Can solar be worth it??

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Can solar be worth it??

Post by adam61 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:23 pm

I’ve been looking at solar just to see since I have a great roof for it and reasonable usage 1500-200kWh of monthly use. I only pay about $1600-2000 a year for electricity. Most of the quotes have been 40-60k fora 5-8KW system. They keep using inflation and other things to make it seem like an 8-10 year payback but I just don’t see it. Unless costs are down or electricity goes way up even with the 30% credit I can’t find a way to justify it. Am I missing a variable? Texas if that matters for credits/costs.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by JimMolony » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:36 pm

Break even really depends on the cost per Kwh. I believe Texas is know for pretty cheap electricity. Here in California with PG&E at 18 cents a kwh, it pays for itself pretty quickly (5-9 years). If you are only paying 6-9 cents per kwh I wouldn't think it is too good of an investment. With gov't tax incentive a typical system here would be under $20k. Your estimates seem very expensive.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by mmcmonster » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:44 pm

First of all, put your address in here to get a rough idea:

Second, I got Tesla/SolarCity solar panels and PowerWall battery backup.

For me, in North East PA, the estimate is ~12 year break even. With the inverters generally lasting ~15 years and the panels rated for 35 years with 25 year warranty, it's definitely playing the long game.

Then the price of electricity went down in the year since I got the panels and the break even point moved out. :oops:

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by adam61 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:13 pm

The site you listed again listed it as a great spot, but less than $1,000 savings over 20 years with a 7.5Kw system. That’s with quotes lower than I got initially as well.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by quantAndHold » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:42 pm

Your electricity is cheap, and the quotes you’re getting are about double the national average. I wouldn’t expect the math to work.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:45 pm

I looked at this some years back here in Michigan, and it never paid off until panels and other equipment is due for replacement.
Avid user of forums on a variety of interests - financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair and more. Enjoy learning and passing on knowledge.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by GTBuzz » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:37 pm

I paid $24,000 ($16,800 after Federal Tax Credit) in Florida at the end of 2017 for a 10kW system. Definitely get lots of quotes, as different installers are all over the board. I'd recommend getting quotes on EnergySage to get an idea of what you should be paying.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by Quaestner » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:22 pm

Get more quotes. I spent $15,000 (after all the tax credits) for a $25,000 6.25 kW system in New Mexico. That was 5 years ago - should be a bit cheaper now. I got some renewable energy credits for 7 years that made this cost effective. You are right to be skeptical of their inflation estimates for energy. Make sure your roof is relatively new if you do this (re-roofing with solar adds expense!). It was worth it to me financially, and its been fun having solar, too. Other posters are right to point out Texas' low electric rates impact your decision.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by NewOldGuy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:34 pm

Basically, if I was 32 instead of 62, I'd invest in solar... right after I bought a new roof.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by Typ997S » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:45 pm

As others have pointed out, the answer to solar being worth it can be "yes," but as with everything in life, it depends. You have to live somewhere where electricity is somewhat, to very expensive, and you have to use a fair amount, for it to be worthwhile. It helps if you live somewhere sunny too and/or in a state with generous incentives.

In my case, living in a big house with air conditioning, in sunny (300 days a year!) San Jose California, it made a lot of sense, and I installed a system in 2009 which has more than paid for itself already. (I calculated a 6 year payback period when I installed.)

I would also add, as a previous poster did, that the quotes you've gotten for installation look very high to me. I paid a lot less 10 years ago, and I think costs have decreased since then. Good luck!

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by chw » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:57 pm

Get quotes on . Very easy to use and informative website. We installed a 6.6 KW system (20 panels) last year for 20K in MA. Found the installer on Enersage, and system was installed in about 40 days from contract signing to turning on the system. Quality components, great warranties, and payback should be about 5 years. Some of our payback are from SREC credits which were replaced recently by a less lucrative program, but still with credits paid by the utility for solar production. Also, be aware the 30% federal tax credit ends this year- being reduced to 20% in 2020.

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by mervinj7 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:11 pm

Sure, solar can be worth it but it depends on your own situation (e.g. electricity rate, usage, the sun). Here's my breakdown based on a $3/W system. I eventually installed a 7.26kW system for $2.93/W before ITC. That was the quote I got from but I used a local contractor for the actual install.

1. Upfront System Cost
$3.00/Watt * 8.04kW = $24,210
After ITC (30% Federal Tax Credit) -> $16,884.00

2. AC Energy Generated
Using PVWatts and based on our panel type, system efficiency, and roof orientation, we expect 12,060 kWh produced per year

3. Average Retail Rate with Net Metering and an Electric Vehicle rate plan
Due to the Net Metering Plan available to us as part of our Community Owned Electricity Provider and being on an EV-Rate, the average retail rates during electricity generation is $0.29/kWh. During the night, when we charge our EV, we pay $0.13/kWh. ... 0(Sch).pdf

4. Annual Electricity Value
$0.29/kWh *12,060 kWh/year = $3,535.75/year

5. Simple Breakeven
$16,884/$3535/year= 4.8 years

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Re: Can solar be worth it??

Post by adam61 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Used EnergySage got $2.60/w with new LG panels. Very nice company. With 30% Federal and a 15% electric provider incentive and a 10.5KW system I’m looking at 30k*.85*.7=$18,000 installed. Texas rates vary a lot but 7-9c/KWh is realistic. The company that does full net metering is 11.3c both directions. Estimate is 15,500 production so my bill should net around $0-100 annually. About 10-12 year payback which isn’t awesome but very doable.

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