Poll

Should I go solar?

Yes 10 kW String
2 (50%)
Yes .84 kW Micro
0 (0%)
NO!
2 (50%)

Total Members Voted: 4

Author Topic: POLL: Should I go solar?  (Read 497 times)

Swish

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POLL: Should I go solar?
« on: July 16, 2018, 10:51:34 AM »
I am debating going solar and am looking for some input :)

Currently we have a rebate of 20% offered by the local power utility on the cost of a system so long as it is installed by November. After that the program is being cancelled. Right off the bat we are looking at a 10ish kWh system.

My monthly cost per kWh is $0.14228 with a connection charge of $22.79. Last year we averaged 894.5 kWh per month for our home with three adults and three children. This was our 12 mo average but since February we have made a conscious effort to reduce consumption and the highest monthly since has been 958 kWh with the last six months average of 613 kWh.

I did get a few quotes for my home and the price came in around $36k with $7.2 off in rebates for a total of $28.8k.

After getting the spec sheet I priced out all the same components and believe I can build a similar system for less than $15k. The rebate would only be $3000 (so $12k ish total) at that cost and I would have to do the work myself. This is the route I am leaning towards as I am having a hard time understanding what the other $20k+ the installer is charging for on a one day install.

The utility has a net metering program where I can get credits for pumping any excess back into the grid to use against any months I am short production. Unfortunately they will not buy excess back and the credits expire at the end of the year.

In theory I should be able to buy a smaller system now that our annual usage is on track for only 7363 kWh per year.

If I downsize the system to 8400 W it reduces the cost to $11,792 or $9433 after rebate. By November I should be able to save up $4-5,000 towards the system. Would throw the rest on a LOC and then pay off over next year which should be easier as I would be saving $1050 per year at our new consumption rate and more than $1800 at our previous use. 

The only reason I am thinking about doing it sooner than having the cash on hand is because the government rebate is disappearing this year.

Are Micro Inverters worth the additional cost?

280W panels seem to have the best price per watt. This is the Canadian site I am pricing out kits/components at if any one wants to dive further into the weeds:

https://www.solarwholesaler.ca

Thanks in advance for any feedback/input!
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 11:22:36 AM by Swish »

GuitarStv

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Re: Should I go solar?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2018, 11:15:13 AM »
Are Micro Inverters worth the additional cost?

We went with micro inverters, and chose to do so for the following reasons:

- If there's a part of a single panel that's being shaded by a leaf that blows on to it, you will lose power from each panel on the string with a regular inverter until that leaf blows off.  If something goes wrong with a single panel, you lose the entire string without micro-inverters.
- You can get power output results from each panel with micro-inverters . . . so if something goes wrong with a panel, you're immediately able to see which one it is and shouldn't have to spend as much time debugging.
- If something goes wrong with a panel on a string inverter, you lose the entire string.  If something goes wrong with a micro-inverter, your other panels keep producing electricity while you figure out how to fix the one that went down.
- Micro-inverters do the energy conversion on the roof, so you don't have to worry about high voltage wires running down the side of your house.  The power coming from the micro-inverters is very low voltage.
- It's easier to add additional panels in the future if you desire with micro-inverters.
- Installation is easier/faster because there's no DC electrical work.
- The warranty for the string inverters was less than half that offered for the micro-inverters we got.

The price difference when we were looking was pretty small between string and micro-inverters, so it seemed like a no-brainer.

jlcnuke

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Re: POLL: Should I go solar?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2018, 11:59:06 AM »
How long are you planning on staying in the house?

Swish

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Re: POLL: Should I go solar?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2018, 12:10:17 PM »
@jlcnuke So far our pattern has been to buy a house live there 5-6 years then rent it out. This home is a pretty good fit for us though so as of right now we are not planning to move again til FIRE as it is only a mile from my job.

robartsd

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Re: Should I go solar?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2018, 12:47:36 PM »
Your payback period is on the order of 10 years ($9433/(613kWh/mo*$.14228/kWh) = 108.15 months) before opportunity costs. I don't think I'd consider it as a financial investment.

Curious about your net metering points expiration; do the credits get reset at a fixed calendar month or is the credit balance capped at the rolling sum of credits earned in past 12 months?

Swish

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Re: Should I go solar?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2018, 01:13:45 PM »
Your payback period is on the order of 10 years ($9433/(613kWh/mo*$.14228/kWh) = 108.15 months) before opportunity costs. I don't think I'd consider it as a financial investment.

Curious about your net metering points expiration; do the credits get reset at a fixed calendar month or is the credit balance capped at the rolling sum of credits earned in past 12 months?

The credits have a fixed date. I believe it is March 30th every year any unused credits are reset to $0.00 then you begin accruing them over the year. No cheques are issued they just zero out the balance.

secondcor521

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Re: POLL: Should I go solar?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2018, 01:29:14 PM »
Do you get any government credits to lower the cost?  We have some here down south of you, both federal and state.

I've looked into it myself a couple of times.  I think self-install if you have the skills is the way to go - just have an electrician who is willing to review your work maybe.  I also agree on the micro-inverter recommendation.

I'd consider installing a system that is a bit less than your annual usage.  When doing so, don't forget to account for the amount of sun you get, efficiency losses, etc.  The reasons for going a bit less:  lower initial install cost, you can maybe improve your usage habits or overall efficiency over time, you can add on a panel or two later, you don't have to worry about losing your net-metering credits, and around here at least, people suspect net metering will be going away.

One other thought I've had - as solar is a bit more mainstream now, people might be willing to pay more for a house with a recent system installed.  So of your $12K install cost, maybe you get $6K back in a higher selling price when you leave the house.  Check with a realtor on this maybe.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 01:30:47 PM by secondcor521 »

chasingthegoodlife

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Re: POLL: Should I go solar?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2018, 02:05:39 PM »
The cost of your system seems very high even self installed. Australian here (where everything seems to be more expensive) and our electrician has given us a rough estimate of $8k for a good quality system fully installed, though it’s been a while since we discussed it and I can’t remember the specifics about panels. The power company will buy our excess but for a much lower rate than they will sell to us so the credit system might work out better unless you are confident of generating a net surplus.

We have more pressing projects (fixer upper) so have put it off for now - I suspect the technology is only going to get better and better over the next few years.

Financially the numbers don’t seem compelling for you. Maybe if you were planning to also increase your usage - eg our friends with solar can crank the air conditioning all day ‘guilt free’.

robartsd

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Re: Should I go solar?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2018, 02:10:10 PM »
The credits have a fixed date. I believe it is March 30th every year any unused credits are reset to $0.00 then you begin accruing them over the year. No cheques are issued they just zero out the balance.
That date would suck here as the highest electricity use is usually summer air conditioning. I guess being much further north you get less sun in the winter and might not need as much cooling in the summer so it might work out better there.

- Micro-inverters do the energy conversion on the roof, so you don't have to worry about high voltage wires running down the side of your house.  The power coming from the micro-inverters is very low voltage.
I don't think the terminology is right here. I'm pretty sure the voltage is increased in the inverter - I certainly expect the voltage coming out to be line voltage not "very low voltage". Low voltage is inefficient for transmission because it requires more current to transmit the same power and line loss is approximately proportional to current. Higher current requires bigger conductors, higher voltage requires better insulation.