Getting Started with Solar

Invictus Electrical is a partner with the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency in that we are an Eligible Installer in their Photovoltaic program and eligible for aquiring - on your behalf - the financial incentives offered by the state. NYSERDA has a very well-written and consumer friendly guide to purchasing a Solar Electric System. We recommend it as the first place to start if you are considering purchasing a system. Download the Solar Guide

Frequently asked questions

Powering your home and office is intriguing, but how does it work and is it right for you. Here is a great place to get started.

What are Photovoltaics?
Photovoltaic or PV systems convert sunlight directly into electricity that can serve a portion of your home’s electrical needs. PV systems are connected to your home’s electrical service panel and are used to supplement your existing utility service.

How much do Photovoltaic systems cost and what are the benefits?
An approximate installed cost for a typical four-kilowatt PV system is $32,000-40,000 before incentives. Through the New York Energy $mart Program and potential Federal and New York State tax credits, the initial cost of these systems can be reduced by up to $25,000 if the PV system is on a New York ENERGY STAR® Labeled Home.

What is a typical size of a system?
A four-kilowatt system will produce about 4,600 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. A typical New York State residential home uses about 600 kilowatt hours per month.

How else does it save me money?
A PV system is an investment that helps the environment and makes you less vulnerable to increases in the price of electricity.

When does the system produce electricity?
With proper location, a PV system works anytime the sun is shining. It works best when facing south and should not be shaded by trees, nearby buildings, or other obstructions.

Does the utility pay me for electricity I don't use?
When the PV system is generating more electricity than your home is using you will receive a credit for the excess power from your utility. It spins the electric meter backward.

What are the environmental benefits?
PV systems are gentle on the environment. In contrast with electricity generated by fossil fuels, PV-generated electricity creates no air or water pollution.

Will the system work in a power outage?
When combined with a battery system, a PV unit can provide you with power when utility power is out.

How much can I save?
It depends on:
• how large the PV system is
• how sunny the local area is
• the orientation of the PV panels
• how much you pay your utility for electricity
For example:
A four-kilowatt PV system located on the south-facing roof of a home can produce about 4,600 kilowatt hours per year and can typically offset 70–80% of a home’s electricity needs. When combined with improving the energy efficiency of your home, the savings on your electric bill can be even more significant.

Why put a PV system on an ENERGY STAR® - labeled home?
It costs less to reduce your utility bill through conservation and energy efficiency than with a PV system. An ENERGY STAR® - labeled home is 30% more efficient than a conventional home. The more energy-efficient your house is, the greater the impact of a PV system.

Does my roof or property contain a large enough area for the PV system? The amount of space that a PV system needs depends on the size of the system you purchase. Some residential systems require as little as 50 square feet (for a small “starter” system), but others could need as much as 1,000 square feet.

Commercial systems are typically even larger. If your location limits the size of your system, you may want to install one that uses more efficient PV modules. Greater efficiency means that the module needs less surface area to convert sunlight into a given amount of electric power. PV modules are available in a range of types, and some offer more efficiency per square foot than others do (see table on the next page). Although the efficiency (percent of sunlight converted to electricity) varies with the different types of PV modules available today, higher efficiency modules typically cost more. System sizing should be discussed with your PV provider.

What kind of roof do I need and in what condition?
Some types of roofs are simpler and cheaper to work with, but a PV system can be installed on any type. Typically, roofs with composition shingles are the easiest to work with, and those with slate are the most difficult. In any case, an experienced solar installer will know how to work on all types and can use roofing techniques that eliminate any possibility of leaks. Ask your PV provider how the PV system affects your roof warranty.

If your roof is older and needs to be replaced in the near future, you may want to replace it at the time the PV system is installed to avoid the cost of removing and reinstalling your PV system. PV panels often can be integrated into the roof itself, and some modules are actually designed as three-tab shingles or raised-seam metal roof sections. One benefit of these systems is their ability to offset the cost of roof materials.

How big should my PV system be, and what features should it have?
To begin, consider what portion of your current electricity needs you would like your PV system to meet. For example, suppose that you would like to meet 50% of your electricity needs with your PV system. You could work with your PV provider to examine past electric bills and determine the size of the PV system needed to achieve that goal. You can contact your utility and request the total electricity usage, measured in kilowatt-hours, for your household or business over the past 12 months (or consult your electric bills if you save them). Ask your PV provider how much your new PV system will produce per year (also measured in kilowatt-hours) and compare that number to your annual electricity usage (called demand) to get an idea of how much you will save.

Do I need batteries?
Batteries add value to your system, and can provide power in the case of a power outage, but at an increased price.