Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

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willthrill81
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Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:37 am

Out of curiosity, I've looked into buying a solar photovoltaic system for our home, where we intend to stay for a lengthy period of time (minimum 15 years). When I recently looked into this, the estimated savings over a 20 year period were negative $6,000 (i.e. we would lose about $24 per month). This goes along with prior estimates I've run myself which indicated that we would only break even after 20 years if we installed the whole system ourselves. A big part of the reason why is because our electricity is relatively cheap, about $.09 per kWh.

I'm interested in whether others have found solar panels to be a good or poor investment for them. It certainly seems to make more sense in areas with relatively expensive electricity, like Hawaii and California.
“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

MathWizard
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by MathWizard » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:04 am

I wanted to do this as well, but I could never make the numbers work, I'd be
tying up a large chunk of money, and I'd then be in the power generation and maintenance business.

I'm buying into a community solar farm. I estimate payback in the 5-10 year frame
(this does not take into account any opportunity cost on the money).
This allows me to get in relatively cheaply, and I have zero maintenance costs.
I put my money into LED lights which have a great payback, and make
more money on investing the money than putting it into personal solar.

I believe that the utility can get far cheaper pricing than I can, and they have the
experience to maintain the infrastructure.

The only downside is that it is not a backup. I have bought an 800 W power inverter
that will hook to a car battery to power my sump pump or furnace in case of dire emergency,
and we've never had an outage of longer than 8 hours in the last 35 years.

Mike Scott
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:18 am

I have tried to make the numbers work on solar for many years and while it keeps edging closer to break even, it still does not work out. The "problem" is a combination of an energy efficent house, some of the lowest utility prices in the country and zero state or local rebates. The examples I have seen work for people had higher utility costs and significant state and/or local rebates or in locations wher grid utility connections were not available or very expensive.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:29 am

It depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

Cost per kWHr. The higher, the more likely that solar will pay off. The OP pays 9 cents/kWHr. I pay 19 cents.

What state incentives are there? In my state, the state will contribute 20 years expected output towards installation. Because of this, every solar company out there will install a system for $0.

Is net metering available? If you overproduce and have net metering, you can sell the electricity to the grid. If not, you're out of luck and it's just un-needed power that you get nothing for. Where this really matters is if you've got an electric car charging in the garage. For most of us, when is the car in the garage? At night, when solar won't charge it. When is it gone? During the day when the free energy is available. Net metering eliminates this problem because any excess is generating credit.

Notice I left out things like how far from the equator (higher solar) you are. I've done that because if you happen to be in a great solar state that is against you getting anything....or even charging you money for having solar, then it doesn't make sense. While being in a state far from the equator (like mine) but with excellent state support, it may indeed make sense.
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Valuethinker
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:03 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:37 am
Out of curiosity, I've looked into buying a solar photovoltaic system for our home, where we intend to stay for a lengthy period of time (minimum 15 years). When I recently looked into this, the estimated savings over a 20 year period were negative $6,000 (i.e. we would lose about $24 per month). This goes along with prior estimates I've run myself which indicated that we would only break even after 20 years if we installed the whole system ourselves. A big part of the reason why is because our electricity is relatively cheap, about $.09 per kWh.

I'm interested in whether others have found solar panels to be a good or poor investment for them. It certainly seems to make more sense in areas with relatively expensive electricity, like Hawaii and California.
To get to a negative contribution you have to be doing a discounted cash flow? i.e. your NPV is negative (present value of future benefits is less than cost of doing the installation)? Usually that depends on your discount rate chosen.

Or did you simply mean that you don't hit payback within 20 years ( total cost/ pa savings = years to pay back)? Mathematically, that's equivalent to a discount rate of 0% p.a.

US retail solar installation costs are relatively high (there's a pretty neat paper out there by CEO of a solar company why his US costs are so much higher than his Australian). Domestic power rates are low but there are outliers (New England-NY generally especially Connecticut, CA, Hawaii). Performance also counts and that is high in the Desert SW & California, and Hawaii.

I (southern England, latitude around 50 degrees N) get about 850 kwhr pa per peak kw of installed capacity. By contrast, someone in southern California should get 1700 kwhr or above I believe.

Hug401k
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Hug401k » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:15 pm

I'm just in the process now of adding them. I live in MA where electric rates are high. The estimated pay off is about 6.5 years. The federal tax credit is currently 30% of cost, MA offers $1000 off taxes, I believe I can claim some expenses of the new roof I had to add to qualify, and it's a pretty sunny, yet hidden from the road, spot. I receive quarterly payments for 10 years. That being said, if I put it in a performing index fund, I probably would have made more (if the market went up!), but I view this as a bit of diversification that is separate from my investments, cash and real estate. Time will tell. I did manage to secure costs before any tariffs were added, pay cash, get in on the older arrangement in MA that gives higher quarterly payments, and with the federal credit that will be fading over the next few years.

dirtlaw
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by dirtlaw » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:28 pm

Electrical prices would have to almost triple where I live in Florida to justify it from the last calculation I did, especially because my utility doesn't buy back excess power. If prices went up and they started paying for excess power, I'd seriously consider it. One good thing in Florida is that the value of your solar power system is exempted from property taxes.

Tribonian
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Tribonian » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:38 pm

We’re finally reaching the break even point after 16 years. For us, it was not a financial decision so much as an environmental stewardship choice which we were willing to pay a premium for.

rg422
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by rg422 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:41 pm

For us it was well worth it, but it seems it depends on your location. Calculations showed that our break even point was 7-8 years. It gets super hot around here in the summer, so both AC units use up a lot of electricity. On top of that, you'd be surprised how much electricity a pool pump uses.

Best advice would be to get bids from multiple solar companies and go from there.

Quaestner
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Quaestner » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:00 pm

I'm generally pleased with my solar purchase. But ... be wary of sales rep's projections on electricity price inflation, their projections seemed wildly high (and might skew the financial merits of a purchase). Be careful about over buying. They sized mine at 85% of previous year's use, but since then I've always used under that amount (so I've built up credits). This is likely because I became much more attuned to our electricity use and found additional ways to conserve - and the kids finally moved out!. Even with a plug-in hybrid and a hot tub, I still won't be paying an electric bill.

Some hidden costs that most folks gloss over: Your homeowner's insurance should go up a bit (talk to your agent). Your eventual re-roofing costs will be thousands higher (and don't buy if your roof isn't in great shape to start with). If you sell your house, some buyers will pay more for solar, some won't. Your system's residual value might not be reflected in an appraisal.

Utilities will work to make this less attractive in the future. I expect they will lobby to increase fixed charges (like connection fees) in preference to raising rates. They would like to make solar pay their "fair share" of the grid maintenance. While we hope existing solar home owners would be grandfathered in to past policies, the future is uncertain. Your regulatory environment is likely different than mine!

I paid $25K gross, $15K net (after tax credits), for my 6.24 KW system in 2012. Prices should have come down since then.

Despite the issues I mention, I think this has been a good financial investment. I think the "payoff time" will be about 8-9 years. It's got some entertainment value too, not to mention the warm fuzzy feeling from fossil-fuel free energy! I hope this isn't purely an investment decision for you. If it's close, go for it!

stan1
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by stan1 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:10 pm

For us it is not worth it. Our electric bill is $60-200 per month even when we use the air conditioner in summer (and we live in an area with high electricity costs). We have a natural gas heater and water heater and do not at this time have an electric car or a need to replace our current cars. We do have a number of friends who had $400/month plus electric bills, pools/spas, and now plug in electric cars who have put in solar and are very happy especially taking into account the tax credits (panels and car) plus being able to sell electricity back to the local utility. All of those programs can vary by state, county, and city so some of the ROI is very local.

seity
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by seity » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:24 pm

For my home, No.
We are shaded by trees making solar pretty much useless and our cost of electricity is not that high. I have considered investing in the community solar project that is just starting in the area, but haven't run the numbers.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Wellfleet » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:27 pm

seity wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:24 pm
For my home, No.
We are shaded by trees making solar pretty much useless and our cost of electricity is not that high. I have considered investing in the community solar project that is just starting in the area, but haven't run the numbers.
I started looking into NRG community solar but it seemed like a total scam. The salesperson needed my electricity billing account number "to get started." I said I'm happy to provide usage numbers but no chance they are getting a copy of my bill.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by arsenalfan » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:51 pm

RoI is 8 years for us.

letsgobobby
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:53 pm

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beachlover
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by beachlover » Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:43 pm

Last I looked (about two years ago) rooftop solar was a close call for us, but not yet ready, even with with an extra nudge from eco-consciousness.

On the plus side:
Projected payback for a cash deal was reasonable, but with assumed continuation of some ongoing credits that may be subject to political winds.
Intangible benefit of eco consciousness.

On the minus:
I felt our 17 year old shingle roof probably should be replaced before installing solar panels.
Being a cash deal, there would be both an opportunity and liquidity cost of not being invested elsewhere.
In our market, we could not yet count on the solar installation adding commensurately to appraisal value for resale.

In Pennsylvania, however, we can choose our electricity supplier, and there are many eco-conscious contracts available.
We are now paying $.0619 per KWH for 100% wind power from Texas. I'm pretty sure the electrons coursing through our wires didn't originate from a Texas turbine, but supposedly on the market back end that's where our electricty dollars are going. Local grid-related charges ($.0446 per KwH) are billed separately by the local utilty, over which we have no choice, for a total cost of under $0.11 per KWH.

I would like our next car to be a plug-in hybrid, or whatever the best e-car tech seems to be at the time. So we will likely revisit solar then, by which time we may also be more ready for a new roof, and if we wait long enough may even be looking for something to do with Soc. Sec. or RMDs.

In the meantime we scratch the eco itch by buying green power from the utility. If your state offers that choice, it's well worth looking into (it's been a no-brainer for us).
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willthrill81
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:45 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:03 am
willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:37 am
Out of curiosity, I've looked into buying a solar photovoltaic system for our home, where we intend to stay for a lengthy period of time (minimum 15 years). When I recently looked into this, the estimated savings over a 20 year period were negative $6,000 (i.e. we would lose about $24 per month). This goes along with prior estimates I've run myself which indicated that we would only break even after 20 years if we installed the whole system ourselves. A big part of the reason why is because our electricity is relatively cheap, about $.09 per kWh.

I'm interested in whether others have found solar panels to be a good or poor investment for them. It certainly seems to make more sense in areas with relatively expensive electricity, like Hawaii and California.
To get to a negative contribution you have to be doing a discounted cash flow? i.e. your NPV is negative (present value of future benefits is less than cost of doing the installation)? Usually that depends on your discount rate chosen.

Or did you simply mean that you don't hit payback within 20 years ( total cost/ pa savings = years to pay back)? Mathematically, that's equivalent to a discount rate of 0% p.a.
Bingo.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by alpenglow » Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:55 pm

I think the current rate here (NY Metro area) is about $0.45/kW. We are low energy users but installed a system anyway given the Federal and State incentives. There was also some grant money at the time we installed. We plan to stay in the home about 15 more years and we've had the system for 2.5 years. We should break even in 4 or so more years. For us, it was a no-brainer.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Elsebet » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:04 pm

I didn't run the numbers but there's two issues against my current home. 1) It's in the Pacific Northwest and 2) Electricity is very cheap here. If either of those were different I'd probably check it out.
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:33 pm

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Valuethinker
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:26 pm

Elsebet wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:04 pm
I didn't run the numbers but there's two issues against my current home. 1) It's in the Pacific Northwest and 2) Electricity is very cheap here. If either of those were different I'd probably check it out.
Partly depends which side of the mountains you are on?

If the dry side you should get good performance. However electricity is generally very cheap and Green (hydro) already.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by unclescrooge » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:32 pm

I pay 48 cents per kilo watt during the super peak hours in summer, and 39 cents in winter.

There is also a 10% tax on top of this.

I just got solar last year. The pay back is 3.6 years after federal tax incentives.

No brainier.

Valuethinker
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:33 pm

For those who want to benefit the planet, an equivalent gift to a rainforest charity will do far more good. Just slowing the spread of logging or palm oil plantations. The cost to save 1 tonne of pollutants can be less than 5 dollars.

If you live in US northwest your electricity is likely already pretty green hydroelectric. Ditto around Chicago (nuclear) and a few other places.

Saving electricity eg by led bulbs, better pool pumps, getting rid of very old fridges, is still the greenest thing you can do, generally.

Taking one less long haul flight a year is c 1.5 tonnes. That is about 1400 kwhr of coal fired electricity. (1 kwhr is about 1.1 kg or 550 gms for gas fired power).

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by unclescrooge » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:39 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:33 pm
For those who want to benefit the planet, an equivalent gift to a rainforest charity will do far more good. Just slowing the spread of logging or palm oil plantations. The cost to save 1 tonne of pollutants can be less than 5 dollars.

If you live in US northwest your electricity is likely already pretty green hydroelectric. Ditto around Chicago (nuclear) and a few other places.

Saving electricity eg by led bulbs, better pool pumps, getting rid of very old fridges, is still the greenest thing you can do, generally.

Taking one less long haul flight a year is c 1.5 tonnes. That is about 1400 kwhr of coal fired electricity. (1 kwhr is about 1.1 kg or 550 gms for gas fired power).
Palm oil is terrible. I'm thinking of writing letters to manufacturers telling them I'm boycotting their products because of it.

I even had to stop buying Nutella!!!! :(

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Elsebet » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:37 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:26 pm
Partly depends which side of the mountains you are on?

If the dry side you should get good performance. However electricity is generally very cheap and Green (hydro) already.
On the wet side, in a river valley east of Seattle.
letsgobobby wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:33 pm
PNW is not a barrier. We have extremely long summer days so with a favorable exposure you can achieve high levels of solar output.

Cheap electricity is not a barrier. Look at incentives. WA provides up to 21 cents per kWh produced for 8 years. In our case total state and federal credits amounted to 80% of the cost of the system. That’s in addition to the required net metering the local utility provides. It may not be fair to others but it’s a good deal for me that taxpayers covered 80% of the cost while I reaped 100% of the benefit.

We produced 2.3 mwh in July with a 40 panel system, and we have less than optimal exposure. That’s 10% more than my sister produced with the same size system in Salt Lake City.
Thank you for the info, appreciate it. So in the summer when your panels are producing excess output, is PSE giving you a credit for the excess electricity produced? Then you spend that credit down in the winter when your panels are not producing as much? Do you have numbers you'd be willing to share over a year?
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:58 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:32 pm
I pay 48 cents per kilo watt during the super peak hours in summer, and 39 cents in winter.
Gracious, where do you live?
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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unclescrooge
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:31 am

BolderBoy wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:58 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:32 pm
I pay 48 cents per kilo watt during the super peak hours in summer, and 39 cents in winter.
Gracious, where do you live?
California.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by jumppilot » Sat Aug 04, 2018 2:45 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:37 am
Out of curiosity, I've looked into buying a solar photovoltaic system for our home, where we intend to stay for a lengthy period of time (minimum 15 years). When I recently looked into this, the estimated savings over a 20 year period were negative $6,000 (i.e. we would lose about $24 per month). This goes along with prior estimates I've run myself which indicated that we would only break even after 20 years if we installed the whole system ourselves. A big part of the reason why is because our electricity is relatively cheap, about $.09 per kWh.

I'm interested in whether others have found solar panels to be a good or poor investment for them. It certainly seems to make more sense in areas with relatively expensive electricity, like Hawaii and California.

From what I remember, you can bank energy credits in Washington to be used at a later date. When your system doesn’t produce in December, you can use excess energy generated from August.

Do you calculations take that into account?

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by riverguy » Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:21 am

It only makes sense if you have ridiculous electricity rates or amazing state/local subsidies. It should tell you something that an above poster pays 39 cents for winter electricity (only about 6x what I pay!) and still has a 4 year payout after the 30% fed subsidy! Solar is entirely dependent on subsidies.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by letsgobobby » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:12 am

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simas
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by simas » Tue Aug 07, 2018 6:32 am

unfortunately no - not without a lot of other peoples money ('incentives', 'credits', and other massive disruption to proper market price for electricity like treating kW of solar as 10X more valuable than exactly same kW produced elsewhere)

I live around Chicago and was not able to see scenarios in which this would work for us..

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by likegarden » Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:21 am

I am reading that in my area it is not an obviously good investment, upstate NY. In my development no house has solar, none of the people we know have solar. In one street several miles away with less expensive houses every house has solar, though some near high trees, had probably a very good solar salesman. Also to consider is roof shingle replacement. Before putting it on your roof you might want to install new shingles there, though not really needed yet. Another aspect is that you will have another system to monitor and worry about.

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by DanMahowny » Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:34 am

I'd love to save money going to solar. I've run the numbers each year for several years. It doesn't add up. Solar is a money loser for me.

I have friends in my area that have gone solar. They definitely fudge the numbers to fit their agenda. They get very defensive when I question them. They know the truth- it's why they get defensive.

Perhaps someday solar will be a winner for me. Perhaps not.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by Luke Duke » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:01 am

beachlover wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:43 pm

In Pennsylvania, however, we can choose our electricity supplier, and there are many eco-conscious contracts available.
We are now paying $.0619 per KWH for 100% wind power from Texas. I'm pretty sure the electrons coursing through our wires didn't originate from a Texas turbine, but supposedly on the market back end that's where our electricty dollars are going.

I'm pretty sure that there's some creative marketing going on by your electric provider. Pennsylvania and Texas aren't on the same interconnection, so there aren't too many electrons flowing from Texas to Pennsylvania.
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:13 am

likegarden wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:21 am
I am reading that in my area it is not an obviously good investment, upstate NY. In my development no house has solar, none of the people we know have solar. In one street several miles away with less expensive houses every house has solar, though some near high trees, had probably a very good solar salesman. Also to consider is roof shingle replacement. Before putting it on your roof you might want to install new shingles there, though not really needed yet. Another aspect is that you will have another system to monitor and worry about.
I also live in Upstate NY and definitely agree that rooftop solar would not have been a good deal for me (slate roof, lots of lovely trees that keep my home naturally cooler that I would never want to have cut down.)

However, I bought 20 panels in a solar farm (aka "Community Solar Array") in a nearby county that is still considered to be within my utility "load zone". (I got to autograph the underside of "my" 20 panels with a Sharpie, but in fact what happens is that each month I get credited with 3.3% of the solar power generated by the entire array, and I get net metering just as if the panels were on my roof. The developer also got the same NYSERDA state credit that would have accrued for an array on my home's roof and passed that forward to me. I also get the same federal personal income tax credit as I would have gotten for a rooftop array, though not the state personal income tax credit.) I am grandfathered into 100% net retail metering credits (and any excess can be carried forwarded indefinitely, unlike rooftop home solar, where the excess can be carried forward for net retail metering from month to month but only within a year. My understanding is that new solar farms in NY will only get 95% retail net metering and it is slated to go down from there.)

I ran the numbers and decided it seemed like a good inflation-protected investment for me, since currently electric rates are going up faster than inflation, a trend that might well continue.

It went online in December. Currently, despite the hot summer (and unusually high AC demand) I have been paying only the fixed monthly charge for connection to the grid since my March bill and I have a substantial surplus of accumulated credits that can be used in the winter months when solar production will be lower.

If I move and stay within my "load zone", I can take my credits with me. I can also transfer them to anyone else I choose (e.g., the buyer of my house if I sell it or someone else who just wants to buy my credits.)

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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by F150HD » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:34 am

Whatever became of Tesla's solar roof? Great idea IMO but never hear about anyone having one. Guessing due to cost (?)

Article: Tesla Solar Roof: 8 Things You Don't Realize Until You Own One

The image shows the Tesla solar roof tile (far right) with a kettleball being dropped on it. (Can't recall if gifs are banned on this site, but If this needs to be removed, moderators just email me and I'll remove it. Quickly glanced at 'forum rules' but offhand didn't see anything)

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Solar windows....interesting article:

The Dawn of Solar Windows Future skyscrapers will harvest energy from the sun with photovoltaic windows

AT&T’s Bell Telephone Laboratories commercialized photovoltaic cells in 1954, when it unveiled its silicon-based technology. Today, rooftop solar panels still commonly use such cells. When they’re hit by photons, electrons in the silicon crystal lattice are nudged into a higher energy level, leaving a positively charged hole behind. Electrons and holes then move in opposite directions through silicon layers toward the cell’s electrodes, producing electric current.

I wonder if anyone here bought 'stock' in Bell Systems back when :)

47Percent
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by 47Percent » Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:48 am

DanMahowny wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:34 am
I'd love to save money going to solar. I've run the numbers each year for several years. It doesn't add up. Solar is a money loser for me.

I have friends in my area that have gone solar. They definitely fudge the numbers to fit their agenda. They get very defensive when I question them. They know the truth- it's why they get defensive.

Perhaps someday solar will be a winner for me. Perhaps not.
It is not just a questions of "hard" numbers for many people.

As it is there are a lot of "known unknowns" in the equation.. Future utility rates, Future interest rate to discount the savings cash flow, Future regulations re: netmetering credits, Solar panel longevity and efficiency, longevity of the roof itself, how long you will stay in the house, climate change (#cloudy days etc.), neighbor refusing to trim a tree.. .and the list goes on. Most of the calculations are done with some hardnumber inputs and after that they kind of go with their gut.

Add to this, there is this warm and fuzzy about "doing good", which you cannot capture in real dollars. You cannot poo poo it, as the satisfaction one gets from it is very real and is definitely worth something -- depending on your persuasion. It is kind of like arguing if it makes financial sense to support your mother (mother earth in this case) when she runs out of money in her retirement.

So, it is best to do what you feel works for you. No point is asking others to "defend" their decision by questioning them.

TravelGeek
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TravelGeek » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:05 am

F150HD wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:34 am
Whatever became of Tesla's solar roof? Great idea IMO but never hear about anyone having one. Guessing due to cost (?)
Here’s an interview with “one” :)

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles ... solar-roof

investingdad
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by investingdad » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 am

What about the benefit of having power in the event of a power failure? That requires a pricier system I believe?

WhyNotUs
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by WhyNotUs » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:39 am

+1
Tribonian wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:38 pm
We’re finally reaching the break even point after 16 years. For us, it was not a financial decision so much as an environmental stewardship choice which we were willing to pay a premium for.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

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F150HD
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by F150HD » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:53 am

WhyNotUs wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:39 am
+1
Tribonian wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:38 pm
We’re finally reaching the break even point after 16 years. For us, it was not a financial decision so much as an environmental stewardship choice which we were willing to pay a premium for.
Solar Panel Makers Continue To Ship Tons Of Toxic Waste Thousands Of Mile Away

National Geographic: How Green Are Those Solar Panels, Really?

The silicon used to make the vast majority of today's photovoltaic cells is abundant, but a "silicon-based solar cell requires a lot of energy input in its manufacturing process," said Northwestern's You. The source of that energy, which is often coal, he added, determines how large the cell's carbon footprint is.

Solar = good idea. Hopefully issues get remedied.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:53 am

investingdad wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 am
What about the benefit of having power in the event of a power failure? That requires a pricier system I believe?
In my case, afaik, they said that would require the installation of a $500 backup box. Obviously, in New England, I’m spending the $500.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:01 am

Add to this, there is this warm and fuzzy about "doing good", which you cannot capture in real dollars. You cannot poo poo it, as the satisfaction one gets from it is very real and is definitely worth something -- depending on your persuasion
I recently moved from suburban N.J. to the Boston area (surprisingly rural). One of the selling points for the house that we bought was the large solar field. It might have turned off some potential purchasers, but to me it was a welcomed sight.

I now use solarpower to pump water out of the ground, and return it to the ground. And, it tastes better than Poland Spring.
I now use solar power to charge my Tesla.
I am waiting for my Tesla Powerwalls and electric boiler. Plan to install heat pumps when AC units decline.

Satisfaction? Priceless.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

riverguy
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by riverguy » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:06 pm

investingdad wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 am
What about the benefit of having power in the event of a power failure? That requires a pricier system I believe?
Only if the sun is out or if you pay significantly more for batteries to store the power.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:25 pm

riverguy wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:06 pm
investingdad wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 am
What about the benefit of having power in the event of a power failure? That requires a pricier system I believe?
Only if the sun is out or if you pay significantly more for batteries to store the power.
Well, of course you need batteries if the sun isn’t out and you want to be self-sufficient. Was that not clear? I was referring to an inexpensive way to hook up to the grid that would not endanger line workers in the event of my being up while the grid is down. I think in my setup that will add $500 to the cost.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

emoore
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by emoore » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:40 pm

I'll probably be going solar in the next few months. My calculations shows that I'll break even around 7 years assuming constant utility rates (no increase for inflation). I'm doing it mainly for environmental reasons and because I'll be getting an EV or two soon. I'd like to have a battery backup but I think the prices are still too expensive right now. Hopefully I can install that later and be even less dependent on the grid.

TravelGeek
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TravelGeek » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:47 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:25 pm
Well, of course you need batteries if the sun isn’t out and you want to be self-sufficient. Was that not clear? I was referring to an inexpensive way to hook up to the grid that would not endanger line workers in the event of my being up while the grid is down. I think in my setup that will add $500 to the cost.
It was part of my of my system. Two outlets in the garage that can deliver up to 1500W each. Have never used it; the few outages since we got the system have all been relatively short. It was "free" in that it wasn't something that was broken out in the price (the entire solar system was baked into the agreed upon cost of the house). We don't have battery backup.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by unclescrooge » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:55 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:25 pm
riverguy wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:06 pm
investingdad wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 am
What about the benefit of having power in the event of a power failure? That requires a pricier system I believe?
Only if the sun is out or if you pay significantly more for batteries to store the power.
Well, of course you need batteries if the sun isn’t out and you want to be self-sufficient. Was that not clear? I was referring to an inexpensive way to hook up to the grid that would not endanger line workers in the event of my being up while the grid is down. I think in my setup that will add $500 to the cost.
Can you please explain the system that enables you to connect/disconnect to the grid at will?

My system is currently connected to the grid and I didn't know there existed a way to disconnect. In case of power failure, I'd love to be able to still use my solar power.

47Percent
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by 47Percent » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:07 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:55 pm

Can you please explain the system that enables you to connect/disconnect to the grid at will?

My system is currently connected to the grid and I didn't know there existed a way to disconnect. In case of power failure, I'd love to be able to still use my solar power.
99% of the solar installations that we usually hear about will not let you do that -- without a battery installation like the Tesla powerwall.
The utility companies require that the solar circuit be completely isolated if the utility power is not detected. This is to prevent utility workers from encountering voltage when they assume the line power is off.

Because of that you need special isolation circuitry and buffering/stabilizing mechanism to continue to power your home with solar when utility power is out. That adds to the cost and compliance that cookie cutter installers refuse to tack on to all customers as 95% of them are happy the way it is.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Is solar power for your home a worthwhile investment?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:09 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:55 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:25 pm
riverguy wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:06 pm
investingdad wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:36 am
What about the benefit of having power in the event of a power failure? That requires a pricier system I believe?
Only if the sun is out or if you pay significantly more for batteries to store the power.
Well, of course you need batteries if the sun isn’t out and you want to be self-sufficient. Was that not clear? I was referring to an inexpensive way to hook up to the grid that would not endanger line workers in the event of my being up while the grid is down. I think in my setup that will add $500 to the cost.
Can you please explain the system that enables you to connect/disconnect to the grid at will?

My system is currently connected to the grid and I didn't know there existed a way to disconnect. In case of power failure, I'd love to be able to still use my solar power.
I wish that I could explain it, but then I’d be smarter than I actually am. We just bought this house, and had 3 moderate power outages during the Nor’easters this winter. With gazillions of electrons being generated, it frosted my shorts (literally, hah!) that we had to rely on a propane generator to keep the heat running.

I specified that I wanted my solar system (PV + Powerwalls) to safely power my home in the event of a grid outage, and they said I needed a “backup panel” that would add $500.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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