NYSERDA - Detailed Guide to Installing A Solar Electric System

Document Sample
NYSERDA - Detailed Guide to Installing A Solar Electric System Powered By Docstoc
					A D E TA I L E D G U I D E TO I N S TA L L I N G A
Power Naturally                                                  SM

   BACK WITH ENERGY SAVINGS? It’s photovoltaic power
   — solar electric energy — and it harnesses the power of

   sunlight to supply your home with electricity. Simply put,

   photovoltaic (PV) systems produce electricity from sunlight

   through cells that are installed on your roof or elsewhere

   on your property. PV power doesn’t produce any noise or

   pollution, it’s reliable and dependable, and it’s renewable

   so it makes good sense for the environment. For example,

   a 2.5 kW system will provide about 2,900 kilowatt hours

   per year and can typically provide about 25 to 35% of an

   average home’s electricity needs. The more energy efficient

   your house is, the greater the impact of the PV system.
Not only is photovoltaic power
      MORE AFFORDABLE than ever before.

                            This is because New York State is offering cash incentives to bring
                            down the cost of PV systems by 40 to 70%. These incentives from
                            NYSERDA — New York State Energy Research and Development
                            Authority — are available to all customers that pay the Systems
                            Benefit Charge to their electric utility. Working with an eligible
                            installer, you could receive between $4,000 and $5,000 per kilowatt
                            for PV systems up to a maximum of 15 kilowatts. The chart below
                            outlines the different incentive levels NYSERDA is now offering.

                                                   All systems interconnected to
                                                   the electric grid and eligible for    All systems for customers not
                                   End-Use                                               eligible for net metering. Systems
                                                   net metering (served by residential
                                   Photovoltaic    utility rates). Systems must be       must be greater than 500 Watts and
                                   Systems         greater than 500 watts and not        not more than 15kW.
                                                   more than 10kW.

                                   Incentive       $4.00 per Watt, direct current        $5.00 per watt, direct current
                                                   $4.50 per watt for New York           Maximum of 70% of
                                                   ENERGY STAR® Labeled Homes            total installed costs

There are also tax credits of 25% of the purchase price of your system, not
to exceed $3,750, and help from the New York Energy $mart                    Loan Fund,
which provides financing through special loan rates that are reduced by
4% at participating banks. Check www.PowerNaturally.org for more tax
and loan information.

In order to help you get started, we’ve put together this comprehensive
guide, which contains essential information on PV power, including how to
choose an installer, select a PV system, and calculate your potential energy
savings. It’s not a technical installation guide — your PV installer will
handle those issues — but it will explain how PV works and help you decide
if it’s right for you.
    the steps
    step 1 PV basics
            If you’re interested in PV power, the first step is to learn the basics.

    step 2 Conducting your own site survey
            Now take a close look at your own home to find out if PV power
            might be an option for you.

    step 3 Choosing an installer
            Once you’ve covered the basics, learn how to find and select an installer.

    step 4 Understanding your system options
            There are several PV systems to choose from — this section will help you
            find the right one for your home.

    step 5 Determining energy output and savings
            Now you can get an idea of how much energy your PV system
            might generate and what kind of savings that could mean for you.

    step 6 Obtaining permits and approvals
            This will give you an overview of permits and other approvals that
            could be necessary when you’re installing a new PV system.

    step 7 Final details
            Check here for additional information resources available to you.

       WEEKS:            1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20










step 1

            PV technology converts sunlight directly into electricity throughout the day,
            allowing you to produce your own electricity with no noise, air pollution, or
            moving parts. The basic building block is the PV cell, which is connected to other
            cells to create larger units called modules. Typically, modules are attached as
            panels onto your existing roof or are designed directly into the roof so they act as
            both a part of the roof or shingles and a solar module at the same time. The
            integrated roofing option may make sense if you are building a new home or
            considering replacing your current roof. Modules can also be set up as
            freestanding units on the ground.

                                A PV system includes a collection of PV modules
                                that is usually connected to the utility grid. Systems
                                must be connected to the utility grid to be eligible
                                for the cash incentive offered by NYSERDA. The PV
                                modules produce direct current (DC) electricity, which
                                the system then converts to alternating current (AC)
                                electricity so it can be used to power your lights,
                                appliances, and other home electrical needs. Being
                                connected to the utility grid provides two additional
                                benefits. First, when your system doesn’t produce
                                enough electricity to power your home (when the sun
                                isn’t shining, for example), you automatically receive
                                the additional power you need from the utility. Second,
                                if you produce more electricity than you need — which
                                can happen on most sunny days — electricity flows
                                back through your meter to the utility. In fact, your
                                meter will run in reverse when your PV system
                                is producing more electricity than you need, and
                                you can receive a credit from the utility for the energy
                                you’re supplying but don’t use. (See Step 6 for more


  AND NUMBER OF                                                                                      Power                          Utility Grid
                           Photovoltaic (PV)
MODULES YOU USE.           Panels convert
                           sunlight to                                                                                      Excess
A SMALLER SYSTEM           DC electric power                                                                              electricity
                                                                                                                         produced by
                                                                                                                        the PV system
   MAY COST LESS                                                                                                         goes into the
                                                                      To Lighting,
                                                                                                                          utility grid
                                                                      Appliances, etc                                    where others
    INITIALLY, BUT                                                                            AC                          can use it.
    PRODUCE LESS                                                                                                   Meter
                                                                                 Electrical Panel
                                                                                                             (DC TO AC)
                           DC=Direct Current AC=Alternating Current

                                               Typical Grid-Connected PV System
                                                             (Without Battery Backup System)

           A good way to think of it is that purchasing a PV system is like paying for many years’

           worth of electricity at once, since the cost is in the up-front purchase. Once your system

           is installed there should be minimal maintenance. With the NYSERDA incentive program,

           the cost of purchasing and installing a system is reduced by about half, but you’ll want

           to examine your personal energy use and savings closely before choosing a PV system.

           We’ll look at these issues in more detail later in this guide.

            A GOOD RULE OF THUMB:
                 If you’re building a new home, you can enjoy even greater savings when you participate
                 in New York’s ENERGY STAR® Labeled Homes program. These homes use 30% less energy
                 than conventionally built homes by incorporating the best construction practices and energy-
                 saving measures into your home. New York’s ENERGY STAR® homes are also eligible for a
                 PV incentive level that is $500 per kW higher than a regular home built to code.
                 For more information, go to www.getenergysmart.org.
step 2
         The amount of electricity generated by a PV system depends on
         a number of different factors, and the first step is to look at your
         own home. The reason for this is quite simple: the amount of
         electricity you produce is determined by how much sun
         reaches your system. You’ll want to look at a few basic areas
         to make sure your house is well suited for a PV system and that
         you maximize the energy your system produces by placing it in
         the most advantageous location.

               The first question to ask yourself is whether your property has good
         1.    access to the sun. In New York, the sun is in the southern half of the
               sky and is higher in summer and lower in winter. This means the best
               location for a PV system is typically a south-facing roof, but east and
               west may be fine as well.

                You’ll also want to look for objects such as trees, vent pipes on your
         2.     roofs, chimneys, or buildings that could block or obstruct the sun
                from reaching your system. You’ll want to determine how large the
                obstruction is and how long it casts a shadow onto your roof or other
                proposed PV system site. Your PV installer will have special tools to
                help measure shading.

                If you think there are potential trouble areas, then it’s a good idea to
         3.     use the Clean Power Estimator available at www.PowerNaturally.org
                to conduct a more thorough examination. Your PV installer can also
                assist with this analysis.

                                  A GOOD RULE OF THUMB:
                                     If all obstructions to the east and west of your PV array
                                     are more than two times the distance from the system
                                     as they are high, and obstructions south of the PV
                                     system are more than three times the distance from
                                     the system as they are high, then your PV system
                                     should have no more than 10% loss due to shading.
                                                               ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PV DECISIONS YOU’LL MAKE IS
                                                                                   CHOOSING AN INSTALLER.

                           Your PV installer not only sells and sets up your system, he or she also ensures that
                           you get the system that is right for your home and your energy needs. By working
                           closely with your installer, you can identify any potential trouble spots and come up
                           with solutions so you get the most out of your PV system. Ultimately, it means your
                           system will run more efficiently and produce the optimal amount of energy.

 To help you get started, take a look at the list of eligible
 installers at www.PowerNaturally.org. These PV installers
 are part of the NYSERDA incentive program, so they’ll be
                                                                                                                  OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
 offering you cash incentives for PV system sales and
 installation. Each eligible installer who has applied for and                                                        Have they installed grid-
 been accepted as part of the program provides evidence of                                                            connected systems before?
 his or her skills, experience, and customer track record.*
 And as NYSERDA incentive participants, every eligible                                                                How many years have they
 installer is offering a minimum five-year warranty that                                                              been in business?
 covers full costs, including labor, and repair or replacement
 of components or systems.                                                                                            What is their process and
                                                                                                                      timing for installing a system
                                                                                                                      from initial site visit through
 Once you’ve reviewed the list, you’ll want to narrow it
 down by calling several different installers and asking
 them about their experience and working practices. One
 of the first considerations may be their location, since it may
 be easier and less expensive if they are located close to you.

 Based on these conversations, you should solicit price quotes from at least three installers.
 The quotes should include a clear outline of how much your system can produce at its
 capacity rating, as well as estimated annual energy generation. Energy generation will
 fluctuate from year to year due to changes in the amount of sunlight, so you should
 remember that your actual system output may be higher or lower than the estimate.
 Of course, the quote should include details on the “fully loaded” cost of getting the PV system
 up and running, including hardware and installation costs, connection to the electric grid,
                                                                                                                                                  step 3
 permitting, applicable incentives, and warranties. Lastly, remember that you’ll be working
 with your PV installer for several months, so choose one you think you can work with closely.
 * Neither NYSERDA nor the State of New York: (1) endorse any Eligible Installer; or (2) guaranty, warranty, or in any way represent or
 assume liability for any work proposed or carried out by an Eligible Installer. Additionally, NYSERDA is not responsible for assuring that the
 design, engineering and construction of the project or installation of any photovoltaic (PV) system is proper or complies with any particular
 laws, regulations, codes, licensing, certification and permit requirements, or industry standards. NYSERDA does not make any
 representations of any kind regarding the results to be achieved by the PV systems or the adequacy or safety of such measures.

  The North American Board of Certified Energy                                                 CHOOSING AN INSTALLER
  Practitioners(NABCEP) has developed a national
  voluntary certification program for PV installers.
  Ask your installer if they are certified by NABCEP
  or pursuing NABCEP certification. www.nabcep.org
step 4
                There are several different options when it comes to choosing a system. Most PV
                systems produce about 10 watts of power for each square foot of PV module. This means that
                you can install a small starter system on as little as 50 square feet of roof space, or as large
                as 1,000 square feet for a more powerful system. A typical two kilowatt system will need 200
                to 400 square feet of unobstructed area, but always make sure you’re able to access your
                system easily. This access space can add up to 20% to the total space you need for your

                                                                             No matter how large — or
                                                                             how small — your system is,
                                                                             you’ll need to decide where
                                                                             to locate it. The most common
                                                                             choice is to position the modules
                                                                             on your roof. The system, or
                                                                             array, can be mounted above
                                                                             and parallel to the roof with a
                                                                             space between the roof and the
                                                                             array to allow for cooling. The
                                                                             modules are typically positioned
                                                                             parallel to the roof so that they
                                                                             blend in as much as possible.
                                                                             If, however, your roof is flat,
                                                                             a PV array may be installed
                                                                             at an angle to optimize the
  A roof-integrated PV system with solar hot water collectors on the left.   amount of sunlight it receives.

              A PV array can be built onto any type of roof, but the installation cost can vary
              based on the type of roofing material. For example, composition-shingle roofs are quite
              easy to work with, while slate roofs are much more difficult. Your PV installer should be
              able to work with all roof types and should discuss any problem areas with you. One
              area that you’ll want to look at quite closely is the age and condition of your roof. If your
              roof is old and will need to be replaced soon, you may want to consider replacing the roof
              and installing the PV system at the same time. This will eliminate having to take down
              the PV system and reinstall it in the future.
If you are considering a new roof or are
building a new home, you should investigate
a roof-integrated system – Building-Integrated
PV Array, or BIPV. This option incorporates the
PV modules into the actual roofing material, so
the roof acts as the solar collector. BIPV’s are                   NO MATTER WHAT THE SYSTEM,
available as roofing shingles or metal roofing
products and are great because they’re designed                    YOU CAN CHOOSE ONE WITH
to look like traditional roofing materials. You                    BATTERY BACKUP OR ONE
do need to take extra care to make sure they’re
                                                                   WITHOUT. A battery backup system
installed properly, so be sure to discuss
this with your installer.                                          stores energy so your home can be
                                                                   powered when the sun isn’t shining
Lastly, you can install the array for your PV
system as a ground-mounted structure, or you                       (really cloudy day), at night, or during
can even mount the array off the ground as a                       a utility outage. The amount of
shade or patio cover.
                                                                   energy your battery system can
                                                                   provide will depend on the storage
                                                                   capacity of your system. Systems
                                                                   with battery backup are more
                                                                   expensive, however the incremental
                                                                   investment is worth considering if
                                                                   you want to have power for critical
                                                                   loads during outages and the added
                                                                   reliability is important to you.

                           A GOOD RULE OF THUMB:
                                If your roof isn’t made of composition shingles, then it will most likely
                                require a flashed penetration to ensure that it’s properly sealed against
                                rainwater. Make sure that your PV installer offers a written guarantee that
                                the roof will not leak as a result of the PV system for at least five years.
  step 5
               One of the most important questions you’ll have when you’re considering
               PV power is how much your system will cost and how much it will save
               you. A good place to start is to understand how much electricity you currently
               use. You can do this by looking at your electricity bills for the past year or by
               contacting your utility. This will give you a baseline so you know how much
               electric energy you’re using now and how much you’ll be able to offset by
               installing a PV system.

               Your energy savings with a PV system can be estimated by multiplying the energy
               in kilowatt-hours (kWh) that your system might produce each year by the electric
               energy rate charged by your utility. The chart below shows the estimated annual
               energy savings from a small (2 kW) and a large (4 kW) system to illustrate a range
               of savings based on four different electric rates.

SIZE OR kW   ANNUAL ENERGY          $0.08/kWh     $0.10/kWh     $0.12/kWh               $0.14/kWh
  2.0 kW        2300 kWh             $184.00       $230.00       $276.00                 $322.00
  4.0 kW        4600 kWh             $368.00       $460.00       $552.00                 $644.00

                                                                      To get a better idea of
                                                                      your own savings, use the
                                                                      Clean Power Estimator at

                                                                      With the Clean Power Estimator
                                                                      you’ll be able to run several in-depth
                                                                      analyses with your own details so
                                                                      you can see if solar electric power
                                                                      makes financial sense for you. The
                                                                      Clean Power Estimator also includes
                                                                      information on cash incentives
                                                                      currently offered by NYSERDA.

      The larger the system, the more
      electricity you’ll be able to generate,
      but at a higher up-front cost. You
      should consider four factors when
      choosing a system: your energy
      needs, the amount of the energy
      you can generate, whether you
      want a battery backup system, and
      the system costs. What you should
                                                                                       kWh per kW
      remember is that no matter what                   CITY                           (range)
      system you choose, the actual output
      will vary due to environmental and                Albany                         1064-1315
      system fluctuations. The adjacent                 Plattsburgh                    1063-1313
      chart is designed to give you a                   Watertown                      1035-12 79
                                                        Buffalo                         994-1227
      conservative estimate of the amount
                                                        Rochester                      1007-1244
      of power generated by a one-kilowatt
                                                        Syracuse                       1035-1279
      (1kW) system. Ask your PV provider                Binghamton                     1017-1256
      how much electricity your system                  Poughkeepsie                   1116-1379
      will produce each year and how that
      compares with the amount of
      electricity you typically use each year.

                A GOOD RULE OF THUMB:
                    If you’re installing a roof-mounted system, the tilt and orientation of your roof
                    will affect your system’s output. For example, in New York State, a 30-degree
                    roof tilt facing south produces the greatest output, while an east-facing roof
                    with the same tilt will generate 19% less electricity.
step 6

         If you have a PV system installed, you’ll need to make sure you have the
         proper permits and approvals before you begin work. Your installer should be
         able to handle most of these details, but you should be familiar with them as well
         to make sure you have everything you need.

                 Often called CC&Rs, these are requirements imposed by neighborhoods
                 or local jurisdictions that often govern the aesthetics of a project.
                 If CC&Rs are in place in your area, you may need to submit plans
                 and obtain approval before you can begin work. Check with your
                 neighborhood association or town council to find out if there are
                 any applicable CC&Rs.

                 The most common permit you’ll need for your PV system is an electrical
                 permit. Photovoltaic systems are included in the National Electrical Code
                 in Article 690. Your installer should be familiar with this and ensure you
                 have the proper permit before work commences.

                 Also, you should determine if you’ll need a structural permit as well.
                 Normally, structural permits are issued if it is deemed that the project
                 will have a significant impact on an existing structure or involve a new
                 structure that could put people or property at risk if the structure

                                 A GOOD RULE OF THUMB:
                                      If your home is less than 30 years old, it should not
                                      need structural enhancements as long as the PV
                                      system weighs less than five pounds, per square foot.
                                      Most PV systems meet this weight restriction. However,
                                      if you have two layers of shingles on your roof, you
                                      must remove both layers and install new shingles
                                      before you install a system.
                                                     UTILITY INTERCONNECTION
                                                     STANDARDS AND CONTRACTS
                                                     In order to be connected to the utility grid,
                                                     you must follow interconnection standards
                                                     as set out in Institute of Electrical and
                                                     Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 929-2000
                                                     (www.ieee.org) and New York State
                                                     Public Service Commission’s Standard
                                                     Interconnection Requirements
                                                     It is vital that you inform your utility
                                                     as early as possible that you will be
                                                     installing a grid-connected PV system
                                                     and adhere to their rules exactly. Your
                                                     PV installer should be familiar with
                                                     entering into an interconnection
                                                     agreement with your utility.

• In order to be connected to the grid, you and your installer will need to
  complete a contract with the utility. This contract includes important system
  information and shows that you understand your responsibilities in running
  and maintaining your system. Normally, the contract will be finalized once
  the utility confirms that the equipment has been installed properly and that
  all requirements have been met.

• One requirement of the interconnection agreement is that you have a
  minimum level of insurance in place. This should be covered by your
  current homeowner’s insurance policy, but make sure your current
  coverage is sufficient to meet the interconnection requirements.

• You will also need to complete a net metering agreement
  with the utility for residential systems of 10kW or less.
  Interconnecting a photovoltaic system to the utility grid
  requires an interconnection agreement as well as a sale
  and purchase agreement, or a net metering agreement
  with your local utility. Your PV installer and utility
  company will be able to go through this with you in
  more detail.
Once your system is installed, your PV installer will run a series of
tests to make sure your system is up and running properly. Make sure
you receive a copy of this evaluation, and keep it as part of your system
documentation. Other vital documents to keep with this are your owner’s
manual, copies of any plan drawings, and instructions for any future

After your system is installed, it must be inspected by the local
permitting agency (typically this is a building and/or electrical inspector).
Most likely, your system will be inspected by the utility as well. These
inspections may identify problem areas that need to be corrected, so
don’t be alarmed — this is fairly common and your PV installer can
deal with most issues easily. Additionally, NYSERDA may inspect systems
that have been installed through any of its incentive programs.

PV systems require very little maintenance, but you should discuss
this with your installer and review any recommended maintenance
procedures. One of the easiest ways to check your system’s performance
is to monitor your own electricity meter. This will give you an idea of
how much electricity you are using and if your PV system is performing
properly. Through the NYSERDA program, your system will include an
easy-to-read digital meter that can help you monitor real-power output
and energy production.

All PV installers operating under the NYSERDA incentive program
will provide you with a full five-year guarantee that covers full costs,
including labor, and repair or replacement of components or systems.
Some installers may offer additional warranties, and you should discuss
this with them in detail to make sure you understand what they cover
in case a problem arises.
It offers you the chance to use
your own home to produce power
for appliances, lighting, and other
electrical needs. If you have
questions or need additional
information, contact NYSERDA
at 1-866-697-3732 or visit us at
www.PowerNaturally.org. We’ve
also listed some other resources
too that will provide you with
more information. Customers of
the Long Island Power Authority
should visit www.lipower.org for
information about PV incentives.
New York Power Authority
                                            step 7
customers should visit

                                      FINAL DETAILS
                                                 For more information
                                                 on solar power, visit:

What is NYSERDA                       ?                           NYSERDA

                                             NEW YORK STATE SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

 The New York State Energy Research                AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY (ASES)
 and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
                                                       FLORIDA SOLAR ENERGY CENTER
 is a public benefit corporation created                      www.fsec.ucf.edu
 in 1975 by the New York State                    INTERSTATE RENEWABLE ENERGY COUNCIL
 legislature. NYSERDA administers the                         www.irecusa.org

 The New York Energy $martSM program,                       MILLION SOLAR ROOFS
 which is designed to support certain
                                                 NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY
 public benefit programs during the
 transition to a more competitive
                                                    NATIONAL CENTER FOR PHOTOVOLTAICS
 electricity market. Some 2,700                              www.nrel.gov/ncpv/
 projects in more than 30 programs                               REPP-CREST
 are funded by a charge on the electricity                       www.crest.org

 transmitted and distributed by the                  SOLAR ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION
 State's investor-owned utilities.
                                                    SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
 The New York Energy $martSM                                   www.seia.org
 program provides energy efficiency
                                             SOLAR RATING AND CERTIFICATION CORPORATION (SRCC)
 services, including those directed                         www.solar-rating.org

 at the low-income sector,                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY OFFICE OF ENERGY
                                                      EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
 research and development, and                                 www.eren.doe.gov
 environmental protection activities.                   U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL

 For more information about                          INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE POWER
 NYSERDA programs, visit
                                                  SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM DESIGN TUTORIAL
 www.NYSERDA.org                                 www.eren.doe.gov/erec/factsheets/pvbasics.html