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Old 01-10-2013, 06:50 PM   #1
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Solar Survey Results today on the S&B

We've been thinking about adding a PV system to our sticks 'n bricks for a while, and with incentives and rebates stepping down in the coming months, we decided to have AstrumSolar come out and do a site survey.

When the house was built in 1989, it was sited to take advantage of the sun and the survey agrees, with a site quality of 89% (however they calculate that). Our survey shows:

- 36 Hanwha 245 watt panels
- 36 Enphase M215 microinverters
- 8.82 kW total system size
- 11,510 kWh estimated annual production
- 95% production guarantee w/ .05% degradation rate for 10 year
- 10 year warranty on installation with owned system
- Maintenance coverge included with leased systems
- 74% of electricity estimated coming from the solar panels

In looking at our electric bills over the past 5 1/2 years, we've paid an average of $327.00 per month ... at the estimated 26% rate, that would drop our average bill to $85/month. Not too shabby.

As we understand, there are some rebates that are winding down that can help to subsidize the system.

System Cost: $ 37,000
Rebates/Credits: $ 19,200
Net Cost Installed: $ 17,800

We have an option to purchase outright at $17,800 or a low upfront lease that starts at $82/mo for the first year with a 1.9% increase each year - an average cost over 20 years of $95/mo. -- that equates to about a $20 finance charge per month versus an outright purchase. Again, not a huge cost over the 20 years, given that the lease price includes maintenance for the lease term. The downside to the lease, there's no end-of-lease purchase option *but* 20 years into the future, it will likely be time for newer, more efficient panels and who knows if we'll even be in the home 20 years from now?

Looks like it's going to be a weekend of pro's and con's - hashing out if it's time for us to just pull the trigger.

I did just do some quick research on buying the panels and inverters myself, and the lowest price I've found so far is about $16,000 - that's without installation hardware, grid tie in hardware, permits, installation labor or rebates/credits.

Here's what our system would look like:





Anyone else out there have solar on their home that can offer some comments or advice?
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:18 PM   #2
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What is the ROI on this?
The current state of the art/technology is in very much in flux and advances are coming at a great pace.
My suggestion is to look at Solar Electric Power Discussion Forum by Northern Arizona Wind & Sun
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:23 PM   #3
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My first question is, is there a guarentee as to savings ?
You are looking at over a 6 year pay back IF you get the savings they are calculating. How old is your existing roofing ? when will it need to be replaced ?
Have you looked at other sources of savings ? IE Insulation, windows, 90% efficient furnace ?
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowcatche View Post
What is the ROI on this?
The current state of the art/technology is in very much in flux and advances are coming at a great pace.
My suggestion is to look at Solar Electric Power Discussion Forum by Northern Arizona Wind & Sun
On an owned system, their calculated ROI is 12%, as there is no purchase option for the lease, there's no calculated ROI as we'd be "turning it in" at the end of 20 years.

From a cash flow perspective, based upon current rates and our average usage, An owned system would have $36,000 of positive cash flow after 20 years, a leased system $30,000
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by djbmsu View Post
My first question is, is there a guarentee as to savings ?
You are looking at over a 6 year pay back IF you get the savings they are calculating. How old is your existing roofing ? when will it need to be replaced ?
Have you looked at other sources of savings ? IE Insulation, windows, 90% efficient furnace ?
Yes, on an outright purchase, we'd be looking at about a 7 year payback - provided we see the quoted savings.

The existing roof is 20 years old but is in good shape, as confirmed by the site inspector as well. It is architectural, asphalt shingles, but I'm not sure of what the original life period was supposed to be. On an outright purchase, a 10 year New roof guarantee can be purchased for $1,000 - it's included in the lease - not sure if it's 10 years in the lease or lease term.

We have been incrementally performing other energy efficient updates to the house over the past few years, but thankfully the house was built and sited for energy efficiency when it was built by my parents 20 years ago. Most of the double pane windows are still in good shape, a few of them could stand some work/rebuilding, but none are in a poor enough shape that they leak or require replacement now.

The other two major items due for replacement in the next couple of years are a more efficient central a/c and likely a more efficient furnace.

But at the end of the day, insulation and new windows aren't going to be that impactful on reducing our energy usage. Finding an alternate source of energy generation - be that solar or wind - will have the most impact. Along with a changeover to LED bulbs throughout, a project that will be a few thousand dollars for lighting throughout the home.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:48 PM   #6
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My first question is, is there a guarentee as to savings ?
Yes, there is a guarantee.

The production guarantee for the owneship program is 95% of the estimated system production, with a 0.5% per year degradation rate for 10 years. It's not clear what the guarantee is for a leased system.

The guarantee goes on to state, that when the system over-performs, you save more, and if it ever falls short, they pay you for the difference in solar generation.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:55 PM   #7
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Keep those questions coming ... we're adding them to our list of questions for them.

In the last 10 months, there have been 829 solar installations in CT that were able to take advantage of state subsidies. You can only get a rebate on a system when it's installed by a certified installer ... so that in itself nearly eliminates a DIY install.

Residential Solar Investment Program

Astrum Solar has performed about 7% (57) of those installs. That puts them 4th in the rankings versus other solar installers in the state. The largest installer performed 183 installs (22%), 2nd largest 77 (9%), 3rd largest 62 (7%).
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #8
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does maintenance include cleaning them? It would seem that with them facing up and the fact that raindrops form on specks of dirt they would be getting dirty quite often. How much does output fall off with regard to dirt?
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:43 PM   #9
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It's probably more accurate to look at our last 3 years of usage - although even with that, we spent probably more than 12 months away from the house during that period.

But, over the last 3 years our usage is closer to an average of $260/mo. Using those numbers, we'd be closer to an average bill of $65/mo + $95 (average) on a lease - saving us an average of $100 per month versus continuing to source all our electricity through our electric company.

Ct is a state that allows consumers to choose their electric company. We changed to an alternate provider - probably about 3 years ago - so there's not much potential savings, if at all, to change to another provider - beyond the savings we are already experiencing.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:44 PM   #10
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does maintenance include cleaning them? It would seem that with them facing up and the fact that raindrops form on specks of dirt they would be getting dirty quite often. How much does output fall off with regard to dirt?
I would doubt that maintenance includes cleaning, I'm sure that is a project I would need to maintain myself.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:18 PM   #11
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I am in CA and have had my solar system for 3 years now. My electrical bill for year 1 was $35, year 2 was $80 and this year I was negative $167. I have to pay a monthly meter charge of $12 so they can read my meter. My average electrical bill was about $150 a month and my solar payment is $162 so I figure I am about break even now, as rate increases average about 7% a year.

My son in law cleans my panels about twice a year for me.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:44 PM   #12
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I have been looking at solar very hard over the past year. Nearing pulling the trigger as I am now about to forecast a 5 year or less ROI based on today's rates (and no rate increases). This for a ~7kw system of about 28 panels. Cash money of about $20k then minus fed and state incentives. Likely I will buy the equipment and act as my own GC for the install (as I have done for a whole house remodel and several other projects so am experienced in going this route).
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:47 PM   #13
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A 20 year old roof? I would be concerned of remaining life and having to reroof sometime after the solar is installed. Suggest to very carefully check into this aspect. Roofing moneys needed for solar can often be applied towards incentive programs.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:21 PM   #14
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I have been looking at solar very hard over the past year. Nearing pulling the trigger as I am now about to forecast a 5 year or less ROI based on today's rates (and no rate increases). This for a ~7kw system of about 28 panels. Cash money of about $20k then minus fed and state incentives. Likely I will buy the equipment and act as my own GC for the install (as I have done for a whole house remodel and several other projects so am experienced in going this route).
I've done a lot of remodeling on this and our other house myself - all fully permitted work, but in CT the homeowner must use a CEFIA Approved Contractor to qualify for a rebate.
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