• Know Your Rights

    Arizona law protects individual homeowners’ private property rights to solar access by dissolving any local covenant, restriction or condition attached to a property deed that restricts the use of solar energy. This law sustained a legal challenge in 2000. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of homeowners in a lawsuit filed by their homeowners association seeking to Read more
  • Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest

    The Agua Caliente solar farm near Yuma features First Solar’s thin-film cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar modules. Located 65 miles east of the city of Yuma, Arizona, this plant is one of the world’s largest operational PV power plants with 290MW (AC) connected to the electricity grid. Read more
  • Solar Hot Water

    There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't. The typical solar water heater is comprised of solar collectors and a well-insulated storage tank. The solar collector is a network of pipes that gathers the sun's energy, transforms its radiation into heat, and then transfers that heat to either Read more
  • Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

    (Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009) Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit State: Federal Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies Applicable Sectors: Residential Amount: 30% Maximum Incentive: Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximumSolar water heaters placed in service before Read more
  • Solar Building Design in Arizona

    The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases Read more
  • How Not to- Battery Connections

    Photo shows the situation after a battery discharge test at 300 amps was terminated on a 1530 AH IBE battery string when one post melted. During the discharge test all cell voltages are logged. The sum of the cell voltages was 2.73 volts lower than the 48-volt string voltage. This is an average of 118 mv per inter-cell connection, 5-10 Read more
  • 1 Know Your Rights
  • 2 Agua Caliente PV Power Plant Among World’s Largest
  • 3 Solar Hot Water
  • 4 Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
  • 5 Solar Building Design in Arizona
  • 6 How Not to- Battery Connections

Blogs

  1. Solar Center Blog
  2. Guest Blogs
Geoff Sutton
25 November 2017

In the desert south-west the intense sunshine and long summer days result in uncomfortable and even dangerously high temperatures for about four months.

Jim Arwood
28 December 2016

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  --Winston Churchill


Will add Guest Blog content here
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Some things to pay attention to in Arizona

ASEA REBOOT

The Arizona Solar Energy Association (ASEA), State Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society ASES), will be holding meetings in a follow-up to the-long awaited updated ASES‚  Chapters handbook and directives.

ASES evolution, in response to some problematic economic and operational conditions, has resulted in a hearty and robust context for the present and the future. ASEA is now responding with an appropriate updating, through local and statewide discussion. 

Interim Chair, Andy Gerl, a past ASEA Chair and Board member, is making arrangements for Arizona solar advocates and supporters, members and non-members, to receive both an update re: ASES adaptation and changes, and to discuss solar in Arizona and the “reboot" of the ASEA  context, goals and objectives, within the context of varied renewable energy groups within the State, such as AriSEIA (the solar trade association); various sustainability groups; Green Building organizations; the recently formed solar hot water businesses non-profit entity; research and development at the universities; and others.

For more information about the ASEA Reboot discussions, contact Andy at andrew@blazingsolar.com  or 602-799-5942

APS Rate Case - Higher rates, solar changes now effective as of September 1st

APS customers had until August 31st to submit complete interconnection applications to APS in order to be grandfathered under earlier solar policy.  Basic rates have increased and net metering was eliminated, replaced by a fixed purchase rate that starts at $0.129 per kwhr and will decrease in the future.  Further details are posted in a link below.

Quick APS Links:

News Release (Aug. 15, 2017)
Summary for Residential Customers
Summary for Business Customers
Solar Grandfathering Fact Sheet (also see the note below for additional information)

The Arizona Solar Center has put together an unofficial summary of the new APS rate schedules for new solar customers, click here.

On August 21st APS emailed the following information to Stakeholders (but it does not seem to be on the APS website):

Stakeholders,

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has approved a decision in our rate review, and we are happy to share some details with you affecting our solar customers. We appreciate your support in delivering this message to customers and will be glad to help you with any questions you may have. For your reference, attached are letters that were sent to customers regarding grandfathering. Other resources are available at aps.com/gosolar.

Grandfathering

  • Current solar customers that are interconnected to the APS grid will remain grandfathered for 20 years from the date of interconnection.
    • The grandfathering stays with the premise. Systems transferred to a new premise will require a new application, and the customer would no longer be eligible for EPR-6.
    • Over the terms of the grandfathering period, a customer may not increase the capacity of their grandfathered solar system by more than a total of 10% or 1 kW, whichever is greater.
  • Customers who submit a complete application by 11:59 p.m. August 31, 2017 will be eligible for grandfathering. The system would need to be installed and have AHJ approval by February 28, 2018 in order to qualify. A complete application includes all of the following:
    • Customer Application
    • Executed Contract
    • Disclaimer
    • Consumer Acknowledgement
    • Installer Application
    • Three Line Diagram
    • Site Plan

Public Meetings:

Green Building Lecture - Economic Value of Green: Knowledge is EmPOWERing

Scottsdale’s Green Building Lecture season kicks off with a panel of industry leaders on the economic value of green. 
 
These free programs run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the dates listed below at the Granite Reef Senior Center, 1700 N. Granite Reef Road. RSVPs are not needed.

Green Building Lecture Series

Solar Energy and Battery Storage Systems

Date: Thursday, Dec. 7

Time: 7 - 8:30 p.m.

This is an exciting time for renewables and on-site energy storage systems as solar continues to take off in the valley. Just this year, Scottsdale has had a record year with more than 500 residential solar electric installations and a growing number of battery storage system installs.  

ASU Senior Sustainability Scholar Paul Hirt will discuss the solar energy revolution, why solar is coming faster than anyone expected and how it will change our world. His current research includes a history of electric power, transition to renewable energy, and collaborative interdisciplinary research on water use, urban growth and sustainability.

Titan Solar Power Director of Business Development Jack Walker joins Hirt. He’ll discuss residential battery storage options for utility-connected solar photovoltaics systems. Walker is set to address homeowners’ concerns about time of use rates, controlling demand charges and having a backup system in the event of a utility grid failure. For some homeowners it’s about control over time of use rates, for others it may be about controlling demand charges while for others it may be about having a "back up" system in the event of utility grid failure.

For more information see the 'Next Lecture' section of this link: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/green-building-program

The  scheduled lecture series includes:

  • Feb. 1, 2018 – Living an Edible Landscape Life
  • April 5, 2018 – Building with earth and Mass in the Desert 
  • June 7, 2018 – Heating and Cooling with Ductless Mini-Splits

Further information on this worthwhile program

General News feed

Caution- News leads open in new windows. Warning- These news links are automatically generated by others such as Google News and are not reviewed by the Arizona Solar Center, Inc. We are not responsible for link content.

Our Twitter Feed

azsolarcenter "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” --Winston... https://t.co/YZUiXLzsKz
azsolarcenter The Sun Day Blog: The future is not what it used to be. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the question has... https://t.co/lSR5RFewJm
azsolarcenter Novermber 5, 2016 -- APS, pro-solar group together spend $6 million on Arizona Corporation Commission races: The... https://t.co/5xyq4EsoFm
azsolarcenter November 3, 2016 Solar Battles Playing Out On Arizona Ballot This Election: It may not be at the top of the... https://t.co/uYSRxv97YR
azsolarcenter November 4, 2016: Utility spends $3.5 million to keep Arizona Corporation Commission all-GOP: The state’s largest... https://t.co/imqk6z2sDU
azsolarcenter October 25, 2016: 42 States (and DC) try to screw with solar The 50 States of Solar Policy Report by the NC... https://t.co/JBYTzpf2ui
azsolarcenter October 24, 2016 -- Future of independent solar energy at stake in Corporation Commission raceL The long-term... https://t.co/D6jy4I5Ci0
azsolarcenter October 13, 2016 -- State policy matters: It is very easy to get distracted by the dog-and-pony show of this... https://t.co/MH7mEMg9MC
azsolarcenter October 16, 2016: Arizona Corporation Commission DebateL Five candidates running for three open seats on the... https://t.co/tm0XLl6CqG
azsolarcenter My Sun Day blog is posted to the Arizona Solar Center. https://t.co/vRrxwSSQpw
azsolarcenter There is No Plan(et) B: Climate change is no longer an issue that our politicians can kick down the road for... https://t.co/KHZzajZc9K
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/JmZSHlmBUI
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/rBgkaWKDs6
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/RzXaQACpPR
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/t1fKNTPwIB
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/dWEKk3QR6H
azsolarcenter High Noon: Nearly 40 years ago, President Carter proclaimed the dawn of the solar age. If President Carter was... https://t.co/y4vhOpjfh1
azsolarcenter September 29, 2016: To cover a utility's fixed costs, are demand charges or time-of-use (TOU) rates superior?... https://t.co/RgneQWNKyM
azsolarcenter September 25, 2016: Arizona Public Service not only rejected an Arizona Corporation commissioner’s request to... https://t.co/iip6RwoOOS
azsolarcenter September 22, 2016: The Salt River Project (SRP) board of directors has agreed to purchase energy produced by... https://t.co/xYegEuiI43
azsolarcenter September 18, 2016: UniSource Energy officials have shelved plans to use of land surroundingMohave Community... https://t.co/eXmHxo03wQ
azsolarcenter September 13, 2016: The city of Sedona spent about 90 minutes at its September 13 council meeting discussing... https://t.co/LHV2QcsvYt
azsolarcenter September 15, 2016: New solar research projects at Arizona State University will receive $3.75 million in funding... https://t.co/N20NYLWxGy
azsolarcenter September 25, 2016: The parable of the frog and boiling water is hundreds of years old. It has been used... https://t.co/O5PYqvxIJg

How Not to- Battery Connections

meltdownPhoto shows the situation after a battery discharge 
test at 300 amps was terminated on a 1530 AH IBE battery string when one post melted.

During the discharge test all cell voltages are logged. The sum of the cell voltages was 2.73 
volts lower than the 48-volt string voltage. This is an average of 118 mv per inter-cell 
connection, 5-10 mv is the normal range in a properly connected battery bank.

Lesson learned: Bolts are not for current carrying. 
Bolts are to hold lugs, etc. in tight contact with electrical terminals.

 

Solar Building Design in Arizona

Cliffs

The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases in The idea of using the sun to meet the energy needs in our buildings has been with us since the time of the Greeks, with some of the design manifestations even evident in the prehistoric structures of Arizona and the Southwest. There is a great historic tradition for Arizona buildings that utilize our most abundant resource, and the current increases in environmental concerns, coupled with diminishing resources and costly energy place even greater emphasis upon solar and renewable energies as an important part of Arizona's energy mix.

Solar utilization has a long history, beginning with some of the earliest structures in which humans lived. The early inhabitants of what we now call Arizona probably did not think of their homes as passively heated and cooled. They built them in response to the climate, to social and cultural standards and to their need for adequate shelter. They did not have available to them abundant energy resources or mechanical devices for moderating the indoor climate of their homes. So they used what was available - the sun, wind, caves, fire and available materials such as branches and sticks, and mud and stone. If necessary, they built several dwellings, including one for summer and one for winter.

Some of the earliest buildings in Arizona which took advantage of the sun were the cliff dwellings which, in many cases, faced south. While archeology shows that many cliff dwellings built during the same period and later, did not face south, those with the correct orientation provided a better level of potential comfort than those that did not orient to the south. Thus the low winter sun could enter and heat the people directly as well as heat the mud and stone walls of the apartments which remained warm in the cool nights, and during the summers, the cave roof shaded the dwelling from the direct rays of the sun keeping both people and structures cool.

Early desert dwellings included pit houses semi nestled into the earth with earthen berms which took advantage of the coolness and thermal stability of the earth; ramadas - outdoor, shaded work structures (cooking, etc.) which allowed breezes to blow through. Subsequently, multi-family dwellings called pueblos also incorporated ramadas. These two types of structures gave the inhabitants a choice between using the high mass adobe structure as a shelter from extreme heat and cold, or the low mass shelter (ramada) when it was comfortable outside. The ramada was also often used as an outdoor kitchen to keep the house from getting too smoky or warm.

Arizona's Environmental Diversity

All solar buildings are climate and site responsive. Arizona is a composite of differing patterns of elevation, temperature, solar radiation, humidity, wind conditions, vegetation, and terrain and even within the general climate zones of the state, there are local variations and factors to be taken into consideration. Arizona is defined into 4 general climate zones -

  • Sonoran Desert (Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, etc.) Zone 6
  • Basin and Range (Prescott, Payson, etc.) Zone 7
  • Colorado Plateau ( Winslow, etc.) Zone 9
  • High Mountain/Mogollon Rim (Flagstaff, etc..) Zone 3f

(See Arizona Solar & Weather Information and the State Climatology Office for specific and local data)

Arizona's environmental diversity leads to differing building design strategies and expressions, but also contain some shared design aspects. In areas of severe winter conditions (Flagstaff, Northern Arizona, etc. ) solar buildings can meet wintertime heating needs by capturing the sun's rays (and heat) in ways where warming can be immediate or stored for later use, while in the summer, cooling is easily provided by cross ventilation and shading. In areas of severe summer conditions (Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson, etc.) winter heating needs are easily met using the sun in a similar manner, and cooling can be achieved by proper site planning (orientation, landscaping, shading), materials selection and placement, space planning, building form, and use of the diurnal (day/night) cycle of heat flow coupled with passive and active solar equipment. Those temperate areas of Arizona, as well as those temperate times of the season in the areas of extreme temperature, can attain comfort by the use of fundamental solar planning, building materials, and ventilation.

Arizona has two rainy seasons, one in the winter and one in the summer. However, most days have some sunshine, and Arizona receives an average of 80-90% of the possible sunshine over a year's period.

Warm Zones

The desert zones are characterized by long, hot summers with high temperatures over I 00'F and lows in the 70's and 80's and diurnal (day/night) temperature swings of 30'. Winters are mild with highs in the 60's and 70's and lows in the 30's and 40's with occasional nighttime drops to freezing and below. Average January temperatures are 51.2 ' F in Phoenix, 55.4' F in Yuma and 50.9' F in Tucson. July high temperatures for the purposes of cooling system design are 107 'F in Phoenix, 109 'F in Yuma and 102 ' F in Tucson. Most of the year the air is very dry in the desert zones except during the height of the summer rainy season, when high humidity can cause much discomfort, particularly in the Phoenix and Yuma areas.

Passive (non-mechanical) heating potential in the desert zones is great and can easily provide 80-100% of the heating load. Passive cooling potential is greatest during the dry summer periods, but usually must be augmented with mechanical cooling during the most humid times. Heating and cooling designs must be considered in conjunction with one another.

Cool Zones

While more cooling than heating is needed in the desert zones, heating is the primary need in the basin and range and the high mountain zones. Summer nighttime temperatures drop low enough in these zones to allow adequate passive cooling if prevention of unwanted heat gains in the summer is incorporated. Summer high temperatures in the basin and range zone are in the mid 90's and the lows are in the high 50's and low 60's. The January average temperature is 37.1 ' F in Prescott and 32.6 ' F in Winslow. Summer high temperatures in Flagstaff normally reach the mid 80's but can get higher while summer lows are in the low 50's. The January average temperature for Flagstaff is 28 ' F.

Because of the high solar input, passive heating can provide 70 to 100% of the heating needs in the cooler Arizona climates. If passive heating and cooling are combined with proper means of controlling heat gains provided, little or no backup cooling is necessary.

Modern Solar Homes

Historically there are many examples of solar uses, strategies, and techniques In Arizona, but solar houses, as we think of them today, were not built until the 1940's. One of the earliest Arizona solar home designers was architect Arthur T. Brown who was instrumental in the design of an earth integrated passive solar home in Florence, Arizona in 1940, and other solar homes in the southern part of the state. One of his best known solar homes in Tucson incorporates a mass wall behind glass which stored solar heat in winter, keeping the house warm late into the evening. Brown provided for summer cooling with deep overhangs to keep the sun out; low vents on the north side and high vents near the south side ceiling for cross-ventilation; and the incorporation of evaporative cooling.

Definitions and Concepts

First and foremost, there is a great difference between an energy efficient building and a solar building. Solar buildings purposefully utilize the building's attributes of orientation, form, materials, and equipment to use the sun and other natural elements (earth, wind, water) to interact with solar and environmental conditions and resources to provide a unified, comprehensive approach to heating, cooling, lighting, water heating, cooking, etc.. A solar building, by definition, incorporates and builds upon energy efficient attributes, in its aggressive use and/or mitigation of environmental resources and conditions. An energy efficient building, while highly insulating and even efficient in its' energy consumption may not utilize the environmental resources that are available to provide for human comfort.

Solar building design approaches range from Passive Solar Buildings, (the building, form shape and materials are used to meet human comfort needs with little or no other power resources required) to Active Systems (mechanical devices powered by conventional and alternative energy sources are used to help collect, store, and distribute solar and renewable energy energy resource benefits and/or electricity to meet needs) to Hybrid Systems (a composite of the two).

Passive solar homes are those that use natural means -the sun - along with the heat transfer mechanisms of convection, conduction, radiation and evaporation to provide comfort. A passive building is designed to stay comfortable both winter and summer with little or no need for additional energy. Systems that depend on fans and pumps for their operation are called active. If a small amount of energy is used to run a fan and distribute heat (or coolness) throughout the house, the system is called hybrid. All require careful siting, spatial planning, and correct orientation to optimize effectiveness.

Solar design always considers the location of the building and the location of the sun. Since there are some basic rules of physics, and the sun's impacts change as it moves across the sky and is at differing angles to the earth's surface during the seasons, there are some fundamental rules of thumb for solar building design.

Sun Location

solar arcThe sun is our greatest ally in solar design. As the seasons of the year change, the sun's location in the sky changes. In the winter, the sun is very low in the sky. It rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. In the summer, it is very high in the sky, rising in the northeast and setting in the northwest. These differences in solar location throughout the year are one of the keys to solar design. It means we can take advantage of the winter sun to heat our homes while we can keep the summer sun out.

WINTER ORIENTATION - Optimum orientation to the sun in the wintertime will accommodate heating, in both the severe winter conditions of the high mountains and milder conditions of the low desert. Since the sun is generally always to the south of us (high in the horizon during the summer and low in the winter) maximum exposure is to the south for purposes of passive solar heating of a building and orientation of solar equipment (water heaters, photovoltaic modules, cookers, etc.). The "natural" form of the building to allow for direct solar access, would be elongated in the east/west direction. (DIAGRAM)

SUMMER ORIENTATION - Optimum orientation of a building in the summer tends to be the same - with minimization of east and west facades (due to intense early morning and afternoon low horizon sun impacts) and a major south facing facade with strong overhangs in response to the high angle of the sun during the main part of the day.

COOL COURTS/WARM COURTS - There are cold (north) and a warm (south) spaces adjacent to a building, and the use of cool courts and warm courts does much to mitigate negative climatic impacts upon a building as well as enhances the outdoor lifestyle that defines Arizona.

THERMAL TRANSITIONS - In areas of temperature extremes ( severe cold or severe heat), thermal decompression should be considered. As one moves from the outdoor temperature (-32 degrees or + 100 degrees), a series of transitions should occur moving a person from hot to warm to cool to comfortable (or conversely from cold to cool to temperate to warm). In hot climes this movement is from the direct sunlight (hot) to filtered shade (trees and vegetation) to a cooler zone of more dense vegetation, shade and fountains, to exterior structural elements (porches, verandas, etc.), to an "air lock" entry, to the heart of the building. This decompression pattern is also practiced, with differing natural and built elements, in cold weather design.

The advantage of this thermal decompression is two fold.

1) it allows for tempering the environment that surrounds the building, reducing the extreme temperature range between the exterior and interior of the building , therefore there is less demand to heat (or cool) a building at any given time, and

2) it allows for the human physiology to acclimate to temperature change in moving from 100 degrees to 74 degrees (or 20 degrees to 74 degrees). The negative problems caused by sudden thermal impacts upon the human body are well known, and mitigation of this condition is a beneficial by-product of good solar building design.

SOLAR BUILDING MATERIAL APPROACHES

HEAT FLOW - Heat always flows to cold, and the rate of flow is directly affected by the temperature difference - i.e. the greater the temperature difference the faster the heat flow and the type and density of a material.

Heat Transfer

In order to understand how solar design works, it is important to understand the basic physical mechanisms which make solar design possible. They are convection, conduction, radiation and evaporation.

Convection occurs when air or a liquid carries heat from warm surfaces to cool ones. When air or the liquid is heated, it expands, becomes lighter and rises. When it contacts cooler surfaces, it transfers its heat to those surfaces. The air or liquid then cools, becomes more dense and sinks. Thus a circular convective current is set up which moves heated air or liquid from warm objects or surfaces to cooler ones. This principle can be used to heat and/or cool.

Conduction describes the passage of heat through a materials such as the walls of a house. Depending on the material composition, the denser the object or material, the more quickly the heat will usually move through it, although a very dense, thick wall can inhibit rapid transfer of heat. Insulation, by its light density and trapping of air, resists heat transfer and thus reduces the amount of heat flowing through walls and roof areas.

Radiation describes the transfer of heat across space without warming the air in between. Sunlight is short wave radiation while heat is long wave radiation. Change in the type of radiation occurs when light (short wave) strikes a dark solid. Dark objects exposed to sunlight will get warm, even on a cold day. If you stand a few feet away from a brick wall that has absorbed solar radiation all day, you will still feel heat radiating from it after the sun has gone down. Heat radiation from a hot wood stove is another example of this mechanism.

Evaporation is a heat transfer process through which air can be cooled. Water added to nonsaturated (dry) air is absorbed and cools the air. Evaporative cooling processes can either be natural such as when plants give off moisture to the atmosphere or sweat evaporates from your skin, or they can be forced such as in a mechanical evaporative cooler. Evaporative cooling processes are enhanced with ventilation.

There are three primary solar design approaches to solar building design.

  1. Thermal Mass - The building structure and materials are utilized to meet the heating and cooling requirements by means of storing warmth and coolth. Materials of high thermal capacity and density are often used for both their characteristics to impede heat flow as well as storage of heat or cold. Typical materials include adobe and its' variations (rammed earth, etc.), brick, concrete, water, and composite thermal storage materials with integrated insulation and thermal breaks, etc.. The advantage of a high mass structure is that it is a part of the heating and cooling system and can carry on for a number of days in the face power failures or inclement weather. This capability also requires much less in the way of mechanical heating and cooling equipment. Enhancement of the high mass capabilities is achieved through the use of "out-sulation", the addition of an insulated external wall barrier.
  2. Thermal Skin - The building envelope is comprised of a highly efficient thermal barrier, effectively reducing the intrusion of summer heat or loss of wintertime heat. The reduction of unwanted summer heat gain to the interior and/or winter heat lost to the cold translates to a reduction in the need to provide replacement heat, or cooling, thereby requiring less equipment and less energy consumed. Typical materials include highly insulated heavier frame construction; insulation panels with integral frame structure; double envelope systems, straw bale construction, composite materials of insulation and structure, etc..
  3. Composite - The building envelope is a thermal "skin" approach with much of the building's interior elements of floors (exposed brick, tile, and concrete); walls (high mass thermal storage interior walls, bancos; and structural and decorative elements (masonry and/or encased water) providing the storage for natural heating and cooling.

Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

(Information provided by DSIRE - Last reviewed 02/19/2009)


Incentive Type:   Personal Tax Credit
State:   Federal
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:   Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies
Applicable Sectors:   Residential
Amount:   30%
Maximum Incentive:   Solar-electric systems placed in service before 2009: $2,000
Solar-electric systems placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Solar water heaters placed in service before 2009: $2,000
Solar water heaters placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Wind turbines placed in service in 2008: $4,000
Wind turbines placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Geothermal heat pumps placed in service in 2008: $2,000
Geothermal heat pumps placed in service after 2008: no maximum
Fuel cells: $500 per 0.5 kW
Carryover Provisions:   Excess credit may be carried forward to succeeding tax year
Eligible System Size:   Fuel cells: 0.5 kW minimum
Equipment/Installation Requirements:   Solar water heating property must be certified by SRCC or by comparable entity endorsed by the state in which the system is installed. At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar. Geothermal heat pumps must meet federal Energy Star requirements. Fuel cells must have electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
Authority 1:   26 USC § 25D
Date Enacted:   8/8/2005 (subsequently amended)
Date Effective:   1/1/2006
Expiration Date:   12/31/2016
Authority 2:   IRS Form 5695 & Instructions: Residential Energy Credits

 



Summary:
Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 does not allow taxpayers eligible for the residential renewable energy tax credit to receive a U.S. Treasury Department grant instead of taking this credit. 

Established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal tax credit for residential energy property initially applied to solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008(H.R. 1424) extended the tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, effective January 1, 2008. Other key revisions included an eight-year extension of the credit to December 31, 2016, the ability to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax, and the removal of the $2,000 credit limit for solar-electric systems beginning in 2009. The credit was further enhanced in February 2009 by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1: Div. B, Sec. 1122, p. 46), which removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008.

A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States and used as a residence by the taxpayer. Expenditures with respect to the equipment are treated as made when the installation is completed. If the installation is on a new home, the "placed in service" date is the date of occupancy by the homeowner. Expenditures include labor costs for onsite preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year. The excess credit can be carried forward until 2016, but it is unclear whether the unused tax credit can be carried forward after then. The maximum allowable credit, equipment requirements and other details vary by technology, as outlined below.


Solar-electric property

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Note that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has published a five-page document that provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the federal tax credits for solar energy.


Solar water-heating property

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service before January 1, 2009.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar in order for the solar water-heating property expenditures to be eligible.
  • The tax credit does not apply to solar water-heating property for swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Note that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has published a five-page document that provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the federal tax credits for solar energy.


Fuel cell property

  • The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt (kW).
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The fuel cell must have a nameplate capacity of at least 0.5 kW of electricity using an electrochemical process and an electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
  • In case of joint occupancy, the maximum qualifying costs that can be taken into account by all occupants for figuring the credit is $1,667 per half kilowatt. This does not apply to married individuals filing a joint return. The credit that may be claimed by each individual is proportional to the costs he or she paid.
  • The home served by the system must be the taxpayer's principal residence.


Small wind-energy property

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt, not to exceed $4,000, for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.


Geothermal heat pumps

  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008. The maximum credit is $2,000 for systems placed in service in 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The geothermal heat pump must meet federal Energy Star program requirements in effect at the time the installation is completed.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer's principal residence.


Significantly, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 repealed a previous limitation on the use of the credit for eligible projects also supported by "subsidized energy financing." For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies.  


History 

The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a 30% tax credit (up to $2,000) for the purchase and installation of residential solar electric and solar water heating property and a 30% tax credit (up to $500 per 0.5 kilowatt) for fuel cells. Initially scheduled to expire at the end of 2007, the tax credits were extended through December 31, 2008, by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.  

In October 2008, the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extended the tax credits once again (until December 31, 2016), and a new tax credit for small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pump systems was created. In February 2009, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008. 

 


Contact: 
Public Information - IRS 
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20224
Phone: (800) 829-1040 
Web Site: http://www.irs.gov

Solar Hot Water

There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't.

The typical solar water heater is comprised of solar collectors and a well-insulated storage tank.

The solar collector is a network of pipes that gathers the sun's energy, transforms its radiation into heat, and then transfers that heat to either water or a heat-transfer fluid.

The sun's heat is collected through one of three types of solar collectors: Flat-plate Collectors, Integral Collector-Storage Systems (ICS) or "batch systems, and the Evacuated-Tube Solar Collectors. These collectors either preheat water before it enters a storage tank, or, in the case of a heat-transfer fluid, the fluid acts as a heat exchanger and transfers the heat from the fluid to the potable water in the storage tank.

The final component of a solar water heating system is the mounting system. The three most common mounting types are the roof mount, ground mount, and attached or awning mount.

Solar Hot Water Basics

Additional information:

 

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    Arizona Solar Center Mission- The mission of the Arizona Solar Center is to enhance the utilization of renewable energy, educate Arizona's residents on solar technology developments, support commerce and industry in the development of solar and other sustainable technologies and coordinate these efforts throughout the state of Arizona. About the Arizona Solar Center- The Arizona Solar Center (AzSC) provides a broad-based understanding of solar energy, especially as it pertains to Arizona. Registered Read More
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