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Purchasing solar panels to save on electricity cost?

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  • Purchasing solar panels to save on electricity cost?

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?   Our currently electricity cost are around $300-500 a month and the initial upfront investment to purchasing solar panels generally are around $15-20k?   And I don't believe this will knock out the electric cost completely but probably pays for itself after 5-7years as Im told?   Anyone doing this and could share their experience?   How much did you pay upfront and save?   Break-even point?   Any good reference as well.... appreciate it!

  • #2
    I'd make sure you have done everything you can thats easy to save energy first before considering solar. High SEER ac, lights, nice thermostat, air flows, etc...I would also check your state utility commission website to make sure there arent any changes that may drastically affect your planning (eg, in Cali, PGE is changing rates to be more favorable to heavier users=smaller sized system needed). Assuming you are in the southwest with that payback timeline.

    Be wary of cost of electricity rate increase forecasts and ROI calculators supplied by the company selling the solar, these are compiled and interpreted for their benefit. I see many companies pumping solar here in SoCal that will not tell you about rate changes in your favor and how that affects your sizing, nor that their x%/yr estimates of costs are unrealistically high. For the roi calculators they ignore inflation and opportunity cost/npv of that money.

    I want solar eventually, but im definitely not in my forever house, and prices have been dropping steadily every year with no sign of slowing, and faster than the return from the system. Actually I hope to find a place that has already purchased some so I dont have to take the hit (does not seem to add a penny of difference to price, at least not yet).

    I also no longer worry about the incentives, since sales would basically stop, of course companies would have to cut costs dramatically to keep doing business, which will probably end overall a better deal for the consumer. Many of these large companies are simply tax credit collectors.

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    • #3




      Anyone have any thoughts on this?   Our currently electricity cost are around $300-500 a month and the initial upfront investment to purchasing solar panels generally are around $15-20k?   And I don’t believe this will knock out the electric cost completely but probably pays for itself after 5-7years as Im told?   Anyone doing this and could share their experience?   How much did you pay upfront and save?   Break-even point?   Any good reference as well…. appreciate it!
      Click to expand...


      Depending upon where you live, there may be some really good incentives for you to have a small solar generation farm (for example in the TVA district). Some of these programs pay for all of your power and generate an income over time. Be sure to research local, state, and federal incentives.
      Working to protect good doctors from bad advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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      • #4
        Have you looked into Tesla Powerwall? I'm on the waiting list. It can be used with or without solar. It takes power from the grid at off peak times and stores it. Basically a home battery.Also great in case of power outage.

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        • #5
          Appreciate everyone's input... live in Florida.   I changed out all my lights to LED, changed out AC units to Lennox high SEER for our home including thermostats.   Love my new app that controls the ACs.   I have not heard of the Powerwall but just looked into it today and signed up to be on the waiting list as well. It looks like they offer solar panel placement?   Just wondering what's the break even point... given the significant upfront cost?   Maintenance issues and actual life time of the panels?

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          • #6
            I'd take my name off that list. No offense, but the powerwall is under powered and cant really deliver in any sort of necessity if needed. Its max amps are too weak to load ac, etc...and will be dead in the event you actually need it. The only time it could make sense is if trying to arbitrage time of use rates, but theyd have to be very extreme to make sense due to the up front costs.

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            • #7
              I want to get a Google Nest.

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              • #8
                Ok... I was actually going to start a thread on this because I just made the purchase.

                Here are some numbers:  30% federal tax credit right off the top.  For a 24 panel array we paid $13000 with installation.  Our local electric company buys back the energy that is generated and not used at cost.  The timeframe to recoup the cost of the panels in diminished monthly bills is 5 years.  After that, we will receive monthly checks.

                We are finally in a home that we plan on staying in for awhile after bouncing around a lot.  We feel good about the decision to get the panels.

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                • #9


                  actual life time of the panels?
                  Click to expand...


                  The panels have a life expectancy of 50 years.  They generate 80% output at year 30.

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                  • #10




                    Ok… I was actually going to start a thread on this because I just made the purchase.

                    Here are some numbers:  30% federal tax credit right off the top.  For a 24 panel array we paid $13000 with installation.  Our local electric company buys back the energy that is generated and not used at cost.  The timeframe to recoup the cost of the panels in diminished monthly bills is 5 years.  After that, we will receive monthly checks.

                    We are finally in a home that we plan on staying in for awhile after bouncing around a lot.  We feel good about the decision to get the panels.
                    Click to expand...


                    Everything depends on where you live, your rates and what they pay you if anything for extra. They dont pay squat in Cali, and other states likely moving that way. There were a few states where you could actually make a killing a couple of years ago.

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                    • #11
                      I've looked into solar as an option for my next house.  So far I can say that the idea of producing extra electricity and getting paid well for it seems like a pipe dream.  Expecting the energy companies to pay you the same rate you pay them just isn't going to happen long term.  They want to resell that electricity and make a profit.  It is just best to size your system appropriately to off set YOUR energy use and to try not to become a major producer of electricity for the neighborhood as the ROI may just not be there.  Now if you want to make it your hobby or you want to contribute to the good of all mankind, I don't see why not...It just isn't done for financial reasons as much.

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                      • #12


                        They want to resell that electricity and make a profit.
                        Click to expand...


                        Unless your electricity goes to a non-profit cooperative and is expressly stated in its bylaws that it won't...

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                        • #13





                          They want to resell that electricity and make a profit. 
                          Click to expand…


                          Unless your electricity goes to a non-profit cooperative and is expressly stated in its bylaws that it won’t…
                          Click to expand...


                          See any number of recent cases where it does. Since it sets up perverse economic incentives, bad things happen and the system gets out of balance and will eventually rectify those issues possibly nullifying your reasoning behind a purchase or the size of the system. I wouldnt use any overly long projections of conditions you do not control in your calculations and certainly wouldnt over build because of it.

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                          • #14
                            We went with a 20-year repurchase agreement.  We basically buy the energy that "our" system produces at a cost that is currently below our provides lowest Tier.  We are in CA so don't get much for over production (if there is any).  We actually owed $ on our True-up bill, but still saved about 40%.  The company we went through has to maintain the system for the 20-years.  We weren't planning on moving so figured the long-term commitment wasn't a super big deal.  We didn't have to put out any $ upfront.

                            Our needs were based on having 7 people in the house, but two of our those are now out of the house.  So hopefully this year, will be a better result.  PG&E does control the size of the system they allow to be built and typically don't let it be larger than 90%, but ours is slightly bigger.  You can also potentially deal with this if you have future plans for a pool or something that will require greater resources.

                            PG&E has twice now raised their minimum fee to remain connected to the grid.  So they are obviously feeling the pinch of the increased number of people using Solar.  As Zaphod indicates, moves like that can potentially make the system less "profitable" over time.  Of course, companies are now attempting to create batteries that can store the power for future use.  Although, at this point, those are probably too expensive and haven't shown they can produce the amps needed.  But, that can change.

                            cd :O)
                            Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. -- Isaiah 40:31

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                            • #15




                              We went with a 20-year repurchase agreement.  We basically buy the energy that “our” system produces at a cost that is currently below our provides lowest Tier.  We are in CA so don’t get much for over production (if there is any).  We actually owed $ on our True-up bill, but still saved about 40%.  The company we went through has to maintain the system for the 20-years.  We weren’t planning on moving so figured the long-term commitment wasn’t a super big deal.  We didn’t have to put out any $ upfront.

                              Our needs were based on having 7 people in the house, but two of our those are now out of the house.  So hopefully this year, will be a better result.  PG&E does control the size of the system they allow to be built and typically don’t let it be larger than 90%, but ours is slightly bigger.  You can also potentially deal with this if you have future plans for a pool or something that will require greater resources.

                              PG&E has twice now raised their minimum fee to remain connected to the grid.  So they are obviously feeling the pinch of the increased number of people using Solar.  As Zaphod indicates, moves like that can potentially make the system less “profitable” over time.  Of course, companies are now attempting to create batteries that can store the power for future use.  Although, at this point, those are probably too expensive and haven’t shown they can produce the amps needed.  But, that can change.

                              cd :O)
                              Click to expand...


                              PGE will have a two tier system starting in 2018 that favors the heavy AC users and will result in a break in overall electricity costs (shifted to those on the coasts that use much less). This further decreases the arbitrage in a system and I will probably wait this change out and see how aggressive they get at targeting solar users for extra fees.

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