New England’s climate can be tough at times, but there is plenty of sunlight to support solar energy. In fact, cooler Northeast temperatures make solar electric cells work more efficiently. Much more important than sunlight intensity are programs to make solar cost effective, which is why cool and cloudy Germany is actually the global leader in solar generated electricity.
Solar panels will not produce when covered in snow. However they have a tempered glass surface and dark color, so snow is quick to melt off them once the sun returns. This means that over the course of a year snow cover has an extremely small effect on overall production.
Every home is different, but a recent study published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that a solar PV system adds approximately $3 per watt to your home value. This means that a common 20 panel, 6000 watt (6 kW) residential system - costing $25,000 before tax credits - adds approximately $18,000 in home value. When combined with the 30% federal and $1000 Massachusetts state tax credits, this system adds more value to the home than its initial net investment cost. Also, the U.S. Department of Energy recently found that even in soft housing markets, a home with solar will sell in half the time as one without.
Solar Electric systems are extremely rugged. They have no moving parts to wear out over time. Many solar installations have been producing energy for over thirty years, and today almost all solar panels come with a 25 year warranty. Today’s panels are designed to withstand hail storms and 100+ mile-an-hour wind.
The size of your solar electric system depends on how much electricity you use. When SunBug designs an array, we start by looking at your utility bills to determine your usage. From there we assess the specifics of your site, including building orientation and roof shading to see how much energy you could generate. We then offer a detailed proposal – usually with two or three optimal system sizes – unique to each situation.
Usually on the outside of your home, you have an electric meter installed by your utility company. This meter measures how much power you consume, and determines your monthly electric bill. When you install a solar electric system, the utility company replaces that meter with a new net meter, free of charge. Your new net meter measures the electricity you produce as well as the electricity you use and your electric bill is based on the balance. Learn more about residential-scale Net Metering.
Except in unusual circumstances where panels are in close proximity to a dusty or heavily polluted area, solar panels do not require cleaning. In New England there is enough rain to give your panels all the washing they need. If you do want to clean your panels, its best to give them a shower from a garden hose in the morning before they get very hot.
The ideal roof slopes towards the south, since southern exposure will maximize the efficiency of your panels. But even if your roof is east or west facing, you can still get strong results. If you have a flat roof we can orient your panels to maximize efficiency.
For every kilowatt (kW) installed, a solar system takes up about 100 square feet. An average solar system takes between 400 and 800 square feet.
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