Solar Power for House?

Ws6

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I am considering solar power. My electric bill averages around $200, if amortized over a year. The goal of the solar installer is to have a "net" zero, made possible because my electric company buys power I produce in excess from me for "credits", which roll for 12mo, and the goal is for that to cover my winter months, at least partially, which is my highest usage time. Cost: Still awaiting actual estimates, spit-balling $25K after tax break (30% of cost this year, 26% if done next year). Financable at 2.99% fixed for 20 years. Sustainability/liability: Panels are warrantied to produce >80% initial power by 25 years, and come with a 25 year manufacturer AND installer warranty for 25 years on parts, labor,all of it. Adding it to my home warranty should be a minimal expense ($40/year) Benefit: Amount financed will result in payments of $138/mo, which is lower than any electric bill I have yet received. Net savings assuming it actually zeroes me, is $62/mo. Allegedly, home values average a 17% increase with professional solar installation. The cost of electricity in America, has gone up from 6.X cents per kilowatt hour, to over 10 cents, in the last 25 years. If this trend holds true, or increases (more likely due to "Green Deal" type business, which we won't discuss as it's politics, but it bares mentioning for technical reasons), then my electric bill would go from $200/mo average, to $280/mo, by the time the solar panels are paid off, provided I make no early payments. At this time, it would be reasonable to presume they would AT THE VERY LEAST cut my bill in half, and likely much more, and at that point the panels available would be cheaper, and more efficient, if I had to replace them. Potential plan: Finance the solar panels. Take the 30% tax credit, and apply it to a property loan (legal and doable) which is at 6.5% ballooning every 5y. Pay the full amount of the solar loan at 2.99% 20y/fixed. Use the electrical savings for this to equate to a "financially free to beneficial" move, on a monthly basis. The solar array would be ground-mount, so no structural considerations need taking into account in my case. I am curious what this board knows about solar, and where my theory may meet with a cold reality, or if it's a great idea.
 
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You have to look ar what rate they are going to pay you for each kilowatt you produce and if that rate will be fixed for the 20 years or may increase/decrease. Don't assume that each kilowatt the array produces, will cancel out a kilowatt you consume in your house. Also, the power utility company has full control over purchasing the power your array will produce. See if there are any clauses that allow them to disconnect you from the grid.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by Rand
how does your home value go up for solar ground mount?
Because I'd only sell my home with the 13 acres it's sitting on.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by KrisZ
You have to look ar what rate they are going to pay you for each kilowatt you produce and if that rate will be fixed for the 20 years or may increase/decrease. Don't assume that each kilowatt the array produces, will cancel out a kilowatt you consume in your house. Also, the power utility company has full control over purchasing the power your array will produce. See if there are any clauses that allow them to disconnect you from the grid.
I just called them. They give me a 2 cent per kwh as credit, and charge roughly 10 cents, but are part of the "easy connect meter" act or whatever it's called, so 1kwh created = 1kwh credited, UNTIL I produce more than I use, in which case I am receiving 20-30% value (it fluctuates). The credits last 12mo, and I will use them to help cover winter months (my highest usage).
 
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Are these figures based on optimal conditions? Also, what is the projected ROI on the system? It's a huge investment. What if you have a large hail storm? High winds? ( It's always blowing in Wyoming) I might concentrate on improving the efficiency of certain high energy usage appliances and other sources. Hot water tanks, clothes dryer etc.
 
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If you are looking at it as a financial decision, the first thing you need to do is refinance that property loan that is at 6.5%. I am assuming it is the mortgage on this property. Mortgage rates are incredibly low right now and if you are playing the long game that's a good first move.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by PimTac
Are these figures based on optimal conditions? Also, what is the projected ROI on the system? It's a huge investment. What if you have a large hail storm? High winds? ( It's always blowing in Wyoming) I might concentrate on improving the efficiency of certain high energy usage appliances and other sources. Hot water tanks, clothes dryer etc.
I've gone over my bill with electric. They were astounded at the fact I have 18ft vaulted ceiling and 1600sf, given my bills, and indicated the house was well insulated. Hail up to 1" is withstandable per mfr testing. Home insurance should cover the rest, will verify. A friend of mine, her home electric costs 600mo on average, pre solar. Post, it is 100/mo. I presume similar reduction percent.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by OilSwine
If you are looking at it as a financial decision, the first thing you need to do is refinance that property loan that is at 6.5%. I am assuming it is the mortgage on this property. Mortgage rates are incredibly low right now and if you are playing the long game that's a good first move.
Land rates are about 6%, still. That is on the 7 acres I bought adjacent to my house. My home and initial 6.15 acres is 3.75% 30y fixed.
 
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Originally Posted by Ws6
Originally Posted by KrisZ
You have to look ar what rate they are going to pay you for each kilowatt you produce and if that rate will be fixed for the 20 years or may increase/decrease. Don't assume that each kilowatt the array produces, will cancel out a kilowatt you consume in your house. Also, the power utility company has full control over purchasing the power your array will produce. See if there are any clauses that allow them to disconnect you from the grid.
I just called them. They give me a 2 cent per kwh as credit, and charge roughly 10 cents, but are part of the "easy connect meter" act or whatever it's called, so 1kwh created = 1kwh credited, UNTIL I produce more than I use, in which case I am receiving 20-30% value (it fluctuates). The credits last 12mo, and I will use them to help cover winter months (my highest usage).
How long is that in force? People are trying to get the laws changed because they lose money paying for electricity they don't need, plus they have to have generation on standby in case you need the power. That's how commercial power contracts worked, you had to take a certain amount of power and you had to pay for it even if you didn't use all of it because the electric company had to have that generation ready in case you needed it regardless of whether you used it or not. So the latest talk is to actually charge people who hook up to the grid whether they use the power or not. They only pay for it now because the laws require it, although the laws could change or they may expire. Probably good for the short term, if solar becomes more popular, not sure you'd make it all the way to 25 with the current incentives in place.
 
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Do they offer a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) where you lease the panels and they get the tax credit along with earnings from utility credits? Will the panels be mounted in a fixed position or will they have solar tracking (Passive or Active) ?
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by BMWTurboDzl
Do they offer a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) where you lease the panels and they get the tax credit along with earnings from utility credits? Will the panels be mounted in a fixed position or will they have solar tracking (Passive or Active) ?
No PPA, I'm unsure on tracking vs passive. Laws can change for sure, but then, prices of coal can go up, which is the primary source for my electricity. It increases 10% per decade it would seem, so far.
 
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Originally Posted by Ws6
Originally Posted by BMWTurboDzl
Do they offer a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) where you lease the panels and they get the tax credit along with earnings from utility credits? Will the panels be mounted in a fixed position or will they have solar tracking (Passive or Active) ?
No PPA, I'm unsure on tracking vs passive. Laws can change for sure, but then, prices of coal can go up, which is the primary source for my electricity. It increases 10% per decade it would seem, so far.
Ask HERE. There are a few there who are really knowledgeable about such things and will do some quick number crunching for ya.
 
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Win

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Originally Posted by Ws6
... Sustainability/liability: Panels are warrantied to produce >80% initial power by 25 years, and come with a 25 year manufacturer AND installer warranty for 25 years on parts, labor,all of it. Adding it to my home warranty should be a minimal expense ($40/year) ...
None of these people will be around in twenty five years. I doubt any of them will be around in five years. I've seen hail that will knock a hole the size of a softball in these things. I would find out what your insurance company wants to cover them, and if they cover for replacement cost or depreciated value. Anyone financing this will require enough coverage to pay off the loan. That doesn't help you much. Have a lawyer read the contract with the utility company. I'll take a wild guess it won't favor you, and you won't even be able to take them to court - it will call for mediation or arbitration or other such nonsense. And the finance contract for that matter. If the electricity generated is imputed to you as income, you may have to pay tax on it. Even though this will be sitting on land, it will probably be considered as personal property, much like a mobile home that has not been de mobiled. Personal property, in my state, anyway, is taxed at a much higher rate than real property. edit: anything sitting on the ground can be stolen. I would make sure it is insured for theft as well, and at what rate, replacement or depreciated. The ideal of donating your land, and then borrowing money, to build a co generation plant for your electric utility seems off to me. If your utility is public traded, just spend the money on their stock or some other public utility. Public utilities are guaranteed to be profitable no matter how badly run. If they can get folks to build their capacity for them, their stock might be a good deal.
 
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Replace all of your lights with LED bulbs if you have not already done so. We did this and it really knocked down the electric bill! You can even get LED bulbs for fluorescent fixtures and to replace incandescent floods. Going from a 60 watt bulb to a 6 watt bulb for the same amount of light is a no brainer and if you have 50-60 bulbs in your home, it is really a no brainer. I can buy packs of LEDs (60 watt replacement) at Walmart for about $6 for four bulbs or less if they have a sale. That is a HECK of a lot cheaper than the solar panels. And in winter is when you will no doubt have your lights on the most. And don't over look an automatic dusk to dawn post light if you have one.
 
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I installed a 5.1kW system for $17K; $12K net of Federal Tax credit. The panels are guaranteed for 25 years by the manufacturer. Electricity is pretty darn high in Silicon Valley; some of the highest in the nation. And there is a lotta sun here. Mild climate. Perfect for solar. Also, PGE rates will continue to climb as we customers pay for their fines for burning down our State. I also charge the Tesla. My break even point is probably 5 to 6 years, depending. I am using the AC more nowadays... Talk to a lotta people; talk to a lotta companies. Costco has a great deal with Sunrun, but you can beat their prices. And prices continue to go down. My bill is about $15 per month to be on the grid.
 
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Originally Posted by Win
Originally Posted by Ws6
... Sustainability/liability: Panels are warrantied to produce >80% initial power by 25 years, and come with a 25 year manufacturer AND installer warranty for 25 years on parts, labor,all of it. Adding it to my home warranty should be a minimal expense ($40/year) ...
None of these people will be around in twenty five years. I doubt any of them will be around in five years. I've seen hail that will knock a hole the size of a softball in these things. I would find out what your insurance company wants to cover them, and if they cover for replacement cost or depreciated value. Anyone financing this will require enough coverage to pay off the loan. That doesn't help you much. Have a lawyer read the contract with the utility company. I'll take a wild guess it won't favor you, and you won't even be able to take them to court - it will call for mediation or arbitration or other such nonsense. And the finance contract for that matter. If the electricity generated is imputed to you as income, you may have to pay tax on it. Even though this will be sitting on land, it will probably be considered as personal property, much like a mobile home that has not been de mobiled. Personal property, in my state, anyway, is taxed at a much higher rate than real property. edit: anything sitting on the ground can be stolen. I would make sure it is insured for theft as well, and at what rate, replacement or depreciated. The ideal of donating your land, and then borrowing money, to build a co generation plant for your electric utility seems off to me. If your utility is public traded, just spend the money on their stock or some other public utility. Public utilities are guaranteed to be profitable no matter how badly run. If they can get folks to build their capacity for them, their stock might be a good deal.
This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I've heard when all of the government subsidies run out, less then 5% of the current solar companies will survive. If yours doesn't the warranty is as worthless as the paper it's written on.
 
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You have some uncertainty that you have to decide on. 1) Net metering? How long would it last? What happen if you get 2c credit but you need to pay 10c to buy back? Will you go battery storage? Will you only use your solar to charge your EV during day time? 2) What if solar panel cost (install + panel) drop significantly? Will you regret you bought too early or pay too much? 3) What if electric bill didn't go up as you expected? Because utility scale solar is actually cheaper than your roof top solar? 4) What about other issues? If you want to sell but nobody wants to pay extra for it? What if insurance cost suddenly go up because everyone with solar got hail damage? I think if you are comfortable with the risk they are fine, heck they are a more rational investment than a maxed out 50k SUV over a smaller 25k car.
 

AZjeff

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Can't think of anyone I've talked to who got residential solar that is unhappy with it. Maybe reverse sour grapes, don't admit the mistake? Lots of nay-saying around solar power.
 
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You guys get HOSED on installations My electricity is $0.28/KWh, and $1.60 per day for the privilige of connection...$1,700/year on verage. Have a 6KW system on order, for $3,600...they keep the carbon credits. $0.15 feed in tarrif 2-3 year payback
 
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