What are commercial solar electric systems?

Commercial solar power systems allow businesses to generate their own electricity with on-site solar panels. Oftentimes they are installed with an energy storage system. Solar and energy storage capabilities provide a number of benefits, including making utility bills more predictable, providing resilience in case of a power outage, and reducing a company’s carbon emissions.

Velo Solar provides solar design services for a variety of commercial customers. Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’re asked.

How do you size commercial solar systems?

One of the first questions new customers ask is “how many solar panels do I need?” Well, it depends.

As a rule of thumb, we find that offsetting 30-40% of your energy use is the sweet spot, but our engineering team considers many factors when they create your custom solar design.

First, we work with you to determine how your business uses energy and at what time of the day and night.

Then we talk about where the panels will be located. Is a roof system best for your business or would carports or a ground-mounted array be better? We’ll do a satellite-based site survey to understand if there’s shading from adjacent buildings or trees, or if there are other obstructions that limit where the solar modules can be installed.

Once we know how much electricity is needed and what the location looks like, we get to work on the solar design. During this process, we consider the power capacity and efficiency of the panels themselves, as these factors impact the budget and are key to calculating the number of panels needed. For example, if you need to generate 4,000 watts of power, the solar design could include ten 400-watt high capacity, highly efficient solar panels, or it could include 14 panels that have a lower capacity and are less efficient.

How much will it cost my business to install solar?

The price of a solar system depends largely on the size, energy storage needs, and the other factors we’ve listed above. Some in the solar industry will provide you with a package “deal” that may include a feasibility study, design, and construction of your solar PV array. But it’s a one-size-fits-all mentality that means every customer gets the same set of services for the same price.

And here’s the real downside with this tactic – you can’t get just a piece of the package – you have to take it all.

We take a different approach. Our design-build philosophy offers flexibility by allowing us to customize our offering to fit your needs.

Accordingly, we custom quote each project – and you can pick and choose which services you want and when you want to engage with us. We’re looking to create long-term relationships with our customers, and that’s why we believe design-build is the best path forward for companies investigating commercial solar implementation.

Understanding your levelized cost of energy

Designing a solar system that fits your budget is one of our top priorities. It’s important to know that investing in solar is not like most other business purchases, which are typically evaluated with an ROI calculation. When it comes to solar, you’re purchasing a hedge against rising energy costs in the future so ROI won’t give you the whole picture.

We can help you evaluate your investment costs and understand your levelized cost of energy (LCOE), which is the key return metric for solar and batteries. Calculating your LCOE involves comparing how much your utility-generated electricity costs are escalating over time versus the more fixed cost of electricity produced from your solar and battery system. We’ve found that in most areas grid electricity costs escalate at 2-5% per year, whereas solar-generated electricity escalates at less than 1%. This 1% is mostly operations and maintenance costs as the fuel cost is zero.

While the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and depreciation can offset the initial capital investment, without considering the cost of energy for your business over the next 10-30 years you miss the real value of solar. Let Velo do this math for you and help you and your finance team see the real value of solar today, tomorrow and in the future.

Less than 1%

That solar-generated electricity escalates

Solar ITC: making commercial solar more affordable

As mentioned above, when considering the cost of solar, you can’t forget about the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a federal tax credit that’s available to companies installing a qualified commercial solar energy project. This program can impact your financial model in a big way.

The tax credit allows you to take a 26% income tax credit (for projects started in 2023, that credit may drop to 22%). The program also allows you to further reduce your investment costs by accelerating your depreciation schedule.

There may also be additional credits and rebates offered by your state or local utility, all of which can greatly improve the ROI of your solar project. Velo’s team of experts can help you maximize your credits and rebates.


income tax credit

How long does it take to install a solar system at my business?

The actual construction and installation processes of a solar array are surprisingly quick. A smaller system could be done in a week; a larger one could take up to a month.

But, the majority of the time spent on solar projects happens long before the installation begins. First, our engineering services team must complete the solar design, then the interconnection application has to be submitted and approved by the utility, and permits must be obtained from the local government (this could include the city, the county, or both).

Our design-build philosophy means the timeline can be as flexible as you need it to be. If you want to start with a feasibility study to determine if a solar energy system makes logistical and financial sense for your business, we can do that, and pick up with the rest as your budget allows. If you’ve been given sustainability goals to meet or have other urgent needs, we can provide a turnkey project and get started immediately.

How can Velo Solar help me with my commercial solar system design?

A solar PV industry leader, Velo Solar’s team has the expertise to help you reduce your carbon footprint, lower your electricity bills, and have resilience in case of a grid outage. Our services include:

  • Solar installations including rooftop, carport, and ground-mounted solar arrays
  • Solar energy storage system design
  • Feasibility studies
  • Engineering and system design work
  • Installation of solar arrays and storage systems by our construction professionals
  • Solar project commissioning
  • Ongoing operations and management (O&M)
worker finishing the solar panel installation


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