Frequently Asked Questions
General Solar Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I purchase a Solar Power system?
Some people choose to go solar because they see the financial sense in spending their money on an energy-producing property improvement as opposed to sending money to their utility company. Other people value the environmental benefits since a solar power system reduces our carbon footprint and minimizes air pollution and global warming. Some people see renewable energy as a means to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oils. And finally, some people simply take comfort in knowing that they will be immune from future utility rate hikes and energy costs. In all likelihood, for most people it is a combination of the above, which are described further on our Benefits of Solar Power page.
Will a Solar Power system work for me?
The ideal configuration is a roof with Southern exposure to maximize solar collection. A roof facing southeast or southwest also works very well, with only a slight reduction on energy production potential. It is still definitely possible to install a system on a roof facing east and/or west, but output will be reduced by about 15%.The second most important criteria is shading, which can significantly reduce the output of a system. As a rule of thumb, you want a minimal amount of shadows on the proposed system site between 9:00am and 3:00pm. If it’s not possible to mount panels to a roof, then ground-mounted systems are possible if there is adequate space. Please feel free to contact us for additional details or a free consultation
How large of a system will I need?
This largely depends on the amount of electricity you use. Prior to installing solar, it’s a good idea to adopt some energy saving practices such as using compact fluorescent light bulbs. Please visit our Energy Savings page for additional tips. The further you can reduce your utility bill, the lower the cost of the PV system will be. Other considerations for system size are available space on your roof or property and your budget. Ideally, your home or business can accommodate a system large enough to totally offset you monthly electric bill
What is Photovoltaics or PV?
The technical term for the production of electricity through solar power is photovoltaics or “PV” for short. The term has 2 parts. “Photo” is derived from the Greek word “phos” which means “light”. “Volt” is a measure of electricity and is named after Alessandro Volta, a pioneer in the study of electricity. So literally the term means “light-electricity”; which precisely describes what solar panels or photovoltaic cells do. They convert light into electricity! See the section on How Solar Power Works to learn how this is accomplished
Who handles the permits and rebate paperwork?
Horizon Solar will handle all aspects of the installation from the filing of the rebate paperwork, to the building permits, to the final inspections, and finally the Net Metering agreement with PSEG. This will be done at no additional cost to the customer since it is included with the design and installation of the system. Please visit our How to Get Solar page for details
How much electricity does a Solar Power system generate?
An average size solar power or PV system rated at 5 kilowatts will produce about 7,150 kilowatt-hours a year in Long Island. Most PV panels are warranted to last 30 years and lose efficiency at a rate of about 0.5% per year. Over 30 years, this system will generate approximately 214,500 kilowatt-hours, which is equivalent to $42,000 in direct utility savings. Once you take inflation and utility rate hikes into account, the savings over the warranted life of the system is closer to $90,000 which is approximately 10 times the amount paid (after rebates and tax credits) for the system! Please visit our Solar Power Costs and Solar Payback and Financials pages for details.
How long will my PV system last?
One of the great advantages of solar power (PV) systems is their durability. While most major solar panels carry a 25-year warranty on the power production, you can expect them to last beyond 30 years. The inverter commonly comes with a 12-year warranty and is expected to last at least twice that amount of time. Reliability and durability are just one of the advantages of going solar, please visit our Benefits of Solar Power page to learn about other advantages
Will my system generate power when it’s cloudy?
PV systems are less efficient in cloudy conditions, but they can still produce a significant amount of power. It’s important to note that when Horizon Solar, LLC sizes a system and provides a production estimate, it takes overcast conditions into account by using 30 years of local historical weather data.
What maintenance do Solar Power systems require?
Solar power or PV systems are virtually maintenance-free; this can be attributed to the fact that they are very simple without any moving parts. Periodic rainfall will clean dust or small debris off of the panels. Since solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight (which causes them to heat up), snow often melts and slides off of the panels without the need to brush them off.
Can I sell power back to the utility?
In a manner of speaking; yes. When your system is producing more power then you’re consuming, then your electrical meter will spin backwards and the utility company tracks how much power you’re providing it. Although they won’t actually pay you for this power, they’ll use it to offset electricity usage at times when you’re consumption is greater than your production (e.g., at night)
Are there rebates to help offset the costs of going solar?
Yes there are! In fact, New York has one of the most generous rebate programs in the country! PSEG, through their Solar Pioneer Program will pay approximately $0.20 per watt of system size. In addition, there are Federal and New York State tax incentives which further decrease the cost. On average, rebates and tax incentives can reduce the cost of a system by approximately 50%! Please visit our Solar Rebates and Incentives page for additional details.
What is the break-even point for a Solar Power system?
The break-even point is the amount of time it takes to recoup your investment through direct savings in utility costs. Over the past decade, as the efficiency of panels improved and the available supply increased with more mass production, the break-even time has been significantly reduced. Currently, the break-even point is at approximately 5-7 years for an average sized solar power system installed on Long Island. Please visit our Solar Payback and Financials page for additional details.
If I sell my property, what effect does the Solar Power system have on the sale price?
Energy conservation and renewable energy production such as solar power adds significant value to a home. Surveys have shown that for every $1 saved per year in utility costs, $20 is added to a home’s value. Solar energy can actually be one of the best home improvement investments you make! Please visit our Solar Payback and Financials page for more details, or look at the following publication from the Appraisal Journal.
Why should I invest in Solar Power now, isn’t technology improving?
It is certainly true that PV technology continues to improve. Advances in technology will result in more efficient panels and reduced prices for each watt produced. However, there are a few good reasons why it’s still best to invest in solar power now:
- As efficiency’s increase and costs decline, the rebates and incentives will be scaled back to compensate. In addition, at some point, these incentives will be completely eliminated making the cost of going solar significantly more expensive.
- Even if rebates keep in line with system costs, why “rent” power from the utility company for another 5-10 years? In many cases the payback period is less then 10 years, so you could be enjoying free electricity by the time you would otherwise wait to invest in solar power.
- The sooner you invest in solar, the sooner you take advantage of other benefits such as improving the quality of the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.