I am considering a solar panels. How can I tell if my area gets enough solar energy a year to be worthwhile?

I want to know how I can determine my area’s (Rochester NY) yearly solar energy output to see if it would make economic sense to install solar panels. Any websites or resources where I can look?

7 thoughts on “I am considering a solar panels. How can I tell if my area gets enough solar energy a year to be worthwhile?”

  1. At your latitude, photovoltaic will probably be iffy, but it’s worth checking the nrel site that the other person posted. By the way, aren’t you close to that cheap source of Hydro, Niagara Falls?

    There’s a good chance of solar hot water being a good deal for you, though. Yes, it can heat in the winter, and yes, some systems can tolerate a hard freeze. You’d need to check with a local installer to get an opinion.

  2. There is more to it than just zip code. I recommend having a contractor come out and give you a quote. Even if you do it yourself later you will get lots of valuable information. If the panels will be shaded at any point they will not generate during that time. My contractor had a nifty gadget that can tell where the shade will fall from various items during the year. We had to work around my chimney and a neighbors tree to maximize production. The shade angles change during the year as the sun is lower in the winter and higher in the summer. A contractor should also be able to tell you about all the local and state rebates and fed. tax incentives. You can get a fed. tax credit for 30% of the total installed costs.

  3. Many websites to look for. Just that, not every method they give to generate solar electricity work equally well (in other words, how much solar power you receive and how much energy that translates to depends upon your efficiency of power generation).

    The best one that I know of, if you want to use home made solar panel, is the following (bookmark the page – makes it easy to find):


  4. If you are looking for the cheapest electrical power available solar panels are not going to be what you want.

    Roughly solar panels will supply electrical power costing about 3-10 times more than what you can purchase from your local electrical company when averaged over the 20-25 year life of any solar panels.

    Go look at how much you spend for your electricity in a single year. Then go look at how many solar panels you can purchase for this amount of cash (In my case I spend about $1000 each year for power).

    This means that economic "sense" must be tempered with some other desire for the solar panels.

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