By Sue Hammond
During the Oct. 27 Zoom meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, members were enlightened on the topic of residential solar energy.
This informative program was given by Ryan Calalesina, a sales consultant for Solar Liberty.
“I love helping people and helping the environment,” Calalesina said. “I find it very rewarding to know that I am helping people financially, and helping the environment at the same time. This is my dream job!”
Solar Liberty, which was founded in 2003, is a private solar energy equipment company that is located in Buffalo, N.Y. It currently is the largest solar installer in the state with residential and commercial clients, also working with colleges, universities, nonprofits and cities.
Calalesina’s program topics included the basics of residential solar energy; how Solar Liberty determines the size, number and mounting site(s) of its solar panels; types of mounting systems; operations and maintenance; solar financial incentives; purchase, lease and financing options; and common myths about residential solar energy.
“Solar panels generate DC (direct current) power, which through an inverter becomes AC (alternating current) power,” he said. “We tap into the main breaker panel in your home. If the solar panels generate more power than what is used in your home, the extra power goes back to your community’s electric grid.
“Credits for the power not used in your home accrue and are banked until they are needed. In our area the credits typically accrue from April through October, and then they are used during the winter months.
“If you sell your home, credits that you have accrued cannot be transferred to your new home.”
Calalesina explained that to determine the size of the solar panel system, the number of panels that are needed, and the best site(s) to locate the panels at a residence, a month-by-month calculation of consumption vs. production of kilowatt hours (KWh) is done.
Solar Liberty has also installed systems on carports, pergolas and canopies.
“Solar panels are not high maintenance items,” Calalesina said. “You do not have to shovel the snow off of them or constantly clean them. In our area, the rain and snow keep them clean. If you live in an area that is very dusty, maybe near farmland or on a dirt road, you will need to hose them down once in a while. You can get an app on your phone to monitor the system’s operations and maintenance.”
Solar panel systems may be purchased or leased. Calalesina said that most residential systems cost $7,000 to $12,000.
While answering some questions, Calalesina dispelled some common myths.
He said that properly installed solar panels will not cause a roof to leak and that quality systems will not decrease a home’s resale value.
“It’s a myth that our area has the worst weather for solar energy,” Calalesina said. “Solar panels operate most efficiently in temperatures of 40 to 80 degrees. We have perfect spring weather here for solar energy. Also, though solar can power a house when the grid goes down, you would need a battery and generator for the solar panels, which we don’t recommend for safety reasons.”