Author Topic: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?  (Read 2616 times)

TheAnonOne

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Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« on: August 12, 2019, 01:41:11 PM »
Hello,

I got a new house, it is pretty large and fancy :)

This is my first home that is a 'single family' and I am interested in offsetting my electricity. I have not even received the first power bill but I imagine they will be 150-300 a month. I also drive an electric car (volt) which costs $30ish a month to charge.

I think I am a good candidate for solar but living in MN it might not be the best state for it.

That being said... where do I start? Is it worth doing this DIY? Back of the napkin math for a $200 average energy bill translates to a nearly 20KW system. Is this right?

So... Many... Questions!!! Anyway, very excited to learn more!

Aunt Petunia

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 01:51:54 PM »
It wouldn't hurt to get a free estimate from a solar company. There's too many variables to figure it out otherwise: roof direction and pitch, height and number of trees , cost of power, rebate/ incentive from power company, increase in facility charge, local permits, etc.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 02:13:51 PM »
It wouldn't hurt to get a free estimate from a solar company. There's too many variables to figure it out otherwise: roof direction and pitch, height and number of trees , cost of power, rebate/ incentive from power company, increase in facility charge, local permits, etc.

I signed up to get a few calls and estimates from companies. The estimates listed online seem insane (25k->40k) but I guess that's only the cost a nicer newer car these days and it will actually pay me back.


Cadman

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 05:15:06 PM »
Financial Considerations first:
1. What are your local utility's rules on grid connection?  Power gen cap? Credits & payback rules, etc. If it'll take decades for payback, forget it.
2. Investigate any rebates available to offset installation cost. A lot of these have dried up now that PoCo's are feeling the hurt from homeowner PV.
3. Determine what State and Fed credits you can claim for the year the PV would go into service.

Practical Considerations:
1. Roof or ground mount? If roof, what's your current roof condition? If in need of re-shingling in the next couple years, that should be done first.
2. Snow load. Will it be practical to clear the panels of snow during the winter? Cold, sunny winter days in the midwest can generate a LOT of power, but all panels in a string need to be 100% clear. Mine are set at roughly 45 degrees and I have to manually clear them. Not fun when it's below zero and snow is dumping down off the array into your boots, but at least they're not on an un-reachable roof.

Get the answers to these first, then go for the quotes.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 07:55:00 PM »
Financial Considerations first:
1. What are your local utility's rules on grid connection?  Power gen cap? Credits & payback rules, etc. If it'll take decades for payback, forget it.
2. Investigate any rebates available to offset installation cost. A lot of these have dried up now that PoCo's are feeling the hurt from homeowner PV.
3. Determine what State and Fed credits you can claim for the year the PV would go into service.

Practical Considerations:
1. Roof or ground mount? If roof, what's your current roof condition? If in need of re-shingling in the next couple years, that should be done first.
2. Snow load. Will it be practical to clear the panels of snow during the winter? Cold, sunny winter days in the midwest can generate a LOT of power, but all panels in a string need to be 100% clear. Mine are set at roughly 45 degrees and I have to manually clear them. Not fun when it's below zero and snow is dumping down off the array into your boots, but at least they're not on an un-reachable roof.

Get the answers to these first, then go for the quotes.

We have...
Net metering, paid at 7-8c per KW
30% tax credit fed
0% sales tax state
0% added property taxes

It will be too high to get to unfortunately... can't you install mini inverters to alleviate this?

nereo

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2019, 04:54:02 AM »
We've been going through the steps here in snowy new england, and I've been getting some feedback from two friends who installed them a few years ago

A few comments:
your latitude is not that big an issue; the world leader in PVs is Germany, and they are much further north than MN

Snow load is helped by newer mini-inverters, though if you have a reasonably pitched roof the snow typically clears a few hours after the snow stops. All the houses around us (and there are many) seem to self-clear after a day or so.

payback (break-even) estimates here seem to cluster around the 8 year mark, and we also have no state tax credit/incentive. How much you pay for electricity matters a great deal, and driving/charging a vehicle tilts the equation heavily in your favor.


Cadman

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2019, 07:56:31 AM »
Financial Considerations first:
1. What are your local utility's rules on grid connection?  Power gen cap? Credits & payback rules, etc. If it'll take decades for payback, forget it.
2. Investigate any rebates available to offset installation cost. A lot of these have dried up now that PoCo's are feeling the hurt from homeowner PV.
3. Determine what State and Fed credits you can claim for the year the PV would go into service.

Practical Considerations:
1. Roof or ground mount? If roof, what's your current roof condition? If in need of re-shingling in the next couple years, that should be done first.
2. Snow load. Will it be practical to clear the panels of snow during the winter? Cold, sunny winter days in the midwest can generate a LOT of power, but all panels in a string need to be 100% clear. Mine are set at roughly 45 degrees and I have to manually clear them. Not fun when it's below zero and snow is dumping down off the array into your boots, but at least they're not on an un-reachable roof.

Get the answers to these first, then go for the quotes.

We have...
Net metering, paid at 7-8c per KW
30% tax credit fed
0% sales tax state
0% added property taxes

It will be too high to get to unfortunately... can't you install mini inverters to alleviate this?

Mini-inverters will help a little, though I personally would avoid them if you can as they really add more cost and complexity than necessary, and are intended for arrays where you may have a panel or two with partial shading. For snow, you're looking at a reduction from all-panels.

What's going to happen is that you'll get a little blowing snow which will stick to the panels and rapidly freeze (think of that awful ice on your windshield that you can't scrape through). At this point, your output will probably be under inverter strike voltage so you'll have zero production. Now comes the snow dump which will add several inches of thermal insulation which will glue itself to that ice. The only practical way to clear it is to rake down the snow on a sunny day to allow that radiant energy to penetrate the ice and warm the panel from within, which'll break that ice bond and gravity will do the rest. If you try it on a cloudy day, it won't melt, and more blowing snow will simply stick. And if MN is anything like IA, the brightest, highest production winter solar days are usually accompanied with negative temps. Good times.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2019, 08:08:11 AM »
Financial Considerations first:
1. What are your local utility's rules on grid connection?  Power gen cap? Credits & payback rules, etc. If it'll take decades for payback, forget it.
2. Investigate any rebates available to offset installation cost. A lot of these have dried up now that PoCo's are feeling the hurt from homeowner PV.
3. Determine what State and Fed credits you can claim for the year the PV would go into service.

Practical Considerations:
1. Roof or ground mount? If roof, what's your current roof condition? If in need of re-shingling in the next couple years, that should be done first.
2. Snow load. Will it be practical to clear the panels of snow during the winter? Cold, sunny winter days in the midwest can generate a LOT of power, but all panels in a string need to be 100% clear. Mine are set at roughly 45 degrees and I have to manually clear them. Not fun when it's below zero and snow is dumping down off the array into your boots, but at least they're not on an un-reachable roof.

Get the answers to these first, then go for the quotes.

We have...
Net metering, paid at 7-8c per KW
30% tax credit fed
0% sales tax state
0% added property taxes

It will be too high to get to unfortunately... can't you install mini inverters to alleviate this?

Mini-inverters will help a little, though I personally would avoid them if you can as they really add more cost and complexity than necessary, and are intended for arrays where you may have a panel or two with partial shading. For snow, you're looking at a reduction from all-panels.

What's going to happen is that you'll get a little blowing snow which will stick to the panels and rapidly freeze (think of that awful ice on your windshield that you can't scrape through). At this point, your output will probably be under inverter strike voltage so you'll have zero production. Now comes the snow dump which will add several inches of thermal insulation which will glue itself to that ice. The only practical way to clear it is to rake down the snow on a sunny day to allow that radiant energy to penetrate the ice and warm the panel from within, which'll break that ice bond and gravity will do the rest. If you try it on a cloudy day, it won't melt, and more blowing snow will simply stick. And if MN is anything like IA, the brightest, highest production winter solar days are usually accompanied with negative temps. Good times.

dumb question, don't they make something like an electric blanket for these things? Attach one under the panels and turn it on occasionally?

Do these cause ice dams on roofs?

nereo

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2019, 08:29:59 AM »
Quote
Do these cause ice dams on roofs?

not if they are installed properly.  The panels themselves are mounted on metal brackets which should run along the slope of your roof.

I'm surprised to hear that others in the midwest have had problems with snow and ice accumulation on the panels.  From what I've observed and researched around here it isn't often a problem on a pitched roof.  The panels themselves have a pretty low friction coefficient (less than a metal roof) so snow tends to slide off pretty rapidly, and being dark they absorb light which melts remaining ice.  From my observations the snow slid off the panels first, then off our metal roof a bit later. Maybe ice storms are more common in MN than NE (shrug).

our current (rental) roof has an 8:12 pitch (about average for a traditional colonial-style home) and panel production only stopped when it was actually snowing, or for a few hours afterwards.  We have mini inverters, since some of the panels are occasionally shaded by a tree in the late afternoon summer days. 
YMMV.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2019, 01:33:47 PM »
OK, everyone, update time.

Costs
$43,500 - 13.8KW System
$48,500 - 16.0KW System

I think I am going to go with the 16KW system.

Rebates and Financial Help

  • 30% Fed Credit
    • -$14,550
  • Xcel Solar Rewards - Paid 7c per KW/h produced for 10 years (note produced, not sold)
    • -$1,100 year 1 (and roughly that for the next 9 years as well)
  • Net Metering (generally 12c per KW/h not used or 'sold' to the grid
    • -$Unknown
  • No 'Property Tax' increases

$48,500 - 30% tax credit = $33,950

After 10 LONG years, the price will be around 20k with the solar rewards program.

Ignoring Solar rewards the payback is around 10-11 years and including it the payback should be around 7-8 years.

Return on cash is around $3,500 - $4,000 yearly and if we use the POST 30% rebate price of $33,950 the return is....

10.3% to 11.7% (Though it functions more like simple interest because it cannot compound, solar panels do not create more solar panels)

Not too bad!!!!

For anyone considering this, the federal rebate drops to 26% for 2020, 22% for 2021, and then 0%

sonoranson

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2019, 02:44:07 PM »
Ask your sales person about potential pests.  Here, pigeons really love to nest under the panels to get out of the sun and elements.  They also like to crap on the roof in the shade provided by those panels.  My neighbor and I were both quoted over 4k plus a maintenance contract of a few hundred every 2 years for 'maintenance'.  They essentially put wire fencing as skirts from the panel sides onto the roof to keep them out.  I've seen posts from others who are leasing their solar grids where the vendor came out and installed those fencing systems for free.  I'm going with the pellet gun approach since they mostly prefer my neighbor's roof but you may want to see about having them include that protection during the install.  Hopefully free.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2019, 02:53:18 PM »
Ask your sales person about potential pests.  Here, pigeons really love to nest under the panels to get out of the sun and elements.  They also like to crap on the roof in the shade provided by those panels.  My neighbor and I were both quoted over 4k plus a maintenance contract of a few hundred every 2 years for 'maintenance'.  They essentially put wire fencing as skirts from the panel sides onto the roof to keep them out.  I've seen posts from others who are leasing their solar grids where the vendor came out and installed those fencing systems for free.  I'm going with the pellet gun approach since they mostly prefer my neighbor's roof but you may want to see about having them include that protection during the install.  Hopefully free.

Will look into this, though, it sounds like it might look kinda off? Maybe wait until it becomes a problem first?

jamesbond007

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2019, 05:09:03 PM »
I wish I could convince my HOA to install solar panels. Sigh.

homelesshobbit

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2019, 08:22:11 PM »
Go to the solar forums and post your quotes there. That’s what I did. Got a better understanding of what people were paying at the time. PPW is the number you’ll be comparing.

I also took my quotes and made other solar companies beat it. Had three in the running and got the PPW way down from the initial quote. 

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2019, 08:59:41 PM »
Go to the solar forums and post your quotes there. That’s what I did. Got a better understanding of what people were paying at the time. PPW is the number you’ll be comparing.

I also took my quotes and made other solar companies beat it. Had three in the running and got the PPW way down from the initial quote.

At about $3.10 /w which is the 2nd lowest quote I got.

nereo

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2019, 06:53:37 AM »
Ask your sales person about potential pests.  Here, pigeons really love to nest under the panels to get out of the sun and elements.  They also like to crap on the roof in the shade provided by those panels.  My neighbor and I were both quoted over 4k plus a maintenance contract of a few hundred every 2 years for 'maintenance'.  They essentially put wire fencing as skirts from the panel sides onto the roof to keep them out.  I've seen posts from others who are leasing their solar grids where the vendor came out and installed those fencing systems for free.  I'm going with the pellet gun approach since they mostly prefer my neighbor's roof but you may want to see about having them include that protection during the install.  Hopefully free.

Uh... just be really careful not to hit your PVs...  I don't think they take kindly to pellets.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2019, 08:34:25 AM »
16KW is huge.  Do you have a sense of your usage?  I have a 48 panel - 13KW system that generates between 50 - 70 KWH per day.  I can't imagine needing more than that.  Now that I think about it weather could have a big impact as I am in California with limited weather implications for generation.

historienne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2019, 08:44:43 AM »
We had solar panels in a very snowy northern state.  Snow fell off pretty quickly, and we sometimes helped it along with a snow rake. 

2sk22

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2019, 10:06:10 AM »
16KW is huge.  Do you have a sense of your usage?  I have a 48 panel - 13KW system that generates between 50 - 70 KWH per day.  I can't imagine needing more than that.  Now that I think about it weather could have a big impact as I am in California with limited weather implications for generation.

I agree - this does seem like a very high capacity system. In NJ, we have a solar panel installation nominally rated at 8.4 KW and here are the statistics for power production this year:
  • March 916 kWh
  • April 1027 kWh
  • May 1084 kWh
  • June 1204 kWh
  • July 1240 kWh
  • August 1179 kWh

Each of these months we were net negative in our power consumption and, mind you, we have two zone air conditioning with both running at some points. With such a high capacity system, you could consider getting a battery backup so that you could capture some of the excess your panels will be producing.

Cadman

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2019, 10:27:51 AM »
Just so I understand correctly, you get paid 7 cents for every kWH produced? Even if you consume it yourself? If that's the case, while this is a big system, I'd be inclined to go for it.

Generally speaking, it costs less to build bigger initially than it does to add later, and since a large portion of installation cost is labor, the 16th kw is cheaper than the 12th, so to speak.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2019, 01:38:55 PM »
Just so I understand correctly, you get paid 7 cents for every kWH produced? Even if you consume it yourself? If that's the case, while this is a big system, I'd be inclined to go for it.

Generally speaking, it costs less to build bigger initially than it does to add later, and since a large portion of installation cost is labor, the 16th kw is cheaper than the 12th, so to speak.

Yeah, the power company and State teamed up and offer two things.

1. Net Metering - everyone knows about this.
2. 'Solar Rewards' - 7c per KW/h produced. Paid 1 time a year for 10 years.

Now, solar rewards is a freebee give away, so they limit you based on 120% of the last 12 months of use age. OR because we just got a house, they go on sqft. Ours allows for 13KW being a very unmustachian 4200sqft. They also allow 3 more KW if you have an electric car (I have a volt).

Basically, because of solar rewards, you should just maximize either the roof space, or the program limit, whatever comes first. It's been guesstimated that the system will make stated value * 1.1 or 1.2

16000 * 1.1 = 17,600 KW/h yearly
16000 * 1.2 = 19,200 KW/h yearly

$1,232‬ to $1,344 a year, ON TOP OF net metering, no property tax increase, 30% federal rebate, ect. This is what lowers turn around time from 10-11 years down to around 7.

Mgmny

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2019, 01:39:38 PM »
Hey Anonone!

I live in MN too, and I have "All Energy Solar" coming out to give me a quote next saturday. Any advice? Did you get a quote from them too?

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2019, 01:41:21 PM »
Hey Anonone!

I live in MN too, and I have "All Energy Solar" coming out to give me a quote next saturday. Any advice? Did you get a quote from them too?

MN Solar, located west of the cities a bit. I wish they had a referral program lol.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 01:43:23 PM by TheAnonOne »

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2019, 01:45:08 PM »
Hey Anonone!

I live in MN too, and I have "All Energy Solar" coming out to give me a quote next saturday. Any advice? Did you get a quote from them too?

I had a quote from them and 4 other places. Frankly, they all were pretty close. You can maybe make them fight a little bit. I got mine to go from 45k down to 43.5k but then we increased the size once we measured my roof. So the final is $48,000  (minus all the listed stuff of course)

Mgmny

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2019, 03:06:21 PM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2019, 03:13:28 PM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

If I were you, I would basically just ignore solar rewards from the "Cost of the system" number. It is a little deceptive to me to include payments over 10 YEARS as reducing the system cost.

For you, $29,000 - $8,700 = $20,300 for cost and you get some yearly payments as well that help reduce the total 'turn around time'/'breakeven'

----

A side note that I found interesting.
My cost is $48,500 for a 15.6kw system or $3.10/w
Your cost is $29,000 for a 8.5kw system or $3.40/w

The larger the system the better for a per watt calculation it seems.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2019, 03:26:49 PM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

Also, be a little careful of the financing terms, they act like HELOCs and have pretty high fees.... I got a loan through a bank for 55k non-collateralized but the rate is higher (7%), but no fees. I am paying it off in 2-3 months anyway from the sale of my other house.

Mgmny

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2019, 07:40:39 AM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

Also, be a little careful of the financing terms, they act like HELOCs and have pretty high fees.... I got a loan through a bank for 55k non-collateralized but the rate is higher (7%), but no fees. I am paying it off in 2-3 months anyway from the sale of my other house.

Hmm... I'll have to ask more about this, because the loan is through "Sunlight Financial" and I just dug through the 32 page doc they had me sign yesterday, and I don't see anything about origination fees, etc. The only fees mentioned are like late fees, etc, which i don't anticipate acquiring.

Are there origination fees, etc. that should be called out somewhere?

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2019, 07:42:20 AM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

Also, be a little careful of the financing terms, they act like HELOCs and have pretty high fees.... I got a loan through a bank for 55k non-collateralized but the rate is higher (7%), but no fees. I am paying it off in 2-3 months anyway from the sale of my other house.

Hmm... I'll have to ask more about this, because the loan is through "Sunlight Financial" and I just dug through the 32 page doc they had me sign yesterday, and I don't see anything about origination fees, etc. The only fees mentioned are like late fees, etc, which i don't anticipate acquiring.

Are there origination fees, etc. that should be called out somewhere?

This is definitely a YMMV, not all loans will have huge fees but the lender I was pushed to had nearly $2,000 in fees...

I would maybe ask if the fees are baked into the array, and if not, you are probably good. I would think any fees must be disclosed on the forms you mentioned.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2019, 07:52:08 AM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

Also, be a little careful of the financing terms, they act like HELOCs and have pretty high fees.... I got a loan through a bank for 55k non-collateralized but the rate is higher (7%), but no fees. I am paying it off in 2-3 months anyway from the sale of my other house.

Hmm... I'll have to ask more about this, because the loan is through "Sunlight Financial" and I just dug through the 32 page doc they had me sign yesterday, and I don't see anything about origination fees, etc. The only fees mentioned are like late fees, etc, which i don't anticipate acquiring.

Are there origination fees, etc. that should be called out somewhere?

This is definitely a YMMV, not all loans will have huge fees but the lender I was pushed to had nearly $2,000 in fees...

I would maybe ask if the fees are baked into the array, and if not, you are probably good. I would think any fees must be disclosed on the forms you mentioned.

Gotcha, thank you! I reached out to my sales rep just to be certain.

What's your take on the 30% federal tax credit deadline? The company said they typically complete work within 90 days of the Solar Rewards application being approved - so it's reasonable to expect it could be jan or feb of 2020 - or the credit is down to 26%. I asked the rep if we can fudge dates, and he said, "Well, some people will submit based on contract and / or invoice date, but i'm not saying that is necessarily legal or allowed."

Any thoughts? Is yours for sure making it up before end of 2019?

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2019, 08:58:33 AM »
Hey TheAnon!

I had my solar quote from All Energy Solar in Minnesota over the weekend.

My house will likely support an 8.5 kW system from Xcel energy.

What i was told: $29k install, 30% federal credit $8700, and 10 years of $700 per year from Xcel for their solar rewards $7000, so the total is 29-8.7-7 =  $13,300 for the system. On a 15 year loan at 3.5% (i only put down $500), of the 29000 - 30% credit (so like 20-21k total) that is a payment of $150 a month. They estimated that I would produce $120 a month in electricity and it would cost $150. With the extra $60 a month in the Xcel solar rewards i'm getting $20 a month in extra money.

Yes, i'm ignoring the $500 initial investment. In my opinion $500 for solar panels is pretty cool and worth it. Yes the Xcel rewards are only good for 10 years i think, so after year 10 (2029) who knows what will happen, but i make up my $500 investment by year 3, so as long as my electricity is offset and i'm close to $0 even for the next 8 years, it should be OK no problem.

Also, be a little careful of the financing terms, they act like HELOCs and have pretty high fees.... I got a loan through a bank for 55k non-collateralized but the rate is higher (7%), but no fees. I am paying it off in 2-3 months anyway from the sale of my other house.

Hmm... I'll have to ask more about this, because the loan is through "Sunlight Financial" and I just dug through the 32 page doc they had me sign yesterday, and I don't see anything about origination fees, etc. The only fees mentioned are like late fees, etc, which i don't anticipate acquiring.

Are there origination fees, etc. that should be called out somewhere?

This is definitely a YMMV, not all loans will have huge fees but the lender I was pushed to had nearly $2,000 in fees...

I would maybe ask if the fees are baked into the array, and if not, you are probably good. I would think any fees must be disclosed on the forms you mentioned.

Gotcha, thank you! I reached out to my sales rep just to be certain.

What's your take on the 30% federal tax credit deadline? The company said they typically complete work within 90 days of the Solar Rewards application being approved - so it's reasonable to expect it could be jan or feb of 2020 - or the credit is down to 26%. I asked the rep if we can fudge dates, and he said, "Well, some people will submit based on contract and / or invoice date, but i'm not saying that is necessarily legal or allowed."

Any thoughts? Is yours for sure making it up before end of 2019?

Mine will be installed in November but interconnected XYZ weeks after that. From my understanding you can go on installed date... but I guess I am not a tax expert so I don't know about using invoice dates.

I think you could argue it should go on when you PAID MONEY. Also, look up "SAFE HARBOR" for solar 2019. You can extend your 30% but you'll end up claiming some a year later.

Cadman

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #31 on: September 24, 2019, 10:31:09 AM »
I'm looking at instructions for form 5695 and it's not catching my eye, but I'm pretty sure you can only claim the credit if the system is online and producing by the end of the calendar year. To get the state credit for our PV system, I had to supply a utility bill demonstrating as such. Perhaps the fed wasn't as strict.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2019, 01:21:38 PM »
UPDATE: The power company has said that I will break the 120% rule with my current setup due to the pitch of my house being pretty steep.

So the array has dropped down into the 14KW range and the cost fell $4,000. Presumably I will generate the same power as we thought the 15.6KW system would too!

I have questions out to verify this and confirm math.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2019, 03:16:45 PM »
We've had a solar array on our house for five years now and it is one of the smartest purchases we have ever made. When the incentives are right (as they are in your case), you achieve both self-sufficiency and profit within a fairly short period of time. PLUS, you make the air cleaner. Everybody wins. Lurkers, if you have the means to get solar panels, I highly recommend it.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2019, 11:36:30 PM »
Before installing solar, you should tackle projects to improve your energy efficiency and any behavioral changes to lower your electricity consumption. A KWh saved through efficiency usually costs less than a KWh generated through solar. Your electric bill sounds high, about 2-3x higher than my family’s. Can you give us a breakdown of major appliances (elec. vs gas, etc) and the KWh you use in an average month?

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2019, 08:02:58 AM »
Before installing solar, you should tackle projects to improve your energy efficiency and any behavioral changes to lower your electricity consumption. A KWh saved through efficiency usually costs less than a KWh generated through solar. Your electric bill sounds high, about 2-3x higher than my family’s. Can you give us a breakdown of major appliances (elec. vs gas, etc) and the KWh you use in an average month?

My bill for AUG was $200 but that included some setup fees because it was the first month we owned the house. I think the real bill is closer to 180?. It was VERY hot that month and we ran the AC basically all month long.

I find $180/m acceptable for a 4k SQFT house with plenty of windows in August. It will be lower in spring and fall, gas will be high in winter.

Cadman

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #36 on: October 01, 2019, 09:28:49 AM »
UPDATE: The power company has said that I will break the 120% rule with my current setup due to the pitch of my house being pretty steep.

So the array has dropped down into the 14KW range and the cost fell $4,000. Presumably I will generate the same power as we thought the 15.6KW system would too!

I have questions out to verify this and confirm math.

If you haven't already, plug your data into https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/ to get a feel for what's realistic.

Can you elaborate on the 120% rule? If it's the one I'm thinking of, I'm not sure how your roof pitch would have an effect.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #37 on: October 01, 2019, 10:30:46 AM »
UPDATE: The power company has said that I will break the 120% rule with my current setup due to the pitch of my house being pretty steep.

So the array has dropped down into the 14KW range and the cost fell $4,000. Presumably I will generate the same power as we thought the 15.6KW system would too!

I have questions out to verify this and confirm math.

If you haven't already, plug your data into https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/ to get a feel for what's realistic.

Can you elaborate on the 120% rule? If it's the one I'm thinking of, I'm not sure how your roof pitch would have an effect.

The 120% rule is that you cannot exceed an estimated system size of 120% of your last 12 months useage.

Use 10,000 KWh last year? You can build a system to generate an "Expected" 12,000KWh. This is somewhat of a guessing game, and up to the utility to approve or deny. If they approve, they pay you the "solar rewards" 7c / KWh generated even if you go over 120%


I got the following results from the calculator. Total generated was 18,500 to 19,500 kWh/Year depending on the "angle" I put the panels at (south vs east vs south east ect).

Given that my use-age was 1250 KW/h in AUG, 12 times that is 15,000kwh (though this is very over inflated, AC isn't ran 6 months out of year afterall yearly is probably closer to 12,000 or less? Just guessing.)

I should vastly overproduce with this system. Basically because of the limited usage, they go off of sq-ft instead of 12 months usage, that table benefits me because the sq-ft makes it look like perhaps a larger family will live here, when it is just two people. This is all good news for me.

MontdSolar RadiationAC Energy( kWh )Value $
January2.671,036119
February3.621,237142
March4.791,785205
April5.701,945223
May6.072,064237
June6.482,101241
July6.772,190251
August6.142,000230
September5.111,657190
October3.621,280147
November2.861,044120
December2.1985798
Annual4.6719,196$ 2,203

nereo

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #38 on: October 01, 2019, 02:42:20 PM »
Who dictates that you can’t exceed 120% of your previous 12 months usage?  State? Power company? I’m unfamiliar with that rule

chaskavitch

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #39 on: October 01, 2019, 02:48:51 PM »
Who dictates that you can’t exceed 120% of your previous 12 months usage?  State? Power company? I’m unfamiliar with that rule

At least for us, that's the maximum theoretical production you can install if you want the power company to buy your electricity from you.  I'm sure you CAN install more, they just won't pay you for it.  I would assume it's at the power company's discretion, and not an actual rule.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #40 on: October 01, 2019, 04:38:13 PM »
Who dictates that you can’t exceed 120% of your previous 12 months usage?  State? Power company? I’m unfamiliar with that rule

At least for us, that's the maximum theoretical production you can install if you want the power company to buy your electricity from you.  I'm sure you CAN install more, they just won't pay you for it.  I would assume it's at the power company's discretion, and not an actual rule.

To qualify for the Xcel solar rewards "7c" per kw/h program, you must follow this rule. Else, people would just fill fields with these things.

Keep in mind, you can sell power that you have in this program too. So you get paid 7c and then if you don't use the KW, you sell it for 12c effectively getting paid nearly 20c on power you sell and 7c on power you don't.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2019, 04:40:16 PM by TheAnonOne »

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #41 on: October 01, 2019, 05:15:12 PM »
Thanks for the info. Ours works differently - you get a 1:1 credit for any overproduction. While that eliminates any direct payment for overproducing, it doesn’t matter what your previous energy consumption was (good for us, as we plan on shifting the bulk of our heating from fossil fuel to electric heat pumps, and we will add a plug in to boot - all of which will increase our electrical). Our electricity is also a heck of a lot higher than 7˘/kw

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #42 on: October 01, 2019, 05:27:57 PM »
Thanks for the info. Ours works differently - you get a 1:1 credit for any overproduction. While that eliminates any direct payment for overproducing, it doesn’t matter what your previous energy consumption was (good for us, as we plan on shifting the bulk of our heating from fossil fuel to electric heat pumps, and we will add a plug in to boot - all of which will increase our electrical). Our electricity is also a heck of a lot higher than 7˘/kw

So we get the 1:1 credit as well "Net Metering" we just ALSO get 7c/KWh on top.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #43 on: October 01, 2019, 05:42:34 PM »
Thanks for the info. Ours works differently - you get a 1:1 credit for any overproduction. While that eliminates any direct payment for overproducing, it doesn’t matter what your previous energy consumption was (good for us, as we plan on shifting the bulk of our heating from fossil fuel to electric heat pumps, and we will add a plug in to boot - all of which will increase our electrical). Our electricity is also a heck of a lot higher than 7˘/kw

So we get the 1:1 credit as well "Net Metering" we just ALSO get 7c/KWh on top.

I see. So when does excess power go to the 1:1 credit and when do you get 7˘ for selling it back to the grid?

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #44 on: October 01, 2019, 05:48:13 PM »
Thanks for the info. Ours works differently - you get a 1:1 credit for any overproduction. While that eliminates any direct payment for overproducing, it doesn’t matter what your previous energy consumption was (good for us, as we plan on shifting the bulk of our heating from fossil fuel to electric heat pumps, and we will add a plug in to boot - all of which will increase our electrical). Our electricity is also a heck of a lot higher than 7˘/kw

So we get the 1:1 credit as well "Net Metering" we just ALSO get 7c/KWh on top.

I see. So when does excess power go to the 1:1 credit and when do you get 7˘ for selling it back to the grid?

1. I get 7c per KW/h produced USED OR NOT (all 19,000 a year * 7c)
2. Any power I don't use I ALSO sell to the grid at 12c per KWh

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #45 on: October 02, 2019, 07:36:43 AM »


Can you elaborate on the 120% rule? If it's the one I'm thinking of, I'm not sure how your roof pitch would have an effect.

The 120% rule is that you cannot exceed an estimated system size of 120% of your last 12 months useage.

Use 10,000 KWh last year? You can build a system to generate an "Expected" 12,000KWh. This is somewhat of a guessing game, and up to the utility to approve or deny. If they approve, they pay you the "solar rewards" 7c / KWh generated even if you go over 120%


Thanks! The 120% rule I was thinking of has to do with the combined breaker ratings of your main breaker and PV breaker not exceeding 120% of busbar ampacity. A little different : )

System sizing is funny as the relationship between the inverter and panels is interdependent. One might have more panels than their inverter can handle in the name of saturation for improved efficiency. One might also have 10kw worth of panels with a 5kw inverter. Split 5kw worth towards the east and west and the remainder to the south. The PoCo will never see more than 5kw instantaneously, but you'll be generating for more hours in the day than a straight southern array.

I realize that's not practical for everyone, especially with a roof mount installation, I just wasn't sure how the sizing rule might consider such cases.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #46 on: October 03, 2019, 10:01:46 AM »
Before installing solar, you should tackle projects to improve your energy efficiency and any behavioral changes to lower your electricity consumption. A KWh saved through efficiency usually costs less than a KWh generated through solar. Your electric bill sounds high, about 2-3x higher than my family’s. Can you give us a breakdown of major appliances (elec. vs gas, etc) and the KWh you use in an average month?
I can't argue with the logic of what you've said, but in my case, I started to get extremely competitive with myself only after I saw the net-metering effect and the possibility of driving my cost to $0/month.  the difference between $80/month and $95/month just didn't motivate me.  But the difference between an energy bill of $20/month vs. $0 or even credits toward next month made me willing to do things I never thought I would. 

So yes, do what you can to reduce, but know that you might be even more motivated after seeing the impact of net-metering. 

And good luck!

TheAnonOne

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #47 on: October 03, 2019, 03:43:54 PM »
Before installing solar, you should tackle projects to improve your energy efficiency and any behavioral changes to lower your electricity consumption. A KWh saved through efficiency usually costs less than a KWh generated through solar. Your electric bill sounds high, about 2-3x higher than my family’s. Can you give us a breakdown of major appliances (elec. vs gas, etc) and the KWh you use in an average month?
I can't argue with the logic of what you've said, but in my case, I started to get extremely competitive with myself only after I saw the net-metering effect and the possibility of driving my cost to $0/month.  the difference between $80/month and $95/month just didn't motivate me.  But the difference between an energy bill of $20/month vs. $0 or even credits toward next month made me willing to do things I never thought I would. 

So yes, do what you can to reduce, but know that you might be even more motivated after seeing the impact of net-metering. 

And good luck!

With the timeline for the credits going down in 2020, the time is NOW to install this thing, efficient or not, my bills will drop ~$200~ a month (probably negative usage with this) no matter what I do. LED bulbs and energy loss surveys next year sometime.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #48 on: October 03, 2019, 04:10:19 PM »
your latitude is not that big an issue; the world leader in PVs is Germany, and they are much further north than MN

I‘m from Germany. Latitude is an issue. Hamburg is at the same latitude as Edmonton, Canada. Solar panels are not producing any significant amount of energy here from November to February.

The reason PV is popular has to do with the way our renewable energy program had been structured. Unfortunately it also had the side effect of increasing coal burning for producing electricity which has led to an increase in green house gases over all. It would have been better to focus on wind turbines and power to gas installations, as those produce more reliable energy in autumn and winter here.

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Re: Home Solar Array? How much? Worth it?
« Reply #49 on: October 04, 2019, 11:19:56 AM »
your latitude is not that big an issue; the world leader in PVs is Germany, and they are much further north than MN

I‘m from Germany. Latitude is an issue. Hamburg is at the same latitude as Edmonton, Canada. Solar panels are not producing any significant amount of energy here from November to February.

The reason PV is popular has to do with the way our renewable energy program had been structured. Unfortunately it also had the side effect of increasing coal burning for producing electricity which has led to an increase in green house gases over all. It would have been better to focus on wind turbines and power to gas installations, as those produce more reliable energy in autumn and winter here.

I am thinking in the northern mid-west that estimates for Jan/Feb are optimistic, simply because we can get weeks worth of snow storms basically back to back. Even if there is sun, there may be weeks at a time where the snow never gets a chance to melt.