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Flirting With Solar

by Daisy

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Who wouldn’t love to say goodbye to their electric bill (or most of it) and get your electricity from the sun?

I think I would, but the high cost, the complexity, the fact that it always seems like the next big breakthrough in solar is just around the corner (will I be stuck with clunky outdated equipment for the life of the system?) makes me pull away every time I start to research my options.

Could I do it myself?

Will prices ever take that significant dip everyone’s always talking about?

Will it damage my house, tear up my roof, look out-of-place?

Would a smaller system that only replaced part of the household electricity be worthwhile?

I’m less concerned about the appearance than the other factors, but my south-facing roof shows to the street side of the house and I don’t want to upset the neighbors.

So I remain in analysis paralysis, occasionally getting the bug again and conducting a small flurry of research before becoming discouraged and bogged down again.

The latest analysis I had done was for an 11.8 kW system consisting of 43 panels (that sounds like a LOT of panels to me), a 10000 Solar Edge inverter, Solar Edge Optimizers and System.

Gross cost before incentives $32,995

Net cost after incentives $23,097

Net savings over 20 years $21,225

Average monthly bill $2

There’s a lot about the above that I don’t understand. OK, most of it is beyond me.

Mostly I see the bottom line, and it gives me heartburn. I’m waiting for the invisible solar that costs a tenth of the current prices. And for installation to become local–$1500 of the price is travel and lodging for the installation professionals.

Have you flirted with solar?

Do you have solar?

I’d love your thoughts, experiences, and advice.


Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

RE November 18, 2016 at 4:22 am

I have flirted with solar, I had even contacted 2 companies to come and give me an estimated… one of them decided that it wouldn’t be feasible for them to even come and the other after they do their calculations decided that we don’t consume enough energy to really make a difference with the solar power… plus we might have to potentially have to install a new roof. It was a no go for me.
I have considered that when I have to change the roof (depending on cost) I will look into Tesla’s glass solar cells… they look like a plain roof with the solar panels into them without having big ol’ panels

Daisy November 18, 2016 at 6:21 am

RE–Your experience sounds similar to mine. I saw the Tesla roof. Wow. It this is true, what an innovation:

Jeff Atnip November 18, 2016 at 9:47 am

Last time I checked on this, the efficiency (how much electricity you get versus the expense and maintenance) of solar panels was still just not good enough to make them a wise investment. From what I have heard, the minute you install them, they start accumulating dust, which cuts their efficiency even more. For supplemental uses, they might be good…such as charging a battery for a nighttime light for a shed. I looked into this and was disappointed by the bad Amazon reviews of the quality.

As I have said before…all the good stuff is 5 years away.

Claire November 18, 2016 at 11:54 am

I know you shouldn’t consider it until after you replace the roof (since replacing the shingles would be hard to do after the fact). We just spent a ton of money on the roof with a great warranty. I don’t know if having solar panels installed on top of the roof would void the roof warranty we just paid so dearly for.

Yes, the upfront cost has been too much for me too.

I do wish our HOA would have let us choose very light-colored shingles, which were Energy Star rated and supposed to lower your electric bill since it absorbs less heat in the summer (it gets so hot here!).

Mattie November 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Try this article:

It does a breakdown and it seems adding them while your home is being built is the best deal. Can’t someone just give me a windmill?

Daisy November 19, 2016 at 5:40 am

Claire–I think you’re right. We’re hoping to get another five years out of this roof, and the price breakdown even without factoring the cost of a roof is just not adding up. Like you, we’re looking around for other ways to improve on our energy consumption, but it all seems to add up fast.

Daisy November 19, 2016 at 6:03 am

Mattie–Great article, thanks for sharing. Windmill, geothermal, passive solar, so many things we don’t take advantage of. It’s a numbers game.

Paulette Bellamy November 19, 2016 at 7:06 pm

We had a company come and we did sign up with them. SunRun is the company. Check this for a rating:
No up front cost, and our monthly will run less than what we had paid before, even using the even payment plan. It isn’t a lease nor a buy. Panels will be theirs at the end of 20 yrs. Cost will go up by 3% yearly, if I remember correctly. We are waiting for now because the city decided all homes with a certain electrical panel have to have them replaced due to some defect. SunRun is paying for that even though it wasn’t their fault! The deal seems really good. And the high rating seems to support that. Good luck.

Daisy November 19, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Paulette Bellamy–Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check them out.

robin November 25, 2016 at 11:46 am

We installed solar last winter after watching how solar was progressing and “flirting” with it for over 15 years. We have no regrets. We live 10 minutes south of the Canadian border in Washington State on the coast. We have very few not cloudy days. The first winter, the panels paid for over 50% of our electric bills from December of 2015 until April 2016 came, at which time we had no electric bills until this November 2016, when we got our first bill for 1/3 of what our normal cost had been before solar. We also run an automotive shop on the same electric bill which uses the more electricity compared to our house. The final cost to install was $30,000, with a $10,000 tax rebate the first year, a $5,000 tax rebate the following year and we also received a $3,000 check in October for the extra electricity we made and sold back over the summer. Our system should be paid off in about 5 years at this rate of return. We were spurred to do this by two of our neighbors who installed systems the previous year and loved the results and payback. One of those neighbors is a couple with no children who live in a smaller home (1500 sq. feet) and they have not had an electric bill since installing. Research the company you use first. We thoroughly trusted ours and our panels are made here in Washington State. I say go for it. You won’t regret it.

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