I installed solar panels at my home in Long Island, NY. Here is much my installation cost, plus what I learned in the process.
Reading through solar panel reviews, battery specifications, and solar company reviews can be helpful. However, most people want real-life examples of how a solar company operates and an explanation of how panels perform in real-world settings.
Below, I’ll be serving as a solar case study done in Long Island, New York, where I had solar panels installed at my home. I’ll explain which company I chose, why I chose them, my experience throughout the entire process, and my real-life energy savings following the installation of the system.
See also: NY state solar incentives
Company Selection and Sales Process
I worked for several years with a gentleman who had previously been employed by Empower Solar, a local company that completes installations in Nassau County and Suffolk County. After hearing him sing their praises, my wife and I decided not to interview other companies or get additional quotes. From what we were told, the outstanding service we’d get from Empower was worth the admittedly high cost of choosing them.
The sales process was low-pressure and informative. Our sales rep, Eric, went over our energy bills and satellite images of our property with us. He also discussed the amount and intensity of sunlight our roof received and how that would translate over to power production and energy savings.
We never felt pressured, and we thought that Eric was honest and open about how tax breaks worked — something I’ve heard several neighbors complain about with other companies — and what we could expect to save in the future.
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Equipment Options and Price of the System
Empower only installs SunPower panels — which have outstanding efficiency ratings and some of the best warranty coverage in the industry — and Tesla Powerwalls. Our original quote was for a 9.2-kW system, which was later bumped down to an 8.8-kW system when the rep that measured our roof determined that one of the panels wouldn’t fit. We ended up with 22 panels at 400W each for a total of 8,800 watts. The panels are super sleek and all black.
We also wanted to install Tesla Powerwalls, which the rep explained may not be necessary for saving money since NY has a good net metering program. We decided to install them anyway, as we wanted backup power and storage capacity in case the net metering program gets discontinued in the future.
Cost of solar panels in Long Island with a Tesla Powerwall
In total, the cost of the system came out to just over $45,000, which included 22 panels ($25,000) and two Powerwalls ($10,000 each for the PowerWall 2 models). At the time we signed contracts early in 2022, the federal solar credit was 26% or $11,700 in our case. That was bumped up to 30% — or $13,500 — in August, 2023.
Site Preparation, Installation, and Inspections
Empower was communicative throughout the entire process as they pulled permits and ordered our equipment. They kept us updated every step of the way, and although we didn’t have a primary point of contact, we always felt like the rep at any given moment knew our situation and had an understanding of our file.
The permits and upfront preparation took about three months, and our system was installed in April of 2022. The installers that came to do the work were professional, respectful of the garden beds outside our home, and got the work done in about six hours in one day. That was for the panels only, as the Powerwalls were back ordered — the delay was on the manufacturing side and not the installer side.
The panels were inspected by the building department after Empower coordinated an inspection date for us. About six months after our contracts were first signed, the Powerwalls were delivered and installed in a few hours. Another inspection was completed by the building department for the batteries, this time just a few days after the installation was completed.
System Performance and Overall Satisfaction
We closely monitored our production and usage every day for several weeks after the installation. Below is a table showing the monthly production and our energy consumption over the first six full months of performance.
|Month (in 2022)||Solar Production||Energy Consumption (rounded)||Net Usage|
|May||1,347.1 kWh||369 kWh||-978 kWh|
|June||1,425.2 kWh||320 kWh||-1,105 kWh|
|July||1,480.4 kWh||441 kWh||-1,039 kWh|
|August||1,448.8 kWh||677 kWh||-771 kWh|
|September||1,234.0 kWh||235 kWh||-999 kWh|
|October||951.7 kWh||237 kWh||-715 kWh|
|November||851.4 kWh||420 kWh||-431 kWh|
|December||677.5 kWh||566 kWh||-112 kWh|
To date, we’re pleased to report that our energy bills — previously an average of around $160 per month — have been between $14 and $18 per month. They would be $0, but PSEG has an unavoidable charge just to be connected to the grid.
Some Things to Keep In Mind
There are a few things to consider about our installation that can lead to different results for your system:
- We have a south-facing roof with no tree coverage, which is optimal for solar panel performance.
- Our energy consumption includes electric heating and cooling via a ductless system on our first floor. Heating for our basement is done via an oil boiler.
- Our home is 980 square feet, excluding the basement. It’s a 1-story, Ranch-style home.
- We asked Empower to oversize our system, as we plan on adding more ductless units and purchasing electric vehicles in the future. We wanted additional power production to cover EV charging and could have gotten away with a smaller system if we didn’t plan on higher consumption in the future.
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