Frequently Asked Questions




Frequently Asked Questions

Cost + Savings

How much do solar panels cost?
Solar panel system price will vary depending on building's energy needs, location, and system size. A typical Long Island or New York City Solar installation could cost between $10,000 to $25,000 after incentives and rebates. Most people can finance their system to spread the cost over 15 to 20 years, resulting in instant monthly savings of 30% or more! 

How much will I save with solar panels?
For a typical homeowner purchasing their solar system, it will pay for itself in just 5-7 years, resulting in a lifetime savings of well over $100,000. For someone financing or leasing their system, they can expect to save 30% right away and between $30,000 and $90,000 over the life of their system.

What tax credits do I qualify for with solar panels?
The federal government, NYS, and NYC all have unique incentives available to go solar. For most of our clients, the incentives can cover up to 50% or more of the total system cost! 
Should I buy (PPA or cash) or lease?
With EmPower Solar, we don't sell, we educate. You can choose between purchase, lease, and finance options. We will show you the ins-and-outs of each method and provide advice as you decide what is best for your home. 

What is the difference between an off-grid or on-grid solar system?
In the Long Island and New York City area, most systems are grid-tied or "on-grid." Off-grid systems are rare but could be common in remote parts of the country / world where an existing grid is not available. Being connected to the grid allows you to have continuous, uninterrupted power 24/7, no matter if your panels are operating at 120% on a sunny day or 0% in a blizzard. 
General Questions

How much energy does a solar panel produce?  
Most solar panels range from 200 watts to 360 watts per panel. EmPower only offers 327, 345 and 360 watt high efficiency SunPower panels. Energy produced is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and will vary based on the direction and pitch of your roof. A 327 watt panel facing due south will produce more kWh than if it were facing east or west.

How do solar panels work?
Solar panels collect sunlight throughout the day, automatically converting it into electricity. The electricity produced from your panels travels through the system to the inverter, where it’s converted from DC to AC for household use. Energy (measured in kilowatt hours or kWh) produced by your solar system first supplies your home. Any energy that isn't used is sent back to the utility company’s grid to be used by other homes and buildings nearby.

Do solar panels work at night?
Unfortunately, the panels don't produce energy when the sun isn't shining. Luckily, if you produce more than you use during the day those energy credits can be redeemed from your energy provider when your usage is greater than your production. As a solution, EmPower Solar offers home batteries that store energy to be used during peak hours, at night, or during unfavorable weather conditions. 

What happens if I go on vacation? 
Everything will continue to function as normal. Any energy produced but not used by your home’s appliances will be credited to your account, and you can always double check the status of your system while you're away on the SunPower monitoring app.

What happens if I move?
If you bought your system, it could add a value of $15,000 or more to the value of your home! If you took out a loan, you can either pay it off early with no penalty, or the loan can be transferred to the new homeowner. The same is true for most leases, it can be transferred or you can purchase it and take it with you if you move.  

Do solar panels work on cloudy days?
 Yes. However, it may produce less electricity depending on the density of the cloud cover.

What steps does EmPower take to protect a roof from leaks? 
Roof integrity is our first priority and involves two steps. First, we carefully inspect the roof and grade it on age, layers, condition and a physical stress test. The roof needs a passing score or recommend that you proceed with solar. Second, we use a metal flashing system for each penetration which is equivalent to installing a metal roof.

What about roof damage caused by animals?
To protect from animals, we offer a "squirrel guard" which is installed around the solar panel arrays to keep animals from nesting underneath, preventing them from causing degradation to the solar panels. The guards are wire mesh to allow for air flow and to keep aesthetics, we use a dark coated metal wire which is not usually visible from the street. 

How do I remove snow from solar panels?
The best way to deal with snow on your panels is by letting it melt on its own. 

What happens during a blackout?
During a blackout, your solar power system will automatically disconnect. This is required by the utility to maintain safety of the grid and the line workers attempting to restore power. Once power returns, your system will begin producing power automatically after a few minutes.

How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels will last 25-40 years. Our manufacturer SunPower controls the entire production process to ensure that only the highest-quality products reach your rooftop. With SunPower, the system is protected with a 25-year limited Combined Power and Product Warranty. This is widely regarded as the best warranty in the industry. 

What are inverters? Different types
Inverters: Devices that are used to convert direct current (DC) electricity produced by the panels into alternating current (AC) so it can connect to the main electrical systems. In the past technology, central inverters were common. However, most installers are now using micro-inverters or AC panels. The SunPower Equinox that we offer uses AC panels and micro-inverter systems.


What makes up a solar power system?
1. Solar Module: A panel made of a crystalline semiconductor that converts sunlight into electricity.
2. Inverters: Devices that are used to convert direct current (DC) electricity produced by the panels into alternating current (AC) so it can connect to the main electrical systems.
3. Electrical Equipment aka Balance of Plant: Electrical wire and conduit will be used to connect the panels to the inverter and the inverter to your electrical panel.


What is net metering and how does it work?
1. The extra solar power energy that your home doesn't use gets sent back to the grid and your meter will “spin backwards.”
2. You earn energy credits for this extra energy and can use these credits at times when your system is not
producing the energy you need at any given moment. Examples are; at night time, in winter when solar production
is down, or during days of inclement weather.
3. Once a month, PSEG looks at how much energy you used from the grid. If there are any credits in your energy bank at the end of the month, they will be shown on your bill and can be carried over to the next
month. Note: PSEG cannot see how much your system produces, they only see how much you consume from them OR how much excess energy you send them on a monthly basis.
4. For many homes, the spring and summer month’s bills will show extra credits generated. These are stored in your bank and can cover your bills through the winter months when your system does not produce as much energy and you are taking energy from the utility company.

Home Qualification Factors

How will I know if my home qualifies for solar?
Factors include your home's energy needs, available roof space, roof orientation, and shading. In 60 seconds or less, our solar experts can help you determine if your home is eligible for solar. You can reach them at 516-837-3459 or cx@empower-solar.com

How many solar panels do I need to power a house?
The average home uses between 20 and 40 panels. Panels vary by size and efficiency. A homeowner using SunPower 360 watt panels will need less panels than someone using XYZ company 290 watt panels. It also depends on the way your home faces, shading, and a few other factors.

If my home doesn't qualify for solar, what should I do?
Don't' be discouraged! That's quite common and we're not shy to tell someone they shouldn't go solar if we don't believe it's in their best interest. Good news is that in 2017, community solar became available in our region. Now you can go solar using someone else's roof and get immediate savings on your own electric bill. Call us to find out subscriptions available in your area. 

SunPower Data Monitoring FAQs


What can I learn from the graphs?

You can use the graphs to see how much energy your solar power system produces.

Energy graph:  The energy graph shows how much electricity your system produces over a period of time (measured in kWh or thousands of watt hours). Energy is useful for analyzing the effectiveness of your system, especially over time

Power graph:  The power graph shows the rate at which your system is converting sunlight into electricity at a specific point in time (measured in kW or thousands of watts). Power is useful when you're trying to analyze short-term variations in performance due to temporary external factors like weather changes.

How do I use the graph?

  • Check out the green bars to see how much energy your solar power system produces. 
  • Hover over any point on the graph to get detailed energy information for a specific date and time.
  • Change the dates and times of the graph.
  • Switch between Energy and Power graphs to see the details of your solar system in action.
  • Download your energy data for analysis offline.

What is the difference between the energy and power graphs?

The energy graph shows how much electricity your system is producing over a period of time (measured in kWh or thousands of watt hours). The power graph shows the rate at which your system is converting sunlight into electricity at a specific point in time (measured in kW or thousands of watts).

The difference between energy and power can get a little tricky, so it helps to compare energy and power to something more familiar: distance and speed. Power is like speed--it tells you how fast you are driving at a given moment. Like speed, power will fluctuate, sometimes wildly--unobstructed summer sunshine is like flooring it on the open highway, while a patch of clouds is like hitting traffic. In both cases, your system is generating electricity (your car is moving), but at very different rates (speeds). Energy is like distance--it tells you how far you have travelled over a given period of time. Like distance, energy accumulates--the energy produced in a day is like the distance traveled on a road trip. Even though your power (speed) varies during the day, the energy produced (distance) smoothes out these variations, providing a more helpful measure of how much energy is actually available to you (how far you have actually traveled).

Generally speaking, energy is more useful than power for analyzing the effectiveness of your system, especially over time. Power helps when you're trying to analyze short-term variations in performance due to temporary external factors like weather changes.

How can I download my energy and power data?

To download the current graph and time setting you are viewing, click "download " at the upper right of your graph. Data is saved to your computer as a “.csv” file that you can then view and use in a spreadsheet program like Excel or Numbers.  

When you download energy data, the data included depends on the time period you are viewing in the graph:
  •  1 to 31 days = hour intervals 
  • 32 or more days = day intervals 
When you download power data, the data included depends on the time period you are viewing in the graph:
  • 1 day = minute intervals
  • 2 days or more = hour intervals 
You can also set up a report to be delivered monthly via email as a PDF.

How can I get a report of my energy data?

  1. Navigate to your Dashboard or Settings.
  2. Click or tap the gear icon in the header of My Reports and turn reports on.
  3. Select the date each month when you'd like to receive your report.
  4. Enter additional emails where you'd like to send your report. 
  5. Once you configure your report, SunPower will send it to you every month via email as a PDF attachment. 
  6. You can also download your currently graphed energy data.

How can I tell if there are any issues with my solar power system?

If there is an issue with your system, an alert bar appears at the top of the screen. Click the alert text or the icon on the left for details regarding the issue and for troubleshooting instructions. If you see an alert bar at the top of the screen, click the alert text or the icon on the left for details regarding the issue and for troubleshooting instructions.

I have an alert that says there's a problem with my system. What should I do?

There might be a temporary issue affecting the performance of your system. For example, your system or your home solar panels may be covered by snow. If they are, wait until the snow melts and check back to see if this alert is gone. If snow or some other temporary issue is not a factor and the alert doesn't go away, please contact us.

I have an alert that says I've lost a connection to SunPower. What should I do?

You might get this alert because your home Internet network isn't working. It's also possible that your monitoring equipment is not connected or functioning correctly. The good news is that your solar system is most likely operating normally. However, you'll need to reestablish a connection to verify this and to update your energy charts with any missing information. 

Please follow these troubleshooting steps to reestablish your connection:

Check your Internet connection  
Make sure you can get online at home using your home Internet network. If you can't get online at home, disconnect your router cables and reconnect after 10 seconds. Wait 15 minutes, refresh your browser, and sign into https://monitor.us.sunpower.com. If you still can't get online, please contact your Internet service provider (such as AT&T or Verizon).

If you have a SunPower Ethernet Adapter located near your router
Make sure:  
  • It's plugged directly into a wall outlet (not power strip or surge protector)
  • It's connected to your router by an Ethernet cable 
  • All three lights are lit (either solid or blinking)
Wait 15 minutes, refresh your browser, and sign into https://monitor.us.sunpower.com. If you still can't see your energy information, please contact us. 

If you don't have a SunPower Ethernet Adapter
Make sure an Ethernet cable connects your SunPower monitoring enclosure (mounted in your garage or on the side of your home) to your router. Wait 15 minutes, refresh your browser, and sign into https://monitor.us.sunpower.com . If you still can't see your energy information, please contact us. 
Questions to Ask a Potential Solar Company

You can download the following questions as a PDF here.
How long has the company been in business?
Since 2003.

How many system installations?
1,500

How satisfied have clients been in the past?
5 stars on Google, Facebook, #1 on Yelp, and an A+ on Angies List.

What system technology do you use?
SunPowerEquinox - Complete system all under warranty.

What options do you offer to be able to go solar?
We can show you a purchase, lease, and a finance option to help you decide which is best for your family.

How would by system performance be projected and how accurate are the company's predictions of energy production?
On average, our systems are producing (107) % of projections.

What does the manufacturers warranty cover? How long is it for?
SunPower’s 25-year warranty covers everything; testing, shipping, and will credit you for lost productions.

What do you offer besides solar power? Do you offer battery backup systems?
We offer EV charging stations and backup power solutions including daytime power supply inverters and critical load battery systems.

Does the company subcontract? If so, what is the background of the subcontractors, and what work is performed?
Never! Our Island Park based in-house employees take pride in doing everything themselves.

Will I be able to monitor my system in the future?
Yes. Every system comes with free production and consumption monitoring.

Are there trained engineers and architects on the design team? What about the installation team?
Our MIT COO is a PE, he oversees a team of highly qualified engineers, and 8 NABCEP installers.

Is the company an NYSERDA certified installer?
Yes!

If I lease or finance the system, will my rates be fixed or will they go up every year?
We show our clients FIXED monthly payments for the lease or finance terms. If you prefer to have an increasing bill every year, we can show that.

What method is used to attach the solar system to the roof, and will it void the roof warranty?
High-quality flashings. Not tar or duct tape (we’ve seen it all).

Is the company properly licensed and insured? Does the company carry liability insurance and workmen's compensation?
Yes, yes and yes. This is an important one! We carry $10 million in bonding.

What is the timeline for design, permitting and installation?
Systems are typically installed 3-4 months after contracts are signed.

Who handles the paperwork for permits, solar rebates, and tax incentives? Do I have to do that myself?
EmPower takes care of everything from start to finish.

Who is responsible for system maintenance once it is installed?
Solar requires no regular maintenance. Should any issues arise they are covered in the warranty.

Do you have workmanship warranty? What does it cover?
Our 10-year warranty covers any work we performed to install the system.

What do you do to prevent animals like birds and pigeons nesting around my system and causing a safety problem? 
Over the years, we’ve seen this as a big problem. Now each of our systems come standard with a mesh squirrel guard to prevent animals from damaging your system.

Can I talk to someone who already had a solar system installed by your company?
Absolutely! Call as many of our clients as you would like. Ask us for our list.

What about someone who has required service work? Were you responsive in a timely manner?
Yes. Our service clients tend to be our happiest clients - We are happy to give their numbers as well.

What is the #1 thing you recommend people know before going solar?
You will likely only go solar once. Do your homework and ensure you choose the best product, installer, and savings plan possible. Also, drive by installations and inspect the quality of work.
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