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Discussion Starter #1
So, I got a free estimate for putting up solar panels onto my roof (this is Southern-Central WI).
I am not really sold; but the free estimate is FREE.

When I clean up the PDF so it can be presented on a public forum, I will put it up for the discussion details.
Sure, I got Google to ask this exact questions.
But I feel we need some interesting, useful, apolitical, home-owner relevant subject in the Coffee Room as of late.

So, in general discussion format (better yet - using personal, specific experience) - why/why not put up the solar panels?
 

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So, I got a free estimate for putting up solar panels onto my roof (this is Southern-Central WI).
I am not really sold; but the free estimate is FREE.

When I clean up the PDF so it can be presented on a public forum, I will put it up for the discussion details.
Sure, I got Google to ask this exact questions.
But I feel we need some interesting, useful, apolitical, home-owner relevant subject in the Coffee Room as of late.

So, in general discussion format (better yet - using personal, specific experience) - why/why not put up the solar panels?
Greg,
So right now Money is cheap with the interest rates, so using OPM the timing is good.
Will you have some sort of storage device? the sun is not on all the time.

Will the solar system you get allow you to put Power back on the grid and turn the power meter backwards?

You could use the Power to run some Green house lights, to grow food, so that may work for you as well.

really it is up to you.

For me the time is not right, for you maybe it is fine.
Somewhat a personal decision.
Just do not do it for Virtue Signaling.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Greg,...........
Just do not do it for Virtue Signaling.

GG
Thanks for the pointers.

Actually, I am decidedly NO.

But now that I got the estimate #s (they insisted), I want to see how they are trying to manipulate people into such projects.
My boss got one installed, but she has a different situation, of course.
Still, I am honestly trying understand IF solar panel setup on my specific house is a bad deal or not.
A specific use-case.

I will be posting their proposal slide by a slide.
And will post my own energy #s too.
 

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GregV "Still, I am honestly trying understand IF solar panel setup on my specific house is a bad deal or not."

I don't know your trade-offs. But I have a few suggestions to avoid disappointment. First issue is to identify "shall" requirements. Assign or acquire a numerical value to the shall requirements. Assign a penalty for failure to meet shall requirements - issue by issue if necessary. Do not forget life cycle cost when comparing options which means recycling or dumping it. Investigate the installer / manufacturer's ability to survive and pay liabilities. Have a payment schedule based on measurable performance.

I like solar but performance has not met my expectations after 20 years. I like wind mills but do not want to put up with the noise. Geothermal - to many moving parts, heavy elelctrical input. I like the idea of solar shingles ( dual purpose) but Musk's company provided no technical data - just send money; so many issues. So I wait for a new form of electrical energy generation - distributed fission or fusion. I hope I see fusion generated power in my life time.

In the meantime I have abut 10 cord of wood in the shed, two wood stoves, a well (needs a hand pump) a green house going up ( high tunnel type - cheap solar collector) and clothing capable of sustaining long periods of cold weather. Oh! Also a well insulated house and lots of tools. Now If I get a rifle and 5000 rounds (per GG) along with having my ballot counted I just might survive.
 

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Whether or not you should have solar panels is a complex subject.
1. Initial cost vs savings from lower energy bills for 20 years.
2. Maintenance cost of the system (replace storage batteries, upgrade to more efficient panels in the future, replace inverter, etc)
3. Financial savings from rebates, credit from electrical company for extra power generated into their system, etc.
I have a neighbor who built his own solar system 15 years ago. The panel array is on a pedestal and it has a computer and motor that moves the array to track the sun. He did all the work so his cost was the concrete, the 12 inch steel pillar the array is mounted on, and all the parts of the system. He has to replace the storage batteries about every 5-8 years (approx $1000).
It is not enough current to power his heat pump or dryer because the batteries drain so fast supplying 240 volts(He has a propane gas stove).
He said he has recouped his initial cost but these days the electric companies in Georgia do not give you the credit on your bill like they used to so the time to recoup one's cost would be extended. His electric bills are about 30-40% lower than comparable houses in the area (his statement).
If you are young it may be worth it but if you are 50 years old it becomes questionable. The big factor is the cost of electricity in the future.
I found this:
"Key takeaways: are electricity prices trending up or down?

Retail residential electricity rates (the amount you pay per kilowatt-hour, or ¢/kWh) have risen across the nation about 15% over the last 10 years.
This trend is unlikely to be disrupted in the future: natural gas prices are only likely to increase, and as they do electricity rates will rise.
Some areas of the country have witnessed sharper price increases than others: For example, electricity rates in Oregon have increased by about 40 percent over the past 10 years, while they’ve hardly changed at all in Florida"
https://news.energysage.com/residential-electricity-prices-going-up-or-down/
 

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I looked at it about 10 years ago when it was being heavily subsidized. For some reasoning I cant remember, higher rates for roof mounted which I find to be problems with roof shovelling or shingle replacement etc. Grid tied with no provision for power if the grid is down is the cheapest but no fuzzy feeling of security.
As Boondocks mentions, cost of adequate storage battery capacity and budget for replacement is expensive. Batteries storage and careful maintenance is not suited for everyones disposition.:rolleyes:

A young person with the knowledge and interest can enjoy tinkering with a complex system but we have a friend whose father built a house around all the hyped thermal storage, solar water heating, solar panels, some geothermal etc., but when he became incapacitated it was difficult to have it looked after and seriously dragged down the sale value of the house.

Do a thorough long term cost analysis including loss of otherwise investment opportunity. Dont do this exercise with rose tinted glasses on.:D
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks for the feedback so far.
I am yet to digest it, item by item.

I went ahead and took the time to scrub the proposal off any sensitive info.
And here it is attached.
The proposal does NOT include any storage - this is 100% on-line system they do all around the area (there are NO off-line provisions - no batteries).
My house is second from the corner, on the customized proposal pictures.

I also pulled raw data for my electric energy usage and costs for 2009-2020 from the utility site; roughly twelve year history.

Made few graphs with it (attached).
Basic observations for the 2009-2020 period are:
graph 1 - on average my monthly KWH usage (776KWH) did not change - yes, it IS bouncing, but there is NO clear long-term trend of going up;
graph 2 - total average monthly charge ($122) did not change - again, it IS bouncing, but there is NO clear long-term trend of going up;
graph 3 - consumed (taxes and fees excluded) average monthly charge ($103) did not change - still, it IS bouncing, but there is NO clear long-term trend of going up;
all three graphs show 5 data points where the usage/costs went sharply down (even into the negative) - this is when the utility made some adjustments and issued us credits (for being overcharged, I guess).
ElectricEnergyUseAndCost_2009-2020.jpg

Of course, our utility is a regulated one and they can not just ad-hoc increase rates at will.

So far, my actual history does not show an upward trend of my personal electricity costs (as suggested in the proposal).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
......
If you are young it may be worth it but if you are 50 years old it becomes questionable. .....
Without much analysis - I just intuitively feel this is probably the case (which is our case too).
 

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Question;

Since these figures are supplied by an entity that is trying to sell you something is it possible they are exaggerating the projected increase in grid pricing? Are they including realistic maintenance costs of the solar system including component damage and liability insurance? Is panels output taper considered? Will this company still exist down the road to back warrante issues? Is there consideration for the grid power that will have to be purchased during times that solar will be inadequate due to weather (no sun or covered with snow)?

What projections in present and future interest rates are used to calculate the would be savings?
 

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My opinion.
I installed my own and knew while doing it that I was going to lose money even with the 30 percent tax credit you could receive. Electric in my area was about nine cents a kilowatt. If you get a battery, the battery alone will cost more then that period.

I did it for the experience and the ideal that I could thumb my nose at the electric company and still have a few comforts if I decided too, which will never happen cause I ain't really that dumb.:) I was dumb enough to spend extra money for the experience though.

I also built some wind turbines and have only just this year dropped them. Wind is really bad due to being much harder to control the power and it being almost for sure site specific cause many places (mine) do not get real wind except for every so often.

However, not with standing the above, when I put mine in, the electric company was offering a 2 dollar rebate per watt and solar prices were way down and their were those that did no work and got double the solar I have and participated though the electric company. I can not say how good or bad of a deal it was but can say that it was a much better deal then my independent way of doing things. I am not complaining cause I knew this at the time.

I doubt those guys that participated are actually making money but also believe that they are not really losing any thing and solar is really easy once you have it and the biggest risk I see is that the solar controllers can be expensive if they go out and this is probably more likely then the panels them self going bad.

There are a lot more cloudy days then a person may think and the company's you deal with are not charities and so they intend to make money off of you. I do think that it can be decent to have solar and not lose your butt compared to the electric company and it might give a small measure of inflation control.

I would not mind participating in the right rebate plan but would be careful of things I could not do with out taking out a loan and adding interest charges. This of course means more outlay now then just going with the flow.

Were I not so independent minded with a non participating nature, I think there are fair deals out there when the public gets excited and resources are threw at something. It could be a fair thing to do at the right time.

So my advice is, it depends.
Cheers
gww
Ps wrong picture attachment and I can not get rid of.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
...... Dont do this exercise with rose tinted glasses on.:D
Like I said:
Actually, I am decidedly NO.
IF anything, I am yet to be convinced in the solar's worth personally to me.
Being "green" and all, there is no free cash here to be throwing at expensive toys with unclear long-term financial impacts.
If anything, being frugal is usually much simpler, just as "green", and still works out OK.

Anyways, few houses away, there is one of exact my model but with better solar capture roof exposure.
The guy did go solar (single, no kids, in his 40s).
I mean to go and talk to him as well to, hopefully, get his version.
 

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Some pretty important things missing in their sales pitch, like estimated year 1 production. Or any annual production figures for your amount of kW at your latitude.
ks
 

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Some other thoughts that I have not heard mentioned here:

Adding more holes to your roof increases the risk of a leak thru the shingles

If you have to get the roof shingles replaced you will have to pay someone to remove the solar panels, replace the roof shingles, then get the panels reinstalled

I know our neighbor with solar panels on the roof has found wasp/hornet nests under the solar panels

looking at the proposal you attached the solar panels are oriented 3 different directions. Most of the roof mounted panels in my area are south facing because I think it is the most efficient direction. I suspect the east/west orientation panels will only average 50% efficiency due to the sun moving east to west

I am not sure that solar panels usually pay for themselves in most residential applications, but I have not looked up the math in detail.


edit: more info
 

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I had looked at this around 10 years ago and determined that at my location the only thing that made sense was solar hot water. I converted from oil to a NG boiler for heat and left piping connections to be able to easily add a water panel on the roof when time came.

NG is cheap and I'm busy with other things so I never got back to it.
 

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I went ahead and took the time to scrub the proposal off any sensitive info.
And here it is attached.
The proposal does NOT include any storage - this is 100% on-line system they do all around the area (there are NO off-line provisions - no batteries).
That is a flashy proposal, but anyone who thinks the numbers in that PDF are a good deal just hasn't looked carefully.

Consider this: By their numbers, the average homeowner currently spends $137.67/mo on electricity. Yet the loan payment amount ($182 per mo for 20 years, or $223mo for 15 years) is significantly more than that $137.67. So there is NEGATIVE payback until the loan is paid off in 15 or 20 years.

Yes, power rates likely will increase, while the loan payment presumably will be static. But on the other hand, there is no provision for maintenance or repair in those numbers, and to expect that an electronic system - on the roof of your house - will keep performing as brand new in 25+years with no repair or maintenance is just not realistic.
 

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That is a flashy proposal, but anyone who thinks the numbers in that PDF are a good deal just hasn't looked carefully.

Consider this: By their numbers, the average homeowner currently spends $137.67/mo on electricity. Yet the loan payment amount ($182 per mo for 20 years, or $223mo for 15 years) is significantly more than that $137.67. So there is NEGATIVE payback until the loan is paid off in 15 or 20 years.

Yes, power rates likely will increase, while the loan payment presumably will be static. But on the other hand, there is no provision for maintenance or repair in those numbers, and to expect that an electronic system - on the roof of your house - will keep performing as brand new in 25+years with no repair or maintenance is just not realistic.
but if you use less electricity than the system produces, then you should also get money or credits back from the electric co.? I didn't really read the proposal close enough to see if that was factored in or not. People I know got in early, got state, federal and farm credits/money and the system generates income for them and after 7 years they still haven't had to have any maint. then again we are not in an area where the sun shines very often.
:scratch:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Lots of good ideas.
No time to respond yet.

BUT in general - issues of warranty/roof repairs/etc - I was verbally assured that just about everything is covered in some way.
By the salesperson, of course.

I want to think about and address any valid consideration (really, for myself - but for a common good as well).

One item too (before I forget) - unlike set contract payments, the electricity usage and payments are a subject to change from MY side too (not just the utility). For example - kids grow up and move out (a big one); appliances change to more efficient once; general electricity usage is monitored and tuned up using latest technology (e.g. https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-electricity-usage-monitors).
So this idea is entertaining to me also - for sure, heck of a lot cheaper and more flexible than 40K investment amortized over 20 years.
In few months here I will be free of car payments again and hope to stay that way for a bit (not be immediately taking on a replacement payment).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So there is NEGATIVE payback until the loan is paid off in 15 or 20 years..
Right - potentially.
They are really fudging the #s to make it look good.
I can see few one-time rate changes (IF approved by the utility regulators), but not the continuous growth of them.
I was surprised to realize how our rates did not really go up over the last 12 years (see graphs).

There are provisions for maintenance/repairs/replacements - I was told.
But, this is very similar to owning a Prius - you save incrementally on the gasoline - so that one day you can spend all the savings to replace the battery (POOF go all the savings). A real possibility.
 
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