FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS…
How much does a basic photovoltaic solar power cost?
Definitely the most common question and the true answer is it depends on your consumption and your site... As a baseline however let's assume that you have a medium size home with a roof that has a good but not perfect southern exposure, your annual consumption is a bit over 6,000 AC kWh per year, and your bill averages around $110 per month. You would need a 5,000 watt DC solar array installed on your roof to fully meet your annual 6000 AC kilowatt hour consumption. The gross installed cost of the system baring complications would be a little over $13,000, but after the 30% Federal tax credit and the current $1000 NH PUC rebate are applied your final net cost would be just over $8,000! If you divide that net cost by what you are currently paying in utility bills, your payback period is just about 8 years ...and from that point forward your power will be coming to you for the next 32+ years entirely FREE!
How long will a PV solar power system last?
The fair assumption would be in excess of 40+ years. Most solar panels (modules) are warrantied for 25 years, and the inverters (the other major component) at least 12 years.
How much maintenance will my solar power system require?
The inverters that convert the DC power coming from the solar panels on your roof or in your yard to the AC current you utilize in your home or business generally have a 12 year warranty, so it would probably be fair to assume that you may need to replace an inverter at some point during the life of your system. It is difficult to say what the exact cost might be 20 years down the road, but it may be even less than it would cost today ...recall what computers, smart phones and big screen TVs cost just a few years ago? The current replacement cost for a SolarEdge string inverter sized for a 5 kw system is around $1,500. Micro-inverters are individually less expensive to replace, but one is required for each solar module (panel) and accessing them can be more difficult. It is fair to say that compared to the huge savings that a solar power system will give you over it's forty year life, the maintenance costs will be very minimal.
How do I clean snow off my solar panels?
The modules seldom require snow removal because they are dark colored, usually at a fairly steep angle, smooth surfaced, and face south. Snow will slide right off as soon as the sun hits the modules.
Could a solar system cause my roof to leak?
Well yes it could, but with the new and specific mounting technologies it is extremely unlikely. Your New Hampshire Solar consultant will examine your roof during the initial consultation, and it must be in good shape before a solar system can be installed. If your roof is shingled and over ten years old we may advise you to have it re-shingled before installing a solar system.There are a side bonuses to this however; the new roofing installed under the solar panels may also be subject for the 30% tax credit, and once the solar panels are installed over it the shingles, they are shaded from the drying effects of the sun and won't age.
The price of solar has dropped drastically, why would I install now rather than waiting for the prices to drop some more?
It is true that the pricing of solar PV systems has plummeted during the last decade, but in the last few years the curve has pretty much flattened out. There will still be further price reductions as new developments come along but the drops will be in much smaller increments. The main reason to install now is to take advantage of the incentive and net metering programs currently in place. The Federal government currently allows you a 30% tax credit figured from the gross cost of your system, but that will be dropping to 26% at the end of 2019, and to 22% at the end of 2021. The State of NH PUC currently offers a residential rebate of 20 cents per DC watt, capped at $1000. Thus for a 5000 watt solar system you would receive a rebate check for $1000. This program is limited to the funds on hand and could be suspended at any time, so if you are "thinking" about going solar, do it now! Lastly, there is the RECs program and at this time it produces a small income for solar system owners. We prefer to consider it "found" money and don't factor it into our proposals because the RECs program is an auction based income and subject to the market availability of RECs for the utilities to purchase. Right now the supply is high and demand low and the REC market reflects this. Still this source of "found" money is very real and can amount to hundreds of dollars per year.
Finally if you had installed a solar system 6 or 7 years ago, it would be by today's standards, a dinosaur ...but it's likely that it would have already paid for itself in utility savings ..and still be harvesting all of your power from the sun for free ..and still be fully warrantied! There is never a bad time to install solar power, and with every day you wait, you spend more money on the expense of a utility bill rather than buying the asset of your solar array. Why "rent" your electricity when for the same outlay in just a few short years you can own it!
I may sell my house and move in 4 or 5 years, why would I invest in a PV solar system?
A solar electric power system should add value to your home roughly equal to the gross cost you will pay for it. It will also definitely add to the marketability. But the main reason to definitely add a solar system now to a home that you plan on leaving in a few years is to capture the incentives, you will be able to pocket both the 30% Federal tax credit and any available rebates directly.
The home is now an empty nest and I’m planning on retiring in a few years, would would I want to invest in a solar PV system now?
This one is the proverbial no-brainer, you're still working and can probably take advantage of the 30% tax credit against your income right now. But even more convincingly, in roughly 6-7 years the system will have justified it's cost through the utility bill savings and from that point forward your electricity is going to be truly free. What could be a better retirement gift to yourself than to eliminate a major and constantly growing life long monthly expense?
What is a photovoltaic solar system going to do to my insurance? and my real estate taxes?
To truly answer the question about insurance you would have to call your insurance company, but you are adding asset value to your home so it is probably safe to assume that there will be a small increase in your home insurance cost..
Taxes are also a variable due both to how the individual towns evaluate PV solar, and whether or not your town has chosen to offer Renewable Energy Tax Credit. To find out about this go here; https://www.nh.gov/oep/energy/saving-energy/documents/dra-solar-exemption-report.pdf RETE towns offer you a true bonus, for the asset value of your solar array will be shown on your tax card, but you will be exempted from paying taxes on part, or maybe even all of it.
If I have a PV solar system and the utility power goes out during a storm, will I still have electricity?
The short answer is no. Most solar PV arrays need to sense grid power to energize them and will shut down instantly if there is an interruption. This is done to ensure the safety of the linesmen as they attempt to restore the grid, and it is a legal requirement.
There is a revolutionary change in solar PV industry occurring right now however that is going to a major impact, home energy storage (batteries). By choosing the proper hybrid inverter and equipping your solar system with a battery, you will have a solar system that will power your crucial loads, even if the power is out for days. More details on this can be found in the NHEC customer page.
The cost for the batteries is quite high right now, but is beginning to plummet as there are further developments and ever increasing competition. By installing the proper inverter now you will have the option of adding storage in a few years when the batteries are more competitively priced
Does solar pv make sense for my business?
Absolutely! Having your own source of energy is even more beneficial to a business than a homeowner for multiple reasons. First, the same incentives usually apply to lower the cost and shorten the payback period, commercial ventures have an additional wonderful incentive... depreciation. When accellerated depreciation is applied against the cost of installing a solar system the payback period shortens dramatically, often to less than five years. There is also a sizable benefit to be had by adding energy storage (batteries) to a PV system and using the stored power for "Peak Shaving". The short burst of stored power will knock down the month's momentary peak consumption number and can have a truly dramatic effect on the overall earned utility rate. You should check with your utility company to see how the rate is set for your business, peak shaving may be for you!
Again, bear in mind that the cost to buy the asset to produce your own electricity is just about the same as you are spending as an expense to purchase power from the grid. Think of the benefit to your bottom line if you no longer had to buy your power
Can you install a solar system in winter?
Sure ...as long as it is roof mounted. We simply show up at your home a or business a day or two ahead of the scheduled install and shovel the roof off. Since NH Solar only installs panels on your south facing roof, a day or two of drying sun will do the rest. It's a little more work for us, but easily and gladly accomplished. Ground mounted installs are however not possible until after the Spring thaw
Why “rent” your electricity when for the same outlay you can own it!