Q. Does it really save money to have a solar-electric system installed on my house? A. Absolutely. Simply do the math. The payback takes about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years, and after that you benefit from FREE electricity - for some 25+ years. Think of it this way... you'd be paying the electric bill for those 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years anyway, so instead, pay off your solar-electric system, and never pay another bill after that again. (Pay us once or pay PSEG-LI forever!) And, this doesn't take into account electricity rate increases, which have averaged about 7% per year. Every time the rate rises, your payback period shortens and you're one step closer to free electricity.
Q. Is it really affordable? A. Again, absolutely. There's no added expense to you. Remember, you will be paying for it with dollars that you would be paying out anyway. In other words, you will pay for the system with dollars that you would otherwise be using to pay your electric bill. Better than that, once it's paid off, you save money with FREE ELECTRICITY thereafter.
Q. How large a solar-electric system does my house need? A. Every house, every building is different, and everyone's PSEG-LI electricity bill and usage is different. A Built Well Solar professional needs to evaluate the particular site in terms of usage, roof area and slope, shading, and so on. Looking at an average home, however, based on 2013 PSEG-LI rates, each kW produced by a solar-electric system provides roughly $30 worth of electricity. That would mean for an average monthly electric bill of $240, an 8 kW system would be needed to cover the annual electrical usage. But, no home is average. A Built Well Solar professional will review your usage to determine exactly how large a system you home needs, and look at your south-, east-, and/or west-facing roof(s) to see how many panels will fit. The review is part of our free consultation process, which is then followed with a written estimate for an all-inclusive, turnkey design/installation process. If another company "over-sizes" a system, that's to their benefit not yours, since they are likely trying to rent your roof.
Q. How many solar panels does an average house need? A. The size and type of panels dictate how many are needed. The number of panels will be based on optimizing the configuration of the solar arrays for the particular roof(s) on your home. For example, some homes have one south-facing roof with fairly regular dimensions while others have varied levels that face east and west as well as south. A Built Well Solar professional provides a free consultation to evaluate the best, most efficient solar array for your particular site.
Q.Is it true that New York State will help me pay for my home's PV system purchase now?
A. Yes, this new program just rolled out in August 2014, called On-Bill Repayment (OBR). Essentially, you pay the same or less monthly amount through your electric bill till your PV system is paid off -- and then you own your system free and clear, and with it all of the FREE electricity it generates. See this link:
Q. Does PSEG-LI credit me for any solar power I don't use? A. Yes. Any excess solar energy generated over the course of a year is bought back by PSEG-LI. Every time you generate more power than you use, the extra amount goes to the grid, and your meter turns backwards, in a process called "net metering" which credits you over time. You don't really make money on the excess, however. The best choice is for us to "size" the solar-electric system to meet your needs, your previous 12-month electricity usage, and not to exceed that. Remember, any excess electricity is bought back from PSEG-LI at a reduced wholesale rate, not the higher retail rate you pay.
Q. How long will a system last? Are there any warranties? A. Typically, a PV system lasts about 30 years -- and can operate decades longer. Some solar panels used on satellites have lasted 45 or more years. Manufacturers' warranties are typically 25 years on the solar panel modules and 15 to 25 years on the inverters or microinverters. In addition, Built Well Solar provides a free one-year installation warranty on parts and labor, with extended warranties available. Since it has no moving parts, a quality PV system that is properly installed by the experienced contractors at Built Well Solar requires virtually no service or maintenance. It is designed to endure Long Island's unique weather conditions -- extreme outdoor temperatures and high winds, and is resistant to moisture and salt in the atmosphere.
Q. How long does it take to have a solar-electric system installed? A. In general, the actual installation takes just 3-5 days, but it takes anywhere from four to six months for the PSEG-LI preapproval and the required municipality/town building permit to be issued. No worries. We take care of all the paperwork for you, as well all engineering, design, architectural, building department, electrical code, and other requirements and procedures. You just rest easy, and wait for the utility preapproval letter and your permit, which takes anywhere from 3 to 5 months, and we notify you to then schedule your installation. Our Built Well Solar professional will explain the process to you. Again, we take care of every step of the process, making it easy -- like a walk in the sunshine, you might say. Keep in mind that there is no need to rush your installation -- this system will be on your home for 30+ years, so it will be done right, not in a speedy, careless manner.
Again, the good news is Built Well Solar takes care of the entire process for you. Everything is included, as we spell out in our written estimates.
Q. Will a PV system work during a blackout? A. No. All PV systems on Long Island are "grid-tied," which means that electrical current feeds back to the grid through regular power lines. As a result, power is automatically shut off from your solar site to the lines if a blackout or other outage occurs, so that utility workers fixing service are not electrocuted by live current coming from just your house on the block. No battery backup is provided with our systems. Batteries can be pricey and last only about 5 to 10 years, so we have yet to recommend them to a customer.
There is a new option -- inverters with "critical load" backup, which came on the market after Hurricane Sandy. Ask us about that, we will discuss how that may work for you. We would also assist in looking into a possible diverter to a generator, if that's your preference.