Thinking about going solar? Doing so can save you money and improve your carbon footprint. Read on for advice from pros.
Solar panels convert sunlight to DC (direct current) power, which is then converted into AC (alternating current) power for home use by microinverters installed beneath the panels. Even on cloudy days, you’ll still have power, assures Sunrise Solar in Briarcliff Manor—whatever you can’t produce from your home panels, you’ll get from a utility grid. If your home produces more energy than needed, your electric meter will “spin backwards,” which becomes a credit on your utility bill. According to Energy Sage, a national solar marketplace funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the 20-year average savings in New York is over $25,000.
No, according to Bianca Cauchi, co-founder of SunPower by New York State Solar Farm in Modena. “There are many different panel manufacturers; you need to ensure the panel you are looking at has a great warranty (for example SunPower’s is 25 years).” This goes for your solar installer, too. Cauchi recommends looking at Google reviews, as well as their ranking on the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) website.
It depends on the size of your home and your energy needs. If, for instance, you’re considering purchasing an electric car in addition to solar panels, let your installer know. They will help you size your system based on your needs, Cauchi advises.
According to Sunrise Solar, the part of your roof where the panels will be placed should be facing between southeast and southwest for prime energy generation. You’ll also want to trim any trees that shade your roof and make any needed repairs before installation—since the panels can last more than 25 years, you want to be sure to have a solid base.
“The price varies widely because every system is custom to each home,” says Cauchi. Energy Sage estimates the average price of a 6-kilowatt system in New York to be around $13,000. But as for paying the panels off, there are quite a few sources to give you a hand: A 26 percent federal investment tax credit, a 25 percent state tax credit that’s capped at $5,000, and an NYSERDA cash grant that covers 50 cents per watt. The manufacturer can also help you with financing; one option involves paying what you’re saving on your utility bill toward the panel installation. (Bonus: A study done by Zillow estimates that solar can increase your home’s value by over 4 percent.)