DARLENE HIGA (RA), MPM, RMP
The Realty Company, Ltd.
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers
Q. I’m considering getting a photovoltaic solar system for a home I own and rent out. What steps should I take and where do I begin?
A. A photovoltaic system uses photovoltaic (PV) modules or panels to convert sunlight into electricity. It provides a secondary source of power to your property in addition to what is supplied by Hawaiian Electric.
Additionally, a PV system may include the popular renewable energy credit where electricity is sold back to the utility company or it can be stored at the home. Tax credits currently available are a 35% state credit per system and a 30% federal credit off the entire package.
The first step is to look at your electricity bill and get an idea of your annual average usage. Next, contact a state-certified electrician and/or solar company and make arrangements for them to determine how many modules or panels your home may need. The electrician should be able to assist you in estimating how much you can save every month with a PV system.
The cost of the installation will be based on how many modules or panels you will need to efficiently supply power to your home.
Some of the things to keep in mind when meeting with the electrician and/or solar representative are:
1. The panels may need to be mounted on the roof – is the type and/or age of the roof capable of supporting or handling the amount of panels you will need?
2. The PV system will need to be hooked up to the electric meter – is the current meter sufficient for the PV hook-up?
3. You will need a permit and the electrical inspector must certify that the work has been completed prior to Hawaiian Electric issuing a certificate for the Net Energy Metering. For commercial installations – even a small residential apartment building a building permit and structural drawings may be requested.
4. The PV system can be monitored. A router is required to connect the monitor to receive the monthly reports that show the total electricity produced and how each panel is operating, for example, sunny day maximum production and cloudy/rainy day low production.
As with any project, do your homework in the selection of the electrician and/or solar company. This may mean, but not be limited to research on-line with consumer websites, as well as with state and city and county offices. Make sure all contractors’ licenses and insurance are current.