Solar FAQs

Why should I choose Cantiague Solar Electric as my solar energy equipment installer?

Simply put, we work hard to do things right the first time. We truly go above and beyond what most contractors will do for you as far as follow through.

We know the in’s and out’s of the paperwork requirements, and we’ll help you with our attention to every detail along your project’s path.

We have the ultimate in experience, we install exceptional quality products in our use of SHARP solar panels, we are reliable and ethical and last but not least, we have economical pricing.

Take the next step! Contact us to weigh your prospects for success with solar electric.

Should I consider leasing a solar system?

Our simple answer is “NO.

Why would you create a monthly expense for a very low return on your cash, instead of BUYING a system with cash, or “no money down” financing? A purchased system will return ten times the investment of a leased system!

If you are still reading, consider the following…

When you lease a solar array, you don’t own the system. You actually have a monthly expense to pay for the system. Then you hope to save money by lowering your electric bill. Generally, this amounts to a savings of only $25 to $45 a month. Lease payments usually escalate over the course of the rental period, so the lease actually costs more each year of operation, negating the potential savings of rising utility rates.

In considering leasing versus owning a system, be particularly aware of the utility inflation rate you are agreeing to. You should only consider a lease who’s Payment Escalator achieves a “fixed” energy cost, so that your energy costs don’t inflate over time.

A solar lease adds no value to your property. Instead, it is likely to decrease your home’s value and be a hindrance if you sell your home during the lease period.

If you encounter someone selling solar leases, be sure to:

• note what the utility inflation rate is in their sales pitch and paperwork
• understand how any Payment Escalator works
• inquire as to ways you can end your lease or transfer it to someone who’s buying your home
• be aware of possible system warranty limits
• ask about your financial responsibilities at the end of the lease

The solar lease concept is brought to you by the same people who dreamed up sub-prime mortgages. These investment bankers and Wall Street brokers have found a way to finance solar for you, but to take all the benefits that should have been yours out of the equation.

They take the federal and state tax credits and your rebate! They depreciate the system, taking even more tax credits, and they help themselves to the largest portion of what should have been YOUR energy savings. No wonder they want you to let them use your roof!

When we add it all up, we can’t find a single good reason for homeowners to lease a system instead of buying one. At Cantiague Electric, we feel that leasing is a terrible prospect for 99% of prospective solar customers. We have had many offers to enter the leasing boom. We firmly believe that the right thing to do it to warn customers AWAY from leases. We are also refusing to install leased systems.

For further information on leasing versus purchase of a solar (PV)system, visit our”Don’t Lease Solar” page.

Will solar work on my home?

Solar electricity systems work on most homes, providing that the solar array gets an average of 4.5 full sun hours. In order to determine if your home meets this requirement, it is necessary to perform a sun path-shading analysis. Cantiague Electric performs this service free of charge.

How does a solar electric system work?

Solar electricity works in very much the same way as a solar-powered calculator, converting light into energy. Solar panels are made from thin layers of silicon (a semiconductor material capable of absorbing the sun’s rays) are placed on the roof of your home or professional building. These panels convert the absorbed light into electricity, which is fed into your circuit breaker panel through a photovoltaic inverter. Your home or business will run on this electricity with no interruption in service, and no waste of electricity.

Of course, your electricity needs will be met day and night, rain or shine. And with net metering, it will be done without storage batteries. That’s because your home or office will be connected to the utility grid, essentially selling power to the electric company when you have excess, and buying it back when you need it. The result is the elimination of paying for electricity, and actually seeing your meter run backwards!

How much electrical generation capacity do I need?

As a starting point, you might consider how much of your present electricity needs you would like to meet with a PV system.

For example, if you would like to meet 50% of your electricity needs with PV, you would work with Cantiague Electric to examine your past electric bills and determine the size of the PV system needed to achieve that goal. Remember, your roof size and orientation will also play an important role in the size of the PV system you can install.

Contact LIPA by calling (800) 490-0025 and request the total electricity usage, measured in kilowatt-hours, for your household over the last 12 months. Then ask Cantiague Electric how much your new solar electric system will produce annually. Compare that number to your annual electric demand to get an idea of how much you will save. Then, please contact us.

Are solar installations worth the expense?

Solar systems are inexpensive. Our systems can pay themselves down in as little as 5 years. If you buy a Cantiague solar electric system all or part of your electricity expense will end. If you don’t buy a Cantiague solar electric system, you will pay for it anyway. In 5 years, you will start paying for it again. Stop the waste now. Cantiague will show you the rate of return for this foolproof investment and we can predict the energy savings for the life of the system.

What cost and tax incentives are available to me for purchasing a PV system?

LIPA offers generous rebates, which are calculated per installed watt. As of December, 2011, this rate is $1.75 per installed watt. There is a proposal in the works now under which LIPA would calculate your rebate as “performance-based”. This rebate would then range from $1.60 to $2.20 per installed watt, depending upon the pitch of your roof, your home’s orientation to the sun, your roof’s age, and a number of other factors. Current thinking is that this proposal may become effective as of January 10, 2012.

Cantiague Electric also accepts “rebate assignments”. You can assign your rebate to us, and we will wait for the payment from LIPA after your installation is completed. There is a Federal tax credit equal to 30% of the installed cost of the job after rebate. New York State also grants a solar tax credit of 25% of the job after rebate.

Does a PV system raise my property’s value?

Yes, conservative estimates reflect a property value increase of $3.00 per installed watt. Therefore, a 10,000 watt PV system would increase property valve by $30,000.00! Wouldn’t you want to buy a house that did not have an electric bill?

Will the improvement of adding a solar panel system to my home cause my taxes to go up?

No. NYS tax legislation insures this.

How long will my system last?

Modules are guaranteed for 25 years, inverters are guaranteed for 10, 15, 20 or 25 years, depending on the system. Cantiague Electric’s workmanship is guaranteed for 10 years. The array is designed by a PE (professional engineer) to withstand 120 mile per hour winds. Additionally, the modules can withstand 1” diameter hail balls at 50mph.

What is Net Metering?

Net metering occurs when a customer’s solar electric system generates more electric energy than it consumes. When this occurs, the electric meter will spin in reverse. The excess electricity is returned to the LIPA system. At the end of each month, the net metered customer is billed only for the net consumption, that is, the amount of electricity consumed, less the amount of electricity produced. You can learn more about net metering here

How long does it take to install a PV system?

It usually takes about 3 months to get a system in place once you decide to do it. Most of this time is necessary for LIPA paperwork and municipal building permits. However once the paperwork is done the actual job takes less than one week.

How much electricity will the system produce?

The amount of electricity produced is determined by the size of the system, the directional orientation and the roof’s pitch. Some systems deliver up to 105% of a home’s energy needs, while some systems only produce a portion of required power. A site survey by Cantiague Electric will help you assess your property’s prospects.

Will I have electricity when there is a utility blackout?

NO. “Grid Tied” PV inverters are designed with an anti-islanding system so that solar electricity cannot be backfed into the grid when it is down. This is a safety feature for utility workers.

Can I heat my home with a PV system?

The short answer is no. PV systems produce electricity. Solar thermal systems produce heat. They are separate technologies. Solar thermal systems, in this climate, are 3 season systems (Spring, Summer, Fall.) Therefore these systems do not work well for home heating. They can work very nicely for the domestic hot water portion of the home heating requirement. If you wanted to use solar electricity for supplemental electric space heating, that would be OK.

Do I need batteries to store the solar electricity?

No, in a “grid tied” PV system, excess electricity produced during the day is sent back to the utility through the electric meter. This is “net metering”. While you are exporting your excess electricity to “the grid”, the meter runs in reverse, and you get credit for the electricity that you “sell”. You can actually get paid to stand around and watch your meter spin backwards.

Do I need a new roof?

If your roof is less than 10 years old you probably do not need a new roof. Cantiague electric will assess the condition of your roof while we perform the sunpath-shade analysis. The solar panels will protect the portion of the roof that they cover. The system will be up there for more then 30 years.

Is my home right for a solar energy system?

A PV system needs unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day throughout the year. PV panels are relatively unaffected by changing weather and the modules are angled to “catch” the sun, not snow. Any snow that does collect melts quickly. Here are some important tips that will help you determine if your home is right for PV:
* PV systems are best installed on a southern exposed roof, however some east or west exposures may also be acceptable.
* PV systems are ideally mounted parallel with the roof at a 35 degree roof pitch with no shading between the hours of 9 AM and 4 PM.
* Shading can include trees, chimneys, TV antennas, satellite dishes, dormers & gables.
* A PV system can be installed on any well-structured roof. If your roof is older and needs to be replaced in the near future, you may want to replace it at the same time your PV system is installed.
* The amount of space needed for a PV system is based on the output and type of the system. Your roof size and orientation will determine how much PV you can install on your roof.

What about rainy, cloudy and snow covered days?

The system is sized at 4.5 full sun hour days. This is NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratories) data which has been recorded for 25 years. While weather conditions change day by day, our system is sized for yearly output. Since we know what your system will produce, the rainy, snowy, cloudy days are effectively “figured in”.

Does my PV solar system work at night?

No. With net metering you “sell” in the daytime, you “buy” at night. Your electrical service will of course not be interrupted.

What is a PV cell?

PV cells are thin squares, discs or films that generate voltage and current when exposed.

What is a module?

Commonly known as a “solar panel” a module is a configuration of PU cells laminated between a clear substrate (glass) and encapsulating substrate.

What is an inverter?

An electrical device that transforms the (DC) power produced by solar modules into utility compatible alternating current (AC).

What if my solar panels are shaded?

Execution of a shading sunpath analysis is very important prior to any PV installation.

Shade will cause the system to stop working. We can design some shade tolerance into our systems. Your system will continue to produce electricity during cloudy weather, although the total amount will be reduced.

Power will automatically be provided through LIPA at night or during inclement weather as needed. Cantiague Electric will perform a shade analysis before submitting your proposal. There will be no surprises.

Do I need to clean my solar panels?

No, the rain will do it for you.

Are there any common problem following solar panel installations?

Squirrels on Long Island have been known to build nests under solar modules. Squirrels also commonly chew insulation on electrical wires. These situations can cause a ground fault to the solar system, or even a fire.

Cantiague Electric includes a “Squirrel Guard” on every residential solar installation. This protective device is a rigid wire mesh system that fits neatly between your solar panels and your roof. It is hardly noticeable to the eye and will prevent infestation.