Solarize Buffalo Niagara has collected some basic information about solar technology and financing options to help you afford solar for your home or business. Contact us directly if your specific questions are not answered below.
What is Solarize?
Solarize is a short term (approximately 6-9 months, including planning and outreach), local effort that brings together groups of potential solar customers through widespread outreach and education. This model helps customers choose a solar installation company that is offering competitive, transparent pricing. Learn how Solarize works.
What are watts, kilowatts, and kilowatt hours?
The size of a solar electric system is often described in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). One kW = 1,000 W. Watts are a unit of power, just like the horsepower of an engine. They express the maximum possible output of energy the system can produce at any point in time. When sunlight strikes solar electric panels, they produce electricity that is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Kilowatt hours are the units of energy you buy from your utility and use in your home to run your appliances, lighting and electronics.
How do I know if my home or business is suitable for solar?
A south-facing roof is the most ideal location for a solar electric system. Shading can cause a decrease in your system’s ability to function at its maximum capacity. To avoid this, ensure trees and other obstructions, current and future, do not compromise your system. When you schedule a free solar evaluation with a Solarize installer, they will assess your home or business and provide guidance on how solar can work for you.
Will the system produce electricity on cloudy days?
Yes, just not as much. Under an overcast sky, panels will generate less electricity than they produce on a clear, sunny day.
Will my system produce power if there is a blackout?
Without a battery backup, grid-tied solar electric systems won’t operate when the power goes out. You can add a battery backup or a solar powered generator to your system to keep the lights on during a blackout, typically these types of backup systems can range from $5,000- $15,000.
What sort of maintenance is required?
Solar electric systems require very little maintenance. Rain showers will generally take care of the pollen and dust that fall on your solar panels. You may have to trim trees and maintain branches to protect your system from falling limbs, minimize shading and maximize electric production. It is important to note that snow will melt off of a tilted system, except when there is an extremely heavy snow or prolonged freezing temperatures. Snow removal is not necessary or recommended unless proper precautions and tools are used to avoid personal injury or damage to the panels.
How much will I save by installing a solar electric system?
Your solar savings depend on the size of the system you choose, your annual electrical usage, electricity rates and any financing option that you choose. To start, ask your eligible solar contractor how much electricity your new system is expected to produce on an annual basis and then compare that to how much electricity your household uses to get an idea of how much you could save; it could be as much as 100% of your usage!
Will I still receive a monthly electric bill after installing a solar electric system?
Yes. You will receive a monthly bill from your utility company as you always have, but the amount owed will differ depending on your monthly electrical usage. Depending on how your system is sized, you may accrue credits in the more productive summer months, which can be carried over and used in the less productive winter months. This is called “net-metering” and the “Net Metering” benefit will no longer be available for solar arrays interconnected after December 31, 2019.
Are state incentives available for my system?
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provide incentives to help New York go solar. The amount of incentive provided is based on the size of your system, orientation, shading and other factors, but for an average solar installation, the incentive will be 25% of your system’s total installed cost up to $5,000. Additionally, New York State offers the Mega Watt Block Incentive which automatically reduces the up-front cost of a solar array. The current incentive (as of 5/1/2019) is $0.35 per watt of solar meaning for every 1,000 watts (1 kilowatt) the end user saves $350. For a 10 kW system the Megawatt Incentive would equate to a $3,500 up front savings. Visit NYSERDA’s Megawatt Block Incentive dashboard to learn more.
Are federal incentives available for my system?
The federal government provides an investment tax credit equal to 30% of your system’s total installed cost, net of state incentives. This can be claimed on your tax return. This tax credit is set to expire in 2023. The ITC is a 30 percent tax credit for solar systems on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties. Federal incentives will begin to decrease in 2020.
Are there financing options available?
Yes. New York State offers financing through NYSERDA that may even allow you to pay for your installation through utility bill and pay for itself with your savings. Your solar installer may also have financing options available for you. Check out NYSERDA’s financing options by clicking here.
How does solar impact my property values?
Studies have shown that homes with solar energy systems sell for more than homes without them. However, your property value will only increase if you own, rather than lease, your solar panel system. In most parts of the country, going solar will actually increase your property value more than a kitchen renovation.
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