Grid Tied Photovoltaic (GTPV) Solar Power Systems for MA Homes
Grid tied solar offers Massachusetts homeowners the ability to make a sound, better-than-market investment that is good for the environment.
Why Install Solar?
Massachusetts is an energy-hungry state, ranking 25th in the nation for overall consumption, consuming 1.6% of all the power created in the United States with over 23,433,162 tons of C02 emissions created each year from coal plants alone. Petroleum-based power generation - perhaps even more environmentally destructive than coal - makes up a whopping 26% of Massachusetts's energy mix compared to 6% nationwide.
Recognizing the state's dangerous dependence on non-renewable sources of electricity, Massachusetts has developed some of the most solar-friendly policies in the nation:
- 30% federal tax credit
- State rebate of up to $4,250
- State income tax credit of $1,000
- Average $1,600 yearly revenue in SRECs
The Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) program is set up to allow homeowners to sell carbon credits generated from their solar panel installation to power companies who are required by state law to purchase a certain amount of renewable energy as dictated in the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
The MA-run SREC program is a market based approach where you get paid for the production of your system in addition to what you save by being your own producer with your solar energy system.
Example: With a 5kw solar electric array, you'll save somewhere around $900 on your electric bill, and then earn an additional SREC credit of $1,600 for a total of ~$2,520 in 'solar cashflow' each year. After rebates, a 5kw system is ~$12,000. Between SRECs and credits, your system will pay for itself in around 5 years!
Why Should I Own a System Instead of Leasing It?
As stated above, a solar array will pay for itself in just 5 years. Due to the generosity of Massachusetts rebate programs, national solar leasing companies have moved aggressively into the MA market offering 0-down leasing programs for homeowners.
While a leasing product is great for some people, there are significant benefits to owning your own solar electric system rather than leasing it:
- You get to benefit from all the state and federal rebates rather than allowing these incentives to be received by the leasing company
- After energy savings and SRECs pay off the cost of the system - typically in 5 years - you will enjoy decades of free electricity
- If you look at these electricity savings as a form of investment, you'll see that your solar investment returns annually ~15%
- By owning your solar electric system you can really be energy free. In a lease, you will swap from paying the power company to paying the solar company. If you own your system, you will be independent of this utility cost forever.
Bear in mind that solar leasing companies exist because solar in MA is an unbelievably great investment! Not only do you create energy independence but you gain the value of the rebates, tax credits and the aggressive SREC value showing short returns on your investment. By investing in your own system, you own all of these excellent rebates and incentives rather than giving them to a third party.
We think solar is all about independence - independence from the rising cost of energy, independence from fossil fuels, and independence from the solar leasing company. Owning a solar electric system of your own may cost less than you think, contact us for details on how we can help you save money and the environment by solarizing your Massachusetts home.
How Does Grid-Tied Work?
Grid-tied photovoltaic arrays have no batteries, no complex wiring, no moving parts - unlike the off-grid solar systems of the old days.
The beauty of a grid-tied system is that instead of buying batteries, you use the electric grid as a big battery - when you produce more than you need, you push power out to the grid. When you need more electricity than you are generating, you simply draw power off the electrical grid as usual.
The key piece of equipment is the solar electric inverter which converts the Direct Current (DC) electricity generated by the photovoltaic panels into grid-compliant Alternating Current (AC) electricity used in your home.
Whenever you are producing more electricity than you need, the extra flows out to the grid and you get a credit from the utility which you can use against future electric bills. By generating as much electricity with your solar panels as your house consumes, you can make your home effectively net zero.
ReVision Energy provides licensed and professional design and installation of Grid-tied PV systems and offers free quotes.
Why Invest in Solar?
Solar energy is one of the safest investment options on the market today, delivering:
- 100% guaranteed financial return on investment (you get all of your money back, then an 'annuity' for decades in the form of avoided electricity costs)
- Environmental return on investment (eliminate thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions annually)
- Home equity return on investment (solar is proven to increase the value of any property by lowering cost of ownership)
- Community return on investment (everyone benefits from cleaner air & reduced dependence on fossil energy)
Other Frequently Asked Questions (Solar FAQ)
- Why should I install a Grid-Tied solar electric system on my house?
Grid-tied solar electricity offers a way to fix your electricity rate for as long as 50 years. The maintenance-free panels come with a 25-year warranty and the expected useful lifespan is double that. A grid-tied pv system can protect you from electricity price increases for decades. That's a feeling of energy security that is hard to duplicate. Many of our clients feel better knowing that they are producing their own electricity without any environmental harm - that they are part of the energy solution and no longer part of the problem.
- How long will an installation take?
Our typical residential solar power job takes us about 40 hours of installation time on the roof, and about 10 hours inside the house. We typically send two technicians, so most jobs are completed in 2-3 days.
- Will it pay for itself?
Generous MA state and federal rebates mean a solar electric system will pay for itself in as little as 5 years! As the cost for grid power increases, the system pays for itself even more quickly.
- Should I wait for ____ technology which will decrease the cost of solar tenfold?
While we're big fans of photovoltaic technology and have seen a lot of great innovations to solar energy systems, we sincerely believe the solar industry is in a "sweet spot" of availability of government incentives and compelling prices. Yes, solar panels will cost less in the future than they do today. But unlike microprocessors, they do not drop in price exponentially. And in the meantime, while you're waiting for the price of solar to go down, you could be generating your own power! Unlike your old computers, solar panels grow more valuable in time as the cost of energy goes up.
- What are the incentives?
There is a federal tax credit of 30% the cost of the system, as well as local and state rebates. In Massachusetts, you benefit from a federal tax credt, a state rebate, a state income tax credit, and the ability to sell your solar electric credits on the open market.
- Does my roof need to face directly south?
In Massachusetts, the ideal roof orientation is 196 degrees on the compass (known as 'solar south'), but an installation of +/- 50 degrees (155 -245) is also fine. Within this range, power output stays within seven or eight percent of maximum. Even more easterly and westerly roof installations are viable, especially on shallower roofs. For example, a 7/12 roof that is due east or due west still achieves 77% of a system's potential performance. More important than angle, generally, is shading. We don't want to see any shading on a solar roof from 9 am to 3 pm, year-round. Technological improvements such as microinverters can compensate for shading issues - to some extent.
- Will the solar array put holes in my roof, or be too heavy?
We mount solar panels on a purpose-built aluminum rail system that is fastened about every six feet by penetrations into roof rafters. On a standing seam metal roof, these attachments are made directly to the standing seams, with no roof penetrations. On asphalt roofs, each mount is sealed with 50-year silicone sealant to prevent any leaks. We have not heard of a single leak as a result of PV mountings. As for the weight of the array, it is less than 5 pounds per square foot, so a typically framed roof is more than adequate to carry the weight.
- How much roof space will I need?
Every kilowatt of solar array takes about 110 square feet. So a typical 2kw array will take a roof area about 8' high and 25' long.
- What if my roof is not adequate?
We can also pole-mount photovoltaic panels, or ground-mount panels on a concrete base. Click here for an example.
- How will I know if the system is working?
Today nearly all inverters come with built-in monitoring that varies based on manufacturer. By reconciling your production with your electric bill, you can get a good idea what your household's electric load is and how much of a difference the photovoltaic system is making. We have a page with more information on data monitoring.
- How will my utility bill be different with a solar electric system?
It will be smaller! Kidding aside, the way that utilities "Net Meter" electricity can be a bit confusing the first time you receive a utility bill once your solar electric system is installed.
With solar, your inverter and your household loads are all "behind the meter," meaning that if the sun is out and you are in your house and running loads - say a TV, dryer, and electric stove - your solar-generated power will be consumed without it ever being registered by your utility meter. So at the end of the month, your electric bill will say you've exported fewer kWh to the grid than your inverter says you have generated. This is because your home consumed some solar power before it was ever sold to the utility.
Though it can be a bit confusing, you can feel good about this situation because every kWh you didn't export, is also a kWh you didn't have to buy! That's putting your photovoltaic system to work.
- Will the system be noisy?
Power inverters are relatively quiet - emitting about as much noise as a refrigerator. They are generally installed in utility rooms or basements alongside existing mechanical systems, rather than in living spaces.
- Will I see a difference in my lights or in how appliances run, like on a generator?
Solar electricity is identical to grid power, so you will never notice that the house is running on solar power. What you will see, of course, is a smaller electric bill!
- How much power will I be able to produce?
Each kilowatt watt of grid tied solar will produce 1,200 - 1,400 kWh/year on good solar sites in Massachusetts.
- What happens when power goes out?
When the grid power goes down, the grid-tied solar electric system goes down, too. This is to prevent any accidental back-feeding of solar electricity to the grid which might endanger line-workers. While battery-based backup options exist, they are expensive, often doubling the cost of a solar array. Due to the costs and un-eco properties of batteries, we recommend efficient generators for emergency backup.
- What panels do you recommend?
We use a variety of top, well-respect solar panel manufacturers depending on the application. We are a premier dealer for SunPower, who manufactures the most efficient photovoltaic modules on the market. This means you can get more solar electricity out of a smaller array footprint than you can from competing brands. SunPower is also the only manufacturer offering an 'all black' frame and panel design to mute the aesthetic impact of panels on asphalt roofs.
All reputable solar manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty on their panels, which are expected to live roughly twice that long.
- What inverter do you recommend?
Again, we choose among a variety of top manufacturers depending on application. Among these are SunPower, SMA Sunnyboy, Fronius, and Enphase micro inverters. All inverter companies offer at least a 10-year warranty, though the inverter is expected to last 25 years or longer.