What You Need to Know to Go Solar in Maine
The Sun Rocks in Maine
Lobsters. Lighthouses. Rugged coastlines. Deep woods. Maine boasts a host of glorious natural resources, but did you know perhaps the most valuable one falls from the sky?
That’s right, solar energy is today the most cost-effective way for homes, businesses, and municipalities in Maine to get control over their energy bills and lock in a reliable cost of energy from a proven solution: the sun.
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!).
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!
How Much Does it Cost? (and what are the incentives?)
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 the “Will Solar Work For Me?” widget below to learn how YOU can get started powering your life with solar!