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Integrating Home Generator Into Your Power Systems: Everything You Need To Know

If you live in an area where you get frequent power outages, a portable generator is a great investment. A portable generator allows you to run your most essential appliances – like air conditioners, hot water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, and more – even when the power goes out.

But manually connecting all of your appliances to your generator can be time-consuming and difficult, particularly if the weather outside is bad, which is common during power outages.

What’s the solution? A transfer switch! Transfer switches allow you to safely integrate just about any generator into your home’s electrical systems. In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics about transfer switches, and how they should be used to integrate your generator with our home’s power systems.

The Benefits Of Integrating Your Generator Into The Power System Of Your Home

Using a transfer switch to integrate your generator into your home’s power systems has a number of benefits.


Seamlessly integrates with your existing circuits – A transfer switch seamlessly switches the power source of your home from the municipal power grid to a generator. It can integrate with your existing power circuits, so you don’t have to worry about connecting your generator to the proper appliances.



No more unplugging and plugging in appliances – When the power goes out, you’ll need to plug your appliances into your generator. When it turns back on, you’ll need to do the reverse – and plug them back into your home’s electrical grid.

This is time-consuming, and requires you to use a number of properly-rated extension cords throughout your home. A transfer switch eliminates this completely – only one cord is required to connect your generator directly to your home.



You can choose which circuits and outlets are powered – You can choose which individual circuits get power, and change which ones are powered at any time. This helps you maximize efficiency, and makes your life more convenient.



Your circuit breakers will still protect your appliances – Because your transfer switch integrates with your home electrical system, the circuit breaker will function, even while the generator is in use. This protects sensitive electronics from power fluctuations.


There are many other reasons to consider a transfer switch, but these are the biggest benefits.

Understanding The Transfer Switch Installation Process

You should not try to install a transfer switch on your own. You risk damaging or destroying your home’s electrical wiring. You should hire a licensed electrician to install the transfer switch into your home.

The transfer switch consists of a switching unit, as well as a heavy-duty power socket, to which your generator will be attached. It will have a main breaker, which is responsible for connecting to your home’s power grid, and switching from utility power to generator power.

It also contains a number of different circuits, which can be toggled on and off. The number of circuits you’ll need will depend on your home, the appliances you want to run, and the size of your generator.

During installation, you will choose which circuits are assigned to which appliances and outlets in your home. For example, you could choose to power your furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator and freezer, and your lights, and choose a circuit for each one. Each circuit could also be used to power a particular room. Consult with your electrician to determine what’s right for you.

You likely will not be able to power all of these circuits at once, unless you have a very large generator, so each one can be toggled on and off easily. For example, if it’s hot outside, you could shut off power to the hot water heater, and use this power from your generator to run the air conditioner.

Why Are Transfer Switches Necessary?

Transfer switches are mandatory, and required by the National Electric Code in order to connect any power source to your home. They are the only safe way to do so – for more about this, read the next section about “backfeeding”.

A transfer switch also makes it more convenient to power your home during a power outage, as noted in previous sections. Not only that, it allows you to power appliances which do not connect with a standard wall outlet – such as sump pumps and furnaces – which otherwise could not be connected to a generator.

Transfer switches also make it easier to manage the power of your generator. You can simply flip a switch to change the powered circuits, rather than moving, plugging, and unplugging extension cords.

The Dangers Of Backfeeding With A Generator – NEVER Do This In Your Home!

The main reason that transfer switches are mandatory is that they are the only way to power your home safely, without “backfeeding.”

Backfeeding is the act of taking a generator, and simply plugging it into a standard wall outlet, using a heavy-duty power cord. This practice is known as “backfeeding”, because it’s the reverse of standard electrical flow – the power flows from a wall unit, into the main electrical panel, and then out the main breaker into the transformer.

When it reaches the transformer, the unit will try to “step up” the voltage, and distribute the power throughout the rest of the neighborhood’s power lines.

For obvious reasons, this is incredibly dangerous. It’s also completely illegal. If you are caught backfeeding, you could face a serious fine, or even jail time.

Backfeeding can damage your generator and your home’s power systems, and it also has the potential to cause a fire. It could also destroy the delicate electronics and other appliances connected to your home’s power grid.

It also puts additional stress on your generator because it’s less efficient. You’ll only be able to get about half of the power at which your generator is rated, because the 240-volt supply is split into two, 120-volt lines.

Finally, and most importantly, backfeed can kill technicians working on power lines. As mentioned, backfeeding will cause the power lines running to the transformer to become energized – and workers who are working on repairing de-energized power lines could be unexpectedly shocked by this voltage, and seriously injured or killed.

Do not backfeed. Doing so will destroy your generator and your home’s power systems over time. It’s illegal, and it could kill or injure any technicians who are attempting to restore power to your neighborhood.

Manual Vs. Automatic Transfer Switches – Understanding Your Options

There are two main types of transfer switches – manual and automatic. Both are great options, and have different pros and cons.

The most common type of switch is a manual transfer switch. With this type of switch, you’re responsible for manually choosing which circuits are energized, and you must manually switch from utility power to generator power, and vice-versa. They’re inexpensive, so they’re the best choice if you’re on a budget.

Automatic transfer switches are different. They are programmable, so you can choose which appliances and circuits have priority, and allow the transfer switch to activate and deactivate these circuits automatically. Automatic transfer switches also can be programmed to switch between generator and utility power. However, because of these advanced features, automatic transfer switches are usually quite a bit more expensive than manual switches.

Both automatic and manual transfer switches can be great options, depending on your budget, the appliances you need to run, and the power rating of your generator.

Using Your Transfer Switch And Running Your Electrical Systems With Your Generator

If you have an automatic transfer switch, and it’s configured properly, you don’t need to do anything, except start your generator, and connect it to the transfer switch. Your transfer switch will detect the generator, and begin powering the appropriate circuits.

Using your manual switch is a bit different. Here’s what you’ll need to do when the power goes out.

Connect the main generator power cord to the transfer switch

Turn off all circuit breakers in the transfer switch

Start the generator safely, and let it warm up for several minutes

Switch your main breakers to the “Generator” position in the transfer switch

Turn on all of the circuits you wish to power, one at a time, waiting a few seconds between each one to prevent the generator from overloading

When the power turns back on, simply:

Switch the main breakers in the transfer switch back to Utility Power

Turn on all of the circuits that were previously off

Switch off your generator

Disconnect the power cord

NOTE: the procedure for your switch may differ slightly, based on the manufacturer. Always consult your user guide to understand how to safely use your transfer switch.

Invest In A Transfer Switch – Enjoy Comfort, Convenience, And Efficiency

If you rarely have power outages, or you only use your generator to power a few things like lights, a refrigerator, and some other basic essentials, a transfer switch may not be worth it.

But if you regularly have power outages that last for days at a time, a transfer switch helps you run your generator more efficiently, and makes it much more convenient to choose which appliances are powered.

So think about your own particular needs, and whether investing in a transfer switch is the right choice for you!

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The United States is currently home to more than 2 million solar panel installations, a number that’s expected to double by 2023. And with the promise of clean, green energy that helps protect the environment and reduce utility bills, that’s no surprise. But solar batteries are experiencing a recent surge in popularity, too. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of natural disasters has encouraged many homeowners not only to embrace solar power at home but also to add backup power to gain more energy independence.

Keep reading for the lowdown on how a system of residential solar power and batteries will keep you safe and self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.


What Are the Benefits of Using Solar Batteries?

First things first. If you’re planning to install solar panels on your roof, then why do you need batteries, too?

When you incorporate a solar battery as part of your home solar energy system, it takes all the extra energy your solar panels produce and stores it right there at your home, rather than sending it back into the electricity grid. As a result, you can maximize your ability to use the power generated by your panels on a daily basis. During times when you need more electricity than your panels can actually produce — such as at night or on cloudy days — you can tap back into that stored energy.

The three main benefits of adding solar batteries to your setup include:

Energy independence

Emergency backup power

Energy bill savings (in some cases)


Where Does Disaster Relief Come In?

Traditional energy providers feed electricity into homes primarily via coal and natural gas plants, which operate much differently than solar panels during disaster scenarios. Often, they’re immediately shut down when a disaster warning occurs, which means homes that rely solely on their utility can lose their power entirely. Additionally, if a power plant is somehow damaged during a disaster, the shutdown could last for days to account for the cleaning and rebuilding process. And that’s not to mention the power lines that bring that electricity to your home. These power lines are often the first thing to come down during high winds and natural disasters.

Put simply, traditional electricity producers aren’t able to guarantee service during a disaster. But residential solar power with backup batteries is much more reliable with fewer risk factors.


Why Is It So Important to Be Prepared for a Disaster?

You never know when disaster will strike. It’s easy to dismiss disaster planning as prepping for a worst-case scenario that most likely won’t occur, but if the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we never know just how quickly our daily lives can change overnight.

Being situated along the Gulf coastline, Texas in particular is prone to plenty of natural disasters, including flooding, tornadoes, and especially hurricanes. In fact, as of this writing, 64 hurricanes have struck the Texas coast since 1851. That amounts to one hurricane every three years — and it’s been three years since Hurricane Harvey devastated our coastline with catastrophic flooding and many deaths. It’s never too early to be prepared for a natural disaster, especially when you live in an area that’s prone to such types of weather.


How Can Solar Power Help Me Prepare for Disaster?

Unlike a power plant that burns fossil fuels, the sun is a limitless resource and requires no human power to operate. With batteries to store the excess power generated by your home’s solar energy system, you can be prepared for even complete power outages. This means you can maintain food storage, prevent spoilage, and keep any necessary medical equipment running during an emergency.

For many, the allure of solar power is sustainability, allowing a home to remain energy independent and cost-efficient. But sustainability is also about ensuring our own safety, maintaining our standard of living, and empowering ourselves to manage unforeseen circumstances.


Looking for Texas Solar Installers?

If you’re ready to start harnessing the power of the sun for a lifetime of green energy and peace of mind, we want to help. As the largest residential solar installer in Texas, Freedom Solar has outfitted thousands of homes and even commercial businesses like Whole Foods and Office Depot with solar solutions that meet their needs.

Our socially distanced installations mean we can set up your residential solar power system without ever needing to come inside your home. From consultation to installation, Freedom Solar can bring solar energy to you while keeping everyone safe. Contact us today for a free consultation, and join us in the solar revolution!


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A homeowner on Harrison Lake  west of  Hope, BC was looking for a solar backup power system on his property. We were able to build and connect an attractive ground mount solar panel array in a landscape design and a backup power supply with an off-grid component.

The array is made up of 36 Canadian Solar 385-watt DC solar panels, arranged 4 panels high and 9 panels long. It is directed at a 205 degree azimuth and a 15 degree pitch. There are three circuits of 12, wired in groups of 6 in a series, with 2 groups in parallel to make 12 for each circuit.

The array is located 300 feet from the equipment room, which houses the inverters, power distribution panel (PDP), and solar battery storage is located. Power backup for the home consists of a solar battery backup and a home backup generator. We installed the LG Chem RESU 9.8 kWh Lithium Ion Solar Battery Backup. The generator was already onsite.

The PDP ties into the grid as well as the home battery and the backup generator. A separate “emergency panel” is directly fed from the off-grid side of this system. The solar panels, battery, or generator can power this panel, but it is not grid tied.

The solar power system will offset almost half of the homeowner’s annual electricity usage and save the homeowner more than $55,000 over the lifetime of the solar panels.

Having a home battery backup system that includes a backup generator in addition to the solar battery ensures a more robust and redundant power supply during emergency outages.

If you are interested in getting a quote for a custom solar panel battery system from Freedom Solar, contact us today.

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Do solar panels even work in the winter? YES!

Do Solar Panels Work in Snow?

If you’ve found yourself asking “Will solar panels work during winter in cold climates?” you’re not alone. It is a commonly held belief that solar panels don’t work during the snowy season — but this is a myth. As long as they don’t remain covered in snow for an extended period of time, solar panels work just as well during the winter, even in snow.

While it is true that heavy snowfall can reduce sunlight penetration, your panels will produce more electricity than you might think throughout the winter.

On premium solar panels, the silicon is covered by anti-reflective glass that is designed to absorb maximum sunlight (thereby generating more electricity!), which means that solar panels also produce more heat from the sun than your roof surface. That heat melts snow more quickly than on your roof, keeping your solar system producing power even when heavy snow may still be on the ground.

In many cold-weather climates, there are relatively few days of precipitation in the winter. For example, Denver, Colorado averages between 2 and 3 days of snowfall > 0.1 inch each month between November and March. That snow tends to melt within a few days, especially on solar panels!

Plus, solar panels are designed to withhold between 20 to 40 pounds of weight per square foot, so snow is usually not heavy enough to be a risk. During manufacturing, all solar panels undergo pressure tests that assess quality and durability. And because ratings vary by panel, you can opt for higher pressure ratings if you live in an area that sees a lot of snowfall.

Do Solar Panels Need Winter Maintenance?

The great thing about solar panels is that once installed, they are virtually maintenance-free for the majority of the year, including in the winter.

If you live in an area that receives heavy winter storms — think polar vortex level — you may want to hire a professional to clean off any wet, heavy snow if you’re worried about roof safety. Freedom Solar does take extra safety precautions by installing snow guards in areas that may have a potential for snow build-up and be susceptible to damage.

Solar battery storage is also an important thing to consider, during winter as well as throughout the year, since it allows you to store your energy regardless of day-to-day production. It works by amassing all the electricity your panels produce and saving it right there at your home, rather than sending it back to the electricity grid. As a result, you can tap back into that stored energy during the times when you need more electricity than your panels can produce — such as at night or on cloudy days.

How Effective Are Solar Panels in Winter?

When it comes to solar energy, there is one important thing to remember: it’s not about warmth, it’s about sunlight. In fact, solar power generation in summer vs. winter might surprise you. Cold, sunny weather is an ideal time to produce energy for your home because solar panels work more efficiently in cooler temperatures. In fact, the industry-standard specifications for PV systems are made at a temperature of 77º F, but they’ve been shown to be even more efficient in colder temperatures.

Consider this: two of the top cities for going solar (places with the most solar panels installed per capita) in the US are in northern states — Burlington, Vermont, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Still not convinced? Germany, which has sunshine levels comparable to Alaska, is a global leader in solar panel installations, with an impressive 12.74 percent of their national energy credited to renewable energy.

Even in the most frigid winter temperatures, when sunlight is shining, solar panels in winter months will produce the electricity you need to become more self-sufficient by making your own power at home.

Looking for Solar Installers in Your Area?

Even wind, cold, rain, and snow can’t stop solar panels from doing what they do best — generating clean energy so you can live more sustainably. And now is a great time to take the plunge into a solar-powered home so that you can have your installation ready to go for the long, hot days of summer.

If you’re ready to make the switch, we’re here to help. As a leading residential solar installer in Texas and Colorado, Freedom Solar has outfitted countless homes and commercial businesses with solar, and we’re doing safe, contact-free installations to keep you and your family protected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us today for a free consultation, and we will get your home on the path to cleaner energy.

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Can Solar Panels Improve Your Home’s Value?


Do Solar Panels Increase Property Value?

Solar power is one of the most popular sources of energy. Although the upfront costs associated with switching to solar can be hefty if you purchase the system outright, the benefits and savings generate a positive return on investment in the long run. How much will solar panels increase home value? Well, several studies prove that homes fitted with solar panel systems are valued and sold at higher prices than similar homes without solar in the same area. On average, the value of a home increases 3 to 4 percent with the addition of solar panels. A 2019 Zillow study found a 4.1 percent markup for homes with solar. With the average home price of $200,000 in Texas according to Zillow, that would result in a premium of between $6,000 and $8,000. However, results will differ depending on the factors outlined below. We will also cover other benefits of running a solar-powered home aside from increasing property value.

Factors That Influence How Much Solar Panels Increase Property Value

So, do solar panels add value to your home? It depends on several factors such as:
Your state and city
The cost of electricity in your area
The size of the installation and your home
The type, age, and warranty of your solar panels
How much energy the system can save


The location of a home is an important factor that determines how much value will be increased with the addition of solar panels. For example, installations in active solar markets like California and New Jersey typically yield higher returns than comparable installations in less developed markets because buyers, realtors, appraisers, and lenders tend to be more familiar with the benefits of solar at the outset of the process.


The number of solar panels your roof can accommodate directly relates to the property value increase post-installation. Property value increase is directly related to the quality and quantity of the solar panels installed. The production capacity of your solar panels needs to be proportional to the size of your house. So how do solar panels affect property values? A Berkeley Lab study estimates you can expect the resale value of your home to increase by about $5,911 for each 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar installed.


One of the easiest ways to calculate home value increase based on energy consumption is to run your own cost benefit analysis. The value of your system will also differ based on the cost of electricity where you live. The best place to start is by looking at your energy bill and figuring out the cost of the system size you would need based on the kilowatt-hours used. The average system installation is about $3-4 per watt. In Texas, a 300 watt panel will produce about 9 kilowatt-hours per day. Once you have your daily or monthly usage, you estimate how many panels you would need to fully power your home. You can then compare it to the average resale value in your area.


The panels themselves are another factor when it comes to calculating value. Technology, lifespan, and warranty for various manufacturers of solar panels, inverters, racking, and other equipment may vary widely. It’s important to take your time and do your research when it comes to choosing the best solar technology products to make the most of your long-term investment.

Why is Solar Energy So Valuable?

Compared to other major home improvements and methods of sustainable living, installing solar panels is a relatively easy one-time project that has little impact on your living space. Most of the time and effort on your part is doing the research to find the right company and getting the paperwork through the proper channels. After that, the installation should only take about a matter of days and you will typically be set up with a warranty for the next 25 years. A 2015 survey showed 61% of respondents agreed that solar electrical or water heating systems were desirable in a home they’d be interested in purchasing.
Benefits of Having a Solar Powered Home Aside From Increasing Property Value


Choosing to run your home with renewable energy helps protect the planet and reduces your carbon footprint. By using the power of the sun to produce electricity you end up reducing the need for burning the fossil fuels that impact local air quality and emit harmful greenhouse gases.


After you save enough on your energy bill to recoup your initial investment, running on solar is essentially free electricity for the rest of the panels’ 25-year lifespan. In the last 15 years, utility rates have increased by about 2.9% every year. The initial upfront price could save you from the increasing utility prices for the next couple of decades. There are also federal, state, and local incentives, such as the federal tax credit that allows you to deduct 26% of the total cost, making them even more affordable for the average homeowner.


One of the biggest deterrents for many people, when it comes to using solar panels as their home’s main source of energy, is the question of reliability. Solar energy is actually an extremely reliable source of energy. When it comes to energy production the panels require sunlight so they will be far more productive during certain seasons, but as long as the sun is shining, their rate of failure remains very low. Research has shown that between 2000 and 2015 only .05% of solar panels failed. As we move into a new decade that rate will likely continue to decrease as modern solar panels continue to advance with technology. In addition, your home solar power system will most likely be connected to the local electrical grid, which means you will have ready access to backup power from the grid whenever the sun isn’t shining.


For many, a solar energy system makes sense as an environmentally conscious investment that pays for itself over time. But do solar panels add value to a home? In short, yes. Increasing the value of your home is only one of the many reasons to switch to solar. Installing solar panels is one of the safest and smartest long term investments you can make as a homeowner. If you are on the fence about jumpstarting your sustainable journey, these are all reasons to make the leap. If you are still unsure about your options we have representatives ready to answer questions and provide you with a free quote and estimate of your savings potential.

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How much does it cost to install solar panels in Vancouver, BC?

Average Cost of Solar Panels and Installation

Solar energy is on the rise and installing home solar panels is one of the easiest ways you can help reduce your environmental footprint and save on electricity in the long run. The average cost of a solar panel system varies, and multiple factors can influence pricing within each state. The cost of panels should continue to decrease as technology advances and the solar manufacturing industry achieves greater economies of scale. This article will discuss the average costs and factors associated with solar panels, whether solar panels are worth the investment, as well as tips for anyone looking to take the next steps and purchase solar panels.

Average Cost of Solar Panels

While a solar panel system will eventually reduce your overall electricity expenses, it does require a significant upfront cost. The average cost of solar panels varies by state so determining the cost of solar panels and calculating your returns can be complex. There are federal solar tax credits that deduct up to 26% of the total cost making them even more affordable for the average consumer. The following breakdown of state averages is based on the installation of a 5-kilowatt system (slightly below the average size of U.S. systems) and after tax credits are applied.

What Impacts the Cost of Solar Panels?

Many different factors affect the average price to install solar panels within your home or business. It’s important to keep in mind that when you pay for your installation you are paying for a lot more than just a product. The solar panels themselves only make up about 15% of your total cost. The rest is split between labor, design, permit fees, sales taxes, and additional supporting equipment such as the inverter, wiring, and mounting hardware.


The most obvious factor that affects the cost of solar panels is the size of the system you are interested in. The more efficient, higher quality equipment comes with benefits that may be well worth the added cost. Not all solar panels are created equal, and bigger is not always better. Better hardware and accessories can produce more electricity with the same amount of sunlight, and often includes a far more comprehensive warranty, too.


You will usually have to pay some additional fees in order to get your solar energy system connected to the grid. There is a significant amount of labor required when it comes to design and engineering, HOA approvals, site inspections, permit filings, and the physical installation.


The location of your home will affect the average cost of solar installation in a couple of ways. The best houses for solar panels have a south-facing roof. If you have a south-facing roof with a slope of approximately 30 degrees, solar panels will generate the more energy than on a neighbor who has a north-facing roof. However, if your house is three stories or has a multi-tiered roof or skylights, the additional time and effort to finish the wiring and installation may increase your total spend. You also need to take into consideration the amount of energy your home uses as that will directly impact how extensive of a system you need to install. If you need to replace shingles or entirely replace your roof before installing solar panels, that can put an unexpected dent in the budget as well.

How Long Until You Start Saving Money by Switching to Solar Panels?

Now that you know more about the approximate cost of solar panel installation, you may be wondering how long it will take for you to begin seeing a return on that investment. The short term may seem like a large expenditure, but over time the solar energy savings will more than pay for the system itself. It may take up to five to twelve years to break even, depending on your electricity price and whether you are putting solar on your business or home. The length of time it will take to see savings depends on many factors including your energy usage, the upfront price of installation, and the amount of energy the solar panel system creates. In most cases, solar panels will increase the value of your home. Many utilities will allow you to sell the extra power that your solar panels are producing.

Are Solar Panels Worth it?

The short answer, yes. Solar panels are worth it and arguably remain one of the best home improvement investments, despite the initial short-term expenses. The average cost of a solar panel installation has been consistently declining since 2010. Over the last 15 years, utility rates have increased an average of 2.9% every year. Solar panels are typically under warranty for an average of 25 years and will last even longer than that. An investment in solar today could save you thousands of dollars when considering increasing utility prices over the next couple of decades.

Tips for Solar Shoppers

The following tips are especially helpful for people looking to make the switch to solar energy. Your first step should be reaching out to friends, neighbors, and family. First-hand reviews can point you in the right direction and are a valuable source when it comes to customer service experiences, potential issues to avoid and pricing options. Like many other big purchases, you will get what you pay for and high quality is not always cheap.


Starting a solar panel system installation is a big undertaking. When shopping around take into consideration the typical cost of installing solar panels in your area, look for customer feedback and take your time checking several sources. You should make an effort to get at least three free quotes from vetted contractors in your area, but the more the better. Keep in mind, however, that not all solar panels are created equal and not all solar panel installers are either. Make sure you understand all the factors that go into the price before making a choice.


It is important to understand the type and brand of equipment that you are presented with from a solar installer. Not all solar technology is the same. The production performance, quality, durability, and warranty will all vary by manufacturer. That is true not only for the solar panels themselves, but also your inverter, racking, and monitoring equipment. Be sure to ask your installer for the specific information and associated warranty paperwork for each component of the system before you decide.


Remember, the average price of solar panels and installation will ultimately depend on several factors including your location, characteristics of your home, and the product technology you choose, as well as the actual installation process. Switching to solar will definitely save you money in the long term. In the short term, it will require an investment or a loan payment that in many cases will be similar to your existing electricity bill. Remember though that finding a lower upfront price is not always worth it if you end up sacrificing efficiency or inferior equipment just to reduce upfront costs, as your reliability, productivity, and payback period will suffer in the long run.