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Old 09-24-2021, 06:33 AM   #21
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We put in a roof mounted solar system about year and half ago. It is just panels. I couldn't justify a battery backup system. The numbers (production and savings) are as predicted. There wasn't an insurance hit, it is covered in our policy. The system requires no effort to operate or maintain.

The only surprise is that we use the APP which monitors our system more than I thought we would. You can tell when someone takes a shower or the pool filter turns on. It makes us more aware of our consumption. We exported more than we consumed last year but it is kind of a game to optimize our consumption.

Our payback forecasts were not as good as yours. At the time, we needed a new roof and putting in the panels when the roof was installed allowed us to take the tax credit on the roof installation because it was considered a part of the solar installation so that helped with the justification.
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Old 09-24-2021, 07:37 AM   #22
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Not really considering solar since my electric bills average ~$75/mo and my utility company charges solar customers a grid connect fee of $25/mo, too long of a payback. Was on Tesla's web site and for the heck of it looked at their solar panel offerings. For my address and size house (2250 sq-ft) Tesla's recommended system came out to $13K after available rebates, this included a 2 day powerwall battery backup. Seems a lot cheaper than other solar panel offerings that don't offer a battery backup. What am I missing?
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Old 09-24-2021, 08:05 AM   #23
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Iíve had solar on the last two homes I have had over the last 12 years.
I have never once had anything to do to maintain the system, nor optimize it, with the exception of replacing a fuse in one inverter.

I can definitely see how a DIY project could take time to optimize, but in general, maintenance is zero, home or away.

I would suggest asking the installers what the panels are rated/warrantee for in terms of hail (if you are in an area that gets hail).
Also ask them for a installation timeline and ask if there are any guarantees.

Also make sure, as with any contractor, that they are licensed and insured in your state.
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Old 09-24-2021, 08:26 AM   #24
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Our annual "equalized" Electricity bill for the last 3 years has averaged $120 per month for a 3,200 sqft home where we run the AC for 9 months and our pool pump 6/7. We also have and electric cooker.

I cannot justify solar for that cost.
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Old 09-24-2021, 08:37 AM   #25
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If you lease and then move, you'll find that a savvy buyer will use the lease as a negative against you in price negotiations for the home. One of the worst things about most leases - you'd have to check the fine print - is that they contain an "escalator" clause wherein your payment will actually increase every year. This can wind up being a significant cost eventually. I had solar installed at our previous home in Phoenix in 2012 and figure it saved about $1500 per year. You have to watch for how the electric utilities keep changing the rules for things like net metering; it all contributes to how much your solar will save you over the years.
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Old 09-24-2021, 09:14 AM   #26
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We got PV solar last year after shopping for it for YEARS. I was shopping 9Kw systems and prices installed were coming in from 27 to 35k. I researched and all the parts of these systems would cost me 13K if I DIYd. When I saw thd installations in my neighborhood, it looked like two guys for two days. I'll even round up and call it 40 hours of total labor. I couldn't justify paying someone 14k to 20K for install labor for 40 hours of work. $350 to $500 per hour

I ended up using Tesla and had a great experience. 24K for a 12kw system that was 17K with tax credit. My annual electrical usage was 4200 to 4400 per year, so my ROI is right around 4 years. The system is totally passive, zero maintenance. However, I plan on washing the panels at least yearly as clean panels are more efficient.
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Old 09-24-2021, 09:49 AM   #27
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Very interesting information here, thank you all for sharing. If we go for solar, we will either buy with cash or lease. The loan terms do not seem that good to us.

Several posters strongly suggested not leasing. The only reason we are considering it is that instead of having a $35K cash outlay up front, with a $9K tax credit so a net of $26K and saving something like $350/month on electricity, leasing would allow us to save a net of around $150/month after the lease payment with zero down. Given our tendency to become restless and move, leasing seems lower risk than plunking down a huge wad of cash.

I appreciate that if we lease the solar, it would not be seen as a valuable asset when we sell like a purchased solar system would likely be, at least to a certain extent. Also after 25 years of payments, if we were still around and owning our house then, weíd have to extend the lease or they would come remove all the panels, so thatís another reason to own the system vs lease.

Regarding other energy efficiency improvements, in our recent home remodel, we already put in all new Low E dual paned windows and doors, new insulation throughout the home, and LED lighting everywhere. Also put in outdoor and indoor shades on western facing sides of the house. Our kitchen appliances are not the most energy efficient but we wanted them for other reasons. Canít think of much else we could do to improve energy efficiency, except for altering our lifestyle in ways that donít appeal to us.

We have appointments tomorrow to learn more from two other companies. If nothing else, this is an interesting learning experience for us.
I'd finance with a HELOC before leasing...as already posted leasing's a negative for prospective buyers.
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Old 09-24-2021, 03:11 PM   #28
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After examining it for our garage roof in Minnesota, and getting great input from this forum, we decided against it, mostly because:

1). Hail and other assaults on our roofing: If our roofing has to be replaced, the panels have to come off and then be reinstalled. Any savings weíd enjoyed over time would be lost.

2). Trees and other vegetation, especially on our neighborsí property, might grow to shade our panels over the next 30 years. Who knows?

3). ERD50 made the good point that a better use of the worldís limited panel supply, from a societal perspective, is on commercial roofs and open lands, which are just better suited for positioning the panels than a home roof; and itís simply more efficient to install one big commercial roof or landfill, etc. than on a bunch of small residential job sites.
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Old 09-24-2021, 03:33 PM   #29
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We are very happy with our panels (installed Oct 2019). The payback appears to be a bit over 8 years (8.4-9), but with the EV (Bolt) and plug-in hybrid RAV, the gasoline savings are huge. We had to replace a Forester (with the Bolt) and our oldest the winemaker wanted to buy a trailer, so we sold him the Silverado that we used for long camping trips and replaced with the RAV Prime.

It's difficult to estimate the "savings" with 2 replacement cars (we would have replaced the Forester for sure anyway and DW didn't like driving the Silverado although we likely would have waited on replacing it since it was only 4 years old), but gasoline savings are almost 4k a year, based on this year. We did do more long-range driving to camping sites to get out of the Nevada/Cali smoke (in July many days were 200 AQI or above).
this was an easy use of excess cash.
Here in Nevada, we get 81% of retail cost of energy for overproduction in spring and fall, although the cost is only 9c/kw. It still pencils out, particularly as a use of cash to reduce monthly costs. When I have to replace the AC (with a more efficient unit), electricity use will go down, further subsidizing the Bolt/plug-in. At this point, we use about 5-10% more than we generate, due to the cars. 9c/kw is still about 75% cheaper than gasoline.


Edit: We've basically underspent 20% the last two years, due to COVID, and that money accelerated our vehicle replacement. Now we are spending even less, but I'm hoping we can go to Ireland or Italy next spring/early summer to re-jumpstart the "normal" spending.
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Old 09-24-2021, 03:57 PM   #30
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I just had 18 panels installed but still waiting for final inspection and for PG&E to turn it on. Probably in another 6 weeks.

We don't use a ton of electricity but PG&E rates have gone up so much that solar has become very attractive. I'm currently averaging $0.30/kw with PG&E and the costs for my solar system should be $0.13/kw over 20 years. I did not go with the battery back-up as it is pretty costly and not necessary given net-metering and that I'm on a pretty reliable part of the grid.

I'm hoping it works as expected. Overall I'm pretty happy with the look of the system. I have a pyramid shaped roof and I didn't have any panels put on the front of my house so they really aren't noticeable from the street.
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Old 09-24-2021, 04:37 PM   #31
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I just had 18 panels installed but still waiting for final inspection and for PG&E to turn it on. Probably in another 6 weeks.

We don't use a ton of electricity but PG&E rates have gone up so much that solar has become very attractive. I'm currently averaging $0.30/kw with PG&E and the costs for my solar system should be $0.13/kw over 20 years. I did not go with the battery back-up as it is pretty costly and not necessary given net-metering and that I'm on a pretty reliable part of the grid.

I'm hoping it works as expected. Overall I'm pretty happy with the look of the system. I have a pyramid shaped roof and I didn't have any panels put on the front of my house so they really aren't noticeable from the street.
Where in the Bay Area? Which contractor and what was the cost per watt?

My problem is gas heat in the winter complicates the cost-benefit analysis. The house is not well ducted, so the bedrooms use supplemental electric space heaters overnight. Add in a 32 year-old tile roof and the cost of either replacing the entire roof or just the underlayment, and I keep putting it off.
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Old 09-24-2021, 04:59 PM   #32
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Iíll tell you something no one warns you about with solar panels. I didnít see it mentioned here but I could have missed it.
Pigeons! If you have one pigeon within a 100 mile radius it will find your solar panels and roost under them. Then it will invite all of its friends to join in. So my advice is to be sure to have wire surrounding the edges to block them from ever being able to roost.
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Old 09-24-2021, 06:35 PM   #33
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I’m not a big fan of installing large solar panels on a roof, mainly for aesthetic reasons. But I like the idea of generating power from the sun to offset your electrical costs. I like where Tesla is going with their solar roof panels. You get the benefit of a new roof and a solar installation without any visible evidence that you have solar on your roof. You might want to get a quote from them just to see how the numbers compare.

We tried to install the Tesla roof but they told us we don’t have enough sun. However, I’m sure your desert location doesn’t have that issue.
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Old 09-24-2021, 07:22 PM   #34
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I don't get off aesthetically on roof shingles or roof lines and certainly not from a utilitarian point of view, although I do understand there are some who think that way.
I prefer a semi-neat lawn and no cars up on blocks, but that's me. I better mow tomorrow.



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I’m not a big fan of installing large solar panels on a roof, mainly for aesthetic reasons.
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Old 09-24-2021, 07:24 PM   #35
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My reaction is mostly "Cool, they have solar."
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Old 09-25-2021, 09:40 AM   #36
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I just looked up the Tesla roofs out of curiosity. Wow! They look really nice but their online tool estimated $78K for our roof, $58K after tax credit. Donít think that would ever pencil out.
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Old 09-25-2021, 10:47 AM   #37
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After examining it for our garage roof in Minnesota, and getting great input from this forum, we decided against it, mostly because:

1). Hail and other assaults on our roofing: If our roofing has to be replaced, the panels have to come off and then be reinstalled. Any savings we’d enjoyed over time would be lost.

2). Trees and other vegetation, especially on our neighbors’ property, might grow to shade our panels over the next 30 years. Who knows?

3). ERD50 made the good point that a better use of the world’s limited panel supply, from a societal perspective, is on commercial roofs and open lands, which are just better suited for positioning the panels than a home roof; and it’s simply more efficient to install one big commercial roof or landfill, etc. than on a bunch of small residential job sites.


Point 3) is generally true. Walking around my neighborhood, I saw quite a few very poor suboptimal installations, and the most recent one made me cringe. I thought about taking a photo to use as an example of the stupidest installations: 1/2 of the panels would see the clear sky for 2-3 hours each day, because they are shaded by trees in the morning and by the house/chimney in the afternoon. Yet, there are other sections of the roof where more panels could have been mounted. I refrained from taking the photo, because it would be too mean. Of course, this is really the fault of the installer not the homeowner, but the home is what people may identify from the photo.

Anyway, unless your house is very poorly situated, there are reasons for having your own, and this depends on specific situations.

1) In places with a high electricity cost, it may pay to have your own. The payback depends on the rate structure too. Here where I am, the net metering is no longer offered, although old installations were grandfathered in. When more and more solar installations come online, not just residential but also commercial installations, the solar production is higher before noon than it is in the afternoon and it may exceed demand. The sunlight may be the same, but the hotter panels produce less in the afternoon. Yet, due to heat soak, ACs run a lot harder in the late afternoon. Additionally, where I am the ACs have to run hard until past midnight, long past any ray of sunlight.

And that's why more places are doing what makes the most sense: the power that you pump into the grid in the morning is priced a lot lower than what you have to pay when you draw from the grid in the evening. Water during a flood cannot have the same price as it would be during a drought. In fact, when there's no place to store a commodity, the price goes negative. You have to pay for someone to take it, like California had to pay Arizona to take some excess solar power for a period in late spring, according to an article in LA Times that I have cited here in the past.

For a system in an area with a high energy cost, it may make sense to have your own storage, so that you can save the excess power in the morning to use in the evening. My rate is not as high as in CA, but I still pay 24c/kWh for the peak period between 2PM-8PM in the summer, and only 7.3c in off-peak hours. My battery helps to arbitrage this rate difference, when I save the excess power for use when it is worth 24c instead of 7c. My first goal has been to use minimum grid power during the peak hours. My battery often gets enough charge to last till midnight, and even through a 24-hour period when it's not too hot (high in the low 100Fs).

2) The solar+battery is also a backup source when the grid goes down. If you do not have a battery, a grid-tied system does not work when the grid power is lost. If I were in a California area subjected to the dreaded PSPS (Power Safety Power Shutoff), I would install such a system pronto. Having to empty your fridge and take involuntary trips can get old very quick. You can use a backup generator, but the solar+battery has the non-emergency benefit of reducing your high electric bill. The cost is high, so it is not a no-brainer. I value my convenience, but other people have different priorities.
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Old 09-25-2021, 12:08 PM   #38
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I just looked up the Tesla roofs out of curiosity. Wow! They look really nice but their online tool estimated $78K for our roof, $58K after tax credit. Donít think that would ever pencil out.

The Tesla roof is a good deal if you need a new roof, or if you are doing brand new construction. You get both a new roof and a solar system all in one. If you donít need a new roof, the panels will definitely pencil out better.

But if you are putting new panels on a 20 year old roof, it may be worth the investment. You donít want to put brand new panels on a roof that will need to be replaced a few years down the road, because you will have to uninstall everything and reinstall over the new roof.
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Old 09-25-2021, 12:34 PM   #39
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Removing and reinstalling solar panels is not a big deal, really. The problem is normal roofers do not know how to deal with it, and the solar guys will gouge you for an easy job.
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Old 09-25-2021, 03:16 PM   #40
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Removing and reinstalling solar panels is not a big deal, really. The problem is normal roofers do not know how to deal with it, and the solar guys will gouge you for an easy job.
So, other than that... It's not a big deal.
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