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 Mexico
This solar buying guide is designed to help property owners interested in tapping into the wonderful world of solar power. Assessing your property’s viability for solar power, hiring a contractor and obtaining a permit are just a few of the initial steps necessary to get your project off the ground. This guide will cover these topics and much more.
The list below is a quick reference guide to information within the article:
- Online Solar Calculators in New Mexico
- Property Preparation in New Mexico
- Initial Solar Considerations in New Mexico
- Hiring a Solar Contractor in New Mexico
- Solar Permits in New Mexico
- Climate Considerations in New Mexico
- Benefits of Solar Power in New Mexico
- Types of Solar Panel Systems Used in New Mexico
- Using Solar Power to Heat Water in New Mexico
- Reducing Solar Installation Costs in New Mexico
- Paying for your Solar Panel Installation in New Mexico
Online Solar Calculators for New Mexico
Online calculators are useful tools that provide property owners who are considering a solar panel installation with a general estimate of their project. It must be noted that these calculators are general in nature and do not take into account certain specifics of your property—condition of roof, structural concerns and energy efficiency—that can increase solar panel installation.
- Solar Estimate — will compute the size and estimated costs associated with solar installation in your home or building
- freecleansolar — a free and easy to use calculator that allows you to estimate the size and cost of a solar panel array based on your energy usage
- gogreensolar — size a solar array for your home with this easy to use solar system calculator
Preparing Your Property for Solar Panel Installation in New Mexico
Most property owners considering a solar panel installation do so in the hopes of reducing their electricity costs. However, many fail to realize that energy conservation provides the most bangs for the buc and can save you a bundle on monthly/yearly electricity costs. A professional home energy audit will highlight areas of your property that are falling short and allowing energy to escape. A review of both the interior and exterior of your home will identify its energy use and the potential for savings and efficiency. Since energy conservation is the most cost effective way to reduce energy bills, it should be the first steps you take when installing a solar panel system. Many utility companies provide free or reduced energy audits for their customers. For example, PNM—a power utility provider in New Mexico—provides home energy audits for as little as $15.
Initial Solar Considerations in New Mexico
Many considerations are required before installing solar panels in a home or small business. First, you must determine if your roof is structurally sound and capable of supporting the weight of a solar panel array or that land space is available for a ground-based system. In addition, the condition of the roof itself is important, as you would not want to install an array only to face removal five years in because your roof needs repair and/or replacing. You must also determine an appropriate panel size, type, and configuration as well as design a system suitable for the specifics of your property.
Hiring a Certified Solar Contractor in New Mexico
Due to the complexity of the project as mentioned above, it is highly recommended that you forgo solar panel installation yourself and hire a solar contractor. Your contractor is the single most important part of the project, as they will control the quality of the installation from start to finish. Their responsibilities include sizing, designing, procuring necessary equipment as well as overseeing the interconnection phase of the project when your solar power system is connected to the main power grid.
Before entering into an agreement with a contractor, you should first verify their credentials and qualifications. Obtain a copy of their state contractor’s license and proof of insurance. Visit the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department website where you can use access their contractor license verification services. In addition, you can verify insurance coverage by contacting the applicable insurance company. Finish your investigative work by contacting the BBB “Better Business Bureau” or the consumer protection division of the State of New Mexico Office of the Attorney General to search for customer complaints or recent legal actions.
As a final layer of protection, ask your contractor for a list of references or recent customers. You can contact the individuals to inquire about overall job satisfaction, timeliness and job site cleanliness.
Solar Permitting Process in New Mexico
Installing a solar array in New Mexico will require an electrical and/or mechanical building permit. Both property owners and contractors are eligible to apply for the permit in person at their local building department. Many New Mexico cities provide online forms and applications on their websites. For example, you can view Albuquerque’s permits forms and applications website by clicking here.
New Mexico’s Climate is Ideal for Solar Energy Production
Climate plays a major role in solar power production, particularly sunny days. New Mexico enjoys approximately 278 days of sunshine per year. While this estimate includes days when cloud cover is 30-percent or less, that is still a lot of sunshine your solar panels can convert to clean and inexpensive electricity. While cloud cover, fog and rainy days will diminish power production, your panels will still produce electricity.
Benefits of Solar Power in New Mexico
- Reduced monthly utility bills for the lifetime of the solar product
- A return on your investment of 10 to 15-percent per year
- Clean energy reduces dependence on foreign oil
- Reduces your carbon footprint
- Reduces greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming
- A solid marketing tool should you decide to sell your property
- An immediate increase to your property’s value
Types of Solar Panel Systems Used in New Mexico
You and your contractor will determine the best solar configuration for your property based on your power needs. Many factors must be considered to achieve the most efficient system for your property including building size, climate and any structural limitations as well as existing structures or foliage that could limit the panel’s access to the sun. The most common type of solar panel system installed in residential applications is a Grid-Tie solar panel. A Grid-Tie solar panel configuration consists of a number of solar panels connected to a breaker in your home’s main circuit panel box. An inverter is necessary to convert the DC “Direct Current” produced by the panels to AC “Alternating Current” required to power your home. The converted power travels back through the circuit breaker and into your service—breaker box—panel. A net meter monitors the amount of electricity produced by your solar panels. Excess energy you do not use is diverted into the main power grid and can be sold to the applicable power company. This type of configuration is the most common and acts a supplement to grid power. You will still need the grid to power your home at night or on days not conducive to solar energy production.
Using Solar Power to Heat Water in New Mexico
Solar thermal water heating is one of the most reliable methods used to produce domestic hot water. Panels utilize thermal energy from the sun gathered in rooftop collectors to generate heat, which is used to produce hot water for domestic use. Many benefits are realized when converting to a solar water heater including reduced carbon footprint, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, increased property value and financial savings by lowering energy costs.
Reducing the Costs of Solar Power Installation in New Mexico
Installing a solar panel system in your home or business can be expensive. Local, state and federal programs are available designed to promote solar energy by reducing the upfront costs incurred with equipment purchase and installation. Many of these programs are time sensitive and may expire soon.
- New Mexico Solar Market Development Tax Credit or Solar Tax Credit is set to expire by August 2016. Click here to access an online application.
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provide tax credits for 30-percent of the cost with no cap through 2016. Update: this program has been extended through December 31, 2019.
Search for more programs that may reduce the costs of solar power for your home or business by visiting the DSIRE “Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency” website.
Paying for Solar Installation in New Mexico
Financing is available to New Mexico residents that can help you achieve your solar energy goals. Paying cash will always provide the greatest return on any investment; however, many do not have the necessary funds available. Traditional methods range from using the equity in your property to obtain a HELOC “Home Equity Line of Credit” to a second mortgage or even a credit card. In addition, many lending institutions offer reduced rate “green” loans for renewable energy and energy efficient home improvements. For example, Osceola Energy has partnered with green banks to create an affordable, zero down, solar financing program. Learn more by visiting osceolaenergy.com.
In addition and according to the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico residents can now lease solar electric systems for up to 25 years with no upfront costs. This was made possible by an agreement between Albuquerque’s Affordable Solar Group and Texas-based solar leasing company Sunnova Energy Corp. Homeowners simply pay a monthly fee for the photovoltaic system. Since ownership is retained by Sunnova, homeowners are not responsible for repairs and annual maintenance. The systems will offset customer’s utility bills enough so they realize reduced electric costs versus what they pay now. Its a win-win situation for those who cannot purchase a solar panel system outright.