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ESSENTIAL READING

 

Solar System Operations Manual & Turnover Checklist

Reviewed as part of your system walkthrough, here’s information on what to expect from your system, how your system interacts with the utility, and operating and maintenance guidelines.

Download

Electricity Essentials for Solar Power

We’ve broken down the basics on several important topics, including electricity, energy, power, and solar efficiency.

Download

Real World Expectations for your Solar System

Check out our library of system performance terms, such as energy production and peak power production, to learn what your can expect from your new system.

Download

Understanding Solar System Ratings

Learn about the different ratings of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to better understand how they produce under specific conditions.

Download

Key Factors for Solar Performance

Discover the different ways that outside factors, such as amount of sunlight, temperature, and soiling can affect your solar energy production.

Download

Datasheet with Residential Monitoring

Get the facts on the SunPower Monitoring® System, which helps you optimize your solar investment, evaluate your system performance, and see your energy use and estimated savings.

Download

SYSTEM PERFORMANCE & MONITORING

Client Monitoring Responsibilities

Please remember to check in on your solar system to make sure your internet connection is active, and that your solar system is performing as expected.

 

It’s important to maintain an active internet connection and keep information flowing from your panels and inverters to your monitoring platform. If you change service providers, often you’ll have to update your connection.

 

Once connected, it’s critical to actively monitor your system’s production online or via your phone app. Not sure which one you have? Email service@empower-solar.com for guidance.

 

SunPower Monitoring System

 

SolarEdge Monitoring System

 

SMA Sunny Portal

 

Locus Monitoring

 

Schneider Conext (Battery Monitoring)

 

Tesla Powerwall (Battery Monitoring)

 

We recommend that you login and verify system operation at least once per week. Remember that while we can access your system in order to troubleshoot if necessary, our team is not actively monitoring or looking for issues. Self-monitoring your system and ensuring an active internet connection is an important responsibility of being a solar system owner.

 

Note: If you have a SunPower system, they are shifting to a new monitoring platform into 2021. During these updates, you may notice some delays in information being transmitted. SunPower is working to expedite this update and we expect this to be completed shortly. Thank you for your patience.

 

If you have any questions about your system or energy production, access our FAQ and monitoring links, or open a service ticket.  If you have additional questions or need help configuring your monitoring, please contact us anytime at service@empower-solar.com.

 

Monitoring Frequently Asked Questions

Why aren't you monitoring my system?
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We currently do not offer monitoring services. However, we do give you the tools to monitor your system independently, giving you full insight into its performance at any time, day or night.

We will send reminders throughout the year to help you ensure that you are monitoring and maintaining your system properly.

How can I set up my SunPower monitoring app?
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Please call 1-800-SUNPOWER and provide them with your address and current e-mail address. They will send you a link with instructions.

What can I learn from the graphs in my SunPower monitoring system?
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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 in my SunPower monitoring system?
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  1. Check out the green bars to see how much energy your solar power system produces.
  2. Hover over any point on the graph to get detailed energy information for a specific date and time.
  3. Change the dates and times of the graph.
  4. Switch between Energy and Power graphs to see the details of your solar system in action.
  5. Download your energy data for analysis offline.
What is the difference between the energy and power graphs?
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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).

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?
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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?
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Note: This process may differ slightly depending on platform and its state of development. Please call the service department at 516-837-3459 for assistance.

  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?
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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?
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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. What should I do?
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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:

  1. Check your Internet connection
  2. 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.
  3. If you still can’t get online, please contact your Internet service provider (such as AT&T or Verizon).

If you have a “Ethernet Over Powerline Adapter” located near your router make sure that:

  1. It’s plugged directly into a wall outlet (not power strip or surge protector)
  2. It’s connected to your router by an Ethernet cable
  3. All three lights are lit (either solid or blinking)
  4. 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 “Ethernet Over Powerline Adapter”:

  1. 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.
  2. If you still can’t see your energy information, please contact us.

TAX CREDIT FILING

 

Tax Forms Release

Tax forms for 2020 will be added once they are released by the IRS. This typically happens the first week of January. We will notify all 2020 installed clients when these are released.

Assemble Documents

Filing for your solar tax credits is easy. Here is what you will need to file for your tax credits:

  • Proposal or record of any payments made in 2019 for your solar energy system
  • NYS Tax return forms (IT 201, IT-201-Att, IT-255)
  • Federal Tax return form (Form 1040) – needed only if you purchased or financed your system
  • Federal Tax Credit Application form (5695) – needed only if you purchased or financed your system.

If you leased your system:

  • File for NYS Tax Credit only. Do not file for federal.
  • Claim the total of all your monthly lease payments made in 2019.
  • Note: You can do this each year until you claim a total of $5,000 in tax credits.
  • Example: If your monthly lease payments are $175 per month, and you began paying lease payments in July, claim $1,050 (6 monthly payments of $175.) Or if you began paying lease payments in September and put $2,500 down, you would claim $3,200 this year. ($2,500 plus 4 monthly payments of $175).
  • You can find your monthly lease payment amount in your SunPower lease proposal and SunPower lease agreement.

If you purchased or financed your system:

  • File for NYS tax credit (Forms IT 201, 201-Att and 255)
    • 25% of system cost, less any utility rebates – cap of $5,000.
  • File for Federal tax credit Form 1040 and 5695
    • 30% of system cost, less any utility rebates.

You can find this on your signed EmPower Solar proposal, on the purchase or finance summary pages.

Filing Instructions

For the 25% NYS tax credit
On your NY State tax return (Form IT 201), list it on line 42. You then need to attach the form (IT 201-ATT, Other Tax Credits and Taxes). In section B, line 5, it asks for the solar energy tax credit amount. You also need to attach the form (IT-255), which itemizes the tax credit amount.

For the 30% federal tax credit (claim only if you purchased or financed your system)
There is a line on Form 1040 for residential energy credits (line 53). You’ll need to enter the amount of the tax credit you are claiming. It then requires you to attach Form 5695, which itemizes the system cost, tax credit amount, etc.

*Important: Please make sure to have your accountant file the NYS RP-487 form with your tax return. This form pertains to the 15-year property tax exemption for solar energy systems. Please feel free to forward this to your accountant and let us know if you have any additional questions.

Form Downloads

Residential Federal Income Tax Credit

IRS Form 5695 (for 2019 installs)

IRS Form 5695 Instructions (for 2019 installs)

 

Residential NY State Tax Credit

NYS Form IT-255(for 2019 installs)

NYS Form IT-255 Instructions (for 2019 installs)

 

Other NY State  Tax Credit Forms

IT 201-Att “Other Tax Credits and Taxes”

NYS form RP 487 “Application for Tax Exemption of Solar”

NYS form RP 487 – Instructions

 

Commercial Tax Credit Information

Tax form 3468 

 

NET METERING

Solar + Net Metering Overview

How Solar Works

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

What is “net metering” and how does it come into play?

  1. The extra energy that your home does not use is sent back to the grid, earning you energy credits which can be used at times when your system is not producing the energy you need, such as overnight, during the winter when solar production is down, or during days of inclement weather.
  2. Once a month, PSEG LI or ConEd will review how much energy you have used from the grid. At the end of the month, you will be billed only for the net difference between the credits you have earned and the energy you have 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 LI and ConEd cannot see how much your system produces. They can only see how much energy you consume from them, or how much excess energy you send them.
  3. For many homes, the spring and summer months’ 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.

Parts of a Solar 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.

Solar Production + Net Metering FAQ

What happens if my system produces more than I need or not enough energy in a month?
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The energy production of solar energy systems varies according to the time of year. Due to the amount and intensity of sunlight, a system will produce much more power in June than in December. Additionally, the electric usage of most homeowners varies according to the time of year. Most homeowners will use more electricity in August than April due to air conditioning, pools, etc.

 

Because of these two factors, a solar energy system will rarely produce the exact amount of electricity that a homeowner uses in any given month. To compensate for this, your utility gives each solar client an “Energy Credit Bank.” The bank is shown on your bill and stores extra credits during months of high production/low usage and uses them in months of high usage/low production.

Can I keep banking my credits forever?
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If your system was installed before 2018, you have a “net meter anniversary date” in which the utility will cancel out any credits you have built up and give you a check or monetary credit value for them.

If your system was installed during 2018 or 2019, you are permitted to rollover your credits month to month for a period of 20 years from your installation date. After that, you will be entered into whatever the net metering program is at the future date.

What if I have additional questions?
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If you require additional assistance, please contact us at feedback@empower-solar.comor 516-837-3459.

MOVING/REFINANCING

I am buying a home with an EmPower Solar system. What should I do?
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Please contact us at feedback@empower-solar.com so that we may make a record of the ownership transfer and answer any other questions.

 

Make sure that your home is fairly assessed and includes the value of your solar system.

 

If you have leased or financed your system, you may need to contact the financing institution to transfer ownership to the new owner. There may also be UCC Fixture filings filed that need to be removed before closing. This is important to do in advance as soon as you know home sale is a consideration. Contact feedback@empower-solar.com for help navigating this process.

I have sold my home. What do I need to do?
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When the new homeowner takes over, please instruct them to give us a call at 516-837-3459 so that we make a record of the ownership transfer on our end. If you are interested in installing solar panels on your new home please e-mail cx@empower-solar.com.

I am moving and I want to take my array with me. Is this possible?
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In accordance with your local building department, NYSERDA, and PSEG Long Island, we strongly recommend against uninstalling and relocating your solar system. You will be able to receive more incentives and cover more of the cost if you install a system at your new home instead of taking yours with you.

BATTERY & EMERGENCY POWER SYSTEMS

How can I add a battery system to my existing solar system?
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Let’s get your home set up with a battery system! Contact service@empower-solar.com to add a Tesla Powerwall to your existing system.

My battery system appears to be not working. How can I diagnose?
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Please contact service@empower-solar.com or call 516-837-3459 x3. If urgent, please email feedback@empower-solar.com.

The outlet on my inverter is not working. What should I do?
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You can begin by power cycling the inverter, or trying the “test” and “reset” buttons. 

SOLAR SYSTEM GENERAL FAQs

I have a question about my monitoring system.
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Please see “SYSTEM MONITORING” section on this page.

Where can I get a proof of purchase for my system?
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Please contact our accounting department at 516-837-3459 extension 134.

I need to submit a payment for my system. How should I do this?
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Please contact our accounting department at 516-837-3459 extension 135.

There are leaves behind my critter guard. What should I do?
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We can help with that! Please contact us so that we can schedule a time to remove the leaves and clean your array.

There are animals beneath my critter guard. What should I do?
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Please contact us so that we can provide an accurate quote for this service.

What should I do if there is damage to my critter guard?
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Critter guards do not fall within our workmanship warranty, but we would like to help. Please contact us with additional details so that we can assess the extent of the damage and figure out the cause.

How can I install a critter guard with my system?
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Please contact us so that we can provide an accurate quote for this service.

What should I do if my solar panels are dirty?
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Please contact us so that we can provide an accurate quote for this service.

I am not an EmPower Solar customer, but I need help. Can you assist?
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Please contact us so that we can connect you with a preferred service provider.

I have referred a friend/family member to EmPower Solar, but have not received my payment yet. Who should I contact?
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Please contact marketing@empower-solar.com regarding your outstanding referral payment.

I am not an EmPower Solar customer, but I would like to go solar. Who should I contact?
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Please contact cx@empower-solar.com.

Can I change the anniversary date for my solar installation?
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Please note that anniversary dates no longer apply, and that your net metering credits will remain for 20 years from your installation date.

Additional Email & Phone Assistance

If you cannot find the answer to your question above or have any additional questions:

  • For typical service inquiries, please email service@empower-solar.com.
  • If the matter is urgent please email feedback@empower-solar.com and someone from our team can get back to you as soon as possible.
  • Or call 516-837-3459 extension 3. After work hours please leave a message. Please know that phone lines are monitored between the hours of 9am to 5pm during on all typical work days.

Customer experience is important to us. We thank you for your patience and we look forward to connecting with you about any questions you may have.