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    Anyone here switch to solar power? Anything you dislike about it? Do you view it as an investment? We were told that it holds its value if the house is sold after the system is purchased (ie the selling price on the house increases by the amount paid for solar) and I wonder if anyone has experience with this? Basically, this is something my husband REALLY wants to do and I'm trying to justify why this might be a reasonable use of money and not just a ridiculous splurge, akin to buying a new car, in order to reduce my anxiety about it :-) Would love to hear any thoughts on this!

  • #2
    I'd love to do so. (I also live in a place where the sun shines many days a year).

    However, signing up for a 20 year term (a la Solarcity) seems crazy, given a technology that is rapidly changing.

    ... To me, this should be something that needs to make moral, economic, and common sense. I haven't found the day where those line up yet.

     

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    • #3
      I know! I told my husband that we'll switch to solar and in 5 years Elon musk will have made those solar shingles a reality, making the panels totally obsolete.

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      • #4
        Mr Lorax here.  We are a solar heavy family.  ROI is 3-7 years depending on scale, use, TOU rates, and location.  We only purchased--never leased.

        1.  Holding value - owning helps sell the house.  Showing buyers our pre/post installation PGE bills simply shocked them.  Bigger homes with larger systems -- the bigger the impact of getting off Level 5 surcharge.  Caveats -- DO NOT PUT IN FRONT.  curb appeal is a serious thing for most still.   LEASING - adds a level of complexity for a sale -- so another reason to  not lease.

        2.  ROI - other options give much higher ROI -- Low-E Windows, Water heater wrapping, sealing air leaks, appliance efficiencies, Whole house fan/attic fan; solar attic fan, tankless heater;  after all that, and you STILL have high energy usage that bumps you to into Level 4 and 5 surcharges, then solar probably will save you serious $$$.   Couple with an EV, you'll really be saving big time.

        eg:  We have smallish,due our current home orientation and roof, 3.6kw PV+QuietCool Fan+Solar Attic Fan  (prior house had 7kw system) with 2 EVs using TOU-EV in SDGE land.

        Dreaming for the day that PV folk develop Vehicle-2-Home plug in of EVs to make our cars virtual Powerwalls and feed into the house during the evenings (and recharge at ultralow fee times 12mn-5am)

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        • #5
          I bought a house with solar. They had 18 years left on the lease and now it is mine. My other option was to buy the solar out right, but all of the tax credits had already been taken by the solar company.

           

          I like the idea of solar but it only saves us about $200 a year on bills. I would never have signed a 20 year lease for solar and was hesitant to buy the house due to this lease. Think of it as a car. If you are going to buy it, make sure you can buy it cash and out right. Do not lease it.

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          • #6
            We plan on getting solar soon actually.  Our roof size is fairly small, but estimates show we could fit a 4 kw system up there which would account for about 1/3 or more of our electricity use if I'm remembering correctly.  After tax incentives the system will only cost us around 7k.  So, we're going to purchase, not lease.  Worth it for sure in our case.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the responses, they are super helpful! We are going to purchase, not lease. It's not going to save us a ton (we only spend about $1200/year on electricity because we have a smaller house) but will pay for itself within 10 years I think. Mostly I like the environmental good it will do. But I'm glad to hear it really does hold value.

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              • #8
                FWIW, I love the idea of solar and am all for clean/green. Economically it just makes no sense. As has been mentioned you can do almost anything else and have a much higher ROI and downsize any eventual install. I have seriously considered it several times, and each time do a thorough investigation trying to justify it and every time I simply walk away saddened that its still not a great move.

                No, solar is generally not worth it. It is certainly not an investment, unless you think you're brick motorola phone from the 90s was an investment also. Solar is a tech, it will age as one as well. There are very very limited scenarios where it makes sense money wise to take the plunge now instead of waiting. Solar has one of the highest cost depreciation rates of any tech, you will literally save money by waiting.

                Never lease, this is just bad in so many ways. Never replace full use, which they will try to get you to do because its a bigger sale. This results in a lot of unused excess and money that cannot be recaptured. You really just need to service average use and stay away from upper tiers if you have them. I like houses that already have solar that is purchased, its basically free to me. I have never seen a house with solar sell for a premium (we have a lot of solar here and Ive bought two houses in two years, so constant market contact in that time). I have walked away and heard lots of horror stories of people trying to sell houses with leased solar. Those leases are generally awful, with terrible assumptions built in. I've read several contracts, theyre all pretty bad.

                Its like an electric/hybrid car, unless you're trying to save the world (you wont be, all studies show increased usage in solar houses) personally, its wisest to wait as solar gets cheaper much faster than any savings you would accumulate. Here is a great resource on that. Also, the quotes you'll get about rising electricity rates are usually false, as the cost of energy has actually fallen behind inflation for the last couple decades.

                http://rameznaam.com/2015/08/10/how-cheap-can-solar-get-very-cheap-indeed/

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                • #9




                  Mr Lorax here.  We are a solar heavy family.  ROI is 3-7 years depending on scale, use, TOU rates, and location.  We only purchased–never leased.

                  1.  Holding value – owning helps sell the house.  Showing buyers our pre/post installation PGE bills simply shocked them.  Bigger homes with larger systems — the bigger the impact of getting off Level 5 surcharge.  Caveats — DO NOT PUT IN FRONT.  curb appeal is a serious thing for most still.   LEASING – adds a level of complexity for a sale — so another reason to  not lease.

                  2.  ROI – other options give much higher ROI — Low-E Windows, Water heater wrapping, sealing air leaks, appliance efficiencies, Whole house fan/attic fan; solar attic fan, tankless heater;  after all that, and you STILL have high energy usage that bumps you to into Level 4 and 5 surcharges, then solar probably will save you serious $$$.   Couple with an EV, you’ll really be saving big time.

                  eg:  We have smallish,due our current home orientation and roof, 3.6kw PV+QuietCool Fan+Solar Attic Fan  (prior house had 7kw system) with 2 EVs using TOU-EV in SDGE land.

                  Dreaming for the day that PV folk develop Vehicle-2-Home plug in of EVs to make our cars virtual Powerwalls and feed into the house during the evenings (and recharge at ultralow fee times 12mn-5am)
                  Click to expand...


                  You put in an attic fan? Everything I read says that just pulls conditioned air from inside the house up and can cause issues. Always suggested radiant blockers/insulation for the attic.

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                  • #10
                    Starting with the proven technologies mentioned by StarTrekDoc in "2." could be a good way to stall and let the technology mature.

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                    • #11
                      @zaphod - if you live in Cali and have a larger house that pushes you into the High usage surcharge, the economics are pretty clear to install a PV system.  Every kWH 1:1 saved is $.40 off the top.  If you leverage TOU and shift consumption to evening off peak rates, the breakeven time is even shorter.   At year 3 of our new home here in San Diego, we're nearly break even already.  with an inverter warranty for 10 years and panels for 25 years, we're saving $4000 yearly here on out-- not small potatoes.

                      Being close to the ocean, it cools off dramatically with the coastal breeze; so opening the windows and turning on the house fan brings down the temperature in the summer quite nicely and reduces even further the AC usage.   Back in the Central Valley days, the Delta breeze would do the same ...reducing the AC load in the early evenings.

                      Yes, radiant barrier is very good and efficient--one of the #2 points that I left out.

                       

                      For EV, it's much the same as the PV TOU concept.  You're shifting a high cost energy for to lower cost.   We shifted two 20 and 25 MPG ICE vehicles to 100-125 eMPG EV vehicles, resulting in about $2400 in savings a year in fuel costs.  Those savings essentially paid for the leases of both our Spark and Fiat EVs and 1/2 of the insurance from the cars.   Additional plus is we get to use HOV lanes as single rider saving significant windshield time

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                      • #12




                        @zaphod – if you live in Cali and have a larger house that pushes you into the High usage surcharge, the economics are pretty clear to install a PV system.  Every kWH 1:1 saved is $.40 off the top.  If you leverage TOU and shift consumption to evening off peak rates, the breakeven time is even shorter.   At year 3 of our new home here in San Diego, we’re nearly break even already.  with an inverter warranty for 10 years and panels for 25 years, we’re saving $4000 yearly here on out– not small potatoes.

                        Being close to the ocean, it cools off dramatically with the coastal breeze; so opening the windows and turning on the house fan brings down the temperature in the summer quite nicely and reduces even further the AC usage.   Back in the Central Valley days, the Delta breeze would do the same …reducing the AC load in the early evenings.

                        Yes, radiant barrier is very good and efficient–one of the #2 points that I left out.

                         

                        For EV, it’s much the same as the PV TOU concept.  You’re shifting a high cost energy for to lower cost.   We shifted two 20 and 25 MPG ICE vehicles to 100-125 eMPG EV vehicles, resulting in about $2400 in savings a year in fuel costs.  Those savings essentially paid for the leases of both our Spark and Fiat EVs and 1/2 of the insurance from the cars.   Additional plus is we get to use HOV lanes as single rider saving significant windshield time ?
                        Click to expand...


                        Im in Cali and the CV, so it gets morbidly hot and I know there is decent arbitrage to be had, and even the possibility of a payoff...but everytime I run the numbers its still better to wait a couple years. PGE is actually changing the rate schedule next year which will effectively be a big reduction for us hot inland folks and give a increase to coastal areas, so I will at least wait for that time as I dont want to play the arbitrage game to have the whole strategy changed. Which is another risk of course.

                        I monitor and size myself to basically just stay on the lower tier, theres really little benefit beyond that as you wont utilize it properly. Sounds like in your case you're a massive user which presents different trade offs and break evens than the normal situation for most people. It would for example be far cheaper to simply get a new AC and variable speed pool pump (which I am, saving 80% electricity cost on 2nd biggest user) than to get solar right now. One day I might, but still doesnt make sense as much as I want it to. I even know people high up in the biz that could get my family rates, but havent looked into it fully yet.

                        Half the year you hardly need to turn on gas or a/c, and the other half is a/c all the time. So sizing of array is important and harder than the coasts.

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                        • #13
                          Definitely a variable pump is a must as well as a high AC rating.

                          We had a 7kW system in Stockton before our move to the coast.  CV makes even more sense for PV and EV ($3000 additional rebate--my brother gets paid to drive his Sparks).  Serious Zephod, you should look again at EV leases if you're in the CV.

                           

                          When you're in a large home in CV, regardless of what you do in the summer, it's going to run the AC late afternoons as the pool too to keep it clean with all the summer usage.

                          When leveraged correctly with TOU (as rates are going now anyways),  PV makes economic sense if you're hitting the surcharge.

                          Yes, the price is getting lower each year, but each year sitting on the sideline also negates the savings.  eg , break even time maybe 6 months shorter now than 3 years ago, but I'm now at breakeven.  The opportunity cost over the 3 years probably will extend another 3-6 months, but I'm going to be net positive now vs waiting another 2.5 years for lower tech pricing (vs loss of 30% federal credit potential).

                          Point for people looking into PV and done all the prior efficiencies; do your homework on BUYING scenario.   If you're a high user (monthly $250+) and plan to be in home 4+ years, should take a close hard look at PV.   If you're doing EV, PV would be even more logical to leverage.

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                          • #14
                            Price is coming down quick too.  We had a solar estimate done last year and after tax benefits they said the system would cost us a little over 10k.  This year we got an email stating that the same system will cost around 7k.  It should take us about 5-6 years to break even.  For me that's completely worth it.  I frankly don't care if it makes economic sense.  I can't stand turning on lights and appliances knowing that somewhere in Ohio there's a coal plant burning coal for that convenience.  I want to know that I'm doing everything in my power to reduce my consumption.  But that's just me.  To each his own I guess.

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                            • #15




                              Price is coming down quick too.  We had a solar estimate done last year and after tax benefits they said the system would cost us a little over 10k.  This year we got an email stating that the same system will cost around 7k.  It should take us about 5-6 years to break even.  For me that’s completely worth it.  I frankly don’t care if it makes economic sense.  I can’t stand turning on lights and appliances knowing that somewhere in Ohio there’s a coal plant burning coal for that convenience.  I want to know that I’m doing everything in my power to reduce my consumption.  But that’s just me.  To each his own I guess.
                              Click to expand...


                              Thats a strange way to look at it. Lots of much more impactful ways to do better for the world than solar. Your personal consumption mix of energy depends on where you live (maybe its coal in your region). Coal is doomed even if solar never takes off. Solar will become a significant portion of generation someday, its inevitable as it has reached parity and better in many places, though that is still at the institutional level.

                              Prices dropped 30% in one year? Thats pretty steep.

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