Sustainable Putnam

7. Consider a solar installation

Installing solar panels on your home or business is like building your own little power plant. The initial investment is significant, but the free electricity produced pays for your investment.


If you’ve already converted your energy uses to electricity, your little solar power plant could fuel your heating and cooling, appliances, and vehicles with free, clean electricity.


Learn more below.

Is a solar installation right for your building?

As a major home improvement, solar installations require thoughtful consideration and planning. Even though you may love the thought of generating your own rooftop power, it isn’t the right choice for everyone.

You can determine your best option with our Solar Decision Tree. This form poses a series of questions regarding your individual circumstances. As you respond, you’ll be directed to one or the other option. 

  • Yes, a solar installation is appropriate for your building
  • No, a solar installation isn’t appropriate at this time. 

It’s a quick and easy way to make your decision. Don’t fret if the answer is “no” at this moment. After all, there is another solar option. If you completed Step 1 Select a Clean, Renewable Source of Electricity, you’re already purchasing your power from a clean, renewable electricity source, such as community solar. Besides, situations change and you can use this tool again in the future. A solar installation may yet be in your future!

Click the blue button below to get started.

Use our Solar Decision Tree

Is a solar installation right for your building? Complete this questionnaire to help you decide. In just five minutes, you can determine if a solar installation would work for you!

Solar Installation: a step-by-step guide

General Considerations

Solar installations require a financial investment, but they also provide a greater return on your electric bill and your home value. New York State and federal rebates and tax credits will reduce your final costs to about 50% of the total cost. According to Zillow, solar panels added an average 4.1% to a home’s value in 2019. As energy prices increase, that added home value may also increase. 

Over the past 10 years, panel prices have dramatically decreased, and due to improvements in efficiency and quality, they are typically warranted for 25 years. (We’ve seen estimates that they will probably generate power for more than 40 years, with a slight decline in efficiency. We don’t really know, however, because the current generation of panels is still quite new.) 

Even if you don’t have a completely shade-free, south-facing orientation, a solar installation may still be a good investment. Get several estimates to find out. 

Before installing solar, it’s advisable to convert all of your energy uses to electricity and size the system to meet as much of your demand as possible. That’s why it makes sense to first “electrify everything.”   

NYS utilities are required to buy back at the retail price any excess electricity you produce that isn’t immediately used. This is referred to as net metering. Your solar system is treated like a small power plant: as your excess power flows into the grid, it effectively “spins the meter backwards.” The credits appear on your monthly bill and are deducted from the grid power you use. 

The Process

As with any major home improvement, you should get estimates from at least three solar contractors. Go online to EnergySage’s Solar Installation page to find companies and receive free estimates, or use the links below to several companies that work locally. 

  1. Croton Energy Group
  2. Empire Solar Solutions
  3. Green Hybrid Energy Solutions
  4. Infinity Solar
  5. LightHouse Solar
  6. SunCommon
  7. SunBlue Energy 
  8. SunRise Solar Solutions
  9. Trinity Solar

Estimates may be wildly different in terms of how many panels and how much power your system will generate. Don’t be swayed by the more optimistic estimates. In our experience, some solar sales staff are better trained — and develop more accurate estimates — than others. Be skeptical and ask questions. 

  • What brand/model and number of panels will be installed?
  • How much power will this system produce on my roof, with its orientation and shade (if any)?
  • Before I sign a contract, can I get your engineer’s (not the salesperson’s) estimate of annual power production?
  • What rebates and tax credits will I qualify for? Who is responsible for the paperwork? What is the total cost, and the final cost after rebates, tax credits, and other incentives? (Ask for an itemized breakdown.)

Finally, be sure you’re comfortable with the salesperson and engineer/installation manager before you sign a contract. Look at reviews on more than one site. 

Have questions? Would you like an independent opinion about your estimates? Schedule a free consultation with Sustainable Putnam’s Energy Coach