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.
Solar State Buying Guide for New Hampshire
The idea of switching to solar power for homes and businesses isn’t new but it is becoming more popular as energy costs continue to rise. Soaring monthly utilities bills during the summer and winter when temperatures are extreme in many areas is prompting a look at solar power as an alternative or additional energy source.
The following checklist can be used as a quick guide to important information when considering adding solar power to your property:
- Introduction to New Hampshire Solar Power
- Permitting Process in New Hampshire
- Hiring a Solar Contractor in New Hampshire
- Climate Considerations in New Hampshire
- Benefits of Solar Power in New Hampshire
- Solar Panel Configurations in New Hampshire
- Solar Water Heaters in New Hampshire
- Solar Resources in New Hampshire
- Return on Investment
Introduction to New Hampshire Solar Power
When the terms “photovoltaic” or “PV” cells are used, the discussion is about solar panels that are used on both residential and commercial buildings to tap into the free energy produced by the sun. When the solar rays are absorbed by the cells, a natural process takes place between atoms and electrons that results in electricity. This solar power then becomes the supply source for your property.
While investing in solar panels can be expensive, the benefits over time more than pay for the installation, plus, solar panels require minimal maintenance and are estimated to last between 25 and 30 years.
Solar Permitting Process in New Hampshire
Permitting and inspections are part of the process in New Hampshire whenever a solar project is to take place, it is a requirement and not something you want to attempt to bypass. The permit is acquired at the local city permitting office by either the contractor hired to do the installation or the homeowner. In some cases, the contractor must pull the permit so the city can ensure a licensed or certified contractor, who also holds an electrical license, is responsible for the installation.
Inspections are required prior to the installation. Due to the weight of the solar panels, your property must be inspected to ensure the roof can sustain the weight. This means, the roof must be structurally sound in order to install solar panels. If it isn’t, there’s always the option of installing solar panels designed for ground installation. For this type, the area of the property chosen for the installation must have enough room to accommodate the panels, not be located in a shady area or in an area where sunshine is blocked by tall trees. The area should be a location with optimal sunlight throughout the day. Whichever type you choose, an inspection is generally done during the installation process and once installation is completed. Inspections are to your benefit to guarantee the panels are properly placed and installed and that the electrical wiring is up to code.
Hiring a Solar Contractor in New Hampshire
There are a few basic steps necessary to ensuring the contractor you hire has the experience, qualifications, and paper work – license or certificate – to install solar panels safely and according to code.
First and foremost, get several estimates to compare prices. Cheapest is not always the best road to follow and the most expensive doesn’t ensure you’re getting the best money can buy. When interviewing potential contractors, ask for proof of a current license and insurance. If they cannot provide this information, scratch them from your list.
Check the estimate carefully for a full list of what is being covered. Ask if there are any costs associated with the project that are not listed so you aren’t surprised later in the project. The estimate should be signed and dated as this is the only proof you have of what was provided on a particular day by the contractor.
Always check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) for a history of the contractor and/or company doing the job. You may find helpful former customer reviews, as well as complaints, or pending legal action.
You’ll also want to check the State of New Hampshire Licensing Verification website to use the free online search tool. With the tool, you can verify a contractor’s license.
Climate Considerations for Solar in New Hampshire
The climate in your area is an important factor to consider when thinking about converting to solar power. New Hampshire experiences a diverse climate that can have extreme weather conditions especially during the winter.
Overall, the state receives approximately 198 days of sunshine annually and 127 days with measurable precipitation. On average, New Hampshire receives 43 inches of rain each year, which is a little over the average for other U.S. states. Summertime temperatures generally range in the low 80s and the comfort index for humidity levels is 56 out of 100, which is good. The winter season is more severe with temperatures dipping to the 10-degree range and an estimated snowfall of 73 inches compared to the U.S. average of 25 inches annually.
With winter temperatures and weather conditions in mind, your current choice of heating during these months can not only be expensive, but also put excessive strain on the system. One means higher heating bills and the other can lead to maintenance costs. With solar panels, you avoid both.
Benefits of Solar Power in New Hampshire
The installation of solar panels pays off with a list of benefits you won’t experience with traditional power.
- With solar installation, your property not only increases in value, it becomes an eco-friendly home or business, which is a good selling point should you put the property on the real estate market.
- On average, you should see a return on investment (ROI) of between 10 to 15 percent each year.
- Once installed, you’ll immediately see a decrease in your monthly utility bill for the life of the solar product.
- Solar power is good for the planet as it significantly reduces the drain on the earth’s natural resources. By using clean solar energy, it lessens the emittance of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
- With solar power, you’re doing your part in reducing your negative carbon footprint on the planet, as well as the country’s dependence on foreign resources.
Solar Panel Configurations in New Hampshire
Your energy requirements, location, home design, and climate all factor into the decision process. Your contractor will be a major source of information in sizing the property, checking the structure of the roof, and making recommendations.
There are three types of solar power options:
- Grid-Tie – With this type of solar power system, you not only have the solar panels working for you, when needed, your property is powered by the main grid for your area. Throughout the day, the panels absorb the rays, which are then converted into electricity. Any excess electricity generated not used by your home or business is routed to the city’s main grid. The extra electricity is a bonus as you’ll receive a credit each month to your utility bill when there is an overage of electricity.
- Grid-Tie with Battery Backup – Solar panels go through the process of generating electricity the same as with the Grid-Tie system. Any excess electricity is routed to the back-up batteries and then on to the main grid. Should a power outage occur, the system immediately taps into the resources of the battery back-up panel. The system automatically disengages from the main grid during this time. Critical areas to your home or business such as refrigerators, freezers, stoves and some lighting will be powered by the battery back-up.
- Off-Grid System – With this system, your property is completely dependent on solar power. The excess is stored only in the battery back-up. There is no connection to the main grid. This is an option for anyone or for property in remote areas where a main grid is not available such as a rural area or mountain cabin.
Solar Water Heaters in New Hampshire
Solar powered water heaters are also an option for homeowners interested in cutting utility costs and having a positive impact on the environment.
- Active system – This system uses a series of pumps and controls to maneuver water circulation. The water heater is installed on the roof where water is collected and heated. It then moves through the system to a storage tank.
- Indirect system – This system does not rely on controls or pumps. Instead, it uses a specially designed heat-transfer fluid resistant to freezing. It makes its way through the system’s collectors to the heat exchanger where the water is heated and available to the home. For climates prone to wintertime freezing temperatures, this system is the recommended choice.
For systems being installed on the roof, an inspection is necessary to ensure it can hold the weight of the water heating system.
Solar Power Resources in New Hampshire
To help defray the cost of solar installation, there are multiple programs available through the federal government and states offering rebates, incentives, tax credits, grants and loans. Check the websites listed below for programs available in your area:
- Energy Star – offers tax rebates on solar panels (photovoltaic cells) and solar powered water heaters. Restrictions do apply.
- Department of Energy (DSIRE) – this list is applicable to New Hampshire.
- Rural America for America Program Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans and Grants – these programs are for small businesses and agricultural producers.
Return of Solar Investment in New Hampshire
As you can see after reading through the buying guide there are quite a few steps to take to ensure you get the best solar power service to fit your particular needs. A solar power system is a big investment, but as noted in the benefits section, you will see a return of investment immediately. Once installed, a solar panel system to generate electricity or a water heating system to provide hot water without the need for electricity will pay you back, over time, in more ways than one.