We do our best to answer all of the questions interested homeowners and businesses have about solar. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and the answers to them!

General Solar Questions

  • How long will a solar 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. That said, our installation queue is typically 6-8 weeks out, sometimes longer, so contact us as soon as you’re interested if you have a sense of urgency about your solar project.

  • Who actually installs the solar array?

    We do! We are a 100% employee-owned company and take pride in installing all of the residential work ourselves. This means you have a consistent experience with one company, all aligned on making sure you are delighted with your solar experience every step of the way. Our install crews are friendly, professional, and well-reviewed from Maine to Massachusetts.

  • Will solar pay for itself?

    Many customers feel that the pride and peace of mind of solar ‘pays for itself’ as soon as the system powers on. From a financial point of view, solar will recoup the outright cash investment in roughly 12 years in Maine or New Hampshire (5 years in Massachusetts). Solar PV provides an 8-10% IRR over 20 years or is immediately cash-flow positive (or neutral) if financed (see: own your power). The system also helps lift the grid overall by providing highly valuable ‘peak’ electricity. With multi-billion dollar grid improvement projects already in place, the one certainty is that rates of grid electricity will go up. Maine’s CMP in is the middle of a $1 billion upgrade project and PSNH rate increases are on the rise due in part to costs to maintain older power plants.

  • What are the incentives of going solar or switching to electric heating?

    Incentives change periodically, we keep an update to date guide to ME, NH & MA solar rebates. Until the end of 2032 you can expect a 30% federal tax credit taken when you file your yearly taxes, and some sort of state rebate that arrives as a check a few weeks after your system is installed. Maine currently does not have a state rebate. Massachusetts has an “SREC” program that offers additional cash incentives for solar power sold as carbon credits on an annual basis.

  • How bad are fracking, tar sands, and climate change?

    Very bad. We have in-depth articles on problems with tar sands oil, fracking for natural gas, and the terrifying implications of climate change in Northern New England.

  • What’s better? Solar or wind power?

    While we’re supportive of all forms of renewable energy, small-scale wind power is generally not cost-effective in the Northeast nor easy to site. In other words, you’ll get more electricity, dollar for dollar, by investing in solar instead of wind. Read on for more about: wind energy vs. solar energy.

Solar FAQs

  • solar plus heat pumpWhy should I install a solar energy system on my home or business?

    Grid-tied solar electricity offers a way to fix your electricity rate for more than 25 years. The maintenance-free panels come with a 25-year production warranty and the expected useful lifespan is up to 50 years (output starts to slow down over time but is still significant). 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.

  • Why should I go solar now? Aren’t innovative new technologies on the way?

    Simply put – the sooner you get solar, the sooner you will enjoy its benefits! If you wait for some unproven technology down the road, you will have missed the opportunity to generate your own power now. Solar is like saving for retirement – the sooner you start doing it, the better. Learn more about why to go solar now.

  • Does my roof need to face directly south in order to go solar?

    In Northern New England, 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 micro-inverters can compensate for shading issues to some extent. The best way to know for certain if your roof is viable for solar is to contact us for a free solar evaluation.

  • 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 four 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 a 50-year Tripolymer sealant to prevent any leaks. We guarantee all roof work will be free from leaks. 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 for a solar array?

    Every kilowatt of the solar array takes about 75 square feet. So a typical 3kW array (twelve panels) will take a roof area about 11′ tall by 20′ wide (two rows of six).

  • How many panels do I need?

    That varies from home to home (or business to business) based on energy usage, solar exposure, and the size of the building, alongside a few other factors. For a very quick estimate of your particular need, check out our Solar Calculator. For a more exact estimate, follow that up with a chat with one of our System Design Specialists.

    As people have converted more aspects of their life to solar (e.g. running heating, cooling, and electric cars) the number of panels we install in the typical system has increased as well. In 2018, the average # of panels installed for residential systems was 25.

  • solar ground mount installed by ReVision Energy

    A solar ground mount array

    What can I do if my roof is not adequate for a solar array?

    At ReVision Energy, we can also pole-mount photovoltaic panels or ground-mount panels on a concrete base.

  • How will I know if the solar array 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.

  • Can I save money by installing my solar electric system myself?

    Solar energy systems are sophisticated pieces of equipment and not suitable for DIY type projects. With grid-tied solar electric, you need to contract with a professional company to meet most state rebate program requirements, as well as to perform the interconnection with the utility. With solar hot water, while you can do the plumbing yourself, the cost and risk associated with a poor installation greatly outweigh the cost of hiring a professional. Learn about the true costs of DIY solar.

  • What does an average system cost?

    That number varies. For a very quick estimate of your particular need, check out our Solar Calculator. For a more exact estimate, follow that up with a chat with one of our System Design Specialists. In 2018, the average installed residential project cost (prior to state and federal incentives) was $25,000.

  • How will my utility bill be different with a solar electric system?

    It will be smaller! 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 the utility company. 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.

  • Can a solar array increase the value of my home?

    Yes! Several studies demonstrate that solar homes are worth more money and sell more quickly. See our blog post for more details: How Much Does Solar Increase the Value of Your Home?

  • Will my property taxes go up because of solar?

    The short answer is – it depends. Most municipalities will not increase your property tax values due to a solar installation, but it’s worth checking with your town (or city) hall to be sure. There is a list of municipalities in NH that have specifically opted-out of applying taxes to solar upgrades: http://www.nh.gov/oep/energy/saving-energy/documents/renewable-energy-exemptions.pdf.

  • Is a solar array noisy?

    Solar 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.

  • Do I need to worry about solar panels in the snow?

    Snow and ice are a reality of installing solar arrays in the Northeast and we design our systems to withstand the toughest weather we get. The reality is, after a snowstorm, your solar panels will be covered in snow. Don’t panic! Usually they ‘self-clear’ quite well on the next sunny day. On an annual basis, the amount of energy production loss due to snow is fairly minor. If you are determined to do something to keep your panels clear, we suggest you read this section about Solar and Winter from our “Why Go Solar?” guide.

  • What about other obstructions like dust or pollen? Or cloudy days?

    Our solar professionals design your system to meet your yearly electric use, using the best weather-data available from government sources (NREL) as well as our proprietary data-set, having built and monitored 1,000s of solar arrays across New England for 15+ years. Our design process is based around annual production, not seasonal, so naturally solar panels produce more in the summer and less in the winter. While the build-up of dust and pollen can affect panel efficiency, panels also clear easily (their surfaces are made of hardened glass) so with the typical rainfall in New England washing the panels yourself is never necessary.

  • Will I see a difference in my lights or in how appliances run with solar, 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 with a solar array?

    On most decent sites in Northern New England, each kilowatt of grid-tied solar will produce ~1,270 kWh/year of electricity. On our free solar evaluation, we will use a professional solar survey tool to assess if shade or off-axis issues will affect your system performance, and present an independently verifiable production element in your system proposal consistent with NREL’s PVWatts tool.

  • What happens to my solar array when the 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. However, a new generation of battery backup technology is available, providing clean backup power in event of a power outage.

  • If I go solar, can I get rid of the utility company and go ‘off-grid’?

    While the idea of cutting ties with the electric company may seem romantic, in reality, it is anything but practical except for very specific cases (generally when utility power is not available and prohibitively expensive to install). Read on for a bit more about Off-Grid Vs. Grid-Tied Solar

  • What types of solar panels does ReVision Energy recommend?

    We use a variety of top, well-respected solar panel manufacturers depending on the application. We usually carry three options, which we call “Good,” “Better,” and “Best.” Our “Better” option is a panel by electronics manufacturer LG. All reputable solar manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty on their panels, which are expected to live roughly twice that long.

  • What solar electric inverter do you recommend?

    ReVision Energy chooses among a variety of top manufacturers depending on the application. Currently the vast majority of systems we install use SolarEdge or Pika Energy inverter technology. All inverter companies offer at least a 10-year warranty, though the inverter is expected to last 25 years or longer.

  • How many years do solar panels generate power?

    Solar panels sold today don’t ever stop generating. While some of the wirings may need upgrading in future years, the panels remain useful for over 40 years and generations to come with a minimal reduction in output in the years after the warranty.

Air Source Heat Pump FAQs

  • Are heat pumps effective in New England temperatures?

    ASHPs used to mainly be seen in the Mid-Atlantic or Southern states, but thanks to Mitsubishi Electric’s dramatic improvements in the low-temperature performance of their extensive line of heat pumps systems, they are being rapidly adopted in the Northeast. The latest generation of heat pumps can provide heating to temps as low as -17° Fahrenheit, making them quite capable of handling most of the coldest days and nights in New England.

  • How do heat pumps work?

    Air source heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air using a reverse refrigeration cycle. Very simply, heat pumps take heat from the outside air and move it inside, rather than directly heating that indoor air. In the summer, the process is again reversed and removes the heat from inside a home or business.

  • How efficient are air source heat pumps?

    Heat pumps use electricity to extract heat from the outside air by reverse refrigeration, hence “air source.” They leverage the heat outside and move it into your home, rather than directly heating the indoor air. By moving heat, instead of making it, the heat pump can heat or cool a space up to 2-3x more efficiently than other electric heating/cooling equipment.

  • How much does it cost to operate an air source heat pumps?

    In our region (New England) heat pumps operate from about 14-17 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending on your utility. That’s the equivalent of paying roughly $1.50/gallon of heating oil – an improvement versus the status quo for sure – but when you combine that heat pump with the locked-in lower rates of solar electricity, that price comes down to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour or roughly $1/gallon of heating oil. That’s an idea we can all warm up to!

  • What kind of heat pump does ReVision Energy recommend?

    We know Mitsubishi Electric’s products inside and out and we are certain of their ability to reliably provide comfort through all of the highs and lows that New England throws their way. As a result of our expertise and experience installing their products, we are trusted Mitsubishi Elite Diamond Contractors and because of that, their heat pumps come with an industry-leading 12-year part and compressor warranty on single-family, residential installations, and a 5-year parts and 7-year compressor warranty on multi-family and commercial installations.

  • What is a “solar-powered heat pump”?

    A solar-powered heat pump simply is an air source heat pump that is powered by the sun! Heat pumps are efficient, but the cost to run that heat pump is ultimately determined by power grid rates. By combining the low operating cost of a heat pump with the locked-in lower rates of solar electricity you have what we call a solar-powered heat pump.

Electric Vehicle Charging FAQs

  • How much does a charging station cost?

    A Level II charging station costs around $2,000. ReVision Energy lowers the price a bit when a charger is bundled with a solar array.

  • How long does it take to charge an electric car?

    A Level II charger can deliver about 25 miles of range per hour of charging. Level II charging is much faster than, and highly preferable to Level I plug-in outlet charging which typically delivers 4-5 miles per hour of charging. A 2017 Chevy Bolt, for example, takes only 8.5 hours to recover its 238-mile range with a Level II charger, and over 36 hours with a Level I charger.