Author Topic: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?  (Read 4053 times)

Retired To Win

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I just read an article in one of Kiplinger's publications that makes a very good financial case for installing a solar panel system to generate one's home electricity needs.  Apparently, there's a federal tax credit in effect right now that subsidizes about a third of the cost of an installation.  When you factor that in, you get a very decent annual savings/yield on the money invested in the system.  As much as 10%, they state.

Have you got any experience to share regarding this?  Any advice?

ender

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2015, 07:03:53 PM »
I'm hoping that the tax credits for solar are around however many years it will be before we will own a house...


sol

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2015, 07:06:11 PM »
Have you got any experience to share regarding this?  Any advice?

I wrote a whole thread detailing my experiences installing home solar.  Tis probably findable if you search.

The upshot is that state incentive programs make all the difference.  Payback periods are anywhere from three to fifteen years, depending on where you live.

Retired To Win

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2015, 07:26:07 PM »

I wrote a whole thread detailing my experiences installing home solar.  Tis probably findable if you search.

The upshot is that state incentive programs make all the difference.  Payback periods are anywhere from three to fifteen years, depending on where you live.

Here's the thread Sol referred to:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/solar-panel-installation/msg329655/#msg329655

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2015, 07:28:03 PM »
Totally depends on local incentives.

Here's the financials on ours near Seattle, WA:

$28,000 cost of full system, installed

From Install to 6 Years Out, we will see the following incentives and savings:

($17,700) State of Washington production incentive
($8,400) Federal tax credit
($2,500) Local utility credit
($4,000) Six year electricity savings

($4,600)

Here's a few posts we've done if you want to know more:
http://www.nwedible.com/solar-in-seattle/
http://www.nwedible.com/a-year-under-the-sun-solar-review/

Or if you have a specific question, let me know.

forummm

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2015, 07:49:27 PM »
In Georgia, if you live in Georgia Power's service area, you get the federal tax credit and nothing else. And they will only buy your solar power from you at a rate less than what they pay for coal power generated far away from customers--a rate that is anywhere from 60% to 85% less than what you have to pay them to buy the same amount of energy. And they now have the right to charge you any monthly fee they want to for that privilege.

So they get your energy super cheap (to sell to your next-door-neighbor at literally 2.5 to 8 times the price they are paying for it), and they get to keep and sell your Renewable Energy Credits, and they can charge you for the privilege of all this.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2015, 07:51:26 PM »
Is the immediate payback from a power purchase agreement where you pay nothing up front too low to be worthwhile? Do you end up paying for more than you use?

Vic99

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2015, 11:55:46 PM »
I recently replied to another about solar in a different thread.  Here's part of the message that's relevant, plus more.

I have had 6.35 MW panels in MA  for almost 3 years.  (I think twenty five 255 W each)  I love it.  Probably 7-8 year break even. 

Fed tax CREDIT is 30%.  I think it expires in 2016.  I also got a MA rebate of 4k and a few other small perks, like the system cannot be factored into the value of my home for property tax purposes for 10 years in thee state of MA.

Ideal system is south facing, little or no shading, and roof slope degrees equal to latitude degrees, but you can definitely do well if you pnly have 1-2 of those.  Get a system that meets a bit more than  your yearly needs in case you have unexpected electricity demand.

Remember the panel watt rating is lab tested at 25 C under nearly perfect conditions.  You will probably not get that rating except on cold bright winter days.  Panel effeciency increases by 1% every 1 degree less or so.  Thus I tend to max out in Jan. or Feb. but only for a short time because of course day length is much less.  Plus I get a bit more shading from some trees.

Panels also degrade 0.5-1%/year due to UV light exposure.  Essentially they start to "fog up" slightly until they are at ~85% of what they were rated at.  At that point they reach a saturation point and will not fog up any more, so just realize this.

I have National Grid in MA.  I pay $4/month for the privelage of hookup to the grid to sell back my excess power at the same rate I would buy it.  Excess accumulates as credits.  I got ahead for a year, then bought a chevy volt plug in hybrid electric.  I figured I would do 70% electric miles, but to date have done 92% all electric.  I tried to figure this in when sizing my PV system.

SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) are currently selling in MA for high two hundreds per MW.  I made 6 MW my first year and 7 my second.  Unused Fractions are just carried over to the next quarter.

Also, lots of people don't realize that if you are grid tied, when the grid goes down, you lose power too.  there are some battery grid tied hybrid systems out there, but batteries are really expensive and need babying with discharge and such to preserve life.  Perhaps you will start to see lithium based batteries and that will make a positive difference.

Good luck.

big_owl

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2015, 03:15:50 AM »
6.35MW panels?  Woah.  You must have a lot of land, lol.

Vic99

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2015, 02:52:36 AM »
Gah.  Of course I meant 6.35 kW worth of panels.

forummm

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2015, 06:20:26 AM »
Is the immediate payback from a power purchase agreement where you pay nothing up front too low to be worthwhile? Do you end up paying for more than you use?

The way it works is your bill now is (making up numbers here) $100/mo, you get the panels put on and pay $0 for that, your power bill goes down to $20/mo and you pay $40/mo to the leasing company, decreasing your total electricity expense to $60/mo. So you start saving immediately, no cash out of pocket. Depending on all the variables, those numbers could be very different--just an illustration. They own the panels, and generally they will take them down and put them back up 1 time during the 20 years for you to get a roof replacement. If you sell your house, the lease transfers to the new owner.

sunday

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2015, 11:40:10 PM »
What if the new buyers do not want the solar panels? Also, is there an elevator clause in the lease, i.e., it increases x% every year?

forummm

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2015, 01:08:58 PM »
What if the new buyers do not want the solar panels? Also, is there an elevator clause in the lease, i.e., it increases x% every year?

The foolish new buyers could have them taken down. According to SolarCity, 98% of new buyers keep them. I don't know how the lease terms work out exactly.

Retired To Win

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Re: What can you tell me about using solar panels for electricity?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2015, 06:20:59 PM »
... Also, lots of people don't realize that if you are grid tied, when the grid goes down, you lose power too.  there are some battery grid tied hybrid systems out there, but batteries are really expensive and need babying with discharge and such to preserve life...

What a bummer.  But we do have a whole-house standby generator so at least we would not be left in the dark when the grid did go down.

Another bummer, for us anyway, is that Virginia seems to be not very advantageous when it comes to tax credits and somesuch for solar panel installations.

Possibly, the way to go for us is to look into a no-cash-out-of-pocket power purchase agreement, such as Forumm mentioned.