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How Do Solar Panels Work? A Step by Step Guide

How Do Solar Panels Work? A Step by Step Guide

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How Do Solar Panels Work: From Sun to Electricity

When solar energy was first introduced to the market, it was quite a costly purchase. However, in recent years, new technologies and manufacturing efficiencies have made this once luxury an affordable upgrade. As you may be considering making the switch to solar panels for your commercial building, let’s answer the most vital question first—how do solar panels work?

STEP 1: The Panels Absorb Sunlight

Each solar panel is constructed with four major components: solar cells, a metal frame, a glass casing, and wiring. The panels are always grouped, typically on rooftops but sometimes in large outdoor spaces, to ensure maximum effect. During daylight hours, photovoltaic cells absorb sunlight as DC electricity, or direct current electricity.

To be more specific, within each solar panel are one negative and one positive silicon cell layer that, together, form an electric field. When the sun’s energy hits a photovoltaic cell, electrons become loose, enter the electric field, and become an electric current.

STEP 2: The Panels Convert the Electric Current

If your commercial building functions with DC electricity, then you’ll want to skip this step. However, some buildings are powered on AC electricity, or alternating current. If this is your case, you’ll want to keep reading.

Converting DC electricity to AC isn’t as complicated as it sounds. An inverter, either individually installed on the panels or one-for-all, is a handy tool that requires no additional configuration after installation.

STEP 3: The Energy Powers Your Building

Now that the solar energy is configured to the needed electric current, your building can light up! The current runs through the electrical panel and distributes it to offer power. At this point, it functions the same way it would if you were connected to your electric utility company’s power.

STEP 4: Measure Surpluses and Shortages

While it may seem like solar energy is a limited power source, there are practices in place to ensure you always have enough resources. Here’s how net metering works.

On days when more solar energy is collected than what is needed to operate your building, a surplus is created and sent to your local electrical grid. Conversely, cloudy days or throughout the night will generate less solar energy, and your building will tap into that electrical grid for power. Your net meter will measure electric currents in both directions.

The Benefits of Solar Energy For Your Commercial Building

Now that you know how solar panels function, let’s review why they are beneficial for your commercial building. Solar panels can:

  • Lower your operating costs
  • Give you a return on investment
  • Reduce your energy consumption
  • Enhance customer satisfaction
  • Provide a reliable energy source

To further discuss the perks of solar energy, give PB Roofing a call! We’re here to talk you through every question and concern you may have. Our years of experience with solar installation ensures we are always up to date on the latest practices and technology and prepped with the knowledge to provide your commercial building with just the right equipment. Contact us today!

Should You Repair or Replace Your Commercial Roof?

Should You Repair or Replace Your Commercial Roof?

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Building owners can get some keen insight by answering these 5 questions

As much as we would all love for things to stay in perfect condition forever, we know it just isn’t feasible. Pretty much everything wears out or stops working over time, and when that happens, there’s a big decision to be made: Can it be fixed, or does it need to be replaced? When we’re talking about a small item — like a lamp, for example — the choice is relatively easy. But when it’s something much larger and much more expensive, that’s when making a decision can get tricky.

If you’re a commercial property owner, you probably know this dilemma firsthand. There always seems to be something in a building that needs work, and the repair or replace question can come up a lot. When the roof is involved, this choice shouldn’t be made lightly.

If your roof has experienced some damage or there’s a leak or other issues, here are five questions that will help you decide the best course of action to take:

How bad is the damage?

It’s always possible for a roof to get damaged during a storm, and if a branch fell on it or high winds or intense rain caused harm, it could be severe. That is why it’s important to have the entire roof examined as soon as possible to assess the extent of the damage. If only a small portion of the roof is affected, a repair is probably the best bet. But if 25% of the roof or more is in bad shape, it is probably more cost-effective to have the entire thing replaced.

What problems are you experiencing?

Sometimes roof damage is obvious — like that tree branch sitting on top of it, for example — but in other cases, it is much more subtle. A roof may look fine, but if water is leaking inside, clearly something is wrong. Fortunately, when it comes to leaks, they can usually be repaired. The problem is often related to poor installation with vents, pipes, and other penetrations, and repairing the flashing will solve it. If you’ve noticed a big spike in your energy bills, it may be an insulation issue, which is typically a pretty quick fix.

How old is your roof?

Age plays an important role in determining whether it’s better to repair a roof or replace it. If it is relatively young, the roof was most likely built with some of the most advanced materials and should still be in very good condition. Even if there’s some surface damage, the underlying components may be in good shape. However, if a roof is old — 20 years or older — the damage it is probably near the end of its life, so paying for repairs doesn’t make a ton of sense.

What’s happening right now in your building?

If your building houses a business that is busier during certain times of the year — like a warehouse that will be hectic during the holidays, for instance — a full-fledged replacement may not be possible during the latter parts of the year. If this is the case, making basic repairs in order to help keep things running is probably the best bet, and then a replacement can be scheduled when things cool down.

Are you in for the long haul?

A new roof is obviously costly, but if you plan to own your building for the foreseeable future, it could be the best choice for protecting your investment. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about selling soon, putting up the money for a new roof may not be the most financially sound thing to do. Instead, the better decision might be to fix any problems and make sure the roof is up to code and will pass an inspection. Starting a preventative maintenance plan could also be a wise idea to keep your roof in good condition until you sell.

Other options

In addition to repairs or a replacement, there are a couple of other ways you may be able to address the issue: coating or a re-cover.

Coating

A roof coating is a fluid that is applied over the membrane. Because of its elasticity, the coating can stretch and go back to its original shape without any damage. This is generally a great way to add protection to a roof and extend its life.

Re-cover

When more than just some standard repairs are needed, you may still be able to avoid a complete replacement, especially if the insulation has remained in good condition. With a re-cover, a new system is placed over the old one. While it’s still a big project, it won’t cost you as much as an entirely new roof.

If you’re not sure whether you need a repair or a replacement for your roof, Peck Brothers Roofing can help you figure it out. Whatever your commercial roof needs, we can supply it. To have one of our contractors come out to your property, call us at 201-791-3235 or just fill out our online contact form.

8 Hidden Costs of Commercial Roofing Projects

8 Hidden Costs of Commercial Roofing Projects

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When planning the budget for your new roof, be sure to account for these expenses.

If you own a commercial building, you know that upkeep and maintenance can be very costly. (Or, if you’re a new owner, you soon will.) One of the biggest expenses you will have to deal with involves your roof. While repairs may not put too much of a dent in your wallet, if a brand-new roof is needed, that could be a different story. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what to expect when it comes to costs. In addition to the materials and labor, here are some other factors that could increase the expense:

Building height

Two commercial buildings may have exactly the same size roof, but if their heights are not the same, the final price could be significantly different. With a one- or two-story building, workers should be able to get themselves and materials onto the roof using ladders. However, taller structures will probably require cranes and possibly other pieces of large equipment.

Penetrations

Many commercial buildings have numerous important components that penetrate the roof, such as HVAC systems, pipes, and vents, and maybe even satellite dishes. Working around all those items can often be tricky, not to mention time-consuming. Plus, if these things must be taken out, that adds to the duration of the project as well as the bill.

Repairs or replacements

Before a new roof can go on, the old roof has to come off. Once this happens, you just never know what you may encounter underneath, especially with older buildings or ones that have had a lack of maintenance. There could be moisture, rot, or other issues that will have to be addressed. Areas that commonly need to be repaired or replaced include the metal or wooden deck and the roof drains.

Building codes

Even if everything looks fine when the old roof is torn off, work may still be needed before the new one can go up if the old structure is not up to code. Building codes change over the years, and it is very possible that an older structure will need some upgrades before the project can proceed.

Insulation

In order to keep a building at a comfortable temperature, insulation is necessary. It’s also vital for saving energy, which is good for the environment and your bottom line. Clearly, the bigger the building, the bigger the roof, and the more insulation you will need. However, it is very important to use the right amount. Too much insulation and you’re wasting money. Too little and it will increase power bills, which will also cost you money.

Upgrades

A roof isn’t just a covering; it generally contains a lot of components that play a role in the overall function of a building. These could include things related to the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, such as lighting, pipes, and vents. If these elements are old or in disrepair, they should be fixed or upgraded before they will be merged with newer roofing materials.

Warranties

When you’re buying a roof for a commercial building, chances are good that it will come with some sort of warranty. Generally, manufacturers offer basic warranties on materials, but it is important to read the fine print to know exactly what you’re getting. Some warranties require building owners to pay to have the roof inspected every year by a licensed contractor.

Cheap services

Wait, why would cheap roofing services increase the cost of a roofing project? Be it a taco or a new roof, it’s always good to remember that you get what you pay for. Extremely low-cost services may seem great, but it probably won’t be too long before you’re actually paying for them in the form of leaks or other failures.

A roof installation requires expertise and precision. If it is not installed properly and with great care and attention, the entire building — as well as the people and equipment inside — could be in danger.

A new commercial roof is a major financial investment, which is why experienced contractors should handle the installation. At Peck Brothers, we only work on commercial buildings, so we know exactly what is needed for any type of roofing project. In addition to expert installation, we also offer preventative maintenance, which will extend its lifespan. To discuss your roof project and the costs involved, call us at 201-791-3235 or just fill out our online contact form.

Ignore these eight risks of a leaky roof at your own peril

Ignore these eight risks of a leaky roof at your own peril

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How many times have you spotted some sort of minor issue and decided to look the other way or perhaps just put it on the to-deal-with-later pile? It’s something we all do, even when we know that the problem isn’t going to get any better if left alone. And while many small repairs actually can be dealt with at a future date, sometimes they need to be addressed right away. A leak in a commercial roof is one small repair that can get very expensive if not fixed right away.

Building owners and managers have a lot of responsibilities. In addition to maintaining a property, they must ensure the safety of occupants and things like products, equipment, and machinery. A leak — even if it just appears to be a small one — puts everyone and everything in jeopardy because leaks inevitably get bigger, and this can result in numerous hazards.

Here are the eight biggest risks of letting a roof leak go untreated.

Structural damage

Even if water isn’t dripping onto the floor below, that doesn’t mean it is not causing problems. In fact, the water you can’t see is even more dangerous because it could be seeping into the underlying structure of the roof, walls, and ceilings. The longer wood and drywall are exposed to water, the greater the chance they will start rotting and deteriorating. And if ceiling tiles start falling, everything and everyone underneath them will be in harm’s way.

Mold

When water penetrates a roof and accumulates, this often leads to the growth of mold that can very quickly spread throughout a building and even end up in carpets or furniture. In addition to being expensive to remove, mold — even if it’s not the toxic black mold variety — can cause health problems, including coughs, nasal congestion, and upper respiratory infections.

Insects

Bugs love moisture, and if they find it in a warm place, that is the icing on the cake for them. If water has been penetrating a roof for a while, it is like putting the welcome mat out for cockroaches, silverfish, earwigs, and more. And if there is decaying wood, that can attract carpenter ants. Like mold, any infestation will cost a pretty penny to get rid of.

Wet insulation

The point of insulation is to improve energy efficiency. It is there to retain the heat in cold months and cool air in warm months, which is good for the planet and saves money. But when insulation gets wet, it is not able to do its job properly. This will result in increased energy usage, which means higher utility bills.

Electrical short or fire

Another way a roof leak puts a building at risk is by threatening its electrical system. And while a fuse box or other system controls might be in the basement or on a lower level, pretty much every wall and ceiling within a commercial building contains some sort of wiring. Water can cause a short or even a fire.

Damaged equipment

If water were to leak into an office building and harm a copy machine, for example, that may cause your tenants to be unhappy until it’s repaired or replaced, but probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, what if computer equipment was damaged? Or some machinery that was integral to production? This could cause an entire business to grind to a halt, and guess who’s getting the blame (and maybe even a summons)? The property manager.

Slips or falls

In addition to being liable for inoperable equipment, a property manager or building owner can also get into serious trouble if someone were to get injured due to negligence. Wet floors can easily lead to a slip or fall that causes an injury. And even something minor can result in very high medical bills.

A roof that’s old before its time

Perhaps the worst (or at least the most expensive) thing about a leak is that it can vastly shorten the age of a roof. Brand-new commercial roofs are costly, which is why it makes sense to keep them in great shape for as long as possible. Therefore, leaks need to be repaired immediately. But, because leaks aren’t always obvious, it is important that a roof gets preventative maintenance. With regular inspections from experts, small issues can be spotted and dealt with before they turn into large problems.

Now that we’re in the rainy season, it is crucial to be extra vigilant about your roof and the possibility of a leak. If you’ve noticed any problems or just want to make sure your building will have the protection it needs, get in touch with Peck Brothers. You can call us at 201-791-3235 or just send a message through our online contact form.

PB Roofing Co.