Q & A

With the 30% federal renewable energy tax credit and Massachusetts’ own generous incentives, solar is a hot topic in the Bay State these days. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Does Solar Work in New England?

New England’s climate can be tough at times, but there is plenty of sunlight to support solar energy. In fact, cooler Northeast temperatures make solar electric cells work more efficiently. Much more important than sunlight intensity are programs to make solar cost effective, which is why cool and cloudy Germany is actually the global leader in solar generated electricity.

Would a solar system increase the value of my home?

Every home is different, but a study published by the Appraisal Institute estimates that for every utility-bill dollar saved due to an energy improvement, you gain $20 in property value. So a solar system that saves $1,000 per year in utility costs can increase your home’s value by $20,000. Also, the U.S. Department of Energy recently found that even in soft housing markets, a home with solar will sell in half the time as one without.

Are solar panels fragile?

Solar Electric systems are extremely rugged. They have no moving parts to wear out over time. Many solar installations have been producing energy for over thirty years, and today almost all solar panels come with a 25 year warranty. Today’s panels are designed to withstand lightning strikes, hail storms, and 100+ mile-an-hour wind.

What size solar system do I need?

The size of your solar electric system depends on how much electricity you use. Before a solar system is designed it the solar installer starts by looking at your utility bills to determine your usage. From there we assess the specifics of your site, including building orientation and roof shading to see how much energy you could generate. We then offer our customers a detailed proposal specific to their situation.

Does my roof need to face south?

The ideal roof slopes towards the south, since southern exposure will maximize the efficiency of your panels. But even if your roof is more east or west facing, you can still get strong results. And if you have a flat roof we can orient your panels to maximize efficiency.

What pay back can I expect if my roof is suitable?

Every array is different, but with this dramatically discounted pricing, most folks in Newburyport project out to a 3 to 6 year pay back.  This for an investment in solar panels that have a 25 year performance warranty.

What is average home consumption of electricity per year?

While there is no “true” average as every family and home will manage their energy differently, the MA residential statewide average is around 7200 kWh per year.

On average do people still have to pay for electricity after solar installation?

Depends on the size of the array and the home’s consumption.  But folks who do go solar reduce their consumption by 20-25%, as people tend to become more aware of their energy usage after installation.  So a system that generates 75% of your current consumption may well make 100% of your consumption after installation.

Does the federal tax credit apply to second homes?

No the home must be your main or primary residence to receive the federal tax credit.  However the rebate and SREC incentives do apply, so many folks go solar on their second homes.

Can panels be constructed around skylights?

Yes, we construct arrays in many different configurations Designing around skylights and other obstacles is something we do on a regular basis.

How much maintenance is required with solar panels?

There is no maintenance required. Snow and pollen are no problem; just let nature and rain do the cleaning work for you.

Is the DC electricity generated dangerous?

All electricity is inherently dangerous.  But solar panels are constructed with safety lock connectors and are as safe as any other electrical wiring.

What about wind-loading and other engineering aspects?

All array designs are analyzed and stamped by a professional 3rd party structural engineer. All wind and weight load factors are accounted for in the design in order to be approved.

How much value does a solar PV system add to a home or business?

Impossible to say with certainty due to limited data.  But, one study found that for every dollar saved annually on energy bills, a home’s value goes up by $20 (so a solar system that saves $1000/year increases home value by $20,000). Another study found that a home with solar power sells in half the time as the same one without.

Where does the inverter go?

Typically the basement near the existing panel is where the inverter will reside. But it can go in other places, depending on building code. In the case of micro-inverters there are multiple very small inverters on the roof underneath each panel.

Are the panels recyclable?

Yes they are composed primarily of glass and aluminum.

If power grid goes down what happens to my power and what about automatic standby generators?

If the grid goes down then your solar system will shut off as well as mandated for the safety of electrical workers. We can wire your system with a backup generator in mind so that it can co-exist with solar.

 

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