Huntn

macrumors Core
Original poster
May 5, 2008
20,477
24,371
The Misty Mountains
I’m thinking about it, in the past, I have looked at a huge upfront price, 10 years to pay off, and then possible maintenance issues.

However here is the key if my payments equals my current electric bill or doubtful is less than my current electric bill, then it would be worth it. One solar panel rep who caught me in brief conversation at Costco says their panels have a 25 year warranty. I’m going to go for a free consultation.

Questions
  • I wonder who provides that warranty on panels, will they be around in 20 years?
  • Does the setup include batteries capable of running the house electrical/AC needs through the night, or does it start pulling from the grid?
  • Does a typical setup, feed back into the grid, and be paid for the contribution?
  • What incentives are available to defer the cost?
  • do solar panels function during overcast skies?
 

MAH11

macrumors member
Sep 24, 2010
37
10
My panels were installed in Sept 2014 and have required absolutely zero maintenance (as opposed to everything else in my house!). On my system, the warranty on the electronics that converts the DC voltage into an AC voltage and syncs it to the grid is 25 years. The panels themselves do degrade slightly with time due to radiation damage, on the order of ~1% per year. The generated electricity is fed directly into the grid. Any excess electricity that I generate (e.g., during the day) directly offsets my usage. If I generate excess electricity on a per annum basis, I do receive $$ for it, but that rebate is at a much lower rate. The panels work whenever the sun is shining (unless the panels are covered with snow); however, the amount of electricity generated does depend on the time of day and the weather.

I did not purchase a battery system to take myself off the grid. I live in the northern US, so I am skeptical I could do this in the depths of winter.

In the US, there may be both federal and state tax incentives that could lower your initial purchase cost. I think I paid about 25% of the going rate for my setup once my tax savings were accounted for. In many places, both the price of solar installations and the tax incentives have decreased, so you would need to talk to an installer about the current situation. At the time I purchased my panels, the installer calculated that I would reach a break-even point at 7 years, which is a few months from now. To date, I have generated 40.18 MWh. The average current cost of electricity in the US is $0.1042/kWh, so I have generated the equivalent of ~$4200 of electricity. Having said that, the cost of electricity varies widely between the states, so YMMV.
 

satcomer

macrumors 604
Feb 19, 2008
7,524
1,352
The Finger Lakes Region
I’m thinking about it, in the past, I have looked at a huge upfront price, 10 years to pay off, and then possible maintenance issues.

However here is the key if my payments equals my current electric bill or doubtful is less than my current electric bill, then it would be worth it. One solar panel rep who caught me in brief conversation at Costco says their panels have a 25 year warranty. I’m going to go for a free consultation.

Questions
  • I wonder who provides that warranty on panels, will they be around in 20 years?
  • Does the setup include batteries capable of running the house electrical/AC needs through the night, or does it start pulling from the grid?
  • Does a typical setup, feed back into the grid, and be paid for the contribution?
  • What incentives are available to defer the cost?
  • do solar panels function during overcast skies?

If you get Solar Panels think about Bi-Facial Solar Panels and a reflector underneath the panel and you will get great Electric from them!

Here is video review on them:
 

mikegoldnj

macrumors regular
Apr 27, 2005
243
218
We’ve had our system for about 10 years. Ours are leased but we pay NO monthly payments. We paid $5k up front and that’s it. The company we leased from (originally Ad-Energy, now owned by Sunnova) gets tax credits and SRECs. We get the benefit of net metering. The system produces 10-11,000 kWh per year. We’ve got a total of 38 Mitsubishi panels, two SMA inverters. Typical utility bills range from $5-$17 per month but do jump up in the summer due to a/c and pool equipment. Additionally, when we’ve had bad winters, the panels can be covered in snow for a week at a time thus not producing.

FYI, we had just installed a new roof a few months before getting the panels.

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DaveSanDiego

macrumors member
May 12, 2020
47
63
My panels were installed in Nov 2019.... I pay $92 a month for the panels, and all the power... way less than my previous bill had been
 

sog1927

macrumors member
Nov 2, 2016
46
106
I've had a 5.2 kW grid-tie panel system since August, 2011. At the time, there was a significant tax incentive to install such systems, Colorado had enacted a "net metering" bill in 2004 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering), and enacted a renewable energy requirement for utilities in the state. I was able to sell the renewable energy credits for my solar installation to my utility company to help them meet this requirement.

So, as I said, my system is a grid-tie system. There's no battery. Surplus power is is sold back to my utility at the same rate I pay them for power I draw from the grid (this is what "net metering" means), so my meter spins backwards when I'm supplying them power. Not all states have net metering laws - this differs from state to state and can drastically affect the economics of a solar panel system (as does the loss of some of the tax credits). I have considered adding battery backup at various times but I just haven't done it. My backup grid power comes from a wind farm in Wyoming (I pay extra for that), so I'm still pretty much carbon neutral

You will produce *some* power when it's overcast, but your output will be drastically reduced. Output will be (much) lower in the winter. How much is dependent on your latitude. Also, output is very dependent on how well your panels are oriented. My roofline did not permit optimal placement of the panels, so my peak output is more like 4-4.5 kW, rather than the system's rated 5.2kW. Snow, of course, will reduce your output to zero.

If there's a possibility that some of the panels will be shaded during the day, you will want to investigate microinverters. Having a separate microinverter on each panel will allow the panels to function independently. If you don't do this, one shaded panel will reduce the output from all the other panels.

I had enough savings to pay for the panels up front, so financing wasn't an issue.

Current generation panels are more efficient than the ones I have so they'll generate more power per square foot (and per dollar). My panels are 250 watts each (the best you could do in 2011). You can buy > 400 watt panels now.

I have not required any maintenance whatsoever and I haven't experienced a significant drop in output, either.

It's hard to describe the joy that comes from having your electric company send you checks. ;)
 

QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
11,669
5,135
Bay Area
I have panels and a battery backup from Tesla installed a few months ago. It’s been terrific. We produce enough power for current use and to support a future EV. the storage is also nice given the wildfires and blackouts here.
 
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