Solar isn't a one trick pony. When combined with various compatible technologies (all of which ReVision installs), solar can help your home or business become more efficient and less costly.
Today, efficient air source heat pumps are the system of choice for both new construction and existing homes to heat and cool efficiently, with or without solar energy. An air source heat pump uses the same technology as a geothermal heat pump, but since it uses ambient air as its source it is a much simpler project and, as a result, a smaller upfront investment.
Heat pumps have been used for decades in the Southern states, but thanks to dramatic improvements in their low-temperature performance, they are now being rapidly adopted in the Northeast. The latest generation of heat pumps can work in temperatures as low as -17 Fahrenheit.
The vast majority of systems we install are ductless, consisting of an outside compressor/evaporator and an inside air handler. The units are connected using copper refrigerant line; we triple evacuate the lines with a deep vacuum and dry nitrogen purge before charging them with an advanced refrigerant for the most efficient and reliable installation.
Based on current grid electricity prices, it costs the equivalent of around $2.30/gallon of oil to heat with a heat pump, and using solar, as little as $0.84/gallon! In cooling mode, a modern heat pump is roughly 1/2 the operating cost of a window unit air conditioner.
The chart below compares average heating costs for different heating sources. Using recent average fuel prices in ME, MA, and NH, we can compare these fuel sources by calculating their cost per million BTU (a unit of heat). You can see that it’s a lot more cost-effective for heat pumps to generate the same amount of heat as propane or oil heater, especially when powered by solar.
*Assumes typical oil boiler operating at 65% efficiency, propane at 80% efficiency, and heat pump at 250% efficiency (COP of 2.5). Solar PV kilowatt-hour cost of 8 cents per kilowatt-hour over 25-year timeframe based on typical pricing economics of a 8.5kw + system. Economics are estimates and subject to the local cost of oil, propane, and electricity.
Learn more about heat pumps on our dedicated page: Solar-Powered Heat Pumps
Water heating is one of the most cost-effective solar technologies. For an average 4-person home currently heating domestic hot water with an oil-fired boiler, you can save more than 300 gallons of oil per year by switching to solar hot water!
The most efficient way to get hot water currently is to install a solar electric system and then generate electricity which can be used to power an electric water heater. We strongly recommend a well-made Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) which offers an incredible combination of efficiency and convenience.
The climate crisis is leading to an increase in extreme weather events and power outages across New England. Combined with our growing reliance on home electronics, this has led many New England homeowners to install fossil fuel-powered generators to provide backup power in case of a grid outage. Thanks to rapidly improving solar technology, we can now offer a cleaner, quieter, more efficient method of backup power: Solar Battery Storage.
Every solar system we are currently designing is ‘forward compatible’ with storage, whether or not a battery pack is installed at the time of the solar installation. Not only can these “solar batteries” keep the lights on when the grid is down, but they can also support the utility grid by filling intermittent gaps in renewable energy production on stormy days.
A lot of progress has been made in the technologies that are involved in solar electric power production. The area of batteries is no different. Just a few years ago, the cost and challenge to integrate battery systems with a solar electric array meant that unless there was a specific use case—remote location, critical 24/7 electric loads—we would often advise a customer against adding battery storage. Simply put, a grid-tied solar array (dependent on the grid with no on-site battery backup) was simpler, more reliable, and a better overall investment.
Learn more about solar batteries on our dedicated page: Solar Battery Backup
The increased frequency of extreme weather events in New England (which scientists link to the effects of increasing carbon pollution in our atmosphere), together with our increasing reliance on electronics in the home has led many New England homeowners to install fossil fuel powered backup generators to provide assured power in the case of a grid outage.
Many homeowners also are concerned about the threats of cyber attacks or terrorism on grid infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of generators are sold across the United States each year, the majority of them dirty, inefficient, gas-burning portable backup generators sold at big box stores.
For the homeowner considering a propane or gas powered standby generator, the economics and properties of a solar-powered storage solution can be quite attractive. While a generator can provide power for everything, for a limited period of time, a solar + battery solution can provide power for the essentials, for a near unlimited period of time.
Additionally, solar arrays perform consistently well in New England's snowy, storm-prone climate, granting residents with solar powered homes a great level of security during our tough, unpredictable winters.