Frequently asked questions

Is my home suitable for a solar installation?


The ideal roof for a PV system is south-facing with little to no shading from nearby trees, chimneys or other obstructions. Advances in panel and inverter technologies can allow homes with some shading or with east or west-facing roofs to benefit from solar PV. The type and condition of your roof are factors to consider. Solar on our region’s beautiful historic slate roofs, sadly, is not available; cedar-shingle roofs may also be excluded from consideration. Asphalt shingle roofs should be in good repair, with shingles ideally less than 10 years old. (Most PV installations will produce electricity for 25 or more years: you don’t want to have to take the panels off to repair or replace your shingles!). Metal roofs are good candidates. Multiple dormers, chimneys, roof angles etc may make a PV system more challenging and less productive. Is your roof ridge-line obviously bowed? This may raise questions about the support needed for an installation (see below). If your roof is not suitable for solar panels but you have a garage or other out-building with asphalt shingle roof in good condition and with good sun exposure, solar may still be an option. You may also consider a ground-mounted PV system. These options may require running additional wiring, which could add to the cost of an installation.




How much will a solar installation cost?


As an example, an average residential installation is a 6 kW system. Estimating the 2020 cost for solar in NH as about $3/W (or $3000/kW), the overall cost would be $18,000. With the 26% tax credit and the $1000 NH rebate (when available), the net cost would be $12,320. Depending on how much electricity you use - or plan to use in the future - and on how much usable roof-space you have, you may choose to have a larger or smaller installation. Other factors may add to the cost of your proposed installation: eg a roof with difficult access, or a need for upgrades to your existing electrical service. If your home requires re-shingling, additional structural roof support, or tree-trimming to improve solar productivity, those services would be contracted separately and not included in your solar installer’s proposal.




How much will I save by installing a solar system?


Your savings depend on the size of the system you choose, your annual electrical usage, electricity rates, and any financing option that you choose from your installer. To get an idea of how much you could save, ask your solar installer how much electricity your new system is expected to produce on an annual basis and then compare that number to how much electricity your household uses. Installers can also help you determine how much money you could save as electricity prices escalate over time.




What finanical incentives make my solar installation more affordable?


The Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit: In 2020, this credit is 26% of the cost of the solar installation. In 2021, the credit will decrease to 22%, and in 2022 the credit is scheduled to disappear - so this year is a good time to go solar! The credit reduces the amount of tax you owe. For instance, if you will owe $4000 in taxes but your solar project costs $16,000, your tax payment is zeroed out. This credit may also be spread out over several years of your taxes. It would be wise to consult with a tax professional to determine how the Federal tax incentives will apply in your particular situation. NH Solar Rebates: Effective January 2, 2018, this program offers rebates to qualifying NH residents who install photovoltaic (PV) systems. Rebate levels are $.20 per watt of panel rated power up to $1,000, or 30% of the total facility cost, whichever is less. There is a finite amount of state money available for this each year. Your solar installer will help you submit the paperwork for this rebate. Local Property Tax Exemption: Keene and Marlborough both have this exemption for solar (and some other renewable energy) installations. The exemption simply means that the value of your system is not added to your property assessment, so you pay no additional tax for having the solar system on your home. There is an application for this exemption that you will need to submit to your town’s Assessing Department after your installation is completed.




What financing is available?


Some installers have made arrangements with particular lending institutions to help their customers finance the cost of renewable energy projects. You may certainly make your own inquiries with other lending institutions as well. Some banks apply their general home improvement loan rates for any energy efficiency, weatherization, or renewable energy loans. Some banks or lending institutions have special rates for this category of loans. The Solarize Monadnock campaign will make an effort to update information on available loans. Information on Mascoma Savings Bank’s solar and energy efficiency programs information is available at https://www.mascomabank.com/personal-banking/loans/solar-and-energy-efficient-loans/ Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU) extends its membership and services to non-Vermont residents if they take a membership in the non-profit New England Sustainable Energy Association(NESEA). Information about these programs is available at http://nesea.org/affordable-financing-through-nesea-membership Also take a look at our Lender page




What is the process if I want to move forward?


Once you sign up with one or more installers asking for an evaluation, most installers will try to schedule a (free) solar site evaluation within a few weeks. They will assess the suitability of your roof or other site: year-round sun exposure, roof condition, and structural support. They will also ask for a year’s worth of your electrical bills, and ask about how you use your electricity. (You may get some tips on energy efficiency options along the way!) You will then receive a proposal from the installer, outlining the size and location of the solar panel installation, the costs, the tax incentives and rebates, financing options, and the expected output of the system. Some installers have connections to a particular lending institution or bank, and may offer information about what financing the project would entail; you may also choose to make your own inquiries about financing. If you decide to go ahead, you will receive a detailed contract to sign and will need to make an initial payment. By the time permits are filed and processed with your municipality, panels and other materials are ordered, and you make it to the top of your installer’s “queue,” it may be several months before the system is actually installed. The installation itself may take 1-2 days or up to a week depending on the complexity of your layout and access. An inspection by your municipality and installation of a new electric meter by your utility may take another couple of weeks - and then you’ll be ready to start harvesting solar power.




Will I still receive a monthly electric bill after installing a PV solar system?


You will still receive a monthly bill from your utility company, but the amount owed will be much less because your PV system will be producing much of your electricity supply. You will still pay delivery, transmission and distribution charges based on any energy purchases you make in that billing cycle. Other relatively small fees will still be on your bill: Stranded Cost Recovery Charge, the System Benefits Charge, and the Electricity Consumption Tax. Here is a link to a sample residential bill from Eversource: https://www.eversource.com/content/docs/default-source/nh---pdfs/purchase-greater-than-sales.pdf?sfvrsn=1630cc62_0




What is net metering?


Eversource will replace your existing meter with a “net meter” (or bi-directional meter) at no charge. The net meter measures two things: 1. The purchase channel measures all energy delivered into your property. 2. The sale channel measures any surplus energy that is exported from your property back onto the Eversource system. If your system creates more electricity than you use during daylight hours, the meter will “spin backward” and the utility will provide a credit on your bill. 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. If you generate more than you use over the course of 12 months, you may request a payment once per year, following the March billing cycle. Learn more about this and other aspects of Eversource’s net metering program. How net metering works and what it does




Will the system produce energy on cloudy days?


Yes, but not as much. Under an overcast sky, panels will produce 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 PV systems will not operate when the power grid is down. This safety requirement allows utility linemen to safely repair power lines during a power outage without being electrocuted by the electricity from your system! You may choose to add a battery backup to your solar system to keep the lights on during a blackout, but a battery may cost between $5,000 and $15,000 plus additional wiring/programming costs. Battery prices have been decreasing.




What happens if I have a fire in my home?


Solar PV systems come with automatic safety disconnects located according to local permitting ordinances. Fire safety professionals have developed procedures and best practices for dealing with rooftop solar panels. It is important that your local fire department knows the location of your electrical disconnects.




What sort of maintenance is required after the installation of solar panels?


Solar PV systems require very little maintenance. Rain showers will generally take care of pollen and dust that falls on your solar panels. If your system is shaded by trees, you may have to trim and maintain branches to protect your system from falling limbs and to minimize shading and maximize production. It is important to note that snow will melt off of a tilted system except when there is extremely heavy snow or prolonged freezing temperatures.




What are the warranties attached to solar installations?


Your selected solar provider will inform you of all product warranties and provide a workmanship warranty as well. Most tier-1 solar panel manufacturers carry a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year linear performance guarantee. Inverter warranties are from 10-25 years depending on the inverter type.




Why is solar good for the economy?


Solar provides benefits that can help reduce the overall cost of energy. Especially at times of peak demand on the grid such as on hot summer days, solar generation reduces the utility company’s need to power up expensive and inefficient back-up power plants, transmit energy over potentially longer distances, and/or purchase expensive wholesale power on the “spot market.”. Introducing solar to the cycle helps reduce the overall cost of electricity. Solar keeps our energy dollars local. Currently NH sends literally billions of dollars out-of-state for purchases of electricity and heating fuels. Generating even a portion of your electricity “shifts your shopping local” and benefits the local economy. Solar installation creates jobs! In 2018 the US had 242,343 solar workers, defined as those who spend 50% or more of their time on solar-related work. Overall, the solar workforce has grown 159 percent since 2010, adding nearly 150,000 jobs.