Commercial Solar Panels Rooftops

FAQs FOR BUSINESSES

Answers to your commercial solar, energy storage and roofing questions.

Commercial Solar FAQ

Solar energy provides numerous benefits to business owners, including:
  • Lower tax bills due to a generous Investment Tax Credit and a bonus depreciation benefit
  • Lower electric bills because you replace some utility electricity with your own solar electricity, which costs less per kilowatt-hour (kWh)
  • Protection against future utility rate hikes—the sun won’t charge you more tomorrow than it did today
  • The satisfaction of knowing you are making and using clean, non-polluting power and helping solve the climate change crisis
  • The right to use your renewable energy commitment as a differentiator compared to your competition.
While energy-intensive businesses like food service and manufacturing stand to benefit the most from a solar panel installation, virtually any business can benefit significantly. If you pay for electricity and own your building, you can install solar panels and lower your electric bills. Some of the types of businesses going solar include:
  • Gas stations
  • Office buildings
  • Storage and warehousing facilities
  • Medical offices
  • Shopping centers and other retail establishments
  • Hotels
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Multi-family housing developments
  • Food processing plants
  • City- and town-owned buildings including schools
  • Wineries
  • Farms

A commercial solar energy system consists mainly of solar panels that collect sunlight, and inverters that convert that sunlight into electricity that can be used in your business. Read more on solar technology works on our LEARN page.

Not if installed correctly. Many systems are ballasted and entail few roof penetrations. When penetrations are made, highly qualified installers like Citadel know how to seal and waterproof the holes to maintain your roof’s integrity along with any existing roofing warranties. Make sure your solar installer provides a long-term warranty on its workmanship, and that their work doesn’t void any existing roofing warranties.

Installing solar alone does not mean you’ll have power during an outage. Your solar energy system shuts off automatically in an outage to prevent any electrical current from flowing back into the grid, to protect utility line workers attempting to restore power. However, if you install Solar+Storage, you can set up the system to provide backup power during an outage.

The cost varies greatly based on the equipment and the size of your solar energy system.

Some businesses purchase solar outright for maximum financial benefit, but Citadel can help you explore and select financing options if needed.

Yes! Unlike many major capital investments, a solar energy system actually pays for itself in a matter of years. The money it saves you on your electricity ends up being much greater than the cost of the system. How long this takes varies by project, depending on variables like your cost of electricity, the size and orientation of your solar energy system, and how much electricity you use.

It differs for every business. A Citadel solar pro will design the system that works for your needs and provide estimates on your savings.

If you have a standalone solar energy system, one of several things happens, but note that you get the value of all the solar energy you make:
  1. Some solar electricity you produce is used in your business right then and there, if needed at the time. The utility never sees that.
  2. Solar electricity you produce but don’t need at the time flows back into the utility grid for use by others (unless you also have a solar energy storage system).
  3. When your solar isn’t producing enough for your needs, you draw electricity from the utility in the “traditional” way.
  4. The utility keeps track of how much electricity you take from them, and how much you send to them.
  5. Over a 12-month period, you only pay for the difference between the electricity you drew from the grid and the electricity you sent into the grid. In other words, you get credit for that extra solar you made but did not use. This is called net metering or net energy metering (NEM).
If you install Solar+Storage, you can store your extra solar electricity in your batteries for use at a time of your choosing, instead of sending it into the grid.

Citadel does the bulk of the work. You are mainly responsible for the following:

  1. Get proposals from solar installation companies
  2. Choose an installer
  3. Secure financing if needed
  4. Schedule the installation working with your contractor
  5. Wait for utility permission to turn on the system
  6. Enjoy your clean energy and lower electric bills
Most panel manufacturers warrant their product for 25 years. Since there are no moving parts, solar energy systems are designed to last even longer. There are many solar energy systems still operating today that were installed 30+ years ago.

It’s easiest to let a qualified contractor like Citadel assess your roof for you. In general, it needs to be in excellent condition, and it needs to have at least 100 to 500 square feet of available space with no obstructions. The ideal roof faces south, though east and west facing roofs work well too, especially with flat commercial roofs.

Citadel’s solar pros will determine that based on how much electricity you want to generate and how much roof space you have.

Most panel manufacturers warrant their product for 25 years. Since there are no moving parts, solar energy systems are designed to last even longer. Many systems installed 30+ years ago are still operating today.

Days or weeks depending on the size of the system and the complexity of the project.   

It is important to periodically check to make sure your system is working as expected but generally, there is no required maintenance for a commercial solar energy system.  

Be sure to hire a true contractor that designs and engineers its systems, warranties them and repairs them if needed, rather than a basic installer that merely puts up the system and disappears. Even better, hire a company that also installs roofs so you can rest assured the crew knows how to protect your roof structure and materials during installation of the solar panels.

Licenses and high customer satisfaction are solid indicators of a quality installer. Relevant licenses include the C39 roofing license, C46 solar license, C10 electrical license and B general contractor license. Our blog article The Top 15 Things to Look for in a Solar Provider, while written for consumers, has many tips also relevant to business owners.

Commercial Energy Storage FAQ

A solar energy storage system at your business can:

  1. Lower your tax bills due to a generous Investment Tax Credit and a bonus depreciation benefit
  2. Provide some backup power during a power outage or when your solar energy system is not generating electricity, such as on a cloudy day
  3. Reduce your electric bills when you use your stored electricity at times when the utility is charging more for its power
  4. Reduce your electric bills by reducing your demand on the utility at strategic times

Yes, if your system is configured to provide that benefit.

Yes, in most cases the business owner has the ability to switch the energy storage back and forth between functions.

It’s simple: batteries much like the rechargeable batteries you use for other things in your business like cell phones store your unused solar energy, and then discharge it at a time of your choosing.  Read more on storage technology on our LEARN page

It depends on how much electricity you want to store. A small business might only need one battery; larger enterprises will require more.

Yes, storage can often be added to an existing solar energy system.

Commercial Roofing FAQ

Only qualified and reputable roofing companies are allowed to offer the best warranties from the highest-rated roofing manufacturers. So you can start by searching in the online directories of Carlisle SynTec, GAF and Owens Corning. Or just call Citadel—we are listed in all three directories.

Citadel works with many types of material including composition shingles, metal, slate, TPO, PVC, tile and composition shingle.

A commercial roof installation can take a few days or a few weeks depending on the size, slope, access to, and condition of the roof.

A new roof should come with two types of warranty:
  1. A Workmanship Warranty from the installation company. For example, Citadel provides a 10-year Workmanship Warranty when you contract with us directly.
  2. A Materials Warranty from the manufacturer of the roofing product, which ranges from 10 to 50 years.

The roofs of commercial building typically last about 20 years under normal conditions.

Commercial Financing FAQ

We offer and advise on a variety of financing options including loans and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Please see the detailed explanation on our Learn page.

Yes. Incentive programs are:
  1. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which pays for 26 percent of the cost of solar energy and solar energy storage systems.
  2. Bonus depreciation, which offers a significant tax benefit for solar energy and energy storage systems.
  3. California’s net metering program, which provides solar energy system owners with credit for extra solar electricity they send into the grid.
The California “SGIP” program, which offers a rebate for qualifying solar energy storage systems. Learn more here.
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