GUIDE TO SOLAR
Going solar is a big decision, while a lot of homeowners show interest in solar, few are familiar with the feasibility and affordability of it all. We understand that solar is a relatively new territory, but whether you want to go solar for financial or environmental reasons, solar is a great form of investment for many people with very few exceptions. Here at Apex, our goal is to make the road to solar an easy and exciting ride. We are committed to providing homeowners the information needed to go solar with confidence. That’s why we are breaking down the nitty-gritty of going solar here in hopes that the following information can help you decide if solar can work for you.
Lower Monthly Bill
Contrary to popular belief, solar is not just for the affluent or the environmentalists. In fact, most people who went solar did it for financial reasons, and where the average solar buyer falls on the social-economical and political spectrum is actually quite neutral.
Solar is achievable for a lot of people. There are rebates and tax incentives made available for everyone including those who fall under the low-to-moderate income brackets, and solar loan options for those who chose to finance their systems and pay less than their electric bill every month.
Drastically reduce or even eliminate your electric bills
If you don’t have a lot of cash in hand (like most of us), don’t sweat. Solar loans make solar achievable by letting you pay less than your electric payment every month. Once you have paid off your solar loan, you can enjoy the free and green energy for decades to come. What’s more? With all the federal and state incentives in place, if you go solar now you can significantly lower the initial cost of your PV system by as much as 70%.
A Smart Form of Investment for the Forward-thinkers
The Northeast is among the most expensive regions in the United States when it comes to the average residential retail price of electricity, which makes solar a rather sensible type of investment in this area. The gradually increasing electricity rate, the aging and outdated grid system that will soon need to be updated/replaced, and frankly, the scarcity of the fossil fuels in the future will all make non-renewable energy very costly.
Increase your property value
Market research has found that homes equipped with customer-owned solar sell faster than homes without solar. Each watt of solar adds around $3 to a home’s resale value, which means if you have invested in a 7kW system you can potentially price your house with a $21,000* tax-free equity increase.
* “Selling into the sun: Price premium analysis of a multi-state dataset of solar homes,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Protect against rising energy costs
Relying on the traditional form of energy means that your electric payments are prone to unexpected price spikes because they are tied closely to the ever-shifting global energy market and domestic policy changes. Solar PV systems, however, harness a consistent and reliable source of energy that lessens or even eliminates your dependence on big utility companies – freeing you from the whims of electricity pricing.
Unlike traditional energy that relies heavily on a finite supply of fossil fuels, the amount of solar energy that hits the earth each hour is enough to provide the energy needs of earth’s entire population FOR A FULL YEAR.
Readily Available Resources
While the excavation, transportation, and processing of fossil fuels require extensive capital, solar PV systems are scalable products that require one-time installation with minimal maintenance. Solar energy is captured where it is used – this means it can be harnessed anywhere a solar panel can be mounted.
Reduce Carbon Footprint
The generation of solar power has minimal impact on the environment as it does not produce air, water pollution or greenhouse gases. A Northeastern home with a 7.5 kW system can offset almost 10,000 lb of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent to saving 50 trees or 11,000 car miles not driven.
SOCIAL ECONOMIC BENEFITS
Create Jobs and Help Boost Local Economy
The argument that transitioning to renewable energy will cost jobs simply isn’t true. In 2016, 1 out of 50 new jobs created in the U.S. was a solar-related job and the solar industry contributed $84 billion to the GDP according to The Solar Foundation. The solar industry now employs over 260,000 Americans, creating jobs about 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.
Main Service Panel
Solar Resources of the United States and Germany
Even though Germany’s solar potential has always been far worse than the U.S. (other than Seattle and Alaska), Germany was the world’s unlikely leader of produced solar electricity for almost an entire decade. It means that every part of the lower 48 states gets enough sun to save hundreds of dollars per year, including the Northeast.
Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Electricity Net Generation by Energy Source, 2016
Germany is just a little bigger in size than the Northeastern U.S. with less sunlight and sun hours, yet even with the 80% decline in new PV installation, Germany still managed to produce more solar power than the entire U.S. in 2016, our record-breaking year, which means we can definitely cultivate much more sun than we currently do if we want to.
3 Out of 10 Top Solar States in 2016 were in the Northeast.
You may be surprised that according to the SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the Top 10 Solar States in the U.S. based on cumulative solar capacity installed through 2016 includes 3 Northeastern states: New Jersey in 5th place with 18,296 MW installed, Massachusetts in 7th place with 1,487 MW installed, and New York in 10th place with 927 MW installed.
Besides solar potential, electricity prices and incentive are also two important factors when considering if a region is good for solar. The Northeastern States are among the most expensive states in the country when it comes to the average residential retail price of electricity. On top of that, the Northeastern states with Massachusetts and New York, in particular, have very generous incentives which makes solar an even more competitive edge.
Direct sunlight provides the best output, but even when it’s overcast, cloudy, or rainy, solar panels will still capture diffuse and indirect light.
Sometimes when the clouds pass over the sun, the edge of the cloud can magnify sunlight so intensely that it can boost your output temporarily.
Snow will eventually slide off the slick glass surface, due to the angle of the roof and the heat radiated from the dark panels.
Solar panels work most efficiently when they are cool, and in some cases, snow cover might even increase the production by reflecting sunlight.
Solar panels today are incredibly durable and can actually protect your roof from the elements. Rain and snow can also clean dirt off of your solar panels for you!
This is one of the most common questions asked by solar shoppers and for good reasons. How do you calculate your ROI if you don’t even know how long the system will last and continue to produce energy?
In 2012, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published a study called “Photovoltaic Degradation Rates – An Analytical Review” after testing nearly 2,000 solar installations. The study found that for traditional silicon-based solar panels, the median reduction in efficiency is about 0.5% per year, which means that even after 25-year “productive lifespan”, solar panels can still operate at around 88% efficiency on average.
To translate this to English, even though most panel manufacturers provide no more than 25-year warranties, solar panels will keep producing for well over 25-30 years. In fact, solar panels that are used for communications and exploration satellites have been operating for over 60 years, not to mention those that power the International Space Station and depended on by astronauts for over 13 years.
In the years since the 2012 study, new technologies have been developed to produce more efficient panels. If you are still concerned, we would advise you not to hire some guy you found online or a neighbor down the road, even if they are handy, they might not be able offer the same warranty package as us, or any at all.
At Apex, we provide 10-year Workmanship Warranty and a 10-year Production Guarantee for every system installed on top of the 25-year Manufacturer’s Warranty, so you can be worry-free and enjoy the benefits of the sun.
My roof is not south facing.
It is true that south-facing roofs get the most sun exposure, but it is a myth that you need to have the most optimal conditions to make solar worthwhile. South-facing roofs are ideal for maximizing solar production but they are not necessary. In actuality, factors like electricity rates and available incentives in your area will affect your solar return much more than roof orientation. As long as your roofs are not severely shaded (if so, consider the possibility of trimming or removing trees), know that directly west or east-facing solar panels can still produce a large amount of electricity. Depending on your time-of-use and utility market, west-facing panels might be able to better protect you from late afternoon peak utility rates which can result in higher electric bill savings.
Besides, for homeowners with yard spaces, roof-mounted solar is not the only option. Apex Solar offers various types of solar solutions and mounting options so we can work together to find a solution that is tailored specifically to you.
ROOF MOUNT SOLAR
Roof mounted systems are the most cost-effective option, as we are able to utilize the home or building as the structure to hold the panels. There are several criteria that we take into consideration when identifying if a roof is qualified for solar: size, material, shading, orientation, and the age or condition of the roof.
GROUND MOUNT SOLAR
A ground-mounted system is a great solution for customers who do not have adequate space on their roof for a solar system, or if the building is not oriented to maximize solar production. There are 3 common options available: Standard Ground Mount, Pole Mount, and Dual Axis Trackers.
Doubles as a storage space, such as a gardening shed, tool shed, or a small garage, a customized solar outbuilding functions like a ground mount that provides the primary building with solar-generated electricity. It is a simple all-in-one solar solution best suited for customers who want to benefit from some outdoor storage on the property.
A solar canopy, carport or patio cover can generate solar power while creating shade and protecting the sheltered space from the elements. It is an efficient use of space that is also aesthetically pleasing, as the bi-facial, transparent glass modules allow the system to absorb extra sunlight reflected from the ground.
My roofs might be too old.
If your roofs are no longer in mint condition, if you want to go solar but your roofs have leaks or structural problem, Apex Solar’s roofing division can help you solve these problems, with or without solar. Because of the nature of the solar business, Apex has gained a decade worth of roofing experiences and we have decided to put it to work for you.
Apex Roofing, Apex Solar’s roofing division, has partnered with Owens Corning as one of their preferred roofing contractors. Owens Corning Roofing Preferred Contractors are part of an exclusive network of roofing professionals who meet high standards and strict requirements for professionalism and reliability.
When you have an Owens Corning Roofing Preferred Contractor install your roofing system, you have the opportunity to increase your protection with one of several Owens Corning Roofing System Limited Warranties, which extend the coverage of your roofing components. Apex Roofing also provides 10-Year Workmanship Warranty for every Total Protection Roofing Systems we install.
The price of solar has declined a great deal. In fact, the technological advancement and the increase in manufacturing scale and efficiencies has brought the price of solar down by more than 70% in less than 10 years, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean that going solar will be cheaper or your return will be greater if you wait a few more years, and here are the two main reasons:
1. While the cost of solar equipment is at an all-time low, the soft or non-hardware costs now comprise the majority of the costs of a system, which means that the decline of the solar cost now is inconsequential, because the overhead and the expenses of system design, permitting, interconnection, and installation will likely remain the same.
2. If you go solar now, you can significantly lower the initial cost of your system by as much as 70% due to the incentives in place. If you do decide to wait, do keep in mind that after 2019, the 30% federal tax credit(ITC) for residential solar will decrease by around 14% every year until it expires after 2021. By 2022, there will not be any ITC except for the 10% for commercial-scale solar. Not to mention the depleting state incentives or possible change of solar legislation due to political instability.
Short-term vs. long-term costs:When you are considering solar as a form of investment, it’s important to compare the short-term cost with the long-term cost. It might not seem a lot to pay a couple hundred dollars at a time on top of your mortgage payment, electric bills can really add up especially with the 3% increase in cost every year.
Investing in solar is a lot like investing in a house. Needless to say, it would be great if you can pay in full out of your pocket because that way you no longer have to worry about the cost of electricity. Even if you can’t, however, you can utilize all the financing options available to you and simply trade your electric payment for a smaller solar payment.
Your monthly solar payment will be the same every year and once it’s paid off, you can enjoy the free clean energy for decades to come.
Take Advantage of Solar Tax Credits and Incentives
STATE TAX CREDIT (NY, MA)
New York and Massachusetts each offers a state tax credit to be used against the total cost of a solar system. State tax credits are dollar-for-dollar rebates against state income taxes that are paid throughout the year or owed come tax season.
STATE REBATES (NY, CT)
In some states, programs provide grants that are same-as-cash rebates for systems installed by authorized solar companies. The amount of the rebate is determined by the size of the system, and are frequently set up as “funding blocks.” Funding blocks are depleted as more solar is installed, and the overall incentive value shifts to the next level of funding. It is important to take advantage of these rebates while they last. For example, customers in New York who received $5,000 in funding in 2016, will only receive $3,000 for the same size system installed in 2017.
SREC’S (NH, NJ, MA)
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates are a tradable commodity that can be sold by homeowners to their utility in states that have Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) legislation. Eligible homeowners will receive one SREC for every 1,000 kWh generated by their systems. An average system creates 7-10 SRECs a year, which means over a 10 year period, a solar system in the SREC markets can earn the homeowner $5,000 to $30,000+, just for producing solar electricity.
FEED-IN TARIFFS (VT)
Some utility companies utilize feed-in tariffs to help encourage the adoption of solar energy. The concept is simple. The electricity your solar system generates is credited to your utility account at a higher price than the electricity you pay for. For example, if you pay $.145 per kWh, your solar system would earn you an extra $.045 per kWh. This makes a solar credit of $.19 per kWh. With these bonus credits, your solar system can be sized 20% smaller than your total usage, and still zero out your utility bill.
Available Financing Options Through Apex
If you have money saved up and can pay in full upfront, you will save the most by going solar. If you don’t, you can always finance your system yourself or finance it through Apex Solar’s Financing Partners. We offer a range of financing solutions to help customers go solar with simple, money saving options. Many of our customers who chose to finance a solar system paid less for solar than what they were paying for their electric bill. That’s savings from day one.
Sungage Financial and Dividend Solar are financing companies that offer complete financing solutions used by many of our customers. With options for free tax credit bridge loans, interest only deferred payments, and the potential to pay less with solar from the very first day, they truly make financing effortless.
GJGNY, MASS Solar Loan, and CT Green Bank are state-backed financing programs that offer lower interest rates to traditional lenders, while providing additional benefits, and lower interest rates for customers who are qualified for Low to Moderate Income status.
Enerbank provides 12, 18, or 24-month tax credit bridge loans for homeowners. These are often used with state financing options, or used by customers who wish to finance the system through their personal banks.
Still Wondering “Is Solar is Right For Me?”
We offer 100% free and no obligation consultation. Our Solar Energy Consultants can help you determine your property’s solar potential by analyzing your electrical usage and the satellite photos of your property. Call us at 844-744-2739 or click the button below to schedule your free consultation.