The facts about ‘rooftop solar’

To the editor:

I was happy to see Bob Sanders’ story explaining the downside of leasing solar in New Hampshire (“Demystifying solar: Are homebuilders, consumers warming up to rooftop installations?” Aug. 5-18 NH Business Review).

Solar leasing companies are deceiving their customers into thinking leasing is a good financial deal when in fact it is only a good financial deal for about 5 to 10 percent of potential solar customers.

The one BIG complaint I have about his story is the repeated use of the term “rooftop solar.” That term is right out of the solar leasing company’s playbook. They refer to all solar as rooftop solar, when in fact the best possible installation will almost always be a ground-mounted system if there is room. Leasing companies refuse to install any ground-mounted systems so they refer to all solar as “rooftop solar.” Beware of a company that will not offer the best solution for your solar installation and limit their offers to just one type of installation. That means its the best business practice for them, not for you.

I sell solar in New Hampshire, and the majority of my sales are ground-mounted systems. When you install solar on a roof, you are constrained by the existing parameters of the house. Most houses are not built with an ideal roof orientation, so roofs are generally less productive than ground mounted arrays.

When we mount on the ground, we point the array directly south at 180 degrees and tilt it to the best angle for year-round production. Another benefit is winter maintenance. Leasing companies will tell you snow just slides right off your panels – that is not even close to the truth. Panels have edges and railings that will hold snow on your panels and dramatically lower your production. Two winters ago many leased panels were covered with snow for weeks at a time! On the ground, you simply walk up to the array with a brush and you’re good to go!

Do business with a solar installer that will offer you every solar option (ground mount, roof mount, grid tied, off grid, battery back up etc.) so the one you end up with is the best choice for your specific needs.

Don Willet

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion