase having having solar panels installed in 4.1%, but this varies very much according to state and area – check with your local realtor.
A typical family house costs around $332,500 on average, slightly higher in Las Vegas, as you’d expect.
If we applied the 4.1% national average increase, then immediately after a solar power installation that typical home would be worth:
332500 + (332500 x 4.1%) = $345832
Not too shabby! It seems installing solar in Nevada is worth it from more than one angle.
5. How much power do you get from solar panels in NV?
Solar panel output is affected by several factors, such as tilt angle and orientation, but by far the biggest thing affecting the efficiency of a solar power system is irradiance.
Irradiance is the amount of sunshine energy available to make electricity and varies by location. For example, the sun’s energy falling on Alaska is much less than Nevada.
Irradiance is measured in kilowatt-hours per square meter per day or year (kWh/m2/year). It can also be expressed in units called peak-sun-hours and this is what we use to forecast how much power any size of solar panel installation will produce.
Historical values of irradiance can be found using the site Global Solar Atlas. Simply enter your city and note the peak-sun-hours value before moving on to the next step. See the image below:
You can see the irradiance for Reno, Nevada is 2505 peak-sun-hours per year.
6. NV energy net metering rates
Net-metering is the mechanism whereby power flowing into and out of the home is measured. Over-production of solar electricity is bought back from the consumer, who is given a credit against consumption.
Since 2017 consumers have been protected with guaranteed buy-back rates organized in Tiers. In 2021 onwards the buy-back rate is guaranteed at 75% of the kWh retail rate for 20 years from the installation date.
Our example calculation uses the NV average unit cost of 11.83 cents/kWh so this consumer would be paid 8.87 cents for every kWh injected back into the grid from the home solar panels.
7. Calculate if solar is worth it for your home in Nevada
The example below illustrates how to work out if solar is really worth it for you home:
- City: Reno, Nevada
- Solar installation size: 6kW
- Solar installation capital cost = (2.6 x 6000) – 26% federal tax credit = $11544
- Irradiance at Reno, Nevada = 2505 Peak Sun Hours
- Power generated by solar panels = 2505 x 6kw = 15030 kWh (kilowatt-hours)
- Nevada residential electricity cost per unit = 11.83 cents/kWh
- Annual savings = solar production x electricity cost = 15030 x 11.83 = $1653
- Solar payback period Houston, Texas = solar cost/yearly savings = 11544/1653 = 7 years
Solar Panel Sizing Calculator
How many solar panels do you need for your home in Nevada?
Modern solar panels can between 225 to 375 watts power output. When entering panel size into the calculator, note that the panel size should be in kilowatts. 275 watts becomes 0.275 watts.
Navigate to the Global Solar Atlas site to find the irradiance in peak-sun-hours for your city. The calculator will tell you how many solar panels will be needed for your energy consumption and your location.
What is needed to connect up solar panels to my house?
You’ll need local building permits before installing solar panels but this can be taken care of by the installer.
Grid-tied solar system equipment
- Correct number of solar panels and aluminum mounting rails /roof installation)
- One or more string inverters for the DC to AC voltage conversion
- DC and AC Cables for connecting everything together and their junction boxes
- Circuit-breakers for safety isolation
- Net-meters for keeping track of power flow in and out of the power grid
- Home energy storage batteries – this is required for all off-grid systems
The video embed underneath the text tracks an installation team putting together an average size solar power system it’s 12 mins long.
Each phase of the installation is covered and it demonstrates the solar panel roof mounts in detail.
These solar panels have micro-inverters fitted, which work in a slightly different way than central or string inverters.
DC/AC voltage conversion is done at the panel instead of for a group of solar panels.
An inverter changes DC volts generated by the solar panel into AC power home appliances use. You can’t have a grid-tie solar installation without inverters.
Micro-inverters have been shown to be more efficient than string and inverters.
Many domestic solar power installations still use string inverters, however, which convert the DC power from a group of 10 panels connected together in what is called a ‘string’.
- If you want to know more about inverters check out my post How Solar Inverters Work. Inverter operation is covered in detail.
- This post explains grid-tie solar system design features – designing a solar system.
How long do solar panels last and do they lose efficiency over time??
Good quality solar panel brands come with warranties and typically specify a life of 20 to 30 years.
However, they often work very well for years many more – you could get another 50 years of useful power production. Solar panels are made to last.
The power output does go down as solar cells age, but this happens slowly – approximately 0.6% each year.
The panel specification sheet gives details of the guarantee conditions and what you can expect from the panels.
A usual guarantee could be 90% of original rated power after 10 years and 80% with 20 years use – not bad!
Other associated equipment is also protected by product warranties, just in case there is early failure. If an important part of the system, like an inverter, fails within a certain number of years, a new inverter would be installed with no charge.
Solar panels are probably the toughest of the whole installation. Inverters typically have a product warranty period of 12 to 15 years.
Microinverters and power optimizers last longer, and last just about as long as the actual solar panels, so they usually have a much longer guarantee period than a standard inverter.
How does a grid connected solar system work?
Solar panel diagram with explanation
Referring to the above diagram, the black arrows denote DC voltage flow before it gets changed to AC by inverter action. The red arrows indicate the AC voltage after conversion.
The green arrows show that electricity can flow from the utility grid to the house in the usual way.
A net-meter is installed (in the top right-hand corner) to track of the flow of electricity between the power grid and the house.
This is one of the most important characteristics of a grid-tie solar power system – an excess of power production can be fed back into the power grid and bought by the utility company.
Home appliances will take their power from the solar power system before using electricity from the utility grid. However, if there are cloudy conditions which reduce or stop power generation, or at night-time, grid power will be used in the normal way.
What are the factors affecting PV systems output?
Solar panel power efficiency can be reduced by 9 or 1o things, and the majority are not in the user’s control .
Tilt angle and shading, for example, affect solar cell efficiency, but shading due to clouds can have a much bigger impact on power production than panel tilt angle.
Irradiance in any geographic location (the amount of the sun’s energy) is by far the biggest factor determining power output over time.
Some of the main factors affecting solar power output efficiency are listed below:
- Local irradiance (this is known as peak sun hours) – how much of the sun’s energy falls on a solar panel’s surface.
- Full or partial shading. Solar panels need good direct sunlight to operate at maximum efficiency.
- Maintenance Programs. Regular solar panel cleaning can save losses of 15%. (Twice a year)
- Choosing the best quality solar panels will ensure optimum power output.
- Direction (Orientation). Solar panels facing South in the Northern Hemisphere give the best results.
- Angle of Panel Tilt. The optimum tilt angle is 45-50 degrees for a fixed roof installation.
- Temperature. Cooling (space between roof and panels) reduces losses due to overheating.
What is the best direction for solar panel alignment in Nevada?
The best direction for a solar array in any geographical location in the Northern hemisphere is towards the South. If this proves to be difficult, your professional installer will find a solution to to get over it.
Southwest or Southeast are good directions, and West or the East can also generation good power output.
There’s very little direct sunlight when panels face North, so this direction should be avoided.
What is the best tilt angle for solar panels in Nevada?
For any fixed solar array 54 degrees is a good average tilt angle in Nevada that that will produce good power production throughout the seasons.
If your system incorporates seasonal tilt adjustment, the setting for your panels in the summer months should your latitude-15 degrees.
In winter it should be your latitude+15 degrees. These angles will maximize the your annual power output.
For Las Vegas this would be 21° for the summer and 51° in the winter months
The table below gives the variation in solar power output throughout the year in Las Vegas when solar panels are tilted at an angle of 52°. The solar watts generated are compared to the power produced by a ‘flat’ solar array.
Peak sun hour values 12 months for Las Vegas, Ca – power output Vs Tilt
Insolation by month for Las Vegas, Nv by month (kWh/m2/day - also are known as Peak-Sun-Hours)
How much does solar cost in Nevada?
The cost of installing solar panels in Nevada is $2.60 per kW before any rebates are applied. The average installation size is 6Kw which would cost on average $15600.
Does Nevada have a solar rebate?
As of 2021 there are no state-wide solar rebates for Nevada, although some solar companies and individual utility companies run their own incentives programs.
Why is Nevada good for solar?
Solar is good in Nevada because the installation rate per kW is relatively low, net-metering buyback rates are guaranteed for 20 years from the date of installation and the Federal Tax Rebate reduces the cost even further.
Does solar increase home value in Nevada?
Home value in Nevada after a solar installation increases by around 3.8%, which is just under the national average of 4.1%.
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