But it’s so cloudy in the Southern Tier Region! Can solar work here? New York has an excellent solar resource, which is equivalent to about 2/3rds of that of Arizona and Southern California annually, and much more than in Germany, which leads the world in solar installs.
Can Solar PV meet 100% of my electricity needs? Absolutely, solar PV can definitely meet 100% of your electricity needs and this is the goal of most people. Typically systems are designed to meet 100% of your electrical usage on an annual basis. Smaller systems are also just fine and sometimes can make more sense because of space or budget constraints.
How big of a PV system would I need to power my home? To get a rough estimate, you can divide your annual electrical usage (in kWh) by 1.1. This will give you the size of the system in Watts, assuming you have good solar exposure. For a better approximation, you can use this solar calculator from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
What about solar hot water? Heating water with the sun's works well in our region and can be a good solution for your home's hot water needs. There are incentives available to reduce the cost of the system. Some local contractors with expertise in this field are ETM Solar Works, Halco and Solar is Hot.
Will solar affect the value of my home? Likely, yes. There is strong evidence that solar PV positively impacts home value. A 2015 study from Berkeley Lab “Selling Into the Sun” [pdf] looked at 1000s of homes with and without solar electric and compared their sale price. Conclusion: solar PV increases value of home to the tune of $4 per Watt (e.g. $20,000 for a 5kW system)--but only when the solar system is owned (not leased).
Is my home right for solar? Solar works best facing south, southwest, and southeast. There should be minimal shading from trees, buildings, chimneys and other obstacles, or the cause of the shading should be able to be mitigated. Shading can be measured exactly by a contractor, and that is a standard part of the site assessment process. Another possible consideration for installing solar is the condition of your roof. Roofs should typically have at least 7-10 years of life remaining in order for a new solar system to be located there. If you have a roof that is older than that or in poor condition, your contractor can help you get an estimate for replacing all or just part of the roof to enable the installation of a solar system.
You can also install solar on the ground, or purchase solar through a solar farm. Solar can work for everyone.
Resources & Further Questions
In addition, the Solar Energy Industries Association has a number of guides for consumers on working with contractors, community solar, and leasing land to solar companies.