Could Solar Panels on Your Roof Power Your Home? | Science

Can solar Panels Power a whole House?

Solar Power / July 29, 2014

Below is a list of the most common questions regarding Solar Electricity. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please feel free to give us a call and we will be more than happy to assist you.

How big of a system do I need?
The size of the system depends on a few factors. The key factor is your yearly kilowatt hour usage. You can get that figure from adding up all your kWh use per month if you happen to save your bills, or you can get it directly from your utility company. Some people choose to try and have a system installed that will cover their entire load – others may opt to offset a certain percentage. The other two factors are your geographic location and the size of your roof or sunny area near the house to put your panels.

Can I run my whole house with solar panels?
That depends on your annual energy load. Average households use between 5, 000 and 10, 000 kilowatt hours per year. A 5, 000 watt system will cover an area of approximately 450 square feet (15 X 30). A 10, 000 watt system will cover twice that. A 5, 000 watt system in Binghamton, NY will produce approximately 5, 601 kWh of energy per year under optimal conditions.

Can I get a really big system to sell back more energy to the utility company?
No. Most utility companies will only allow you a maximum amount of photovoltaics that they will “net meter” or pay you for the excess energy you produce above and beyond your own usage. Also, in New York State in order to receive incentives to install your system you cannot exceed 110% of your historical kWh usage.

What about snow?
The panels won’t produce when they are covered in snow. The good news is that they are extremely slippery and the snow can slide off when exposed to direct sunlight. If there is a small area of the array exposed, the sun will create heat and a film of water will develop under the snow, helping to facilitate snow removal.

How do I get started?
Simple! The first step is to get your kilowatt hour usage for the year and fill out the ETM Solar questionnaire. Once you submit it to us, a representative from ETM Solar Works will get in touch with you. At that point a site survey can be scheduled to determine if your site is viable for solar. Or you can simply give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you.

How long will it take to have a system up and running?
Generally it takes 14 to 16 weeks from the signature on the contract to having your system up and running. The actual installation may take anywhere from three to five days. The long lead times center around paperwork and inspections, both of which ETM Solar will handle for you.

Is there enough sun in the Northeast to make a system worth it?
Absolutely. Binghamton, NY gets 73% of the sun that San Diego, California gets. There is plenty of sun to go around. Germany, an international solar leader, actually gets less sun than we do.

Can I heat with photovoltaic panels if I heat with electricity?
Not the best application. Converting electricity to heating is an expensive way to use electricity. Try a ground source heat pump!