How New Mexico Solar Installations Differ from Other Locations
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Every state is unique when it comes to solar. The geography, climate, and state-level incentives will all affect how solar is implemented. This is especially true in New Mexico, which has its own architectural trends and geography that differ from its surrounding neighbors. These unique facets are just one of many reasons why going solar in New Mexico is a good idea.
Let’s go over some of the architectural trends that you can find in New Mexico, how they will impact going solar, and what solar in New Mexico looks like.
New Mexico’s Unique Architecture
There are two main styles of architecture that informed New Mexico’s building practices going back to the Santa Fe de Nuevo México, the dominion of the Spanish Empire which would later become the US state of New Mexico. These are the Pueblo Revival and the Territorial Revival. New Mexico’s building styles are a unique blend of the Pueblo peoples, the Spanish Empire, and Mexico.
Major New Mexico Architectural Styles: A Brief Overview
Both of the two major forms of architecture tend to blend with one another. While being classified as one particular style, a building may still have influences from other styles in it. This can make classification difficult, though there are some broad points that separate the three.
The Basics of the Pueblo Revival Style
The Pueblo Revival style seeks to emulate the buildings of the Pueblo peoples prior to the arrival of the Spanish and Anglo-Americans. Characteristics of the Pueblo Revival include adobe outer walls, which are sometimes substituted by concrete or other materials with the same aesthetic, stucco, and a painting scheme that looks earthy. Pueblo Revival buildings are usually tan or brown, though there may be exceptions. Finally, the roofs of Pueblo Revival buildings are always flat, just like the original Pueblo peoples’ buildings.
The Basics of the Territorial Revival Style
The territorial revival style is the other main architectural style unique to the Southwest and has a large presence in New Mexico. Territorial Revival is a blend of neoclassical architecture with Pueblo elements. Common features of Territorial Revival include Greek/Roman columns and pediments incorporated into adobe buildings, always with flat roofs. The most well-known example of Territorial Revival is the New Mexico State Capitol.
How New Mexico’s Architecture Affects Solar Power
Architecture plays a major role in residential solar, particularly when it comes to roofs. As you may have noticed from our discussions of Pueblo and Territorial Revival, flat roofs are a common feature of New Mexico’s architecture. Flat roofs have their own pros and cons when it comes to solar.
If you’re interested in installing solar with a flat roof, the first thing that you need to decide is whether to lay the panels flat or to tilt them to match a typical residential roof installation. We’ll be covering flat solar panels in this section, as tilted panels are going to have similar pros and cons to solar installations on more traditional sloped roofs.
The Positives of Going Solar With a Flat Roof
One of the main advantages of going solar with a flat roof is that your solar installation is essentially invisible. Some people and groups consider solar panels to be an eyesore. Going solar has the possibility of upsetting your neighbors. Additionally, many HOAs, while legally not allowed to prohibit solar panels, can put restrictions on the types and placement of solar panels.
With solar panels that are laid flat, you don’t have to worry about this. The panels are not visible from the street and, therefore, will not upset your neighbors or your local HOA. They also won’t clash with your home’s aesthetic, which gives you a wider range of panels and installation options.
Another positive aspect is that the installation process is much easier. Your installation company will not need to use specialized equipment to walk on a steep roof, nor will they need to drill holes into your roof to install the panels. Why is that?
Most solar installations have multiple holes drilled into the roof, which the mounting system is then installed into. This form of installation uses the roof’s weight and structure to keep the panels mounted, ensuring that they don’t slide off. With a flat roof, however, this isn’t necessary. Instead, flat roof panels can be mounted using weighted racking systems, called ballast mounting. Ballast mounting relies on the weight of the racking system itself to keep the panels on the roof. This ensures that should the system ever need to be removed, there are no gaps or holes in your roof.
The Negatives of Going Solar With a Flat Roof
There are some negative aspects to going solar with flat-mounted panels. One big downside is that flat solar panels will receive less sunlight. The sun travels across the sky in such a way that south-facing objects receive the most sunlight. It is for this reason that most residential solar panel systems are installed so that they face south and are tilted, which maximizes the amount of sunlight they receive.
With flat mounted panels, you lose out on some of that sunlight. That won’t be a problem if you have enough solar panels, but it can pose an issue on roofs with limited space. If you install solar panels flat on your roof, you should be prepared for a small loss in efficiency compared to the standard residential installation.
A simple solution is to mount the panels so that they face south and are slanted. If done, this can potentially put your electricity generation above that of the standard installation.
Another potential downside is that flat solar panels get much dirtier than slanted installations. Rain and animal droppings are less likely to slide off of your panels or to be naturally cleaned by precipitation. Therefore, you will have to be more vigilant about keeping your panels clean.
Other Traits of New Mexico Solar Installations
There are other factors beyond architecture that will contribute to going solar in New Mexico. The geography of the state is the biggest one. To understand the details of going solar in New Mexico, we’ll briefly cover the aspects of New Mexico’s geography and what role it plays in installing solar panels.
How Does the Geography of New Mexico Impact Solar?
The geography of New Mexico lends itself well to installing solar. In particular, New Mexico gets more sun hours than almost anywhere else in America. New Mexico’s climate is particularly sunny, with few cloudy days. This is good for solar, as the more sun hours you get each day, the more electricity your solar panels produce. The more electricity they produce, the more you save through processes such as net metering.
Additionally, New Mexico’s temperature range is good for solar. A common misconception of solar panels is that they work better in warmer temperatures than cold ones. This is, in fact, a myth. While summer has longer sun hours, which is good for solar, the excessive heat of summer is actually bad for the overall lifespan of your solar panels.
Cooler temperatures with more sun hours are the best situation for solar. New Mexico, despite being a desert, does not get as hot as some parts of America. This is particularly true for the northern parts of the state, where more of the population is clustered. These regions, which can get somewhat hot in the summer, are generally temperate.
When taken together, New Mexico is clearly a top state in America to go solar. It is for this reason that we included New Mexico in our list of top states. Going solar can be your key to savings! To learn more about the solar installation process in New Mexico, check out our guide below.