Header image alt text


Electric Vehicle information for Atlanta and Georgia

solar power basics

solar-power-fact-sheet Solar power, aka “photovoltaics” or PV, is very complementary to electric car ownership. With a PV array, you can essentially be driving on sunshine!

In Georgia, our power grid is largely fueled by dirty coal and natural gas, although electric cars are so efficient that they are cleaner than gas cars even if you count the emissions from the power plants. That said, some people like to reduce their power usage from the grid as much as possible, and solar is great for that.

A typical residential install will mount the solar panels on the roof of the house, and be connected to the grid, so that any excess power generated during a sunny day will get fed back into the grid — your power meter spins backward. This can then offset the power that you draw at night, which solar obviously can not supply.

Unlike many other states like California and New Jersey, Georgia currently has no state incentives for installing solar power. Further, our electricity (power from the grid, e.g. Georgia Power) is actually rather cheap, so it is difficult to justify solar power purely on financial terms. A typical payback period, over which you will save enough on your power bill to pay for the solar installation cost, might be on the order of 10 years. However, many people choose to install solar anyway for non-financial reasons — wanting to be green, not wanting to give money to Southern Company, etc.

Click above to get the fact sheet on solar power — it’s formatted to fit on a single sheet of paper, when printed double sided. All of the important basics about solar are distilled onto that two-page document. Don’t just read this page — click for that PDF and read that!

Also available here is a similar fact sheet from Sol Haroon.  Sol is a local (Atlanta) expert on solar systems, and his fact sheet goes into more detail, including:
– basic sizing math
– energy storage (battery) integration
– incentives available, including multiple EMCs
– effects of tilt and orientation

Sol’s fact sheet is four pages, but the first two pages have most of the solar information, so you can print that double-sided to a single sheet.  Pages 3 and 4 provide an example of a home energy audit, which shows where you are wasting energy.  Taking steps to reduce energy waste typically has much more bang for your buck than installing solar.

EnergySage is an interesting, free service that you’ll probably find useful as you go down the path of researching solar and getting quotes from local installers. You’ll be able to track the quotes online and compare them side-by-side, making it easier to spot subtle differences in what they are offering for the price. One useful aspect of this service is that if you get some quotes, but then drop the idea for a while (say, to get a new shingle roof done first), having an EnergySage profile with the old quotes stored in it makes it trivial for you to request all of the installers to update their quotes for you, when you’re ready to consider solar again. Also check out this Oct 2018 interview with the CEO of EnergySage (segment starts at 6m30s) for more insight into why this is a valuable service. The rest of the podcast episode is worth listening to as well, in particular if you find that your house just isn’t a good fit for rooftop solar and you’re now interested in “community solar”.