What You Need to Know to Go Solar in Maine in 2021
Lobsters. Lighthouses. Rugged coastlines. Maine boasts a host of glorious natural resources, but did you know perhaps the most valuable one shines brightly in the sky?
It’s time to harness the sun! Maine solar energy is the most cost-effective way for homes, businesses, and municipalities to lower their energy bills and lock in a reliable cost of energy from an endless resource: the sun. With strong solar incentives available, plenty of financing programs, and community solar farm options, make this the year you go solar.
How Solar Power Works in Maine
It may not seem it in the midst of a Nor’easter, but Maine actually receives quite an incredible amount of solar energy each year – in fact, a full 33% more sunshine than Germany, the world leader in solar energy adoption. Our climate may be cold, but cold is actually good for solar panels. In the brisk but sunny fall and spring, solar panels in Maine will produce a disproportionately high amount of power, helping to make up for any power loss due to solar panels being covered in snow.
Mainers going solar have a few options, the most popular is a grid-tied solar electric array. ‘Grid-tied’ means that the system will connect to the public utility grid, providing reliable backup power for when there is insufficient sun to power your home, such as at night or on cloudy days. Conversely, a grid-tied system also sells excess power to the grid, meaning, when it is sunny and your system is producing more solar power than you can use, you’ll send the power back to the public grid, powering your neighbor’s house and earning you a credit. The solar credits you earn can be used against future power consumption from the grid.
Most of the systems we design will meet close to 100% of a home’s needs in a given year. In the summer, you will tend to produce more power than you need and you will earn a credit. In the winter, you will tend to need more power than you produce and so you’ll consume those solar credits. At the end of the year, you should be at or close to zero credits in the solar bank, a situation we call ‘net-zero’ (not to be confused with ‘off-grid,’ which means not using the utility grid at all!).
Solar Makes Sense in Maine! See Why in Our Animation:
I Heard You Can Heat with Solar, is that True?
Yes! Sort of. You can heat your home with electricity, which can be provided by solar. The best way to heat a home using electricity is with an air source heat pump (also called a ‘mini-split’).
These “solar powered heat pumps” extract heat from the outside air even at very low temperatures (-17F) and move this heat into your home through a reverse refrigeration cycle (imagine if you took a window air conditioner and flipped it around). Because they extract heat from the air rather than directly heating indoor air, they operate 2-3x more efficiently than electric baseboard heaters. In the summertime, the system runs in reverse, extracting heat from your home and moving it inside, cooling your home at a rate 2x more efficient than window air conditioners.
The result? A heating system that can run on sunshine for the equivalent of $0.89/gallon for heating oil!
What Maine solar incentives are available?
Recent pushes to develop Maine’s solar industry and expand installations resulted in numerous incentive programs that make going solar in Maine more cost efficient and beneficial than ever before! In addition to net-metering, homeowners and businesses can take advantage of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Recently extended in December 2020, the ITC remains available at 26% through the end of 2022.
How Much Does it Cost?
The easiest thing to do is to open up our solar calculator which will show different size systems and how the pricing varies.
How Do I Get Started?
Glad you asked!
Fill out this form below, or take a look at our guide to going solar if you are interested in learning more.