As we head into our busiest season of the year, we thought we would share with you some questions we often hear – and our answers to them! As always, if you have any extra questions, you can call ETM Solar Works at 607-785-6499 or email us at We would be happy to help!

How long does it take to get 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 12-16 weeks. This time frame is based on paperwork, including permits and inspections – which ETM (like most solar companies) will handle for you. As one of the oldest residential solar companies in the country, ETM has been a trailblazer in streamlining solar paperwork. We have been working with local and state governments as well as utilities to this end for over 30 years.

Does snow affect how much solar energy is produced?

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 to the sun, it will warm up, making the snow slide right off! 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.

Is solar viable in the Southern Tier?

Yes. Binghamton gets more sun than Germany, and Germany is a world leader in solar. We also get more sun than Burlington, VT, which is #4 in the U.S. in amount of solar power produced per person. When designing your system, a good solar company will in how much sunlight we get around here — so don’t worry. Your system will be sized according to your needs!

Do solar panels need maintenance?

The beauty of solar panels is that there are no moving parts, which means that your solar panels will rarely, if ever, need maintenance! That said, if you need it, we are happy to perform maintenance work on your existing solar system. Many repair & maintenance services that we offer are fully covered under your panels’ warranty!

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.

How do the incentives work?

This is a big question for a short blog post, especially considering that incentives sometimes change. However, you should know that you can get both federal and state incentives as of 2021. You can apply for a 25% New York State tax credit capped at $5000, and (in 2021), a 22% federal tax credit. At the time of writing, there will be no more federal tax credit for residential solar starting January 1, 2023. Tax credits can help reduce the amount that you would otherwise owe (meaning you do need to owe taxes to claim the credit). For up-to-date information, contact our office using the information below! The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency® ( is also a great resource to research incentives. As always, please consult your tax professional for anything pertaining to your taxes.

What is net metering?

Both New York and Pennsylvania currently have net metering, which allows you to bank any surplus energy youproduce with your solar system with the grid, allowing you to effectively store it and use it later.

How long do solar panels last?

The PV panels are the most durable part of the system, with life expectancies of over 30 years.

How do solar panels work?

The solar cell is a semiconductor device, the simpest one, in fact. It is a single P-N junction, like a simple diode. In contrast, your computer’s silicon brain has somethig 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.

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.