Thanks to technological and manufacturing advances, the cost of solar panels has fallen over the last decade, making solar energy more popular with homeowners. However, it can be difficult to understand how to add a solar energy system to the roof.
Workers installed a solar and battery system in my house on the outskirts of New York City this winter. This was a big investment, but it’s already starting to pay off in reducing utility bills, and storms often knock down power lines, so you can rest assured that at least some power will be supplied here during a typical power outage. You can get a feeling.
With rising energy prices and growing concerns about climate change, interest in rooftop solar systems is high and growing. Many are also worried about power outages caused by extreme weather events associated with climate change. A 2019 Pew Charitable Trust survey 6 percent of Americans We have already installed solar panels and an additional 46% were considering it.
“The biggest thing is that solar is much cheaper than before, even in places like New York City and Boston, which tend to be more expensive than the suburbs,” said Anika, director of affordable solar. Wister Jones said. Solar One, a New York City environmental education non-profit organization that helps affordable housing and low-income communities adopt solar energy.
If you are interested in the sun, here are some things to consider.
Can I add solar panels to the roof?
This question may seem simple, but finding the answer can be surprisingly complicated. One installer told me that my roof is shaded by trees, so solar panels can’t generate enough power to pay for the investment. It was worth hearing another opinion: the installer I hired alleviated those concerns and recommended trimming some trees. On sunny days, my system often produces more power than my family uses.
Also, information is usually not readily available in plain language, so it can be difficult for local governments and utilities to find out what to allow. I learned the lesson at my previous house.
When I lived in New York City, it took months of research to find out that I couldn’t install panels on the roof. The city needs a large clear area on a flat roof like me for firefighters to walk, it turns out.And I couldn’t install the solar panels on the canopy — a rooftop framework that lifts the panels — That’s because it violates the city height limit of my block house.
The best approach is to cast a wide net and talk to as many solar installers as possible. You can also talk to your neighbors who have solar panels on the roof. People in many parts of the country participate in a campaign called the Solarization Campaign, which jointly purchases solar panels from installers to ensure low prices.
“This has been very successful in our neighborhoods and communities across the country,” said Gretchen Bradley, Community Solar Manager at SolarOne.
Can you afford a solar installer?
An important year for electric vehicles
The popularity of battery-powered vehicles is skyrocketing around the world as the entire automotive market stagnates.
When considering your suggestions, keep in mind the cost per watt of your system. This allows you to see how much you are paying for the system’s power generation capacity and compare offers.
According to EnergySage, the median value for the new rooftop solar system is $ 2.75 per watt. That’s about $ 26,125 on an average system of 9,500 watts, before taking into account the federal tax credit. For the 2022 tax year, the credits would be: 26 percent of the cost of a solar system.. It will drop to 22% in 2023 and will end in 2024. Many states, including Arizona, California, New York, and Massachusetts, also serve residents. Incentive to install a solar systemRebates and tax cuts.
Prices can vary widely depending on location, local labor costs, and other factors such as the type of home you live in and whether other work is required before installation. For example, if the roof is old or damaged, the roof should be replaced before installing the solar system.
Rooftop solar systems can reduce your monthly utility bills, depending on your electricity bill, the amount of energy your home uses, and state policies. A system that saves more money helps buyers get their investment back faster. VikramAggarwal, CEO and Founder of EnergySage, said solar systems should ideally be self-paying within 10 years.
The surplus electricity generated by the rooftop system is sent to the grid, and utilities typically reimburse homeowners for that energy through monthly invoice credits. The value of these credits varies from state to state.
How do I have to pay?
If you can afford the solar system altogether, you will get the best deal by paying cash. Systems purchased through loans or leases tend to cost more, especially during the term of the contract. Shopping is the best hedge against becoming a prey to suspicious or predatory agreements.
The main advantage of leasing a solar energy system is that the cost is usually fixed for the duration of the contract. However, experts warn that leases can be difficult and burdensome when you sell your home, as buyers may not want to undertake your contract.
Aggarwal said leasing “makes sense” for some people who may not have enough income to claim a federal tax credit. He suggested that anyone interested in solar leasing receive three or four quotes from various installers.
Need to buy a battery?
Adding a battery to your solar system can store some of the surplus electricity you generate for use in the event of a power outage or in the evening and at night. In a batteryless solar system, most residential systems will automatically turn off when the grid goes down, so they will not continue to be powered in the event of a power outage.
Batteries can be expensive. Especially if you want to run large appliances and power them for hours or days. According to EnergySage, a 10-12kWh battery can store about one-third of a typical household’s daily electricity usage, costing about $ 13,000.
But another reason to buy a battery is that the federal tax credit for rooftop solar systems only applies to the cost of batteries purchased with solar panels, not to batteries added in another tax year. is. According to an EnergySage survey, about 28% of residential solar systems installed in 2021 contain batteries, up from 20% in 2020.
Wirecutter, the recommended product service of The New York Times A detailed guide to buying solar and battery systems..
Can I use an electric vehicle as a backup power source?
Most electric cars cannot power their homes. Only a few models like the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Hyundai Ioniq have that capability, and they are incredibly undersupplied.
However, many energy experts believe that in the end it will become common for car batteries to send power back to homes and power grids.
In many parts of the United States, long-term power outages can occur only once or twice a year. As a result, Aggarwal said it might not make sense to invest in expensive household batteries, which usually have much less energy than electric vehicle batteries. “Everyone is starting to talk about using your car to drive your home.”
Can I buy solar energy even if I can’t install solar panels?
You may be able to participate in community solar projects. This project is typically installed on the roofs of open lands, warehouses and other large buildings.
The rules vary from state to state, but community solar programs generally work in a similar way. Members receive two invoices a month. One is from the community solar project and the other is from the utility. The project sells electricity at a discounted price than the utility charges, and for each kilowatt-hour of electricity purchased, it is displayed as a kilowatt-hour energy credit for the electricity charge.
For example, New Yorkers participating in a community solar project can save about 10% on their monthly electricity bill, Bradley said. “It doesn’t cost you to sign up for or leave the project,” she added.
Community solar is allowed in most states, The majority of such projects are in only four states — Florida, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts — According to the National Renewable Energy Institute.