What You Need to Know to Go Solar in New Hampshire
New Hampshire might be known a bit more for maple syrup and its northern mountains than the strength of its sunshine, but don’t be fooled! Solar energy is today the most cost-effective way for homes, businesses, and institutions in New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire
It may not seem it in the midst of a winter storm, but New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire will produce a disproportionately high amount of power, helping to make up for any power loss due to solar panels being covered in snow.
New Hampshirites 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!).
What About this Net Metering Thing, am I Okay?
For part of 2016, the industry was essentially on-hold while the NH legislature dealt with a ‘cap’ with solar net metering – the right for you to hook up with the utility to sell your excess solar power generation. This was recently resolved and as of now net metering applications are now being processed on a timely basis again.
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.
Here’s an example breakdown of a standard rooftop mount 6.2kw solar electric array (24 panels). This system will produce around 7,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to meet 100% of the needs of many homes.
$24,800 gross installed cost
– ($7,440) 30% federal tax credit
– ($2,500) state rebate
$14,860 total NH solar investment
Say you pay 16 cents per kilowatt-hour now for electricity, by saving you $1,250/yr, the system will have paid for its installation cost in roughly 12 years and will continue producing free power for the next 20+ years. Solar power equipment is warrantied for 25 years, and we expect it to last for more like 40+ years.
What about RECs?
The ‘green’ properties of your solar array have value and can be sold for additional revenue. For every 1,000 kilowatt-hours, a solar customer earns a Renewable Energy Credit or REC. RECs can be sold into markets where power companies are obligated to purchase a certain amount of clean energy to meet requirements under state law. The fees for RECs vary widely, they are currently around $30 per REC in New Hampshire. So for example, the above system would generate 7 RECs per year (7,800 / 1,000 = 7.8) worth 7 * $30 = $210 in additional revenue each year.
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.