I'm considering installing a solar system for my house. Does anyone on here have any experience with this?
I've done a little research but would like to do more. Anyone know of a good site or source for information on home systems?
What is the overall personal goal? Financial? Environmental? Back up power?
Not sure where you are. But a friend of mine has a solar power business in GA. They design and install.
Foxtrot Juliet Bravo
I have it and its awesome. I think the programs vary around the country but basically you pay for the panels (15 year lease in my case) but you generate enough electricity and save enough on your electric bill that the panels more than pay for themselves. They come and see how much electric you are using, look at how many panels you can fit and should be able to give you an estimate on what you will generate and how much you'll save.
In my case, before the solar my electric bills were $200 - 300 in the summer (pool, air conditioning) and that was trying to curb usage as much as possible. My solar lease payment is $109.00 a month and now my summer bills are usually only $80-120 and that is being an energy hog (I run my pool filter longer, use the AC freely, run a dehumidifier in the basement and garage, etc). You also bank credits when you generate more than you use which is typical in April & May so the heavy electric bills also start later in the season. When I lived alone, there were a lot of months that I got no electric bill because I generated more than I used. Also, energy prices go up but the lease payment stays the same. At the end of the 15 years I can either buy my system (for approx $2500-3000) or re-lease a new one. Not sure how true it is but my salesman told me that at the end of the lease to just tell them I don't wan to buy it - its not worth the labor so no one is going to send a crew to take a used 15 year old solar system down so he's never seen it happen.
Billy Duhs - BD104X@gmail.com
I have been considering it myself so I'm glad to see this come up. Being a better steward of the environment, lower bills. It's all a win in my book if I could do it. I had never heard of a lease deal. I think I will look more into it.
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I had it installed on my home last summer. In my case, we purchased the system and the monthly payment is equivalent to our average electricity bill prior to converting. With the federal tax credit and local utility incentive covering roughly half the cost, the system should pay for itself in less than 10 years.
We don't have batteries, so we are either buying or selling power depending on the sun and our power usage. There is no monthly electricity bill, but a yearly settlement depending on how much power we sold vs bought.
As stated in a reply below, my personal goal is both being a better steward of our environment, and maybe save a little money along the way.
I have become more and more concerned about the environment the last few years. I have really tried to curb my water usage even going so far as to do some xeriscaping. I take reusable bags to the supermarket for my groceries. I really believe if we would all make a little effort and a few small sacrifices it would make a lot of difference.
We have the Enphase units. Purchased with the property. We have not had an electrical bill since we moved. We are very pleased. Also using electric heat in the house vs propane.$$.. Next purchase is a new Ac/heat pump.
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A company representative is coming by house next Tuesday to talk about it and give me an estimate on putting a system in here. I’ll post agin after I talk to him.
I do not have solar panels on my house. I have considered it, but here is what concerns me.
1. If the panels are mounted on your roof, I would think that you need to make sure your roof is in very good shape (ie, install new roof) before panels are installed. Or else, you may have to remove panels to repair or replace roof later.
2. If you have to lease them at whatever price, you are still forking out that payment along with whatever the power bill will be every month. The only way to win that game is at the end of your lease and they don't come get them and you still utilize the savings.
3. What happens if your home catches fire, especially during the day when the panels are putting out electricity ? You better hope the fire dept that responds knows how to disconnect that power source before they go spraying water or trying to bust through the panels to put out the fire.
These may be dumb questions as I really didn't put much effort into actually researching this topic.
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I respect those who say it works for them. Frankly, in Illinois in winter, I very much doubt that between the length of day, snow cover, and lack of regular day sun would play well into paying for themselves. Even my buddy who is very pro solar and installs as his business admits that without incentives, the equation simply doesn't make sense.
I share the concerns about the roof. 15-20 year roof last 10-15 on the sun side as a rule today. Not to mention whatever protrusions that are needed to properly mount them so that spring storms don't tear them off the roof. And of course that nagging understanding that if it were a home run in all cases, everyone would be lined up to do it. They aren't.
If folks want to make a positive impact on the environment, and have researched what impact the manufacture of the equipment has environmentally, then of course I support their decision to do so. I really don't support my tax dollars going towards subsidizing those choices.
Foxtrot Juliet Bravo
Pretty trick switching units. What you don’t use goes into the grid. In the event of a power failure or blackout it shuts down for obvious reasons.
Bucky, even on bad days it puts out. It averages out. Ours is on the ground and the original owner got the credits. Wet cell batt backup starts at 5-8k and the Tesla Lithium units are bank! I can’t have a race car and batteries..I’m not sure about the leasing programs and penciling out.
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They do have heated panels or if you are tricky you can put heat tape on the back side to keep the snow and ice off of them.
The best thing is to have adjustable mount if at all possible so the angle of the panels can be changed from summer to winter. That may not be needed as much in some areas as it is in the Pacific Northwest. Make sure the panels are clear directly under them so any ice or snow can slide off. A coat of wax each fall helps keep the panels clear in the winter.
As Barry said, you will get power out of them even in cloudy skies.
Hard to beat the Enphase units. I also like the Outback MPPT charge controllers.
Joe, The guy who built ours over built the structure.. it’s fireman proof. I thought about a rotation table for an advantage. The units are really light weight. I found a local company Greenstock Solar to help me get up to speed. Great company. The rest of the company’s will not talk to you if they did not install.
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Here's some general info
India, S Korea, China, US & Canada make them. China's are the cheapest and least efficient and Canada's are one of the better ones. The average panel (3x6) makes between 325 to 425 watts. The all degrade over time, about 1/2% per year. Panels can last up to 25 years.
I had one company approach me a few weeks back. For a least deal, 20 years. They would install a new roof (the right way by stripping the old roof), install the panels and supporting equipment and charge me about 7 cents less per KW/Hr than I am paying now. The sized the system to 108% of my average monthly usage so for months that they product more than I use, a credit with the power company is generated and would be credited back on months where I use more that they produce. One catch was the solar company charges me on what they product, not what I use! Didn't like that so they said they would reduce the number of panels down to 100% of my average usage and stated along with the credits I'd get, the panels will degrade over time. For future years they stated that their cost would always be at least 10% lower than the power company's cost per KW/Hr.
I figure the roof job is worth 6500$ and could save 20 to 40 dollars per month average on my electric bill. So not a bad deal,, but not a windfall of savings either averaged out of 20 years.
If you considering buying them, each year the tax benefits drop so they will become less attractive,,,, but I'd bet the panel costs will drop also!! A good price should pay for itself in 6 or 7 years.
I am still on the fence... the looks don't bother me and I don't plan of moving anytime soon,,, all factors you should consider.
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I have been looking into it to for a while and here are my thoughts. There is a stupid markup on them and most will never pay themselves off.
Most places assume that they will last 30 years or more and pay themselves off. I do not expect them to last 30 years and if it takes that long to pay them off not worth it. I feel if it takes more than 8 or 9 years max to pay for themselves then it is too much. More than that Run!
Wholesale solar has them for 1/3 what you would pay to have them installed and that makes them more cost effective.
On mine most likely I will build a patio or pergola? to mount the panels on on South side of my house for two reasons. 1. It will give me a covered patio out back and shade that side of house. 2. I will not have to worry about it damaging my roof or leaks, etc.
Here in Texas the heat is the issue and major cost of electricity for cooling. So the house I am building will have very good insulation and much of the walls will be shaded. On the East side wall will have a 16 x 100 covered car port for motorhome and trailer. That will shade whole East wall. The solar panels will shade South wall. North wall will never see direct sunlight and there are some trees to shade West wall. The Barndominium will have a lot of insulation and on living quarters portion of Barndo will have 10 inches of insulation both closed cell spray foam on walls and blown in between that and sheet rock.
The other thing I will use a bunch of the mini split air conditioners in the house and in the shop. Those are a 38 SEER unit and very low cost to operate.
The whole idea of solar power is to save money and if it takes 30 years to pay off you are not really saving any money. Also to save money much of it is design of house and using most efficient use of the power.
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Glad you found a local company to work with. I doubt you would see much advantage to a rotating or adjustable mount where you are.
All of my solar stuff is on remote radio sites up on mountain tops and is the main source of power. Have generator backup with some 100 amp chargers to top the batteries off if needed.
Here at the house the East and South are blocked by a pretty good stand of 80-100 foot trees. Not much solar action going on with those things blocking a lot of the usable morning and mid-day sun.
To address some of the comments here:
*I am definitely not a tree-hugger, I did it to save money. I have no idea if the mining of the silica to make my panels was worse that the unicorns they have slaughter to make electricity.
*Your roof needs to be in good shape, a minimum of a 10-year guarantee roof done within the last 5 years I was told. I did not have to prove this but they did go up and inspect the roof before approving.
*They will do a google maps survey of your house and let you know if you have enough southern exposure and if any trees need removal or trimming to achieve it.
*I do not closely monitor my electricity use but I can tell you it definitely reduced my bill by more than I pay to lease the system (actual figures in my initial post) so it absolutely pays for itself over the lease even if I have to buy it at the end. After the panels are up, the utility company comes to install a digital two-way meter so you get credit when you generate more than you use. Before they came even on a cloudy day, you could see the dial on the conventional meter move backwards during the day because I was generating more than I was using.
*Around here I would say 20% of the homes have solar, there is a large switch labeled "alternate power source" next to my meter and only half the roof has panels so I'm sure the fire department will have it covered if my house is ablaze.
*I'm not sure about the snow belt but we get snow here in NJ. Yes, you will not generate when there is snow on the panels but they are smooth black glass so the snow usually slides off of them as soon as the sun comes out even when its below freezing and they are often clear within 2-3 days even after a heavy snow.
*The deals where they give you a new roof with it aren't really that great - it muddies the figures on both in my opinion, like when a car dealer rolls something into your monthly payment.
I'm very happy with solar and so is everyone I know who has it (3 other people so far - the guy who introduced me to it and a neighbor and co worker who got it after me), so its no skin off of my a$$ if any of you get it or not but I have to laugh as I re-read through this - with the exception of the few who are open minded enough to ask questions, all of the positive comments on here are either people who have it and are very happy or negative comments from people who DON'T have it and have little or no experience with it! Of course anyone thinking about it should do their research since I'm sure some of the stuff changes depending on where you live, but I'd want to talk to someone who HAS it and is unhappy with it! If you were contemplating attending a race and asked 10 people what they thought, are you going to trust 3 who have been there and said it was a good event or 7 who have never gone telling you why?
Billy Duhs - BD104X@gmail.com
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YouTube links to Congressman Thomas Massie's solar project with a Tesla power wall.
Tesla battery powered house and it WORKS (from start to finish)
Part 2, DIY powerwall from a wrecked Tesla Model S
Off the Grid with Thomas Massie
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Imagine this: I am the 3rd owner of my house. Original owner, builder, built it completely off the grid. Brick, 8in walls, 24in of insulation in attic, well, septic, radiant heat (from ceiling),solar panels on the roof, and a windmill also for electric. 2nd owner removed most of it, why I don't know but because of the way it is built and insulated it is very cheap to heat and cool as is. Sure wish it had been left alone.
To clarify, the solar systems I'm talking about ( and I think the OP is inquiring about) are the ones that are found on most homes today and designed to offset your electricity usage. Mine has no batteries and I lose power during an outage just like everyone else. It is not intended for "living off the grid". My understanding is a solar system like that requires way more panels & output as well as a large bank of expensive batteries. I think the people on here interested in solar are trying to save a few bucks and minimize environmental impact, not shun fellow humans.
Billy Duhs - BD104X@gmail.com
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