Solar panel advice & experiences

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james313
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Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by james313 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:24 pm

I got an estimate for solar panel installation on my roof. Aside from the environmental benefits, what do you think about the financial aspects of this:

$34k up front cost
$21k cost after refunds and tax credits
14.5y to pay back cost, based on their estimates (average annual energy usage, projected energy production, etc.)

House is 18y old, roof 9y old. Plan to stay here for at least 20y more.

Would you do it?
Has anyone done it? Good/bad experiences?

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dgm
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by dgm » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:33 pm

Got solar a few years ago and am very happy with it overall. Everyone I know who has gotten it is happy with it. A few points of learning

- get at least 3 quotes, at least one from a local installer (not nationwide chain). local was cheapest for me, and their actual installation work was solid. its a PITA but will save you thousands. negotiate a little to get a bit more off. there is some flex there.
- consider getting a little more generation power than you need. like TVs, almost everyone I know wishes they got a bit more
- do not pay them the last installment until EVERYTHING is buttoned down and working and verified. made that mistake and it took forever to get them to do the last bit (cleanup and some adjustments)

petebogle
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by petebogle » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:45 pm

what state are you in?

before you sign anything or pay $1 go to solarpaneltalk dot com and research as much as you can about making optimal decisions for your system. I'm going through the process now and that forum has been invaluable. The key is size your system appropriately, and stick to a local installer who has experience in your state/area, not a big name national company.

By the way, 14.5 yr breakeven is really not compelling. You expect to stay in the house 20 yrs but your situation may change. Avg time ppl live in houses is like 7 years.

Tal-
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Tal- » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:46 pm

We purchased solar a couple years ago, and while we love them, we didn't have a good buying experience. I was surprised at how confusing, misleading, dishonest, and pushy the sales of solar panels has become. There is big variability in the assumptions that go into the calculations, assumptions about energy usage, and assumptions about energy price increases.

It wasn't quite as bad as having used car salesman do door-to-door sales, but it was close.
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jadestruck
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by jadestruck » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:36 am

Try energysage.com and get multiple quotes thru them.
Some tax credits drop from 30 to 26%.
I am replacing my roof and so am also getting solar panels.

jsaver
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by jsaver » Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:46 am

I'm guessing based on cost that's a 10 kW system. Depending where you are in the US, it will generate approximately 45 kWh per day on average. Federal tax credit is 30%. 14.5 year payback indicates a local electric cost of approximately $0.09 per kWh which is pretty cheap local electricity (21000 / (14.5 x 365.25 x 45)).

In researching this myself, one thing I haven't been able to get solid data on is how much you can recoup in resale on the home. Hard to know how buyers value these systems.

Here's an interesting blog post (not mine) about a 7.15kW install a couple years ago that I found helpful when doing my research:

https://maniacallabs.com/2017/04/24/her ... ing-solar/

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:33 am

james313 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:24 pm
I got an estimate for solar panel installation on my roof. Aside from the environmental benefits, what do you think about the financial aspects of this:

$34k up front cost
$21k cost after refunds and tax credits
14.5y to pay back cost, based on their estimates (average annual energy usage, projected energy production, etc.)

House is 18y old, roof 9y old. Plan to stay here for at least 20y more.

Would you do it?
Has anyone done it? Good/bad experiences?
My gut reaction is that paybacks of more than 10 years are not particularly economic. Of course that flies in the face of Discounted Cash Flow/ Net Present Value calculations that take the benefits out to the life of the system (say 25 years).

I worry that the projection is likely to have an optimism bias, given their source, and this project does not look particularly economic even on those estimates.

As a financial investment, if you have repaid all debt and have no other tax deferred account contributions you can make, it probably works. But it feels like given the uncertainties, it is marginal.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Uniballer » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:04 am

Does the quote include replacing the existing roof? Are you sure you want to put new solar panels over a roof with perhaps half of its life gone?

Assume that the salespersons numbers for energy production and dollar savings are fantasy. What do your own best estimates indicate?

What is the chance that the rules under which the electric utility operates will change to allow them to buy electricity from you at wholesale rates and sell it at retail rates (aka stop net metering like Arizona)?

This doesn't sound like a slam dunk so I would be very skeptical.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:28 am

Several key things.

Net metering and the future of it. Michigan and Arizona have upended things. Check your state.

Impact in house price to a buyer if they are buying near end-of-life panels.
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Nate79
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Nate79 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:16 am

Agree with the posters to get more quotes and use energysage.com. We just had a solar system, 9.1kW, installed before credits for $21k. But I had to get 3 quotes to get the best price.

chw
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by chw » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:33 am

Installed 20 panels a year ago. The system is performing as expected, with no issues. Our payback after federal and state tax credits is estimated just under 5 years (we have high kw rates). We had a 3 year old roof, and southern facing roof, so decision to install was pretty straightforward.

I would make sure to get at least 3 quotes, as pricing can vary widely. A very good resource to obtain and compare quotes quickly and easily is through the website EnergySage. You might find you can get a better price on the system you are considering, and this shorten your payback period.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by robphoto » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:43 am

That does sound like a long payback period. We had a system installed last year with net metering, and haven't paid for electricity since then. Our payback was calculated at about 7 years.

A 17 year payback is so far in the future, I wonder if it really saves money compared to investing the money elsewhere. We wanted to do it partly for the earth-friendly aspect, also may have some sort of plug-in car at some point, which will quickly use up the credit we're accumulating.

I second the recommendation to get several quotes, and there is an advantage to using a local experienced contractor who is used to the permitting process in the various towns, and has local references.

shell921
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by shell921 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:51 am

How big is your house? Are you sure you need 34 panels?

I have a 4,000 sq ft house and I have 12 panels. You don't want too many panels so you
are selling back a lot of electricity. You want to break even.

Cactuscoug
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Cactuscoug » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:09 am

We live in AZ. and have a 2400 sf home. We installed a 5 kW system, costing less than $14,000 ($9000, net of Fed and State credits). We save about $80-90 / month . . .or about a 12% tax free yield on our money. But, this is Arizona . . . . $34,000 sounds like it is grossly overpriced . . .or is for an overly large array.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Sailorgirl » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:25 am

I would wait a few years and see what changes a possible new climate friendly government brings for individual small panel installations. The cost of utility size solar is decreasing so fast that this appears to be the wave of the future especially combined with battery storage technology. Everyone benefits.

I would also be concerned with the age of your roof.

Point
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Point » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:40 am

That payoff period is way too long. Are you financing the cost? Are you buying outright? Are you using electrical contractor or just using one of the solar companies?

Solar companies do everything they can to get you to lease or finance purchase thru them. That drives up cost. They show you a return over 20 years primarily driven by future rate potential increases. So they’re selling a hedge against rate increases while hiding their profit via a lease.

Our solar install net cost was recovered in less than four years. If invested money doubles every eight years then our cost recovery was 5 to 6 years. Two big factors: high electric usage and rates, and using our own money created the good ROI.

Use a contractor that does solar, go with good product and design, and use your own capital.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by njdealguy » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:45 am

Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:16 am
Agree with the posters to get more quotes and use energysage.com. We just had a solar system, 9.1kW, installed before credits for $21k. But I had to get 3 quotes to get the best price.
Wow thats about $2.30 a watt before the credit. Just curious what brand you have gotten. In NJ I have never got a quote for less than 2.80 a watt for Hanwha QCell panels and above 3 a watt for Panasonic/LG/Sunpower.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by njdealguy » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:49 am

14.5 years is very high, guess it depends on the state you are in and how the incentives are. As far as I've seen, the best 2 states due to SREC income (certificates sold to utility companies for the power you generate) are Massachusetts and New Jersey.

I'm soon installing a 8.8kw system in NJ along with replacing the roof with GAF Timberline shingles for 34.5k total (24.5k for the Hanwha QCell panels and 10k for the roof) and after factoring deduction, electricity savings (costs 17.5 cents per kwh from PSE&G in NJ), and SREC income for 10 years, I'm expecting to break even in about 6-7 years including the roof replacement cost and 4-5 years if accounting for just the solar.

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james313
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by james313 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:36 am

dgm wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:33 pm
Got solar a few years ago and am very happy with it overall. Everyone I know who has gotten it is happy with it. A few points of learning

- get at least 3 quotes, at least one from a local installer (not nationwide chain). local was cheapest for me, and their actual installation work was solid. its a PITA but will save you thousands. negotiate a little to get a bit more off. there is some flex there.
- consider getting a little more generation power than you need. like TVs, almost everyone I know wishes they got a bit more
- do not pay them the last installment until EVERYTHING is buttoned down and working and verified. made that mistake and it took forever to get them to do the last bit (cleanup and some adjustments)

I got 3 quotes, and this is from the most professional of the three. Also had a coworker use them and had a good experience with them.

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james313
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by james313 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:38 am

petebogle wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:45 pm
what state are you in?

before you sign anything or pay $1 go to solarpaneltalk dot com and research as much as you can about making optimal decisions for your system. I'm going through the process now and that forum has been invaluable. The key is size your system appropriately, and stick to a local installer who has experience in your state/area, not a big name national company.

By the way, 14.5 yr breakeven is really not compelling. You expect to stay in the house 20 yrs but your situation may change. Avg time ppl live in houses is like 7 years.
In Missouri.

Installer is local, has installed several places around town, including public zoo.

Yeah, the 14.5y breakeven point is what is holding me up. Seems like a long time to me.

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james313
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by james313 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:40 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:33 am
james313 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:24 pm
I got an estimate for solar panel installation on my roof. Aside from the environmental benefits, what do you think about the financial aspects of this:

$34k up front cost
$21k cost after refunds and tax credits
14.5y to pay back cost, based on their estimates (average annual energy usage, projected energy production, etc.)

House is 18y old, roof 9y old. Plan to stay here for at least 20y more.

Would you do it?
Has anyone done it? Good/bad experiences?
My gut reaction is that paybacks of more than 10 years are not particularly economic. Of course that flies in the face of Discounted Cash Flow/ Net Present Value calculations that take the benefits out to the life of the system (say 25 years).

I worry that the projection is likely to have an optimism bias, given their source, and this project does not look particularly economic even on those estimates.

As a financial investment, if you have repaid all debt and have no other tax deferred account contributions you can make, it probably works. But it feels like given the uncertainties, it is marginal.

Yeah, I get that feeling too. My gut says that financially speaking, it probably will not be worth it. Environmental aspects aside, doesn't make sense.

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james313
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by james313 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:44 am

shell921 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:51 am
How big is your house? Are you sure you need 34 panels?

I have a 4,000 sq ft house and I have 12 panels. You don't want too many panels so you
are selling back a lot of electricity. You want to break even.

It is about 2500 sf, with finished basement giving approx 4500sf livable space.
We have a very steep roof with multiple peaks, so each panel is not in an optimal south facing direction. Also very high ceilings which require lots of A/C in summer to cool room.
Their estimates put our offset at around 75%, so we won't be selling back much, if at all.

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Nate79
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Nate79 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:22 am

njdealguy wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:45 am
Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:16 am
Agree with the posters to get more quotes and use energysage.com. We just had a solar system, 9.1kW, installed before credits for $21k. But I had to get 3 quotes to get the best price.
Wow thats about $2.30 a watt before the credit. Just curious what brand you have gotten. In NJ I have never got a quote for less than 2.80 a watt for Hanwha QCell panels and above 3 a watt for Panasonic/LG/Sunpower.
They are 325W Qcells.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:49 am

That payback seems off. We paid $40K for our panels and new roof and upgrade to electric panel. $30K panels, $8K roof, 2.5K electric panel. Less the 3% credit so we got like 10.5K back so paid $30K, financed with HELOC so interest is tax deductible. First off, in NJ they cant increase our taxes based on value of house going up, so right away, we paid $30K but our house value went up somewhere between $30-40K, so right there we are kind of even, but ignoring resale value as that is hard to determine, but it is real. We save $2,000 a year on electric, and get about 10 SREC's per year which we sell for about $200 a month, so that is another $2,000 a year in cash back, so that is $4,000 a year, the roof you have to exclude and electric panel maybe include or exclude but that means the panels cost $30K, less 10.5K credit, so about $20K and we get $4K back per year, so about 5 year payback plus financing costs,

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:53 am

james313 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:24 pm
I got an estimate for solar panel installation on my roof.
Who did the estimate? A salesman with zero engineering education?

I have a west-facing roof with nearby, tall mountains to the west, and doubted the reasonableness of installing solar on it vis-a-vis the relative efficiency of current panel tech. Most of my neighbors have south-facing roofs and had panels installed. While the frenzy was going on I asked the company to evaluate my roof. "Sure, easy, no problem and you'll get great results.", was what the salesman told me. I scoffed.

So I called another company and asked that the eval be done by a person who actually knows what s/he is doing. They sent a civil engineer who did the eval and said there is no way it would pay for itself within 50 years. I told her about the "salesman" claim so she redid the calculations and still said, "No way."

Get another estimate from an engineer.
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james313
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by james313 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:53 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:53 am
james313 wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:24 pm
I got an estimate for solar panel installation on my roof.
Who did the estimate? A salesman with zero engineering education?

I have a west-facing roof with nearby, tall mountains to the west, and doubted the reasonableness of installing solar on it vis-a-vis the relative efficiency of current panel tech. Most of my neighbors have south-facing roofs and had panels installed. While the frenzy was going on I asked the company to evaluate my roof. "Sure, easy, no problem and you'll get great results.", was what the salesman told me. I scoffed.

So I called another company and asked that the eval be done by a person who actually knows what s/he is doing. They sent a civil engineer who did the eval and said there is no way it would pay for itself within 50 years. I told her about the "salesman" claim so she redid the calculations and still said, "No way."

Get another estimate from an engineer.

Yeah, I definitely got that sense based on the phone calls I had with the various companies. You could tell based off the conversation who knew that they were talking about, and who was just a salesperson fronting for the company to increase contracts.

The estimate that I got from the company who had an actual engineer, they are the ones who gave me the estimate with 14.5y payback. The other companies were shorter. But, as you said they were suspect in their renderings/proposals/assumptions.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by willthrill81 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:41 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:28 am
Several key things.

Net metering and the future of it. Michigan and Arizona have upended things. Check your state.

Impact in house price to a buyer if they are buying near end-of-life panels.
:thumbsup

I'm not convinced that solar panels improve the resale value of the property anywhere close to their cost. That makes any break-even period of 10 years a complete non-starter for me.

And many utility companies are increasingly unfriendly toward this technology. The future is far from certain at least.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by mervinj7 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:28 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:28 am
Net metering and the future of it. Michigan and Arizona have upended things. Check your state.
I believe OP is in Missouri. Their legislature recently failed to gut net metering but the fact that they tried and almost succeeded is worrisome. Contrast that with solar-friendly CA where Net Metering is guaranteed for 20 years from the original enrollment rate.

https://themissouritimes.com/41063/oppo ... consumers/
But even though the bill failed to pass this year, the fact that it passed the House with a vote of 102-51 stands to reason that the legislation will most likely be brought forward again in the next legislative session, meaning both sides have a year to find compromises or strategize.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by FrugalConservative » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:42 pm

Not interested in a payback period of 10+ years ( ludicrous that people swallow that significant statistic), especially when you factor in that technology is constantly changing. Wouldn't want to be in the situation where after dropping close to 40K , 5 years later the technology has leaped frog and Im stuck with panels that are behind the times. Also, its never fun having to put a new roof on when you have solar panels, turns into an absolute nightmare. Do people factor that into the cost? You will have to pay someone to take the panels off, then put them back on.

Add in the fact I consider solar panels an eye sore and they do in fact turn off some buyers, zero chance I will ever get them.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by abuss368 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:49 pm

I think it may be to new yet in terms of economies of scale. We had family that were serious about doing it and really analyized everything but could not make it work.

That may change as we move forward.
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:50 pm

FrugalConservative wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:42 pm
Add in the fact I consider solar panels an eye sore and they do in fact turn off some buyers...
That’s what makes horse races. We bought our house recently in part because the previous owner had installed a ground based solar array. They’re not an eye sore to me; they remind me that I’m energy independent.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by mrc » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:57 pm

james313 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:44 am
It is about 2500 sf, with finished basement giving approx 4500sf livable space.
We have a very steep roof with multiple peaks, so each panel is not in an optimal south facing direction. Also very high ceilings which require lots of A/C in summer to cool room.
Their estimates put our offset at around 75%, so we won't be selling back much, if at all.
The panels do "shade" the roof. We have a gable roof, so all the panels are on the same plane. We noticed a lot cooler attic temp after the sun wasn't hitting the roof as much.
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by SmallSaver » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:04 pm

Just a few general notes on things that have come up in this thread:

1) Payback should vary widely between systems across the nation, it depends heavily on site, system price, electricity price, and net metering structure.

2) It's extremely difficult to determine what the effect on the resale value of your house is, and of course home buyers are not perfectly rational economic actors. This study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is the best effort I've seen, and it's not all that helpful. I'd personally estimate that you would recoup the replacement cost of the system at the time of sale, a more conservative estimate is that it won't change it at all.

3) Quality (and honesty) of installers matters a lot. Get a few bids and trust your gut.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by njdealguy » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:30 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:22 am
njdealguy wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:45 am
Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:16 am
Agree with the posters to get more quotes and use energysage.com. We just had a solar system, 9.1kW, installed before credits for $21k. But I had to get 3 quotes to get the best price.
Wow thats about $2.30 a watt before the credit. Just curious what brand you have gotten. In NJ I have never got a quote for less than 2.80 a watt for Hanwha QCell panels and above 3 a watt for Panasonic/LG/Sunpower.
They are 325W Qcells.
Wow thats like all the way to the left side of the curve on this energysage link:

https://www.energysage.com/solar-panels ... uo-g5-325/

If I managed to negotiate your price in NJ would've saved around $5k (or 3.5 after the credit) on my 8.8kw system (Hanwha 315w), basically reducing the payoff by an entire year at least. I tried for $2.50/$2.60 watt with several installers and no one would budge below $2.80 a watt so assumed they cant afford to go much below that. Anyways am under contract now for installation soon!
Last edited by njdealguy on Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by ponyboy » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:32 pm

FrugalConservative wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:42 pm
Add in the fact I consider solar panels an eye sore and they do in fact turn off some buyers, zero chance I will ever get them.
I find it odd when people say solar panels are an eye sore...especially when they're mounted on the roof. Do people consider shingles to be sexy? Or appealing. I cant remember the last time I looked at a roof and thought how amazing the shingles looked. My FIL says the same thing about solar panels. Then again, he's from east bumble PA, so he hates alternate energy sources. Coal and Oil baby!

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Nate79 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:39 pm

njdealguy wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:30 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:22 am
njdealguy wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:45 am
Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:16 am
Agree with the posters to get more quotes and use energysage.com. We just had a solar system, 9.1kW, installed before credits for $21k. But I had to get 3 quotes to get the best price.
Wow thats about $2.30 a watt before the credit. Just curious what brand you have gotten. In NJ I have never got a quote for less than 2.80 a watt for Hanwha QCell panels and above 3 a watt for Panasonic/LG/Sunpower.
They are 325W Qcells.
Wow thats like all the way to the left side of the curve on this energysage link:

https://www.energysage.com/solar-panels ... uo-g5-325/

If I managed to negotiate your price in NJ would've saved around $5k (or 3.5 after the credit) on my 8.8kw system (Hanwha 315w), basically reducing the payoff by an entire year at least. I tried for $2.50/$2.60 watt with several installers and no one would budge below $2.80 a watt so assumed they cant afford to go much below that. Anyways am under contract now for installation soon!
The range of quotes I had were between $2.1-$2.7/w. The lower priced system, which I went for was with a string inverter which saved somewhat on the price but doesnt explain the wide range of costs. I don't believe the overhyped fancy inverters is worth the added cost. I wanted as fast playback as possible. In my case including all incentives and SREC (which isn't a lot in my state) gave a 5 year payback.

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willthrill81
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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by willthrill81 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:42 pm

Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:39 pm
In my case including all incentives and SREC (which isn't a lot in my state) gave a 5 year payback.
If we had a 5 year payback, we'd be all over it. But the estimated payback for us is 20 years. No flipping way we're going for that.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by rj342 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:46 pm

14.5 years?? Run away screaming even without the roof age issues.

I do not trust the 25 year system life, presumably without any major maintenance expenses.
I am concerned about long term efficiency losses for batteries and the PV panels (particularly fogging of the clear protective layer).
I am concerned about the risk (high IMO) if significant advances within the next 5-10 years and you have a white elephant, hurting more if yo have to move sooner.
I am skeptical long term about any rules lasting that require the power company to pay you back at overly advantageous rates higher than wholesale.
FWIW I am in hurricane country -- can't imagine what that complication would do to insurance rates.

This is not my particular area, but I am an engineer.

I have also had plenty of CFL bulbs that died too soon utterly destroying the alleged savings.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by willthrill81 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:49 pm

rj342 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:46 pm
I am concerned about long term efficiency losses for batteries
I agree with your overall assessment, but aside from those buying something like Tesla Powerwalls, almost everyone buying solar panels has a grid-tie system that uses the grid as their 'battery' rather than having their own backup system.

Regarding the grid-tie inverters, my research into this not long ago revealed that 10 years is the expected lifespan of a good one. And they aren't inexpensive to replace.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:52 pm

ponyboy wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:32 pm
FrugalConservative wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:42 pm
Add in the fact I consider solar panels an eye sore and they do in fact turn off some buyers, zero chance I will ever get them.
I find it odd when people say solar panels are an eye sore...especially when they're mounted on the roof. Do people consider shingles to be sexy? Or appealing. I cant remember the last time I looked at a roof and thought how amazing the shingles looked. My FIL says the same thing about solar panels. Then again, he's from east bumble PA, so he hates alternate energy sources. Coal and Oil baby!
I agree, when people say they don't like how they look, I find that funny. I think looking at them I feel proud to be doing something to help the planet that is also a good investment. plus most roofs, ie ones that are NOT brand new, look horrible like they need a power wash, so I think any roof that isn't brand new looks MUCH worse than any roof that has solar panels which shows someone who cares more about the planet then aesthetics.
Last edited by Thegame14 on Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:53 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:42 pm
Nate79 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:39 pm
In my case including all incentives and SREC (which isn't a lot in my state) gave a 5 year payback.
If we had a 5 year payback, we'd be all over it. But the estimated payback for us is 20 years. No flipping way we're going for that.
yeah we have a similar payback 4-5 years, the SREC's are half the payback, so those are very important

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by rj342 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:56 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:49 pm
rj342 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:46 pm
I am concerned about long term efficiency losses for batteries
I agree with your overall assessment, but aside from those buying something like Tesla Powerwalls, almost everyone buying solar panels has a grid-tie system that uses the grid as their 'battery' rather than having their own backup system.

Regarding the grid-tie inverters, my research into this not long ago revealed that 10 years is the expected lifespan of a good one. And they aren't inexpensive to replace.
What gets me, something I *would* consider is a small, simpler solar installation (not on roof) whose main function would just be to offset some of my worst summer A/C cost here in Alabama -- but I have never come across anything remotely like that.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Thegame14 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:58 pm

rj342 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:56 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:49 pm
rj342 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:46 pm
I am concerned about long term efficiency losses for batteries
I agree with your overall assessment, but aside from those buying something like Tesla Powerwalls, almost everyone buying solar panels has a grid-tie system that uses the grid as their 'battery' rather than having their own backup system.

Regarding the grid-tie inverters, my research into this not long ago revealed that 10 years is the expected lifespan of a good one. And they aren't inexpensive to replace.
What gets me, something I *would* consider is a small, simpler solar installation (not on roof) whose main function would just be to offset some of my worst summer A/C cost here in Alabama -- but I have never come across anything remotely like that.
I saw one that you have installed in the ground and the panels come out of it and they move during the day to follow the sun. They were more expensive than ones that go on your roof, but it was cool. THey even go away at night. I am looking for it now.

https://smartflower.com/residential/
Last edited by Thegame14 on Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by willthrill81 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:59 pm

rj342 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:56 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:49 pm
rj342 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:46 pm
I am concerned about long term efficiency losses for batteries
I agree with your overall assessment, but aside from those buying something like Tesla Powerwalls, almost everyone buying solar panels has a grid-tie system that uses the grid as their 'battery' rather than having their own backup system.

Regarding the grid-tie inverters, my research into this not long ago revealed that 10 years is the expected lifespan of a good one. And they aren't inexpensive to replace.
What gets me, something I *would* consider is a small, simpler solar installation (not on roof) whose main function would just be to offset some of my worst summer A/C cost here in Alabama -- but I have never come across anything remotely like that.
The payback period for high quality insulation is often far better than solar panels, frequently under a year, and may well help in just such an instance as yours.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by psteinx » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:16 pm

OP, I'm in Missouri too. I look into solar from time to time, but haven't been convinced.

Some concerns/issues:

1) Our electric rates ARE relatively low (or at least middle-ish). Not high like CA.
2) It's not clear to me that putting $20-30K or so into such a system won't raise your property tax rates. I think in CA, they have a law that it won't. Not sure about MO.
3) Also, concerns about homeowner's insurance.
4) We're further north than many of the prime spots for solar.
5) Culturally, solar seems less of a "thing" here, and may not be viewed so positively by neighbors.
6) Lots of tall trees around. Might be harder to avoid shade on your roof.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by Quaestner » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:29 pm

I'll answer your questions. I've had solar 5 years and love it. Flawless production so far. The value is not just financial. I get satisfaction by being a bit greener and not having to pay an electric bill is worth something in and of itself (beyond the savings). So, solar is fun. Changing the neighborhood culture is fun. Re-roofing will not be fun, and to sell your house in 20 years, you may need to re-roof. Your system is too expensive, and your roof is a few years too old - I wouldn't do it unless you get a better deal. Also, be skeptical of the electricity cost inflation projections the companies use to to justify their pay back projections.

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by abuss368 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:33 pm

psteinx wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:16 pm
OP, I'm in Missouri too. I look into solar from time to time, but haven't been convinced.

Some concerns/issues:

1) Our electric rates ARE relatively low (or at least middle-ish). Not high like CA.
2) It's not clear to me that putting $20-30K or so into such a system won't raise your property tax rates. I think in CA, they have a law that it won't. Not sure about MO.
3) Also, concerns about homeowner's insurance.
4) We're further north than many of the prime spots for solar.
5) Culturally, solar seems less of a "thing" here, and may not be viewed so positively by neighbors.
6) Lots of tall trees around. Might be harder to avoid shade on your roof.
I agree. In our neck of the woods our electric is $100 a month at best. The math does not work for us.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by willthrill81 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:33 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:33 pm
psteinx wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:16 pm
OP, I'm in Missouri too. I look into solar from time to time, but haven't been convinced.

Some concerns/issues:

1) Our electric rates ARE relatively low (or at least middle-ish). Not high like CA.
2) It's not clear to me that putting $20-30K or so into such a system won't raise your property tax rates. I think in CA, they have a law that it won't. Not sure about MO.
3) Also, concerns about homeowner's insurance.
4) We're further north than many of the prime spots for solar.
5) Culturally, solar seems less of a "thing" here, and may not be viewed so positively by neighbors.
6) Lots of tall trees around. Might be harder to avoid shade on your roof.
I agree. In our neck of the woods our electric is $100 a month at best. The math does not work for us.
That's our 'problem': our electricity is too darn cheap at 8-9 cents per kWh. Solar just can't compete with that financially.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by abuss368 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:38 pm

I believe our electricity is 6.8 per kWh.
John C. Bogle: Two Fund Portfolio - Total Stock & Total Bond - “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Solar panel advice & experiences

Post by willthrill81 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:51 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:38 pm
I believe our electricity is 6.8 per kWh.
Wow, that's very cheap. No way does solar make financial sense compared to that, regardless of how big your monthly bill is.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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