Is Solar Right for Me?
Making the decision to purchase a Solar PV System can be a difficult one and that what we are here for. Solar is a new technology and many aspects of it can be very confusing. We will provide you with the resources necessary to make an informed decision on what is right for you. In most cases, if you are serious about installing a system, we will make arrangements with you for a no cost home visit, in person, one on one. We want to answer all your questions so that you feel comfortable in making your decision. Here are some items to consider.
• What size Solar PV System do I need?
You will need to assess your energy usage on a month to month basis. You can call LIPA Customer Service and ask for a 18 month energy Usage printout. They can mail it to you or fax it if necessary. Determine what your average monthly electric usage is in KW and dollars. Remember LIPA will not rebate a system larger than 105% of your average monthly usage. However if you are considering expansion of your home or adding appliances like Central Air Conditioning in the future you can take that into account also.
• How Much Solar Can I fit on my roof?
The best way is to measure your roof area that you are thinking of putting solar on. We can help you with that when we do our home visit but as general rule, you need 110 sq feet of roof space for each 1kw of solar. You need to also take into consideration any skylights, pipes, and vents. We usually can’t place the Solar Panels over these.
• What direction is best for my Solar system to face?
Simply put South is the best and North is the worst but that does not rule out East and West or even Southwest or Southeast. They all work just not as well as due South. You can determine your direction with simple compass if you do not know.
• What about shading from trees, Chimneys, and other parts of my house?
Shading is bad for Solar. Any shading from trees, chimneys, parts of your house or neighbors house or trees just simply won’t work. Lets face it, you are spending a lot of money for your system; why would you want to put it in an area where it will not work and we certainly don’t want to sell you a system that doesn’t work. We get a lot of questions concerning the tree shading when they lose their leaves. Well this is fine and dandy but what about the branches, they still cast shadows don’t they? So stay away from shading. As a rule of thumb, LIPA will not rebate a system that has more than 20% loss from shading. We can determine that if you think your roof has sun most of the day but just not after 3:00pm. Using a device called the Pathfinder we can find out exactly how much sun will fall on the roof for the entire year.
• Will my Electric Service handle connection to my Solar PV System?
If your electric service is less than 150 amps probably no. We have to determine if your electric service is capable of handling the back fed electric from the Solar PV. If your electric panel has limited spaces for additional breakers most likely you will need to do an upgrade. We will assess that for you at our home visit.
• Will my roof be able to handle a Solar PV System?
Simple, How old is your roof shingles? and how old is your home? If your shingles are more than 10 years old you will have to re-shingle (remove old and install new). You don’t want to put solar on your roof just to have to take it down a couple of years later because you have a leak. Also if you have more than one course of shingles more than likely you will have to re-shingle because the weight will be to much for the beams to handle. As a rule of thumb if your rafters are 2×6 or larger spaced no more than 16-24 inches your good to go. An engineer can help with this.
• Will my System work During a power failure?
No it will not. The reason why is because in agreement with LIPA to back feed (Net Meter or sell) power to the grid you have to go with their rules. If your system works during a power failure it can back feed 240 volts to the pole which can be stepped up by a transformer to 15,000 volts. So the lineman working on the wires down the street runs the risk of getting electrocuted. If you are in an area that consistently has power failures or no power at all, consider a battery backup system which costs a lot more. 90% of the Solar PV homes on LI are grid connected non battery back up systems.
• Will it cost me more in Property Taxes?
No New York State has a law that allows local towns and counties from taxing solar for 15 years called the Real Property Tax exemption. Recently it just expired and was renewed again. If they do we’ll let every media source in the state know that they are anti environment. That will end that. So not to worry.