How much does it cost to install solar on my house? The cost to install a solar or Photovoltaic (PV) system on your house is somewhat variable. There are several factors that have to be considered when answering that question. Those considerations include whether or not the solar panels can be installed on your existing roof, or whether a ground mounted pedestal array may be better suited to your specific needs. As a general rule, you could expect to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.50/watt for a roof mounted system, or $3.25/watt for a ground mounted system, before applicable NYSERDA rebates and Federal and New York State Tax Credits. The total expense for a system is dependent on the size of the system being installed. Our systems are typically sized in increments of 2500 watts. An average roof usually accommodates between 5000 and 10,000 watts. Therefore, after incentives, a system can run in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $16,000.
Is my house a good candidate for a PV system? Your house is considered a good candidate for a PV system if your house has a southern facing exposure with little to no shading. The solar arrays have to be installed facing the southern sky. There has to be little to no shading from trees or other structures that would cast shadows on the solar array. For a roof mounted system, your current roof must be less than 10 years old and in good shape.
What is the payback period on my system? In most cases, the payback period is about 7 years. The payback period is defined as the amount of time it takes for the savings on your electrical utility bills offsets what you paid for the system. After 8 years, all savings from the system go directly to you, the homeowner.
If you are financing the system, you may see a savings from day one!
How big a system is required for my house? The size of your system is determined by a set of formulas that are derived from your electrical utility bill. The formula determines the optimum size of your system based on the most efficient and shortest payback period. Once we have established the most cost efficient sized system, the next set of factors that we take into account is the amount of available space that is available at the site for the solar modules, as well as what your budget would allow.
What are the advantages/disadvantages to a roof mounted array vs a ground mounted solar array? The primary advantage to the roof mounted PV array is that it is generally less expensive to install, therefore resulting in a quicker payback period. There are 2 primary disadvantages of the roof mounted array. The first is that it mounts on top of your existing roofing system. Your roof has to be less than 10 years old and in good condition for us to consider installing a roof mounted array. Sooner or later the roof will have to be replaced due to normal wear, and the solar array would then have to be disassembled and reassembled during the re-roofing process. The second issue is that the angle and direction of your existing roof is fixed. It determines the angle to the sun that the solar array will have. It may not allow for the optimum utilization of the solar modules therefore resulting in less production and a slightly longer payback period.
The primary advantages to the ground mounted array is that the frame is permanently installed at a chosen location in your yard, and the array can be aimed and angled for optimum solar module utilization. The primary disadvantage to the ground mounted array is cost. Ground mounted arrays are more expensive to install than roof mounted arrays, and therefore have slightly longer payback periods.
Whose solar panels and equipment do you use? Solar panel technologies are constantly improving and changing. We monitor the latest and most cost-effective technologies and offer the best solutions to our customers. All the products we use are of the best quality, and are warranted by their manufacturer. Our racking systems are manufactured by Iron Ridge, Uni-rack and PV Racking, and are manufactured in the United States.
What licenses or certifications does your company have to perform this type of work? Because our parent company (John Mills Electric, Inc.) is an electrical contractor, our installers are licensed electricians. They hold electrical licenses in the Cities of Rochester, Ithaca, Johnson City, Endicott & Binghamton, New York. Twin Tiers Solar Project Managers are NABCEP certified for PV installations. NABCEP is the industry leader in PV certifications and a requirement to be a NYSERDA business partner.
If I am still interested, what's the next step? We would need to gather some basic information from you so that we could proceed with putting together a complete proposal package. The basic information would include such things as your name, address, telephone number & the age and condition of your existing roof. Additionally, we would need some information from your electricity utility bill. Once we have this information, we develop the proposal and when completed, set up a face to face meeting at your house. At that time, we would conduct a site survey to gather the remaining information that is required by NYSERDA to qualify for their incentives.
Is there financing for PV systems available? If the homeowner needs help financing their PV system, we can assist them through the NYSERDA sponsored Green Jobs-Green New York Financing Program. Plus, financing is available through other partners as well for well-qualified residential customers.
Do I have to upgrade or modify my existing electrical system? In most cases the answer is no. Provided that the existing electrical service is rated for 100 amps or greater and has no obvious code deficiencies, the existing service can usually remain intact.
Will my solar panels provide me with power when the utility company suffers an outage? The answer to this question is an unqualified no. Your PV system is designed to shut down upon loss of utility power. This prevents a back-feed onto the utility company’s lines which could result in an electrocution for utility company workers trying to restore power.
What should I do when my solar panels get covered in snow? Believe it or not, the best and easiest way to get snow off a rooftop solar array is to do nothing. Zip. Zero. In the words of Tony Soprano, forget about it.
There are several reasons for this method. First, it works! The winter sun does a great job of melting the snow off of the solar panels. It may take a day or two after the storm, but roofs typically have enough of a slope to let the warm sun and gravity do the trick.