Solar Electricity

Everyone knows New Mexico has one of the highest number of days for sunshine, this makes New Mexico a great place to utilize solar electricity power. On average Albuquerque has 278 days with sunshine. This includes 167 days of complete sunshine and 111 days where it is partly cloudy. That accounts to about 76% of sunshine year round! Switching to solar electricity can help reduce the effects of global warming.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The electricity that we currently harness comes from non-renewable sources such as coal. By switching to solar energy you will reduce your carbon footprint significantly by reducing the emissions that enter the atmosphere. Going green does not release carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Solar panels are, on average, 20 times better for the environment then burning coal.

Solar energy drastically cuts down on emissions being pumped out in to the atmosphere, however, it does not stop them completely. Yes, it’s true that when making solar panels, carbon dioxide is released, but with the installation of solar panels the carbon dioxide is drastically reduced for the lifetime of the installation.

Is Solar right for me?

You may ask yourself if solar panels are right for you and your home or business? There are questions you should be asking yourself before making the switch to solar power. Is your home or business minimally shaded? Which direction will the solar panels face? Having solar panels face south is the most optimal. Is your electrical bill over $100 a month? If your bill isn’t over $100 dollars a month, you will probably end up paying more to go solar. Does the electricity company use a tiered system to charge for electricity or do they have a flat rate? This one is important because it could either mean your solar system will benefit you or it could mean you are wasting time and money.

Tiered System?

Having a tiered system is better than a flat rate. When you convert to solar electricity and the company uses a tiered system they usually remove the top tiers which are typically a 4 and 5 tier and the company will remove those from your bill first. If you want to achieve the fastest payback from your solar energy system be sure that your solar system produces, not only the energy that you use, but produces enough to go above tier 1 and 2 levels. This means that you will have to keep an eye on those rates for tier 1 and 2 because if the rates increase you would have to add a panel in order to keep producing more than you are using. Be sure you know how your electric company bills you before you jump to buying a solar power system.

Flat rate system?

The reason a flat rate bill does not benefit you is because flat rates are charged not on how much electricity you actually use or don’t use, but you are charged a flat rate. So if you typically use less electricity then others around you, you will still be charged the same rate as the others. This is not beneficial when using solar energy because regardless of how much you produce or don’t produce you will still be charged the same amount on your electricity bill.


Many individuals believe that installing solar panels is far more expensive then it actually is. Due to incentives the cost of installing a solar power system is within reach for everyone. The average cost of installing solar power systems all depends on where you live. In New Mexico the average cost installing a solar power system is about $16,383. You could possibly save $137 a month. You could save $32,898 after 20 years. The average number of years for the solar system to pay for itself is 12 years. Below image shows the numbers that were stated above. Image taken from Cost of Solar.



break down of how much solar costs and what you can save by state

Other Cost Factors

In regards to cost there are also other things to consider. You need to ensure your electrical box is the right size for the size of solar system you are inquiring about. You need to be sure your roof is in very good condition and is able to handle the solar panels. If your roof is more than 25 years old, you should probably update your roof before considering a solar system. If you find out your roof needs replacing after the panels have already been installed, it could be very costly to remove the panels and reinstall those panels on top of the cost of redoing your roof. Have a certified roofer certify your roof before you move forward in actually installing a solar system. There are many things to consider for cost and not just the cost of the actual system.


There are tax credits that you can receive from the IRS for switching to solar power. The Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit is a 30% tax credit given to the purchaser of a qualified solar system. The federal tax credit is applied AFTER you have received the rebates and incentives on a state and local level first. In order to receive the tax credit you would have to fill out 5695 form with the IRS when you do your taxes. If you have paid taxes then you will get a credit for the amount of taxes you’ve paid or the full 30%, whichever is less. The credit that you are unable to use that year can be carried forward. If you don’t pay taxes, the government tax credit does you no good. If this is the case ask the company about financing as the company that does the financing can take the tax credit and pass the savings to you.

How does Solar Power Work?

Now if you’ve made it this far, I have gone through a lot of information about solar power systems, now let’s get down to how the systems actually work. There are different types, however, in this article I will focus on Photovoltaics. Photovoltaics (PV), is a system in which the cells do not need direct sunlight in order to produce energy. So even on cloudy days the panels will still generate electricity. The panels convert sunlight directly to electricity. The solar cells are the cells within the solar panel that produce the electricity. One cell does not produce that much electricity which is why there are a number of cells used to make up a solar panel.


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