GM Volt Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just purchased a new 2014 Volt to get the benefit of zero% finance that wasn't offered on the 2015 models. The car is quiet and peppy. It is quite low to the ground, so have to watch that and I am still getting used to the console. It is a little complicated, but after a week am figuring out most things.

I am retired and now living in a mild coastal climate. My usual driving is limited to the electric range on the Volt, so I am happy with the green aspect. Live in CA and I should qualify for maximum Fed tax credit and 1500 CA air quality tax credit. Electric is not cheap where we live--especially when you get into the upper pricing tiers and I only have 110 outlet for charging. I am looking at getting a 220 charging station installed in my garage, but also considering a solar collector for extra savings. Our home is new and we plan to be here for the remainder of our days. I am now monitoring electric use to get a baseline for determining the best solution.

I was going to use my tax refunds and money I had saved for a down payment on the vehicle to finance a solar solution. If anyone has info on this, I would appreciate input.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,957 Posts
First you have 3 choices as to solar install

1. lease and pay a reduce amount for your power.
2. prepay lease where for X dollars you get Y years of usage
3. Buy outright.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,101 Posts
I would suggest contacting Solar City.

See: http://www.solarcity.com
Financially speaking, leasing solar isn't the best move. If you can afford the investment, just buy it outright, you'll save far more in the long run.
I'm sure there are plenty of local installers who are more than happy to help you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
I recently installed solar on my house. But in IL, not CA, so I can't speak to the state incentives.

With CA being the hotbed of solar installations, there should be plenty of installers available. You might just look online to find a local installer with positives reviews.

As for the leasing option through SolarCity... as emartin00 mentioned, it's likely not as financial advantageous over the long-term vs buying. That said, lots of people choose leasing over buying since there's less to worry about with the leasing company taking care of any maintenance or unexpected repairs (as infrequent as they might be). To each their own though.

I would add, whether or not you go ahead with solar, you might also want to take a look at the various electric rate options that are available. I believe PG&E has a couple EV-specific rate plans, as well as a time-of-use plan.

After I got my solar system installed, I switched my house to a time-of-use (or "real time") pricing plan. There are some quirks on the bill, but overall it seems to make good sense, especially paired with an EV. I can sell my excess solar energy back into the grid at peak prices and charge my Volt at night at off-peak rates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
iI you can afford to buy/finance your solar rather than lease it from Solar City or similar, you'll be better off in the long run. If you lease, you'll never own your panels outright so there will always be a lease payment on top of your electric bill. If you finance and pay it off they're yours to keep and benefit from the free electric they offer. Sure there may be some maintenance, but in our minds it was a better deal to buy.

Do your homework to see what's available in your area and who offers the best deal and installation. We found some lower cost installers cared more about the overall system than the finer points such as aesthetics and installation. Our installers took great care to lay out a symmetrical pattern of panels so they'd be pleasing to the eye as well as supply the power we needed. They also worked hard to hide every bit of conduit inside our roof. We've seen other houses with silver conduit snaking across the roof and down the side to the inverter. Not pretty.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,188 Posts
Not everyone can afford the upfront cost of installing a Solar system. It also depends a lot on what your local utility is charging you per kWh and how your driving will affect your Tier rates.

Solar City will offer to analyze your power bill and give you several options. In most cases they can save you money over what you pay now for electricity and they handle 100% of the maintenance and installation cost. So no... you may not save as much as buying and installing & maintaining your own system at your own cost. (But it'a slo less risk.) You will not be required to pay for maintenance of the system and you can have a guaranteed utility rate locked in for a 20 year period that's lower than you pay now. They even warranty your roof from leaks.

So in a nutshell... Solar City may not give you the biggest savings over the long run but it's easy to get into and it's very low risk. Either way you cut the same amount of Co2 out of the atmosphere... And that's good for everyone.

I think Solar City is a good option for some people who may not have the spare cash to pay for a new system. In my case I could not get my HOA to go along with the installation. But the people at Solar City were very professional & helpful without being pushy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,068 Posts
Recently, I installed a 5kW system on our house and am getting ready to add another 2.5kW to this. I am retired so my time is cheap and enjoy doing this type of project. The cost for us was around$11k not counting my time. All of my solar equipment came from California, not much was reasonably priced here. I used Enphase microinverters and it is really simple to use. If you are handy it is a fun project.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
409 Posts
I concure with those saying to avoid leasing (i.e. Solar City) if you can. Because of the way tax laws work, the leasing company makes a lot of money and they share a small piece of their profit so you come out just a little better than the utility rates. So its an okay deal for you and a great deal for the lease company. Solar City and Sun Run are the two big leasing companies. Many of the more reputable local guys who do leasing are actually using Sun Run leases.

If you have the assets, purchase is by far the best way to go financially. Find an experienced installer in your area with good references who has been in business for wa while. Assuming will put it on your roof, look into the installers experience with roofing. Some installers do roofing as well, not just solar. Ask others locally who installed their solar. After the federal tax credit you should be able to get a reasonable size roof top system purchased and insalled for under $2 per Watt.

Regardless of which way you go, lease or purchase, keep in mind that the all the sales guys will exagerate the payback, some more than others. I have yet found one that considers the time value of money (what could my money earn if invested instead of buying solar). Most if not all will also exagerate the inflation price of utility electric. Numbers around 5% per year are often used, but historically over an extended period of time, 10 years or more, this is rarely the case. Check your utility's history to see what increases have averaged. The other thing they do is treat your entire bill as if its usage based and in theory could go away if you make enough electricity. But many utilities have a base fee which covers admiistration, meters, etc. which you will always get billed, regardless of how much electricity you generate. Also look at how the utility handles months where you generate more electricity than you use.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,130 Posts
The "low to the ground" feeling of the Volt most likely is attributed to the flexible air dam under the front bumper. This device improves the aerodynamics of the car, helping improve mileage, particularly at higher speeds where air drag can really impact range. The device is designed to be flexible, and taking speed bumps and starting up sloping driveways at an angle will help reduce the scraping.

Many solar contractors in my Portland, OR, area (and probably in yours, too) offer a free analysis of your home’s potential. Solar City’s initial estimate was that 75-85% of my monthly electricity needs could be met by a solar panel array on my roof. Their offer would place their unit on my roof and sign me to a 20-year contract for the electricity it would supply. Most of the incentives for installing new photovoltaic systems in Oregon benefit the system owner (sort of like the Fed tax credit and leasing vs buying a new Volt). After a month of being unable to get more than an approximate Solar City price for the System Purchase Option, I contacted a local contractor. He confirmed my roof’s generating potential, and quoted a lower price. Although I didn’t need it, my state solar installation incentive providers were also a source of information on financing such projects. My system is now up and running, and if the contractor’s proposal numbers are accurate, I’m paying about 1.7 cents/kWh to recharge my Volt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,504 Posts
...

Most if not all will also exagerate the inflation price of utility electric. Numbers around 5% per year are often used, but historically over an extended period of time, 10 years or more, this is rarely the case. Check your utility's history to see what increases have averaged. The other thing they do is treat your entire bill as if its usage based and in theory could go away if you make enough electricity. But many utilities have a base fee which covers admiistration, meters, etc. which you will always get billed, regardless of how much electricity you generate. Also look at how the utility handles months where you generate more electricity than you use.

Good luck.
Our utility's rate inflation worked out to an average of 3.8%/annually for the 8 years I had statements for before our purchase. We're paid a wholesale rate [for now - the whole plan is changing for new installs sometime next year] for over-production that will take our total bill to a true $0.00, but takes about 400-500 kWh to nibble away those fees completely. As others have already said, utility plans range from here to there and points in-between.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,156 Posts
Solar is a great idea in CA because our rates are high AND for the next 20 years you can take advantage of a grid tie arrangement. For example, in SDG&E territory that allows you to sell at $.46/kWh and charge at $.16/kWh. I realize you're not in SDG&E territory but the principle is the same. Should bring down your rates considerably.

I'd be agnostic about the buying/leasing decision. Just depends on what the options are. Either will work. You get a 30% tax credit which is not subject to the AMT. The price before the credit should be about $4.50/watt and a watt should generate 1.5 kWh/year. IOW a 4 kW system should generate 6000 kWh/year. I bought but I've had friends who later leased. They got great deals. Better than mine. The price you pay for being early. LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
California is looking to change the net-metering laws after 2016. Solar may not be all it is cracked up to be in a couple years there.

First, you can solve your concerns probably simply by adding a Time of Use rate meter to the car for overnight charging. Then don't charge during the day. See if your power company offers TOU rate plans for EVs. You may have to buy the 2nd meter, but it is worth it for those who did.

Unless you have perfect sky and can assure yourself of ROI, I would avoid Solar (unless you don't mind the expense as a hobby). I bought my 8.1kW Solar array, primarily as a hobby. I liked the inverters so much, I bought stock in the company, at the time (PowerOne). The stock appreciation almost paid for my solar system when the company was bought out by ABB. That is called luck. Not everyone pulls this off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Nobody has mentioned that when you lease solar and you sign that 20 year contract what will happen if you want to sell your home. (I know you said you will spend the rest of your days there, but you never know). The new buyer will have to agree to the solar system on the roof and to the contract. Also if you have anything down the road that blocks the panels (like trees growing) the solar company has the right to cut them down because your contract was for a certain amount of production.

The installer I went with (installed a 3.3 kw system w/ micro inverters) quoted me 2% inflation on electric costs. When all is said and down I will own the system in less than four years. The system was 13k installed, received around $2700 upfront from the Oregon Energy Trust, so I paid out of pocket $10,300. Federal tax credit is 30% and the state is $1500 a year for four years (max of $6000). The net cost to me is $1325 but after four years the system will produce that much power. So after around four years I will get all my investment back. The way I figure it, because the electricity I am producing is not replacing electricity but gas, I will get my $1325 back in just a few months. (two electric cars)

The ROI over twenty years is something like 36%. If you have money sitting in a money market or CD, this is a pretty good deal depending upon your state credits. A friend of mine who just retired from his solar electric business told me this analogy: imagine that you could buy a factory and after four years you would get all of your money back (guaranteed) and then for the next 20 or so years you get a check from that factory every month. Would you buy the factory? Good luck in your decision.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,416 Posts
The ROI over twenty years is something like 36%. If you have money sitting in a money market or CD, this is a pretty good deal ......
Not to rain on the parade, but 36% over 20 years is a weak ROI compared with traditional investments. If you have money in CDs you're an investment chump (not meant to be an insult) and money market is a temporary place to hold cash - not an investment opportunity of any substance.

As a hedge against rising electricity prices it could make perfect sense to go with solar. It's impossible to calculate what that ROI would be though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Just purchased a new 2014 Volt to get the benefit of zero% finance that wasn't offered on the 2015 models. The car is quiet and peppy. It is quite low to the ground, so have to watch that and I am still getting used to the console. It is a little complicated, but after a week am figuring out most things.

I am retired and now living in a mild coastal climate. My usual driving is limited to the electric range on the Volt, so I am happy with the green aspect. Live in CA and I should qualify for maximum Fed tax credit and 1500 CA air quality tax credit. Electric is not cheap where we live--especially when you get into the upper pricing tiers and I only have 110 outlet for charging. I am looking at getting a 220 charging station installed in my garage, but also considering a solar collector manufactured in solar panels factory for extra savings. Our home is new and we plan to be here for the remainder of our days. I am now monitoring electric use to get a baseline for determining the best solution.

I was going to use my tax refunds and money I had saved for a down payment on the vehicle to finance a solar solution. If anyone has info on this, I would appreciate input
.
I have seen many guys using solar solutions but personally I dont have any experience.. I will try to contact my friend hope he will be able to provide some useful information..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
Californian to Californian - installing a solar system is a great idea. Even better if you can do the work yourself or with minimal help from a licensed electrician. Unfortunately, state incentives are pretty much tapped out and may not be available at any level before too long. However, the federal incentives (30% of installed price as a tax credit that can be carried over if not fully used in a single year) are still in effect and very worthwhile. However, you only get the credit if "you" buy the system. If SolarCity, Verengo, or someone else leases the system to you or sets up a power buy-back then they get the credit - not you. Also, the idea that you get better monitoring and service by leasing is ludicrous - Here in CA the minimum required warranty on a solar installation qualifying for incentives is 10 years - and most panels are warranted for 20-25 years by the manufacturer - just how much "additional" coverage are you getting via the lease? Enough to justify the continuing costs? Personally, if you can arrange it you should just buy the system outright. Of course when sizing the system, don't forget to include enough capacity to charge one or two electric cars - Edison/PGE/etc. can't say no if this is specified in the grid tie application and until such time as you do get your car(s) and start consuming the extra electricity you're making, your power company is required to offer you either credits or cash for your extra power (they don't pay squat, but they do pay).

Now, as to installation details - seriously look into a system based on microinverters (one inverter per panel is best). That way if anything ever happens to a panel or to the inverter, you only lose the output from that one panel, not an entire branch. Also, if you ever decide to expand the system you can do so simply and will not need to replace your inverter - which you would most likely have to do with a conventional multiple panel/single inverter system. It may cost a bit more but it buys a good bit of reliability. Additionally, most microinverter companies have a system monitor that will collect information on your panels and monitor their performance. This gives you a very good lock on the health and performance of each panel/inverter in your system. And finally, buy the best panels with the best warranty you can afford (I'm partial to Sunpower but they are relatively expensive). Look for not only initial output but output after initial run-in and degradation over 20-25 year time span. All important.

One last thing to note - if you can do wind power that's also worth a look - although it may cost a bit more and is definitely limited to areas with good wind and sufficient land to support an installation. After all - you can only make solar power when the sun shines - but the wind can blow all day (or not). My recommendation for a wind turbine is a Bergey Excel. Best in terms of maintenance and output for residential usage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,188 Posts
Nobody has mentioned that when you lease solar and you sign that 20 year contract what will happen if you want to sell your home. (I know you said you will spend the rest of your days there, but you never know). The new buyer will have to agree to the solar system on the roof and to the contract. Also if you have anything down the road that blocks the panels (like trees growing) the solar company has the right to cut them down because your contract was for a certain amount of production.

The installer I went with (installed a 3.3 kw system w/ micro inverters) quoted me 2% inflation on electric costs. When all is said and down I will own the system in less than four years. The system was 13k installed, received around $2700 upfront from the Oregon Energy Trust, so I paid out of pocket $10,300. Federal tax credit is 30% and the state is $1500 a year for four years (max of $6000). The net cost to me is $1325 but after four years the system will produce that much power. So after around four years I will get all my investment back. The way I figure it, because the electricity I am producing is not replacing electricity but gas, I will get my $1325 back in just a few months. (two electric cars)

The ROI over twenty years is something like 36%. If you have money sitting in a money market or CD, this is a pretty good deal depending upon your state credits. A friend of mine who just retired from his solar electric business told me this analogy: imagine that you could buy a factory and after four years you would get all of your money back (guaranteed) and then for the next 20 or so years you get a check from that factory every month. Would you buy the factory? Good luck in your decision.
Actually Solar City has a lease transfer program. According to the representative over 99% of home sales have resulted in the new owner taking over the lease. Not saying it's a guarantee... But they do have a transfer program in place for that scenario.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,188 Posts
The "low to the ground" feeling of the Volt most likely is attributed to the flexible air dam under the front bumper. This device improves the aerodynamics of the car, helping improve mileage, particularly at higher speeds where air drag can really impact range.
The Volt's ground clearance is close to the legal minimum of about 4 inches. But it's similar to the ground clearance of many economy cars like the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The Volt does have a flexible Air dam on the front that helps with aerodynamics. But so do many other economy cars these days. Pretty standard fare these days. The Volt is not significantly lower than most high MPG cars.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top