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We paid cash for our 12.5 kW system. Bills were running $330/mo. Now we produce excess power and pay only the minimum $18/mo. Most of the incentives in our area have dried up and the power company has introduced a $5/kW/mo fee, meaning if we weren't grandfathered in, we'd be paying an additional $62.50 fee every month just to be connected to the grid. There are a lot of fine details to take into account.

In 2009 we had the 30% federal tax credit, $1000 state tax credit, $3 per Watt power company rebate. That all added up to a whole lot of incentives and a 7-year payback calculation for our out-of-pocket expenses. It isn't as favorable now.
 

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I looked at financing, 4.99%
Unfortunately we use a lot of power, so it's a big system. The system is 1676 monthly and 20,111 annual. 60 (lol!) panels, and about 53k before taxes.
We have 2 volts, so that doesn't help. Our bills run over 300 in the summer and will probably run 176ish in the winter, I haven't seen a winter yet with the cars.
I can prefun the 30% credit and finance it out at $254 a month.

I'm struggling to see any financial benefit to doing so and only see downsides. Selling the house gets more complicated unless I pay off the loan myself and try and increase the asking price of the house, but I'm unsure what resale value solar really adds in the long run and unsure if now is the time with prices still falling pretty rapidly.

Any thoughts?
I have solar. It is awesome. I paid cash. You asked for advice. Here it is.

1) Conserve first (this has the fastest payback)
2) Become debt free (other than your home) *** (there are exception to this as you may want to pay off your home too)
3) Save for solar, pay cash.
 

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These guys may be price gouging. Especially if the $53K is after the 30% federal tax credit. I would recommend the following:

1. Shop around for a rock-bottom price. Solar companies are getting desperate. I think you can do much better.
2. Get SunPower panels. Mine are 10 years old and still going strong. A friend of mine got Sharp panels at the same time and 7 years later some of them failed, and the warranty did not cover the failure. Yeah they cost more, but SunPower has the industry's best warranty, and also yields the most power per square foot of all brands. They just keep on going.
3. Beware of changing utility rates and solar policies. Your break-even calculations today will almost certainly be thwarted in the near future as the power companies have grown to hate solar for obvious reasons (despite their PR cheerleading about it). So have the average (non-solar) rate payers.

Number 3 is the biggest concern. When I installed my system 10 years ago I was already worried about this. Sure enough, in my area PG&E is reworking all their rate structures and due to that alone, my bill has already gone up from about $30/month last year, to now $70/month. They phased out the E7 rate class, which really made solar "shine" dollar-wise.
 

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Is TOU metering an option for you? You could potentially shift a lot of your energy use to off peak hours and save some decent money with that kind of electricity usage.
 

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I join in most solar threads to just check in on pricing. Unless the produced $/kwh is < 6c, I can't justify building a system. Last time I checked (for a reasonable 10-year payback) the $/kwh was 20c. Still around there?

I do use a serious amount of daytime power in summer in Texas. Somewhere around 2,000kwh or more depending on HVAC and pool use. My bill can go above $300 easily in summer months.

The other thing I gotta worry about is hail and wind storm damage. Is the system covered under homeowners?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
These guys may be price gouging. Especially if the $53K is after the 30% federal tax credit. I would recommend the following:

1. Shop around for a rock-bottom price. Solar companies are getting desperate. I think you can do much better.
2. Get SunPower panels. Mine are 10 years old and still going strong. A friend of mine got Sharp panels at the same time and 7 years later some of them failed, and the warranty did not cover the failure. Yeah they cost more, but SunPower has the industry's best warranty, and also yields the most power per square foot of all brands. They just keep on going.
3. Beware of changing utility rates and solar policies. Your break-even calculations today will almost certainly be thwarted in the near future as the power companies have grown to hate solar for obvious reasons (despite their PR cheerleading about it). So have the average (non-solar) rate payers.

Number 3 is the biggest concern. When I installed my system 10 years ago I was already worried about this. Sure enough, in my area PG&E is reworking all their rate structures and due to that alone, my bill has already gone up from about $30/month last year, to now $70/month. They phased out the E7 rate class, which really made solar "shine" dollar-wise.
53k was before the incentive.


I'll just scrap the idea and drive on coal power. I really don't care.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Is TOU metering an option for you? You could potentially shift a lot of your energy use to off peak hours and save some decent money with that kind of electricity usage.

Yes, but it's not that beneficial

On-Peak Hours: 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. Energy Charge: $0.15075
Off-Peak Hours: 10 p.m. – 2 p.m. Energy Charge: $0.05601
Facility Charge: $19.00/month
Sundays considered off-peak
Off-Peak Holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day

I pay 10.4 cents per kwh on my current plan. Wih a 5 ton AC running continuously from noon to 10 in the summer, .15 cents will hurt a lot
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have solar. It is awesome. I paid cash. You asked for advice. Here it is.

1) Conserve first (this has the fastest payback)
2) Become debt free (other than your home) *** (there are exception to this as you may want to pay off your home too)
3) Save for solar, pay cash.
:rolleyes:

thanks dad, I already am.
it's that pesky airplane that drags my finances.
 

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I use a serious amount of daytime power in summer in Texas. Somewhere around 2,000kwh or more depending on HVAC and pool use. My bill can go above $300 easily in summer months.
Do you cool your pool in the summer? Wow, that's quite a concept to this Minnesotan who has never experienced a pool that was too warm.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Do you cool your pool in the summer? Wow, that's quite a concept to this Minnesotan who has never experienced a pool that was too warm.

just judging from how much power the 5000 gph pump on my pond draws I'd imagine the filter draws a lot too.
 

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The other thing I gotta worry about is hail and wind storm damage. Is the system covered under homeowners?
I asked this question just the other day. It should be part of your homeowner's policy, as long as you've raised the coverage limit to reflect the added value from the array. I live in a condominium townhouse, and while most exterior items are covered by the association's master policy, my personal solar array wouldn't be...I would have to include it in my personal property coverage.

Also, some panels are made with tempered glass, but not all.

--Chris
 

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I asked this question just the other day. It should be part of your homeowner's policy, as long as you've raised the coverage limit to reflect the added value from the array. I live in a condominium townhouse, and while most exterior items are covered by the association's master policy, my personal solar array wouldn't be...I would have to include it in my personal property coverage.

Also, some panels are made with tempered glass, but not all.

--Chris
This is not as easy to answer as some might think. This depends on policy AND where the panels are located. You should consult your individual insurance company as this vary from company to company.
 

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I join in most solar threads to just check in on pricing. Unless the produced $/kwh is < 6c, I can't justify building a system. Last time I checked (for a reasonable 10-year payback) the $/kwh was 20c. Still around there?

I do use a serious amount of daytime power in summer in Texas. Somewhere around 2,000kwh or more depending on HVAC and pool use. My bill can go above $300 easily in summer months.

The other thing I gotta worry about is hail and wind storm damage. Is the system covered under homeowners?
Since San Antonio does not participate in the deregulation scheme, if you live in the utility's service area you're automatically a customer. Currently, our "All-In" rate is ~10.5 cents/kWh. That puts me on track for ~9 years parity compared to having done nothing at all. After that, we're in the bonus round.

We're cooling a little over 2,000 sqft. w/pool and spa. And like you, bill had historically been north of $300/mo. for 6 months of the year with peaks above $450 for a few of them. And that was before also adding the Volt.

Per our loan requirements, our homeowner's policy also had to be increased to include the array. A spring hail storm devastated a few arrays in other parts of town, but fortunately, not ours. We had zero damage from the golf ball-sized hail at our place. The owner of a damaged array told me that the hail in their area was about baseball size. Our rental property 5 houses away sustained ~$9K in hail damage - with no panels in place.
 

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Do you cool your pool in the summer? Wow, that's quite a concept to this Minnesotan who has never experienced a pool that was too warm.
LOL!

Yeah, it's nearly the same concept as having to cool it. Our 2 HP pump can add ~$60/mo to our bill. Not running the pump often enough can cost you even more in required remediation maintenance. I don't know about the DFW area, but in South Texas, many of us never close our pools for winter because that doesn't happen down here. We were below 32*F for less than 24 hrs. all last winter season this past year.

Our grands come over to swim as late as November and as early as April.
 
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