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nakman

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Curious who has solar at home, and who else is considering it this year. If you're like me then every other phone call is another solar company, the other half telling you your vehicle warranty is about to expire. Here's what I know so far:

- Colorado giving you net metering if you get in this year, and according to at least one sales guy, this is the last year of that. Which as I understand it, means you sell the electricity back to them at the same rate you buy it for, up to 120% of your historical consumption. https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/learn-the-issues/net-metering/

- A typical house will get a 4-5kw system, at a cost of around $10,000 in equipment and $10,000 installation. You can pay cash for this, or finance it, if you finance the total cost is more like $30,000. Your numbers may vary, but that's the ballpark. And then the ROI on this is around 15 years in most cases, again YMMV.

-There's a 26% federal tax credit to offset some of the expense, which some sales people will use to offset the appearance of your true costs. And some companies will expect you to give them this tax credit as part of the deal. But either way, the tax credit is real, and as I understand it that's going to get reduced after 2021. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/01/f70/Guide to Federal Tax Credit for Residential Solar PV.pdf

- Every year seems to be getting hotter, and staying hotter for longer.

- Battery storage is an added expense, and most solar companies don't really offer that. But I think it would be cool to have, or at least have the ability to add in the future.

In our house, I am super cheap and we don't run the AC. We suffer a lot in the summer, but usually the attic fan is enough to make it bearable. But we're kind of at a "life's too short to live hard" point in life, and so are considering adding solar, so that I can then crank the AC, while we're at it get a hot tub. And still enjoy a somewhat low electricity bill. Oh, and get an electric vehicle, which is why were here....
 
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DaveInDenver

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Selling back and tax credits are going to have to disappear. Xcel doesn't need the generating power as much during the day. They'll need it at night. So the benefits are going to have to shift soon to storing energy as much or more than generating it when people in significant numbers start charging overnight. Or the price between daytime and nighttime electricity will have to diverge greatly so that people don't plug in at night too much.

As it is the consumption at night is historically very low (you're sleeping, A/C works less hard) compared to day (work mostly) so most solar and wind has been daytime supplemental to round-the-clock base generation in coal and gas. But when consumption flips or at least becomes constant 24 hours then all that solar especially is useless without storage. They're talking about trying to find trillions of new kW-hr generation necessary for cars just in the next decade. It's doable but there's no huge projects planned, no massive storage being considered, to offset the push to get to EVs. It's not being looked at systematically.

Me, I'd be looking for a stand-alone system inclusive of storage because brown- and black-outs are likely to happen at night before long and unless you have some way to flatten the power you make during the day or when it's windy to use at night to charge you're going to be stuck with a dead car in the garage in the morning.
 

satchel

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I have solar via Photon Brothers. They are a local company that was referred to me by a friend and I was happy with the process and install.

I had 25 panels installed to as closely match what I would need in a given year. Different power companies do it differently, but I have United Power and they take whatever your overage is for a given month and store it so you will see a kWh credit on your statement each month, and then any given month you need to pull that back they give you those hours back, no transfer of money to me or anything. Below are the estimates they gave me and it has tracked pretty well to this in reality, actually producing more in reality thus far than the estimate.

They can also install a battery if you want to get off the grid completely, or car chargers and things like that.

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Romer

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I evaluated it last year. Don't believe their ROI figures they of course or tilted to make it seem faster. I took their 15 year patyback, factored in what I am actually paying vs what it would be and came closer to 20 year ROI

I also talked to them about battery setups and they can do it, but it adds about 10K. I was thinking to have a system you can change the main unit and add batteries later might be the best fit

Sarah has Solar on her house and could expand on it.

Main reason I would want Solar is the battery capability to provide power during a power outage. Having something that takes 20 years to pay for itself doesnt seem like a great investment. I could always take that $20K and invest it as well

I still would like to do Solar, was hoping that panels become cheaper and more efficient, but may be going more expensive right now
 

nakman

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I think panels are getting cheaper Ken, and should continue to do so. And the inverters aren't all that much either... figure $170 for a really good 345-370 watt panel, around $3k for a good inverter. At that price you don't even want a warranty, would be like getting a warranty on a TV. Just get a new one when it fails, it'll be better anyway.

We are probably going to sell our house in 6-7 years, so ROI just won't even be a factor. Still, to be able to "lock in" at say $100/month for electricity vs. some over variable rate, and at the same time be able turn on the AC in the summer, still seems compelling. the problem with my math is I don't really know what my bill in July would be if I actually ran the AC- am guessing it would be about double, as that's what everyone's graphs seem to say. So I'm trying to spec out a system based on future demand, rather than past usage.
 

rover67

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Ken's right about the ROI for an installed system, I found the same results when doing the numbers. I'm not familiar with the setup you have Trey, but it's intriguing. We did solar as part of our renovation (required by boulder county) I did a 3kw system to meet their requirements, then expanded it to 5kw total. I wouldn't do it to save money honestly, I think you can probably take those dollars and grow them elsewhere much faster.

Anyhow, I did the install and sourced my own parts... All in on the system were around 7.5k for 5kw. I expanded from 3 to 5kw because it only cost me racking and some panels which was super cheap. The panels I bought for the 3kw part had already started being obsoleted so I just got more of them at a substantial discount. Racking was not expensive nor was it complicated and the wiring for the whole system I installed as part of my reno, so stuff like roof penetrations and conduit was like a half a day job.

We have a 25kw generator that's automatic and runs on propane. It takes over when we loose power and ironically the solar just shuts down. That formula works well and is basically zero maintenance (save an oil and filter change on the genny once a year). I'm not sure I would have done a generator if it hadn't come with the house when we bought it but it is nice. I think right now I prefer this setup to a battery backup but it'd be easy to add that when our current inverter or generator die or become obsolete.

It's nuts how much cheaper inverters have gotten, they are also very efficient now so it's all a bit more forgiving when building/designing a system. I was able to oversize my inverter and not take a hit on efficiency like I would have with older ones.
 

Romer

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Cool Marco, I was looking at those generators. Saw one at Costco that intrigued me. That would give methe backup I would hope solar to do, except in the apocolypse where gas and water get shut down, but then we would freeze to death anyways . . unless lots of batteries and switch to electric heat :)

Kind of like a cruiser, the options can spiral into more options :)
 

RayRay27

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We went with a Sunrun installed system this last September. We ended up buying the system outright and not leasing it. My wife and I thought about selling and buying a new house but based on the current market, there was no upside at this point. Yeah my current home is up in value but but a newer one that we were looking at was well over 500K. We decided to refi and pull some equity and update our home.

I ended up talking to Sunrun, Apricot, Blue Raven and Namaste. We ended up using Sunrun based on the total cost of the unit, the customer support and ratings. The Sunrun rep I was dealing with was what I felt, completely open, honest and transparent though the entire process. There were no hidden issues or problems that popped up. He was constantly checking on how we were doing and answered all of our questions in a timely fashion. He actually told me that Namaste was probably the best Solar installer on the front range but due to their size, they are limited on how many solar systems they can install in a year and are generally booked all year. So I reached to Namaste get ask myself and they told me the exact same thing. They were booked for nearly the entire year and wouldn't be able to install the system for several months.

I wasn't interested with leasing the system because it can become a huge hassle when trying to sell the house and you end up paying way more over time if you don't sell within a few years having the system installed. With Sunrun I was able to purchase the system through Costco using my Costco credit card. By doing it this way I got a $1000 Costco cash gift card plus I got back 3% on my credit card which came about to around $300. Also I got the 26% federal tax credit which came out to around $6000 additional on my return this year since I purchased the system in 2020. Also because I purchased the system cash I got a discount for that too.

Total cost of the system after all rebates, discounts and and federal tax credit was a little of 16K. Now will I recoup that cost over time from just electric bill savings alone? No, but I had my home appraised for my refi and with the new solar system it added close to 30K. So the system is paid for already if I plan to sell.

Even thought it's only been producing electricity primarily in the winter and spring my electric bills have been drastically reduced. I am paying half of what I was before and unlike Tim, we love to run the hell out of our A/C in the summer time so its a big pay off for us. If I had to do it again I would. I was very hesitant about going solar because of a bad experience I had several years ago with Solar City (Tesla Solar now). They turned out to be the biggest crooks. They kept trying to force us into leasing the system at a cost of over 30K and then when we got our federal rebate, we were supposed to give it to Solar City to subsidize the system. I kept telling them that I wanted to own it out right so they started dickin me around and not showing up for appointments so I told them to pound sand at that point.

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nakman

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Interesting twist here, it looks like I've been screwed by my own conservation. direct quote from an install guy:
Xcel, and most other utilities, limit the size of a solar system we can put on our homes. Their rule is that we cannot install a solar system that will produce more than 120% of your last 12 months of electrical usage. The electrical usage that you sent me shows that you’ve used 7,044 kWhs the past 12 months. The maximum system that we can install can only produce 8,452 kWhs (7,044 x 1.2) because of Xcel’s rules. If we were to submit an interconnection application to them that produced more than 8,452 kWhs, they would deny the application. Here is a link to their website that talks about the 120% rule. It’s #4.

There are exceptions to this rule. They allow an additional 2,000 kWhs to be added to the yearly total if you just purchased an electric vehicle and can provide the registration. The other exception is if you were building a new home or just moved into a home and have no previous usage history. They base the max system size allowable by the square footage of the home in that case.

The only way to get around the 120% rule is to install two separate solar systems. One system that is 120% or less of your last 12 months of usage and is interconnected to the grid. The other system is not connected to the grid and considered off grid and would have batteries on it to store the power. This can add significant costs, but can be done.
Looks like I could add another 2000 kWhs though with proof of an EV purchase, I presume a deposit for one that's forthcoming would be good enough for that. Still kinda feels like I've been disincented to do the right thing here... I put in the LED's, energy star fridge, insulated the attic, got the programmable thermostat.. even lived with an attic fan in the summer so we didn't waste electrticity on AC. For the reward of a smaller allowable solar system.
 

Romer

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Why not give your family a treat and not be such a cheap basti'd and run the AC this summer. They go by last 12 months so come September or October you will have what you need. I keep my house at 72 deg all summer. I didnt have AC as a kid growing up in SE Denver, but its like the seat heaters you talked me into. Once you use them, there isnt any going back :) I remeber you tell me how awesome seat heaters were and I said I dont need them no big deal, but you were right. Its about comfort and the AC this summer will pave the way for Solar for next summer
 

nakman

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Ok that's not a bad idea Ken... as long as I do it before the end of the year I still get the 26% right? So I'm only out another $600 or so... 4 months of AC.

And coincidentally, I was picking up Violet from school yesterday and there was a white 100 there also. First thing out of her mouth was "we should get another 100, I miss those seat heaters." I did rear seat heaters as my first mod on that one.
 

60wag

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The Leaf has front and rear seat heaters :)
 

RayRay27

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Ok that's not a bad idea Ken... as long as I do it before the end of the year I still get the 26% right? So I'm only out another $600 or so... 4 months of AC.

And coincidentally, I was picking up Violet from school yesterday and there was a white 100 there also. First thing out of her mouth was "we should get another 100, I miss those seat heaters." I did rear seat heaters as my first mod on that one.
The federal solar tax credit percentage dropped to 26% in 2020 and was scheduled to drop to 22% this year before expiring in 2022. Instead, Trump renewed the tax credit at its current level for two more years when he signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 in December 2020.
 

Mendocino

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Our new place in Wyoming closes next month and we would like to add solar and wind in an off grid cofiguration (so including batteries). I have looked at solar for our Broomfield place a few times and never could get an acceptable ROI (to me). This thread has been helpful.
 

DouglasVB

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My parents have wanted to get solar and batteries at their place in California to be less reliant on Southern California Edison (they're in the one enclave of SCE service territory in a sea of Pacific Gas and Electric). Ideally they'd like to get rid of SCE all together. The problem with their place is poor sun exposure (they only have partial eastern exposure for their roof and none of their land would be good for a stand-alone PV farm). So what they currently have is an 11kw propane-fired generator which works great for all the times when SCE turns the power off. They can run their electric range, oven, dryer (they don't like having propane in the house so everything is electric), and everything else in the house without a problem. Out here in California, public safety power shutoffs are a thing and also the utilities generally shut down a line to work on it rather than working on it hot like most of the rest of the country. So during fire weather, my parents might not have power for days or longer.

The problem with the propane generator that my parents discovered last fall when the Creek Fire forced an evacuation was that SCE's lines went down, the generator kicked on, and ran for about two weeks before auto shutting down due to low oil (no one was there to cycle the generator on and off to prolong the generator before needing service because we were evacuated). Those whole house generators are generally only rated for one or two weeks of run time before they're supposed to be serviced. Just with normal SCE outages during a year, my parents will go for two weeks total without grid power. And with the dire drought situation in the west right now, I'm betting they'll have many weeks of no power this summer.

For what it's worth, the 11kw generac generator used about 200-250 gallons of propane for 2 weeks of runtime with fairly minimal house loads (a few lights, internet equipment, the well cycling occasionally). That does add up pretty quickly with propane delivery fees and propane prices way out in the mountains. It worries me if they have a long outage in the winter in a blizzard where it could take a week or two for the propane truck to make it in. Their tank is 500 gallons which without the generator would usually last about a year between fill-ups. But running that generator and if they have trouble getting to the woodshed then also running the propane furnace, it could deplete pretty quickly.

What I'm trying to look into is a battery storage system that can be tied with the generator so the house can run for some number of hours on the battery before kicking on the generator to recharge the battery for a couple hours. But 95% of the companies out here seem to only want to install solar panels or you have to go talk to Tesla which I really don't want to do because my parents aren't great candidates for solar panels and that's becoming a requirement now for a Tesla Powerwall. I'm looking into if I can DIY it legally. It seems possible but I'd need to find an electrician willing to work with me and sign off on something that's not very normal yet. And the Fresno County inspectors are really conservative in what they'll approve.

I'm also curious what everyone's experience is with solar panels mounted on roofs in heavy snow. About the most their roof sees before it unloads is five feet. But with solar panels which I assume would hang up the snow, it could be 10 feet or more in a heavy year. The roof is rated for 10 feet of snow but I expect knowing the architect, he designed it for up to 15 feet of snow to be safe.
 

Romer

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We went with a Sunrun installed system this last September. We ended up buying the system outright and not leasing it. My wife and I thought about selling and buying a new house but based on the current market, there was no upside at this point. Yeah my current home is up in value but but a newer one that we were looking at was well over 500K. We decided to refi and pull some equity and update our home.

I ended up talking to Sunrun, Apricot, Blue Raven and Namaste. We ended up using Sunrun based on the total cost of the unit, the customer support and ratings. The Sunrun rep I was dealing with was what I felt, completely open, honest and transparent though the entire process. There were no hidden issues or problems that popped up. He was constantly checking on how we were doing and answered all of our questions in a timely fashion. He actually told me that Namaste was probably the best Solar installer on the front range but due to their size, they are limited on how many solar systems they can install in a year and are generally booked all year. So I reached to Namaste get ask myself and they told me the exact same thing. They were booked for nearly the entire year and wouldn't be able to install the system for several months.

I wasn't interested with leasing the system because it can become a huge hassle when trying to sell the house and you end up paying way more over time if you don't sell within a few years having the system installed. With Sunrun I was able to purchase the system through Costco using my Costco credit card. By doing it this way I got a $1000 Costco cash gift card plus I got back 3% on my credit card which came about to around $300. Also I got the 26% federal tax credit which came out to around $6000 additional on my return this year since I purchased the system in 2020. Also because I purchased the system cash I got a discount for that too.

Total cost of the system after all rebates, discounts and and federal tax credit was a little of 16K. Now will I recoup that cost over time from just electric bill savings alone? No, but I had my home appraised for my refi and with the new solar system it added close to 30K. So the system is paid for already if I plan to sell.

Even thought it's only been producing electricity primarily in the winter and spring my electric bills have been drastically reduced. I am paying half of what I was before and unlike Tim, we love to run the hell out of our A/C in the summer time so its a big pay off for us. If I had to do it again I would. I was very hesitant about going solar because of a bad experience I had several years ago with Solar City (Tesla Solar now). They turned out to be the biggest crooks. They kept trying to force us into leasing the system at a cost of over 30K and then when we got our federal rebate, we were supposed to give it to Solar City to subsidize the system. I kept telling them that I wanted to own it out right so they started dickin me around and not showing up for appointments so I told them to pound sand at that point.

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This thread has me relooking at Solar

On your system, I understand the savings. The people I talked to also made big claims about earnings which I think is Net Metering. How much did you earn back vs saved if you dont mind sharing

It was also stated in this thread that Net Metring is going to end. I couldnt find anything about thyat. Does it end completely or do people who get Solar this year get to keep it going? More details on this please
 

nakman

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@Romer look through their FAQ, I think all the answers are in there but I need to read it a few more times. It looks like there's an option to not participate in net metering, but that link in the .pdf didn't take me anywhere. Here's another link to the FAQ: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/Programs and Rebates/Residential/CO-SR-New-Customer-FAQ.pdf

I have another sales guy coming this afternoon, I'm going to ask him about the net metering options. Doubtful he has the answers though, as my experience has been all these guys want to finance you a grid-tie system and nothing else.

edit: I also spent an hour in the driveway with my neighbor who is an electrician, I asked him if he does solar installs as I'd have given him the work if so. He doesn't, and doesn't want to... his opinion was the whole grid-tie system feels like dirty pool to him, and to really do solar right it should have a battery backup. Then a lot of other baggage about difficulty dealing with the city, with Xcel energy, etc. But a lot of his info was about 6-7 years old when he looked into it, and at the time making an investment in the panels was a barrier to entry, which doesn't seem to exist right now.
 
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rover67

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For snow loads I think you wanna make it a steep enough angle that the snow falls off. Then high enough that it doesn’t pile up soo much in front but you can still rake if needed. Maybe a ground array? Our roof is pretty shallow angle and the snow still typically slides right off the day or so after a heavy snow. I made sure I put the panels close enough to the eggshell that the snow doesn’t rip gutters off.

I would agree out 25kw generac is a light duty machine. Our power goes out for usually no more than half a day to a day unless there’s some crisis. Our 325gal propane tank lasts us all year but we heat mainly with wood.

i used unbound solar for my parts.
 
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