Take control. Go energy independent.
Whether you’re looking to take control of your electric bill, increase the value of your home, become energy independent, or just do something good for the environment, ETM Solar is here to help you go solar, every step of the way. We have been in business for over 30 years, and doing solar for almost as long. If you’re looking for a trusted, reliable family business that will be around for the life of your solar system and beyond, ETM Solar is the one for you. But don’t just take it from us – check out our customer testimonials and accreditations.
We typically install “grid-tied” systems that have no batteries. These types of systems send electricity to your electricity-using devices (also known as “loads”) or to the grid (selling it back to the utility for use elsewhere). In most states, your utility is obligated to buy back the excess. Solar electricity will always power your loads first, before getting sent back to the utility, since that is the path of least resistance.
What does this mean? Well, basically, it means you can have solar electricity without the need for batteries. However, we do recommend batteries (or a generator) if you want to have electricity during power outages! If you have frequent power outages, battery backup is a good idea. If power outages aren’t as frequent for you, then it will be more cost-effective to get a generator instead, along with a pure grid-tied solar system.
One of the great things about a pure grid tie solar electric system is that it has very minimal maintenance requirements.
This type of system consists of:
Photovoltaic (PV) solar modules
Roof rack or ground-mount racks (We can put your solar panels on your roof or on a “ground-mount” rack out in the yard!)
Wiring, conduit, and junction boxes
Contact us about going solar today!
Are you sure we get enough sun?
Absolutely. Binghamton, NY gets 73% of the sun that San Diego, California gets. There is plenty of sun to go around. Germany, an international solar leader, actually gets less sun than we do. We also get more sun than Burlington, VT, which is #4 in the U.S. in amount of solar power produced per person. When we design your system, we factor in how much sunlight we get around here — so don’t worry. Your system will be sized according to your needs!
How long will it take to have a system up and running?
The actual install takes 3-5 days. From signing a contract to seeing your panels produce energy can take anywhere from 14-16 weeks. The reasoning behind this time frame has to do with permits, inspections, and paperwork – which ETM will handle for you!
What about snow?
Good question, but no need to worry! It’s true that panels won’t produce energy when covered in snow. However, solar panels are slippery – and once even a little bit of the panel is exposed, it will generate heat, making the snow slide right off! In addition, the times of year we get snow are also the times when we have the least sun – so you won’t be missing out on much energy, anyway. For example, In January, we get about 6% of the yearly total of sun-energy. We also take weather into consideration when we’re designing your solar system, so your system will produce plenty of power over the course of the year, even counting in a handful of snow days.
Wait! I want more specific, scientific information! Do you have someone with a PhD in a relevant field who can explain solar to me in a more detailed way?
Why, yes, yes we do. Our CEO and founder Dr. Gay Canough just so happens to have a PhD in particle physics. Here are her responses to some of the more detailed & technical questions we get.
What are solar panels made of?
The majority of PV modules on the market today are made with silicon solar cells. This fact is one reason why the widespread use of solar power is possible and perhaps even inevitable! Silicon is the second most common element on Earth. Sand is made of silicon dioxide.
How do solar panels work?
The solar cell is a semiconductor device, the simplest one, in fact. It is a single P-N junction, like a simple diode. In contrast, your computer’s silicon brain has something like 200 million P-N junctions. The P-N junction creates an intrinsic electric field. This means that when photons (from the sun) free an electron in the material, it feels a force. Force leads to motion and moving electrons constitute a current. So the basic miracle of the semiconductor is the intrinsic electric field, which leads to current flow. This is the miracle upon which our entire electronic civilization is based.
Solar cells are made into PV modules. These are made with tin-plated copper wiring, polyvinyl fluoride back sheets, ethylene vinyl acetate encapsulant (EVA), tempered glass covers and aluminum frames. The embodied energy in a solar module can be generated by that module in about two year’s time, so its “energy payback” is quite good. This means that someday, PV will power PV factories.
How long will the solar panels last?
The PV modules are the most durable part of the system, with life expectancies of over 30 years.
How does the inverter work?
The inverter converts direct current (DC) from the solar array to alternating current (AC). It also:
- Synchronizes to the utility’s grid power
- Shuts off when there is no grid, if the utility voltage or frequency is bad, or if the utility sine wave is not clean
- Restarts automatically when grid power is restored
- Will open the DC circuit if there is a ground fault to protect against DC arcing and fire
- Distinguishes between real grid power and the output of small generators (so you can run your critical loads with a generator and the inverter will not back feed the grid when it’s down)
In other words, the inverter is a pretty smart gadget. The PV system is “interconnected” by running the inverter output to a dedicated breaker in your circuit box. We install systems with micro-inverters as well as central inverters.
What does a typical wiring scheme look like?
It looks a little something like this:
How big of a system do I need?
The size of the system depends on a few factors. The key factor is your yearly kilowatt hour usage. The other two are your geographic location and the size of your roof or sunny area near your house to put your panels. Some people choose to try and have a system installed that will cover their entire load – others may opt to offset a certain percentage.
Can I run my whole house with solar panels?
That depends on your annual energy load. Average households use between 5,000 and 10,000 kilowatt hours per year. A 5,000 watt system will cover an area of approximately 450 square feet (15 X 30). A 10,000 watt system will cover twice that. A 5,000 watt system in Binghamton, NY will produce approximately 5,601 kWh of energy per year under optimal conditions.
Can I get a really big system to sell back more energy to the utility company?
No. Most utility companies will only allow you a maximum amount of solar electricity that they will “net meter” or pay you for the excess energy you produce above and beyond your own usage. Also, in New York State, in order to receive incentives to install your system you cannot exceed 110% of your historical kWh usage. If you plan to add a load, such as charging an electric vehicle, or expanding your home or building, you can get a larger system.
Can I heat with photovoltaic panels if I heat with electricity?
How do I get started?
Simple! Find one of your recent utility bills and then give us a call at (607) 785-6499. Or, fill out the contact form above.