(207) 797-0979

Every business is unique in their operation, their goals, and their pre-existing systems but every business wants to cut operating costs.  Our currently soaring electric rates are causing major budgeting problems for businesses big and small.  We have a number of ways to help you control your energy expenses and cut your environmental impact.  Here are a few of the most popular ideas.  We are happy to come out for a site visit and discuss ideas and work with you to find solution that are cost effective.  While we do not get involved in every phase of energy efficiency we can usually recommend specialists in other areas.   We are an Efficiency Maine Qualified Partner so we can connect you with rebate money on everything from lighting, to pumps and controls, natural gas appliance upgrades, kitchen equipment, and more.  Efficiency Maine has many ways to help you financially when it comes to investing in ways to cut your energy use.  If you are located in one of the smaller towns the USDA REAP grants can provide significant funding towards energy upgrades and solar.  As with all grants the process takes time but the majority of applicants do receive an award. 

Solar Power for Commercial Use - Overview

solar for commercialSolar Power encompasses many different areas. The common feature of them all is that they take advantage of the free energy that the sun radiates every day, even when it is cloudy. Passive solar relies on the warming rays of the sun, such as when you open the drapes and allow the sun to warm a room. The following list contains active systems that require mechanical parts.

Solar Panels for business

  • PV (photovoltaic) power uses collector panels to gather the sun’s energy then converts it into DC electricity. An inverter is used to change the collected DC energy into AC. Normally your business will remain grid tied and a net-use meter will be installed. In order to store this energy batteries are required which are expensive and require maintenance.  Three Phase systems are available.  With soaring electric rates payback windows that were once 10 years have been cut in half/  With a 25 year warranty that is a lot of years with zero electric bill.  No other financial investment has a better return on investment.  
  • Solar Hot air systems use a dark surface to warm air that is circulated into the building. Most are self-contained units or wall systems with thermostats to control the temperature and some have PV panels to provide the energy necessary to run the fan.
  • There are roofing and wall systems with integrated solar thermal and/or PV electric or hot air.
  • Solar Thermal systems have collector panels that collect solar radiation to create hot water that can be used for: domestic hot water, space heating, pool heating, industrial processes, and even cooling/air conditioning.
  • While wind turbines don’t use the sun’s power the fact they use free energy from wind causes them to often be grouped into the solar power bucket.
  • Geo-Thermal and  air source heat pumps take advantage of temperature differentials to induce a phase change and create power.  Geothermal systems require drilled wells.  For commercial applications they can be a very cost effective way to provide heating and cooling.  Air source heat pumps are much less expensive and a good option for small businesses.  There are ductless minisplit systems and ducted systems that integrate with your current furnace to provide both inexpensive heating and A/C.

Solar panels for commercial buildingsSolar energy has always been, clean, free, and abundant. It has never been the cause of a war or political manipulation. If unstable fuel prices are creating havoc in your budget process and impact your profit margins, then solar power can be the solution. In addition you will be sending a clear message to your customers regarding your company’s commitment to improving the environment. Plus, right now there is a 30% federal tax credit and other possible government incentives to help offset the purchase cost.

We are proud to be the Thermomax authorized dealer for Southern Maine. Their true evacuated tube solar thermal collector was designed to work in northern environments. Solar power works wonderfully in Maine provided you use the right type of collectors. In addition to their residential tube, Thermomax makes a commercial tube with no “top end” limit on temperature and are an excellent fit for industrial process heat uses.

Every business has different needs and pre-existing systems to integrate with. Call us today and we explain the many options available. We are happy to perform a site survey and have our engineering team custom design a system to meet your unique needs. We will even point out efficiency upgrades available for your existing systems. With government incentives and tax breaks available many systems have a ROI of 5 years. Plus with our convenient lease financing customers normally see a positive cash flow immediately.

Heating & A/C provided by Heat Pumps - Mini split

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Heat pumps are an excellent way to provide space heating and cooling at a low cost. Since heat pumps move heat rather than create it they are very energy efficient. We measure this efficiency by Coefficient of performance, COP. With standard electric heat the COP is 1, for each unit of electricity you use you get 1 unit of heat. With heat pumps the COP can be as high as 5. Heat pump performance drops off the colder it gets outside but with the new minisplits, such as those made by Mitsubishi, you can expect an annual COP well above 3 on their high performance units, even here in Maine. Plus they are rated to work with temperatures as low as -13 and experience shows they keep working to about -22. When combined with solar you can let the sun heat and cool your building for free with zero environmental impact. Plus Efficiency Maine has incentive programs to offset the cost of purchase. Their rebates are only for the most efficient units and we are firm believers that these are the units you should be installing as they will have the lowest operating costs. This is one of the lowest cost methods of space heating available. 

Minisplit units have a evaporator on the wall and a condenser outside they are connected by 2 small copper refrigerant lines. They are a great way to provide supplemental heating and cooling to areas that are too hot or cold. They are very popular in small cafes, salons, retail, and office applications. The low upfront cost of $3,000-4000 before incentives makes them affordable for leased spaces. Compared to heat from the average 15 year old oil boiler they deliver the same Btu's for half the cost. For larger spaces multiple units will be required.

Heat Pump Hot Water Tanks & Tankless Hot Water

For office or lower volume hot water applications that currently are using electric tanks a heat pump hot water tank might be a good alternative if the tank is located in a large utility room or an unconditioned basement area. These tanks draw the heat from the air around them and use it to heat the water. The recovery time is slightly longer than standard electric but there is also an electric coil for times when the heat pump cannot keep up. They can significantly reduce the electricity used. They do vent cold dry air, which can be of benefit if the basement area need dehumidification.

Tankless or on-demand units are normally gas fired, if they service multiple faucets. One or two faucet units can be powered with electricity. The advantage with these units is there are no standby losses associated with keeping a large tank of water hot 24/7. For many offices with a 40gl tank of water, and low use the vast majority of energy is wasted. A on-demand unit creates hot water as it is needed and there is no concern of ever running out of hot water at time of unusually high demand.

 

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PV Cost and Net Metering

Podcast explains Net Metering &  how much cheaper PV electric is vs. the utlity

Solaris

600 Riverside St.

Portland ME 04103

(207) 797-0979

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