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DocLightning
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Anyone Gone Solar?

Fri May 09, 2014 11:54 pm

So in an attempt to reduce my electric bill (which sucks) and my carbon footprint (which sucks), we're going to have PV panels installed.

So far, I've spoken to Sungevity and SunRun. I'm waiting to hear back from Solar City.

The general standard is the "no-monthly-feel lease." Basically, this costs about the same as (or slightly less) than purchasing the system as a lump sum. The lease covers 20 years of maintenance and the panels technically remain the property of the company. However, at the end of the 20 years, they will be taken down at no cost to you, or you may choose to purchase them for "fair market value," which for a used set of 20yo panels would be...free. So basically, it's like buying them with a 20-year warranty. The only downside is no tax rebate, but the overall out-of-pocket cost is comparable (actually it's usually better with the lease).

Sungevity's proposal is a 2.6KW system that would save about $18,000 over 20 years.
Sunrun's is a 3.2KW system that would save more like $25,000 over 20 years. (So so far, they are clearly in the lead.)
I'm interested in hearing with Solar City has to say.

Has anyone here gone Solar?

The other thing my next-door neighbor really recommends is solar thermal. That will cut my gas bill down. A lot. It's insane how much you use on hot water.
-Doc Lightning-

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IMissPiedmont
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:16 am

I am totally solar myself. Try to stay away from the lease situation, as you noted you do not get the tax rebates and if you want to sell the house the purchasers will have to be approved by the lessors and neither party may want that. Spend the money to purchase the panels.
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DocLightning
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:23 am

Quoting IMissPiedmont (Reply 1):

I am totally solar myself. Try to stay away from the lease situation, as you noted you do not get the tax rebates and if you want to sell the house the purchasers will have to be approved by the lessors and neither party may want that. Spend the money to purchase the panels.

Actually, no. The lease is paid in a lump sum at the beginning, so once its paid, the panels are on the house, even if I sell it. If I want to pro-rate the lease and add that to the final deal on the house, then that's up to me.

They've arranged it so that it's a very financially rare case that would benefit from the straight-purchase. With straight-purchase you get less (or no) maintenance, monitoring, or repair, while with lump-sum leasing you get 20 years of it.

Now, in 20 years we'll probably have solar collectors at least 4x as efficient as current PV panels, I'd bet. So I might just be able to go to Home Depot and mount something up in my back yard and get the same benefit. But for that reason, they'll just let you have the solar panels to keep. So basically, it's the same as owning them.

The total out-of-pocket cost is lower than it would be with purchase and tax rebate. It seems like the companies really want you to go with this option. I am not sure why there is this business model. Maybe it because it allows them to consolidate the tax refunds.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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zippyjet
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:32 am

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):

I'd love to go solo, at least on a small scale but, I live in an apartment. I wish I could at least use solar for hot water. Sadly at least in Maryland there's little incentive programs. Governments seem to spend money friviously on many other things and even lose money. It would be nice for them to do something constructive and at least subsidize something like solar energy. But alas many government agencies are in the pockets of the big fossul fuel energy oligopolies.
I'm Zippyjet & I approve this message!
 
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Tugger
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:44 am

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
"no-monthly-feel lease."

I agree that you should stay away from companies that require a monthly feel.... I mean do you really think they will respect you in the morning?   

Seriously though, in general I would stay away from the lease and do the "ownership" option, especially if the difference is negligible as you mention. With ownership you get the rebates etc upfront, and remember money is never as valuable as it is right now. So always get as much value upfront, right now, versus "savings" spread out over years.

Oh also go with someone that is an experienced roofer or at least make sure the warranty covers any roof issues. I am waiting until I need to replace my roof (five to seven years) until I go solar based on problems quite a few friends have had.

Tugg
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photopilot
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:51 am

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 3):
"........there's little incentive programs.
...............at least subsidize something like solar energy..........."

Sorry, but if you want to go solar, well more power to you, but why should governments (read, other taxpayers) subsidize your project that saves YOU money. That's nothing more really than a transfer from all taxpayers indirectly to you thru the government. That's plain wrong!!!!

While I'm all for people going solar if they choose to do so, as they are going to save the money (long term) then they should also pay their own costs.
 
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GuitrThree
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 1:18 am

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 3):
Governments seem to spend money friviously on many other things and even lose money. It would be nice for them to do something constructive and at least subsidize something like solar energy.

Wow. What rock have you been living under? Keep in mind, this list was updated in 2012. How many more have been added since then?

From http://blog.heritage.org/2012/10/18/...ayer-backed-green-energy-failures/


So far, 34 companies that were offered federal support from taxpayers are faltering — either having gone bankrupt or laying off workers or heading for bankruptcy. This list includes only those companies that received federal money from the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy and other agencies. The amount of money indicated does not reflect how much was actually received or spent but how much was offered. The amount also does not include other state, local, and federal tax credits and subsidies, which push the amount of money these companies have received from taxpayers even higher.
The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:

Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
Solyndra ($535 million)*
Beacon Power ($43 million)*
Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
SunPower ($1.2 billion)
First Solar ($1.46 billion)
Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
Amonix ($5.9 million)
Fisker Automotive ($529 million)
Abound Solar ($400 million)*
A123 Systems ($279 million)*
Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)*
Johnson Controls ($299 million)
Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
ECOtality ($126.2 million)
Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
Range Fuels ($80 million)*
Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*
Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*
GreenVolts ($500,000)
Vestas ($50 million)
LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)
Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
Navistar ($39 million)
Satcon ($3 million)*
Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*
Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)

[Edited 2014-05-09 18:20:31]
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mt99
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 2:40 am

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 6):
The amount of money indicated does not reflect how much was actually received or spent but how much was offered.

So - what is the point of the list then?

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 6):
The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:
Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 6):
Johnson Controls ($299 million)

Johnson Controls is faltering or going bankrupt! Someone better let them know

http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/jci/analyst-research

Quoting photopilot (Reply 5):
Sorry, but if you want to go solar, well more power to you, but why should governments (read, other taxpayers) subsidize your project that saves YOU money.

Because if they don't subsidize; you do not get the savings - Get it?

[Edited 2014-05-09 19:44:58]
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GuitrThree
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 3:01 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 7):
So - what is the point of the list then?

Well, since you missed it, the point of the list was to show that the government does invest in solar, unlike what was claimed by zippyjet:

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 3):
It would be nice for them to do something constructive and at least subsidize something like solar energy.

I guess you missed that.

I also guess you also missed such companies on the list like:

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 6):
Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
Solyndra ($535 million)*

Evergreen:
http://www.cnet.com/news/harsh-lessons-from-evergreen-solar-flame-out/

Spectrawatt:
http://www.cnet.com/news/intel-solar...-spectrawatt-files-for-bankruptcy/

And who can forget Solyndra:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politi...s/specialreports/solyndra-scandal/

Yea, the first three were total disasters and somehow you pass those up and go all the way down to Johnson Controls whose main focus is not Solar, so yes, they still are in business. Why must you ignore the blatant facts about how the government has spent endless dollars on Solar that have time after time have not paid off?
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dtw2hyd
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 3:04 am

Are you planning off-grid or grid connected systems. I personally think grid connect will be cheaper in the long run, there is no need buy/maintain battery packs.

Most alternate energy companies went bankrupt because China cut prices of Solar panels in half. So there is no way US based solar equipment manufacturers are going to survive.

Most countries have limited time end-user subsidies to prop up the demand and reduce price.
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ha763
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 3:38 am

Living in Hawaii, having solar just makes sense. We purchased our system in 2013, as it was a better option than leasing. The system has 24 panels and is sized to zero out our electric bill. I don't know what the max generating capacity is (I wasn't involved with the purchase), but it is currently generating 2.57kW late in the afternoon with overcast skies.

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
The other thing my next-door neighbor really recommends is solar thermal. That will cut my gas bill down. A lot. It's insane how much you use on hot water.

We also have had a solar water heater for over 30 years.
 
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larshjort
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 8:29 am

Are there any compensation for over production flowing back into the grid?

In Denmark if you put up a max. of 6kW within a specific time period I believe ended in 2012, the meter will flow back with your overproduction but it stops at 0 for the year. You won't get paid but you can end up with a electrical bill of 0.
Now you will be paid for every kW you flow back in but you still have to pay the tax/fee's of the power you use from the grid, which are many times higher than the actual cost per kW.

/Lars
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smittyone
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:26 pm

Doc;

We're going solar with a purchased system this Summer (top of the line Sunpower panels made in USA). Bought outright with money that we were able to finance at 3%...throw in the 1/3 tax credit up front and renewable energy credits for 15 years we are looking at making something like $150 bucks to the black in the first year and better than that each year after. After the loan is paid in like 8 years we'll be saving the total cost of our electric bill which was pretty substantial. The panels are warranteed for 25 years I believe.

We are blessed with absolutely ideal geometry for a system on our roof that was recently replaced and I have the means to borrow the money to make this investment. It was a no brainer, even if I sold the house next year.

Quoting photopilot (Reply 5):
Sorry, but if you want to go solar, well more power to you, but why should governments (read, other taxpayers) subsidize your project that saves YOU money. That's nothing more really than a transfer from all taxpayers indirectly to you thru the government. That's plain wrong!!!!

While I'm all for people going solar if they choose to do so, as they are going to save the money (long term) then they should also pay their own costs.

In theory I agree with you and acknowledge that there is a transfer of other people's money to me, but a couple of points to consider.

1) I believe it is in the best interest of all of us here to reduce the amount of power that is generated with fossil fuels. In effect what the other taxpayers are getting for their money is that those fuels will be available for them longer, and reduced air and water pollution. I understand that not everyone agrees with those priorities, but THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN via their elected officials and apparently agree with me.

2) It is no secret that in many places the US power grid is stretched to its limit...particularly on the same hot sunny days on which my system will be taking up the load and/or feeding the grid. Without solar investment we would need to have other investment on the part of the energy companies to increase their generation capacity. Paid for by...their customers via increased rates and increased pollution.

3) The days of fossil fuels are numbered. Without the tax credits and renewable energy certificates a solar system would never make sense financially for me, even though WE ARE IN THE PERFECT POSITION to use solar energy...and I'm sure that is the case with most people. The cutover to renewable sources of power will not happen overnight, and given the fact that market forces lag reality on the ground it makes sense for Government to prime the pump by offering private citizens incentives to be 'early adopters'. The more people who do solar the more prices will go down and the more widespread it will become. If others prefer to maintain the status quo and wait until we're at the point of system collapse to start addressing the issue then that is how they should vote.

Either way, good for you Doc. I hope it all goes smoothly for you!

Edit: I should also say that I did strongly consider a couple of different leasing options but after I ran the various numbers when I took the New Jersey renewable energy certificates into account Sunpower's purchase deal worked out better. I also had a non-monetary preference to own the system.

[Edited 2014-05-10 05:40:42]
 
smittyone
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 12:49 pm

Quoting larshjort (Reply 11):
Are there any compensation for over production flowing back into the grid?

The way it works here is that the meter works both ways...you get credit for the excess KWH that you generate that you can then use when your system is not producing (night time, cloudy etc.) At the end of the month you pay the market rate for any shortfall between what you used and what you produced.

The system is sized to produce the amount of electricity that you will use over the course of a year, so there are times when you are contributing to the grid and times when you are drawing from it. If your usage stays consistent your bill would basically be ~0.You can't become your own energy company by putting up a field of panels and selling a bunch of electricity back to the grid (I asked, LOL).
 
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Aesma
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 1:06 pm

My employer has gone solar, there is a big display in the atrium of the main building of the campus showing current production and what is taken from the grid, yesterday morning I saw the highest value yet for production at about 860KW, half the power usage of the site. Later in the day it was probably more.

Here in France incentives were massive some years ago and my parents should have definitely bought into it then (maybe even on their vacation home), however this backfired because far more people and companies (for example farmers with lots of roofs) than expected used the incentives, the KW objectives were blown out of the water, and the money it cost with it. Basically you have a big tax break, and the power company had to buy your solar energy 5 times the price they sold it, with, wait for it, no need to even use your production ! Basically people became their energy company. Now it has all been changed and it's far less interesting, and you definitively have to buy Chinese panels, in a way China subsidizes you !

Quoting smittyone (Reply 13):
You can't become your own energy company by putting up a field of panels and selling a bunch of electricity back to the grid (I asked, LOL).

Which shows the market is not just skewed into your favor.
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
 
smittyone
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 1:09 pm

Quoting Aesma (Reply 14):
Which shows the market is not just skewed into your favor.

Indeed. I had no problem with the answer, I just have a big backyard so it begged the question  
 
rfields5421
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sat May 10, 2014 1:32 pm

Quoting photopilot (Reply 5):
but why should governments (read, other taxpayers) subsidize your project that saves YOU money. That's nothing more really than a transfer from all taxpayers indirectly to you thru the government. That's plain wrong!!!!

In most of the US, the government supports large companies with incentives and tax rebates to move to alternative energy sources.

So you are against giving pennies of 'your money' to other taxpayers. Are you against giving hundreds of dollars of 'your money' to large companies?

The power companies do the same thing. Large companies get reduced rates for power by agreeing to reduce usage if the overall demand on the electrical grid becomes very high. This is a direct transfer of the money you pay for electricity into the pockets of the big companies in your area who pay less per Kwh than you.
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DocLightning
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sun May 11, 2014 1:22 am

Quoting tugger (Reply 4):
Seriously though, in general I would stay away from the lease and do the "ownership" option, especially if the difference is negligible as you mention. With ownership you get the rebates etc upfront, and remember money is never as valuable as it is right now. So always get as much value upfront, right now, versus "savings" spread out over years.

You misunderstand. If I buy the system, the cost is $14k. I then get about $5K back after Tax Day 2015. With the $9,000 I spend, I get no maintenance and no warranty.

If I lease, I spend $9000 up front, same as if I buy. Then I don't ever have to put down $5K that disappears until after tax day. And I get maintenance and warranty. I assure you the lump-sum lease is the far superior deal. They really want you to take it.

Quoting larshjort (Reply 11):
Are there any compensation for over production flowing back into the grid?

Yes, the power company pays you back. Or, for our purposes, we will pay for our net usage. Thus, if we put back more than we take out, we get a credit from Pacific Gas & Electric.

Quoting photopilot (Reply 5):
Sorry, but if you want to go solar, well more power to you, but why should governments (read, other taxpayers) subsidize your project that saves YOU money. That's nothing more really than a transfer from all taxpayers indirectly to you thru the government. That's plain wrong!!!!

Energy policy is certainly something that falls within the remit of government. There is absolutely every reason why a government would have a vested interest in encouraging citizens to invest in renewable energy and local generation. It removes a lot of pressure on the grid and centralized power sources and means that we have to build fewer power stations, for starters. It reduces fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions, which are going to be fantastically important if we want to survive as a species for more than another 100-150 years. And the nice thing about solar especially is that it tends to generate a lot of energy when it's needed, which is during the day when people are up and around and using appliances and copy machines and office lights and when it's hot and sunny.ff

Quoting dtw2hyd (Reply 9):

Are you planning off-grid or grid connected systems. I personally think grid connect will be cheaper in the long run, there is no need buy/maintain battery packs.

Grid-connected is standard. I expect our system will supplement about 2/3 of our current electricity usage.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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mham001
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sun May 11, 2014 2:33 am

Quoting GuitrThree (Reply 6):
The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:

So what should we do, rely on oil forever?

To the OP, if you're tired of high electricity bills, the simplest thing to do is conserve, something lost on most people I think. I hear stories of high electricity costs and scratch my head, my electric bill has never been more than $90 in a 3 bedroom house with 4 people.

I also have had a house purely on (unsubsidized) solar for over 20 years, you don't need 2.6 or 3.2 KW in California, it is wasteful and I don't believe we should be subsidizing that. The solar industry has a lot of scams of this sort, I have seen it from the inside. Easy money for a solar installer. I have also seen too many installations where they should have never gone, such as in the shade or facing east. Too much easy, free, public money thrown at it.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sun May 11, 2014 8:01 am

Quoting mham001 (Reply 18):
To the OP, if you're tired of high electricity bills, the simplest thing to do is conserve, something lost on most people I think. I hear stories of high electricity costs and scratch my head, my electric bill has never been more than $90 in a 3 bedroom house with 4 people.

Could be that our rates are significantly different. Our house is old and we'll be getting new windows this year, as well. I have all LED lighting (although you wouldn't guess it if you walked into the house). Brand-new high-efficiency appliances. I've done what I can in the 18 months I've owned this house.

Quoting mham001 (Reply 18):
also have had a house purely on (unsubsidized) solar for over 20 years, you don't need 2.6 or 3.2 KW in California, it is wasteful and I don't believe we should be subsidizing that.

Why not offset most of my electricity? If I can take the load off the grid, why shouldn't you encourage me? It doesn't cost the state anything for me to go solar, but it benefits the state.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
mham001
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sun May 11, 2014 3:35 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 19):
Could be that our rates are significantly different. Our house is old and we'll be getting new windows this year, as well. I have all LED lighting (although you wouldn't guess it if you walked into the house). Brand-new high-efficiency appliances. I've done what I can in the 18 months I've owned this house.

I live a few miles south, our rates are exactly the same. What do you use electricity for? A few lights, electronics, refrigerator, furnace motor and we have an electric oven in an under-insulated '50s ranch. Never more than $90 in winter, ~$30 in summer, and that is after I relaxed and let 3 computers run 24/7 and the furnace on all day in winter.
We live in probably the mildest climate in North America, I just cannot sympathize with a professional like yourself whining about high electric bills. Something is wrong.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 19):
Why not offset most of my electricity? If I can take the load off the grid, why shouldn't you encourage me? It doesn't cost the state anything for me to go solar, but it benefits the state.

If you are not conserving, why should the public subsidize you? There should be a litmus test before handing out tax money.

edit: I'm just as irritated at water wasters. Now we will be be required to cut water 20%, where I have always conserved, it is the waste of others who force this. While our lawns were always going dry, wasters will barely see a difference.

[Edited 2014-05-11 08:44:56]
 
smittyone
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sun May 11, 2014 4:06 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 20):
We live in probably the mildest climate in North America,

I think this really has a lot to do with the ability to conserve (or not).

I'm a light switch Nazi, turn my computers off when not in use etc. Air conditioning is what kills us here in the hot and humid mid-Atlantic states, even with the shades drawn, thermostat set at 80F and a couple of ceiling fans used only when we are in the room. We've got no shade and our house sits square to the Southern sky - one long side of the house just bakes all day.

The other killer is my daughter's marathon showers (electric well pump) but I'm fighting that battle 24x7 LOL.

The various solar vendors we discusssed our project with were unanimous about how low our KWH usage was compared to some other comparable installs that they had done in our area. Could have been BSing us but not sure why they would since our relatively low usage would have been the opposite of a selling point for solar to be sure. Again, they can only install as much generation capacity as the utilities will permit and we had to submit two years of consumption data to justify it!

Some people's solar installs may be bogus but I think that our case is a pretty clear cut advantage.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Sun May 11, 2014 5:01 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 20):
If you are not conserving, why should the public subsidize you? There should be a litmus test before handing out tax money.

Who is to say I'm not conserving? Energy conservation is part of the equation, but renewable production is also part of it. If I can conserve more (and we have plans to install new windows, which is the other major conservation step we can take), then I save more.

But the fact is that it means less carbon and mercury emissions for my fellow citizens and less stress on the grid during peak hours for the utility. Given the fact that I'm picking up most of the tab, a subsidy is not unreasonable.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
dtw9
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 3:33 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 17):
You misunderstand. If I buy the system, the cost is $14k. I then get about $5K back after Tax Day 2015. With the $9,000 I spend, I get no maintenance and no warranty.

If I lease, I spend $9000 up front, same as if I buy. Then I don't ever have to put down $5K that disappears until after tax day. And I get maintenance and warranty. I assure you the lump-sum lease is the far superior deal. They really want you to take it.

While I applaud you for going off grid I have a serious problem with these numbers. If as you state you can lease the panels with a full maintinence contract for twenty years for 9 grand, why on earth would anyone buy. It tells me the system is only worth 9 grand to begin with ( or less if you include the maintinence and warranty contract), and that we don't need federal tax breaks. Or is it that they jack the price up by five grand if you want to buy them so you can get the tax break? These panels are basically worthless after twenty years so as I stated before something just doesn't smell right with this. Why can't you buy them for 9 grand, pay for a maintinence contract and get your five grand back from the Feds?
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 4:14 am

Quoting dtw9 (Reply 23):
While I applaud you for going off grid I have a serious problem with these numbers. If as you state you can lease the panels with a full maintinence contract for twenty years for 9 grand, why on earth would anyone buy. It tells me the system is only worth 9 grand to begin with ( or less if you include the maintinence and warranty contract), and that we don't need federal tax breaks. Or is it that they jack the price up by five grand if you want to buy them so you can get the tax break? These panels are basically worthless after twenty years so as I stated before something just doesn't smell right with this. Why can't you buy them for 9 grand, pay for a maintinence contract and get your five grand back from the Feds?

So I went to a friend in the industry with this very question: why are they pressuring me so hard to do the lump-sum lease?

His explanation is that the company basically purchases its own solar panels and then pockets the tax refund. The tax refund is then put into a maintenance pot that they use to maintain customers' 20-year leases. This allows them to offer these services in a cost-effective manner because there are components that fail that cost as much as the tax refund. The inverter usually fails after 13-14 years and a new one is $3000 or so. If the company has hung on to the tax refund for you, you don't ever notice it. If you got the tax refund yourself and then you have to shell out for an inverter 13 years later when those $5,000 are a distant memory, you are going to have nasty things to say about their products.

It makes sense to me.
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Kiwirob
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 7:34 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
and we have plans to install new windows, which is the other major conservation step we can take

If you go double to tripple glazing the savings in heating are very impressive. We've replaced all our windows, our power bills over winter dropped considerably.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 24):
The tax refund is then put into a maintenance pot that they use to maintain customers' 20-year leases.

My dad sells solar systems in NZ, maintenance is a con, there isn't anything to maintain.
 
tommy1808
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 8:52 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 17):
You misunderstand. If I buy the system, the cost is $14k. I then get about $5K back after Tax Day 2015. With the $9,000 I spend, I get no maintenance and no warranty.

If I lease, I spend $9000 up front, same as if I buy. Then I don't ever have to put down $5K that disappears until after tax day. And I get maintenance and warranty. I assure you the lump-sum lease is the far superior deal. They really want you to take it.

some questions:

1. How does the company guarantee that they will still be around in 20 years to maintain?
2. If the solar company "technically owns" the panels, what happens to them in case of a bankruptcy? Do they really own the panels or do they have leasing/financing on them as well? Will someone come an pick those panels of your roof and/or offer you to buy them at fair market price?
3. Same with the other equipment.
4. What is their definition of fair market price after 20 years? Just the panels or including disassembly/assembly?

If an offer looks to good to be true, it most likely is.

best regards
Thomas
Well, there is prophecy in the bible after all: 2 Timothy 3:1-6
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 9:00 am

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):

Interesting discussion and no German in it, yet - surprising. In Germany, on good days we are covering 40% of our energy consumption at peak hours with solar energy. This is irrelevant for your house, but it shows to me that Solar panels are a very good idea - 10 years ago, no one believed that.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
(and we have plans to install new windows, which is the other major conservation step we can take),

This is the only thing I want to comment on, since I cannot comment on the systems availabe in the US. I do not know your house, of course, but before installing new windows (which is a very efficient way to improve your economy), you ought to check if your house can cope with new windows without modification. In many German cities, newer windows caused substantial problems because the old flats suddenly had problems with mushrooms (sorry I just dont know the right English word for "Schimmel"). Those flats were designed that the coldest spot, where the condensation took place, was to be the windows.

With newer windows, condensation no longer took place at the windows, but at badly isolated spots.
 
mham001
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 2:26 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
Who is to say I'm not conserving? Energy conservation is part of the equation, but renewable production is also part of it. If I can conserve more (and we have plans to install new windows, which is the other major conservation step we can take), then I save more.

But the fact is that it means less carbon and mercury emissions for my fellow citizens and less stress on the grid during peak hours for the utility. Given the fact that I'm picking up most of the tab, a subsidy is not unreasonable.

I'm sorry but as a taxpayer, I have a hard time paying for oversized systems for a doctor who should be able to afford his own panels. If we need to get panels on roofs, we could kill two birds with one stone and offer this to Section 8 houses. We pacify the green demands and help the poor, who are by default, natural conservationists. We could give them free electricity and reduce their rent subsidy, (or not). Maybe it was just the way you complained about a high electric bill. that shouldn't shouldn't in our area. BTW, new windows won't do much for your electric bill, just saves some furnace motor time. A high efficiency furnace would be my first investment if not already done.

Quoting dtw9 (Reply 23):
These panels are basically worthless after twenty years

That is categorically false, or should be. I have panels from the Arco Carrizzo Plains project, first installed in the early '80's and abused with mirrors still producing power to pump water. Others from the mid 90's are still within 90% or so of original specs and look like new.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 24):
The inverter usually fails after 13-14 years and a new one is $3000 or so.

In 13-14 years, inverters will either be significantly improved at that price point, or significantly cheaper. My inverter has run 24/7 since 1997. It could be replaced today for half the cost.
 
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Revelation
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 4:02 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 18):
The solar industry has a lot of scams of this sort,
Quoting mham001 (Reply 18):
Too much easy, free, public money thrown at it.

Sounds like the fossil fuel industry. Countless tax scams, and the ability to call on the DoD any time its assets are put at risk, use of public land to transport its products from source to destination, abuse of public roads beyond contribution to haul the last few miles, dumping tons of pollutants into the air we all breath.

Quoting mham001 (Reply 28):
I'm sorry but as a taxpayer, I have a hard time paying for oversized systems for a doctor who should be able to afford his own panels.

Right, because all doctors are money making swine...  
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
4holer
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 4:59 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 18):
conserve, something lost on most people I think. I hear stories of high electricity costs and scratch my head, my electric bill has never been more than $90 in a 3 bedroom house with 4 people.

I also have had a house purely on (unsubsidized) solar for over 20 years,
Quoting mham001 (Reply 20):
What do you use electricity for? A few lights, electronics, refrigerator, furnace motor and we have an electric oven in an under-insulated '50s ranch. Never more than $90 in winter, ~$30 in summer, and that is after I relaxed and let 3 computers run 24/7 and the furnace on all day in winter.
We live in probably the mildest climate in North America, I just cannot sympathize with a professional like yourself whining about high electric bills.
Quoting mham001 (Reply 20):
If you are not conserving, why should the public subsidize you? There should be a litmus test before handing out tax money.
Quoting mham001 (Reply 20):
I'm just as irritated at water wasters. Now we will be be required to cut water 20%, where I have always conserved, it is the waste of others who force this. While our lawns were always going dry, wasters will barely see a difference.
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[Edited 2014-05-12 09:59:27]
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na
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 6:27 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
Has anyone here gone Solar?

I live in a rented house so thats no issue for me. But a long time ago I have changed to a non-fossil, non-nuclear electric energy supplier. So in a way I am "solar".
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 6:38 pm

And - sorry once again for being off - topic - for those who are interested, on this chart you can see the german live energy mix.

http://www.agora-energiewende.de/ser...aten/stromerzeugung-und-verbrauch/

Grey is conventional power - gas, coal, lignite and nuclear power. Yellow is solar power, Dark blue is Wind, light blue is hydroelectric, and green is biogas.

The red line is the German power consumption. If grey is larger than red, it means that germany is exporting energy - with other words, the big fossil fuel companies refuse to reduce the power. The red line is lowest at night and largest in the morning and at 12 am.

As you can see, on good days German already covers more than 50 % of its need for electricity - around 60-80 GWatts out of solar power and wind. On bad days, its only 200 MW wind and no solar power.

Fortunately, usually Wind is weak when Solar Power is strong. However, the days where both Wind and Solar are bad, do exist. So the german system needs a back up from flexible conventional powerplants, especially Gas.

Nuclear power is totally unsutable, however, since those powerplants are designed to run at 100% of their power all of the time, no matter what. This is not suitable for the German system.

20 years ago, the energy companies wanted to claim that it is not possible to run the electricity grid on wind and gas. At that time, there were no solar and wind installations at all.

It is true that we need backup powerplants. Those can in the future be run on gas produced by wind energy during times of excess energy production. This is still expensive, but I am pretty sure renewables will be cheaper in 20 years from now - look at the cost reductions achieved during the last 20 years alone.

That is why I am a supporter of renewables today.
 
dtw9
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Mon May 12, 2014 6:38 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 28):
That is categorically false, or should be. I have panels from the Arco Carrizzo Plains project, first installed in the early '80's and abused with mirrors still producing power to pump water. Others from the mid 90's are still within 90% or so of original specs and look like new.

There's only two people in the world that these panels have any value too, You and the Junk man. Would you have a company come in and install twenty year old technology in your home if newer technology was available? Kind of like walking into a car dealership and buying a new 1994 Ford. May look good and run like a charm but who in their right mind would fully insure a twenty year old car. It, like twenty year old solar panels are scrap value only
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Tue May 13, 2014 9:26 am

Quoting dtw9 (Reply 33):
It, like twenty year old solar panels are scrap value only

Not of those 20 year old panels are still producing 80% of their spec. Probably they only have 8% efficiency compared to 20% of modern modules, but they are paid for and still making money. Just like DC 9s from Northwest  
 
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Kiwirob
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Tue May 13, 2014 10:46 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 24):
The inverter usually fails after 13-14 years and a new one is $3000 or so. If the company has hung on to the tax refund for you, you don't ever notice it. If you got the tax refund yourself and then you have to shell out for an inverter 13 years later when those $5,000 are a distant memory, you are going to have nasty things to say about their products.

Firstly do you think the company you're buying the panels off will be around in 13 years time? Second point inverters don't wear out, they aren't mechanical devices, like most electrical devices they either go pop when you first connect them or they last forever unless they are fried by an electrical surge, that most likely won't be covered by your service agreement. 3000 USD looks pretty expensive for an inverter for home use, I've recently purchased inverters for a project, these are 3000KVA 120v DC to AC inverters, much larger than you would need for less than 5000 USD per unit.
 
PhilBy
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Tue May 13, 2014 12:46 pm

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 27):
mushrooms (sorry I just dont know the right English word for "Schimmel").

Mould is the generic term or for some specific fungi mildew.
 
mham001
Posts: 5745
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Tue May 13, 2014 2:45 pm

Quoting dtw9 (Reply 33):
There's only two people in the world that these panels have any value too, You and the Junk man. Would you have a company come in and install twenty year old technology in your home if newer technology was available? Kind of like walking into a car dealership and buying a new 1994 Ford. May look good and run like a charm but who in their right mind would fully insure a twenty year old car. It, like twenty year old solar panels are scrap value only

Your claim was "completely useless" after 20 years. Now that you admit they are not useless to me or a scrap man. Of course they have value to me, the 30 year old panels are pumping water and the tenant is enjoying free electricity in the house from the 17 year panels, so clearly, they still have significant value. But, beyond that, there is indeed a thriving market for used panels. Any one of those panels could be sold tomorrow.

Quoting Revelation (Reply 29):
Right, because all doctors are money making swine...  

People buying houses in San Francisco are making good money and at todays solar prices, can afford to pay for their own electricity. I'm thinking the Section 8 idea is a good one, it fulfills the carbon demands and provides long term benefits for the poor all in one shot.
 
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WildcatYXU
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Tue May 13, 2014 3:03 pm

I'm wondering if electricity is so much more expensive in Californina compared to Ontario? I was looking for a solar source to power my pool's pump and chlorine generator, as I don't want to spend non renewable resources on things that are nice to have but not necessary for life. But with the current solar prices the whole project would be in red numbers for 25 years. And that is running the pump on high tariff, since I'm using a solar water heater. How come that it pays off in California?

Quoting na (Reply 31):
But a long time ago I have changed to a non-fossil, non-nuclear electric energy supplier.



So I take it your supplier is completely disconnected from the grid and you often have blackouts.
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smittyone
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Tue May 13, 2014 3:37 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 37):
People buying houses in San Francisco are making good money and at todays solar prices, can afford to pay for their own electricity. I'm thinking the Section 8 idea is a good one, it fulfills the carbon demands and provides long term benefits for the poor all in one shot.

I don't disagree with that idea, though it might be hard to get past those who think the poor should suffer as a matter of course!

Why not submit that proposal to somebody who might be able to pursue it? (local legislator or something?)

In the mean time it's a crime not to put panels on my house (hell, I'd let them cover the rest of my roof to feed the grid for free if permitted) so I'm going to take advantage of it!
 
Okie
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 1:23 am

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 35):
these are 3000KVA 120v DC to AC inverters, much larger than you would need for less than 5000 USD per unit.

I seriously question your numbers there Kiwi. 3000kva?

Okie
 
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Kiwirob
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 6:24 am

Quoting okie (Reply 40):
I seriously question your numbers there Kiwi. 3000kva?

That what it says on the quote in front of me right now. The inverters come from a Spanish company Premium. The customer purchased LED floodlights, they didn't advise the power supply was DC, the floodlights are AC, so the customer asked us to supply inverters.
 
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OA260
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 7:36 am

If I was building a house again I would go solar and geo thermal heating which a neighbour of mine has. For me its not worth the investment at the moment. I am in the process of tripling the insulation in the roof though and may consider triple glaze windows. I have crazy electricity bills too.
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 9:49 am

Quoting OA260 (Reply 42):
I have crazy electricity bills

I guarantee you mine are worse LOL.

Unfortunately I'm not in a position to tackle added insulation, upgraded windows, or solar panels at this point. Once those options become a bit more reasonably priced I'll look into all of them but for now I'm stuck with my huge bills.
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Kiwirob
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 11:05 am

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 43):
I guarantee you mine are worse LOL.

I average around 350 USD per month, my house is 220 sqm, 5 people and a cat. Energy prices in Norway suck.
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 11:34 am

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 44):
I average around 350 USD per month, my house is 220 sqm, 5 people and a cat

I'm on an "equalizer" plan where I pay the same monthly amount, which is based on my previous year's usage divided by 12 months. Right now it's at $335USD per month on a house that's just under 2,000sf with two adults, a 2 year old toddler and a cat.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 12:07 pm

I always thought electricity is very cheap in Norway, as hydroelectric power is available in large quantities.

In germany we pay 27ct/kWh. Now thats not cheap, but in 20 years from now I expect it to become lower.
 
Okie
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 2:07 pm

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 35):
I've recently purchased inverters for a project, these are 3000KVA 120v DC to AC inverters, much larger than you would need for less than 5000 USD per unit.

Again, KVA = thousand volt amps
3000 x 1000 / 120v = 25,000 amps  Wow!


Okie
 
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Kiwirob
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RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 4:34 pm

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 46):
I always thought electricity is very cheap in Norway, as hydroelectric power is available in large quantities.

Nothing is cheap in Norway. Plus hydro can run dry, it all depends on how full the storage lakes are.
 
solarflyer22
Posts: 1517
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:07 pm

RE: Anyone Gone Solar?

Wed May 14, 2014 6:34 pm

Yeah, I've looked into this as well and it makes sense both environmentally and economically. You have to consider in the 20 year time frame that you might be able to get a plugin hybrid or a Tesla as well, at which point you are getting "Free" mileage when driving on electric. I also think the KW per hour price will go up much more than these companies project so the break even will be sooner. Remember, a KW, like Oil, adjusts for inflation as its essentially a unit of power. I would definitely try to get more panels as the more electricity you can sell back to your provider, the faster the breakeven will happen. Google's breakeven on solar power in sunny CA is only 7 years.

There is reason why Walmart is starting to use this over there warehouses and its not because they are stewards of the environment.

The huge number of failing companies isn't a bad thing. Its because there is too much competition. You just want to make sure you can get spare parts for 20 years which the lease will cover.

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