How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Buying Solar Panels in Portland, ME
Solar energy is one of the many energy-efficient upgrades that you can easily make to your home, and it has the unique ability to revitalize a city’s economy, help the environment, improve consumer choice, and benefit all electricity ratepayers. Solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) systems have become an increasingly more affordable renewable energy option for homeowners interested in reducing energy bills and increasing energy independence. Residents of Portland, Maine spend approximately $9.82 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh) on home energy costs. The average monthly residential electricity bill for the state is around $105, which ranks 26th in the nation, coming close to the national average of $107 per month. With the numerous financial incentives and rebates, now is a great time to invest in solar. By doing so, you could not only lower your electricity bill and save annually, but it can also decrease your environmental footprint as you reduce your dependence on fossil fuels which contribute to dramatic climate change.
Are Portland Winters Favorable for Solar Power?
While Portland approximates 28 days of snowfall a year and about 62 inches of snowfall total, it is still an ideal city for solar panel installation. Homeowners in snowy climates have reported that their solar panels can operate at better than 100% of their rated power as the white covering of the snow attracts UV rays to help your system operate at maximum capacity. Solar panels will still work under light snowfall, but if snowfall is heavy, to the point where it completely blocks out the sun, the panels may stop generating power. In that case, it’s a good idea to have a battery backup or a standby generator for these occasions. Even without a backup generator, solar panels have a slippery surface and sit at an angle, so depending on your roof, snow can easily slides off as the weather warms and the snow melts.
Additionally, as the snow melts and slides off your solar panels, it helps clean them, which gives an additional boost to their productivity. Even if there are days when your panels are covered with snow and not generating a lot of power, it’s important to remember that your total energy generation is calculated over a year, so day-to-day variations, or lower generation over winter months, can be made up at other times.
How Does Solar Technology Work?
Solar panels, or modules, are made up of a series of interconnected silicon photovoltaic cells linked together to form a circuit. Sunlight’s photons hit these cells and are transformed from sunlight into DC power. DC power is then channeled into an inverter in the home which converts it into AC current. AC current is used by light, home appliances, and basically anything you would plug into an electrical outlet. The sunnier, the better your solar system is going to function. Out of the 365 days in the year, Portland, averages 159 sunny to partly sunny days annually. If you’re worried about how efficient your solar panels will work in partly sunny conditions, rest assured, productivity is estimated to only diminish by 5 to 10 percent–a minimal reduction in performance.
Are there Additional Financial Incentives to Adopt Solar?
The state of Maine is working towards cleaner, more sustainable energy. This requires the financial resources to turn commitment into reality. Current Maine solar incentives include generous rebates for solar electric and solar hot water systems. This, combined with the 30 percent federal tax credit (available through December 31, 2019), and you could potentially cut the cost of your solar panel installation in half. The following is a list of some of the loans, tax credits, rebates, and financial incentives available. Be sure to work with your licensed solar installer to ensure you maximize any and all financial incentives.
Loan – Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE): In April 2010, Maine signed PACE legislation authorizing municipalities to establish a loan program to provide financing for clean energy improvements to property owners. This loan program allows property owners to borrow money to pay for energy improvements. Improvements such as solar water heaters, solar space heaters, photovoltaics, landfill gas, wind, biomass, and geothermal heat pumps qualify. The amount borrowed is typically repaid via a special assessment on your property over a period of years.
Loan – FHA PowerSaver Loan Program: This loan is available if you are adopting the following renewable technologies: solar water heaters, solar photovoltaics, wind, and geothermal heat pumps. The program offers three financing options for homeowners who want to borrow money to make energy efficiency and renewable energy home improvements. PowerSaver Home Energy Upgrade: $7,500; PowerSaver Second Mortgage: $25,000; PowerSaver Energy Rehab 203(k), which varies by location, but ranges from $217,500 to $625,000. For all three PowerSaver products, borrowers must select from a list of approved PowerSaver lenders.
Rebate – Net Metering: Net metering is a metering and billing practice in which a customer is billed on the basis of “net energy” over a billing period. Net energy is the difference between the kilowatt-hours (kWhs) a customer consumes and the kWhs produced by the customer’s solar power system. Under net-energy billing, a customer’s own generation is used to offset the customer’s prior or future energy usage, as if the meter runs backwards whenever the customer’s utility company is generating more than the customer is consuming. So you’re basically buying and selling electricity. This incentive is common for many states and eligibility varies among the states. In Maine, the program applies to photovoltaic residential systems up to 100kW and commercial systems up to 600kW in size.
Tax Credit – Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit: This tax credit is good until December 2021. As a taxpayer, you can claim a credit of 30 percent on solar water heaters or solar photovoltaic systems for your home. This includes labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly, or system installation.
Are Solar System Contractors Easy to Locate?
Experts in the solar industry aren’t hard to come by because solar has made great leaps in accessibility to consumers. Knowledgeable contractors who are qualified to install and take care of any maintenance issues on your solar technology system are easily accessible in the Portland area. Check your local listing to find a solar system installation specialist near you.