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Old 07-16-2017, 09:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Home solar in the North East USA

So I entered a quote in an online service to check into home solar in Cortland, NY 13045, USA. And found out a few things.
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https://www.solar-estimate.org/solar...lators/results
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The government rebates are quite good. The federal rebate is a tax credit that can be drawn over 5 years to it's full amount of 30% of the install. And my state has the same plan at 25%.
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That is the good news..
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They quoted me $30,000 for a 9kW gridtie system with no storage. I can buy the parts for a really nice microinverter or dc/dc converter system for $17,000 shipped. I would probably start with 4-5kW for $7,000.
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https://www.wholesalesolar.com/18909...rgy-310-panels
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https://www.wholesalesolar.com/18903...rgy-260-panels
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One interesting thing I have been wanting to find out: They are calculating the the average solar radiation availability in my area will provide about 13% of the system nameplate capacity for the year. So at least they are being honest about the poor weather here.
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But they based the payback calculations on an assumed $0.29/ kWh cost of electricity over 25 years. I am only paying $0.12 all in at the bottom of my bill right now. And I will still have to check to see what plan my utility company has for net metering. Some areas of the country force them to allow home solar to bank their excess production against future use at 1:1. Other companies pay back only the price of the energy in which case I would only get back $0.038/ kWh right now. And have to pay an extra base service fee every month for net metering.
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So even taking the best of all the scenarios: I would buy the parts on the internet and install it myself with a certified tech for the final connection. $7,500. And 1:1 reimbursement for over production. And rebates that I would eventually get back after 2-3 years of tax credits. I would be in at $3,400 for a 4.5kW system with no storage. With an annual production of 5,125 kWh. $615 production/ year at the current rate if I get 1:1 credit.
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So payback is 5.5 years. And profit is $12,300 over the following 20 years. So return on investment is 5.2% over 25.5 years. Not including my DIY sweat equity and even with the 55% government credits. Of course the cost of electrical service could slide up to double over 25 years making my average output worth $900/ year average over the same time. 6.75% ROI / year.
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It would be 2% without the government incenives.
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But then again, we will find more and more, that pushing forward to a sustainable future will not pay back in the traditional free market sense of dollars earned.
Here is the quote for $30,000 they hit me with.
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've talked to a few solar installers in the northeast. Their first question is always "how much do you pay per month for electricity?" When I say under $50 they usually hang up and not one has returned my calls.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If you use that solar power to charge up your EV, the pay back is significantly shorter. Ben Nelson recently finished putting panels on his new garage's roof. He calculates the offset in electricity use plus offset in gasoline use gives him a payback of 3 years.

Lots more info on his site: 300MPG.org
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This is true. If you have enough area to dedicate to a larger array to offset your EV, which is then offsetting your gas. In a roundabout way of looking at it. Otherwise, $600/ year is $600/ year of electrical offset regardless of where you are using it.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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So my electrical supplier is very fair in offering "net metering" where the meter does "run backwards" and surpluses are carried over every month to be reconciled at the SC6 avoided cost rate (wholesale market rate). which is always done at thew most beneficial month for the solar customer of March or April.
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Here is the address of the PDF outlining their policy.
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https://mail-attachment.googleuserco...vtMBxHSt7QEjCA

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Old 07-17-2017, 12:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Those numbers are right in line with what I have found. The best quote I got was a 9.8kW system (30 panels that are 327w each) for a bit less than $37,000. I have several trees in the way (that will come down) so they had to estimate the output, and they used a pretty conservative number. Payoff is less than 7 years. We pay more than we do now for only the first 10-12 months and as soon as the SREC's start to come in (every quarter), we pay less, than we do now.

We would get a $0 down loan, and we can take a step down, be taking the federal tax credit and paying a lump sum to the loan, which re-amortizes it - saving us about $100/month.

We drive two EV's - and we are already saving about 50% on our cars, because even at our expensive electricity rates (about 20/kWh), we are paying only about 4.5/mile. After we get our solar PV system (I have to re-frame the entire roof, and take down the 3 trees), we should be lowering the cost of electricity by as much as 80% (without reducing what we use), so the cost per mile could be under a penny per mile.
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Old 07-17-2017, 01:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard View Post
Those numbers are right in line with what I have found. The best quote I got was a 9.8kW system (30 panels that are 327w each) for a bit less than $37,000.
So doesn't it bother you a bit that you can buy the parts for a complete world class 9.36kW micro inverter system for $15,154 delivered? Get your family to help you install it.
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https://www.wholesalesolar.com/18903...rgy-260-panels
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Old 07-17-2017, 01:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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That's the thing that always bothers me about utility rebates and tax credits; it must be purchased and installed by a certified company. This means you must pay 4x or more of the cost. The incentives never offset the additional cost of paying to have a solar installer do the work.

Same goes with installing high efficiency hot water heaters and the such.
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sendler View Post
So doesn't it bother you a bit that you can buy the parts for a complete world class 9.36kW micro inverter system for $15,154 delivered? Get your family to help you install it.
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https://www.wholesalesolar.com/18903...rgy-260-panels
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My quote is on Sunpower panels that have much more robust design and construction, and have a 25 year warranty on the whole system. They will produce a lot more electricity over time, as they start higher, and decline more slowly.

I want a lot of electricity, and I can fit up to 32 panels on the main south-facing roof. 260 watt panels would be an 8.3kW system.
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard View Post
My quote is on Sunpower panels that have much more robust design and construction, and have a 25 year warranty on the whole system. They will produce a lot more electricity over time, as they start higher, and decline more slowly.

I want a lot of electricity, and I can fit up to 32 panels on the main south-facing roof. 260 watt panels would be an 8.3kW system.
The 260 Watt panels I linked to are smaller in area and cheaper to go with their lesser output. Just to give you an example. They are speced at that output to go along with the 250Watt Enphase micro inverters at 1 per panel so that every panel is independent of all of the others. In case one is shaded or has bird droppings on it , ect. all the others still produce at full power. And you don't need any inverter in the house since all of the lines are carrying a/c right at the panel for the maximum transmission and conversion efficiency. The area for 10kW would be about the same. They also make 500W micro inverters if you want to go with the top of the line 340W larger panels which are 1% more efficient, 20 year warranty and rated 85% capacity at 25 years. They kit those panels with dc/dc converters (since they are too big for the Enphase 250W inverters) at each panel to isolate each one and this would feature a big inverter in the house. System price $17,230 for 10kW delivered.
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https://www.wholesalesolar.com/18915...rld-340-panels
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