Going Solar!

User Forum Topic
Submitted by moneymaker on February 4, 2014 - 10:42am

We're doing solar this year. Was told by one company that upgrading the electrical breaker box could be included and would be part of 30% rebate, does anybody know if re-roofing could also be rolled into the solar install and hence rebateable as well?

Submitted by Hobie on February 4, 2014 - 11:03am.

Are you in San Diego? Are you confusing rebate with tax credit? California Solar Inititave rebates $.20/watt. Doubt the new roof would work for fed tax credit.

Submitted by moneymaker on February 4, 2014 - 8:42pm.

Yes when I wrote rebate, I meant tax credit. With a single layer of 10 year old composite shingles, i figure my options are 1)Remove the current shingles and put new ones on 2)Shingle over the current ones (which will also add additional weight to roof) 3)Put the solar panels up now and hope the previous owners bought really good shingles, if not may have to re-roof in next 10 years which would mean removing solar panels temporarily to do that.

Submitted by Hobie on February 4, 2014 - 9:00pm.

Removing panels to reroof if under a solar lease might be very expensive as it it under their terms.

Composite roofing is not all that much to replace. Easier now than later.

Also, if the roof is already worn the guys walking on it to install solar might cause it to leak.

Be sure the installers have the proper roofer license as they will be drilling into the roof and again, you don't want leaks.

guess it really depends on how long you plan to live there.

What brand/watt panels are you looking at? How many panels?

Submitted by moneymaker on February 4, 2014 - 10:17pm.

Wife wants Solarworld as they are American made, I am not as particular as I doubt many panels have been up for 25 years yet to prove their durability. Definitely want micro-inverters, leaning toward the Grape systems that Costco sells, but there are no reviews which I find strange. I know they will custom design a system for a good price. I'm thinking 5-5.5 KW should keep us out of tiers 3 and 4. Never even considered the roof because it looks good, but was up there last week measuring pitch and noticed the composite shingles are definitly harder that I thought they should be.

Submitted by UCGal on February 5, 2014 - 8:54am.

Solar is on our project list. But behind a few other projects.

DH has decided to replace the section of roof that will be under the panels with a metal roof. (Won't be able to see it - and it solves the problem of needing to remove panels to re-roof.)

He's also adding a skylight to our master bath that will provide roof access for maintenance.

Since our master bath is our next big project... we're getting closer to solar.

Submitted by CA renter on February 6, 2014 - 7:54pm.

UCGal wrote:
Solar is on our project list. But behind a few other projects.

DH has decided to replace the section of roof that will be under the panels with a metal roof. (Won't be able to see it - and it solves the problem of needing to remove panels to re-roof.)

He's also adding a skylight to our master bath that will provide roof access for maintenance.

Since our master bath is our next big project... we're getting closer to solar.

Nice! Copper roof, or?

Submitted by UCGal on February 7, 2014 - 12:20pm.

Stainless is what my hubster is saying.

Submitted by CA renter on February 7, 2014 - 6:07pm.

Interesting. I've never heard of SS roofing for houses. Is he choosing it for the durability and low maintenance, assuming you (and your kids) will never have to deal with it again? Won't it be crazy expensive?

Submitted by moneymaker on February 8, 2014 - 8:59pm.

I've seen flat roofs with 18" tile and after walking on it I thought it was a great idea. I think the family was from Russia or Ukrainian.
Topped off some trees in the neighbors yard today, after getting their permission (was partly shading the garage roof). It is really pretty easy to do if you make the cuts in the right place. I've trimmed trees before, but now I know the secret to make it easy. Every time I try something new I consider changing careers, but only for a few minutes.
To get the state rebate I think one has to prove shading is not an issue, at least to get the full credit.

Submitted by patb on February 9, 2014 - 10:04pm.

a good panel is environmentally tested. they run it through accelerated aging

Submitted by moneymaker on March 7, 2014 - 2:06pm.

Has anyone that has installed solar regretted it? I think it takes a full year to really know how a system performs, maybe I'm putting too much thought into this and should just pull the trigger. Still no reviews on Costco's site, if it shows up at GTM I might even install it myself.

Submitted by an on March 7, 2014 - 3:01pm.

I don't regret it one bit. I have it for about 1.5 years now and the number is what I thought it would be. My electricity bill now range between $5-90, while the year before that, it was ranging between $150-450. So, at this rate, I'm looking to break even in about 4.5 years and after that, it'll be all gravy.

Submitted by biggoldbear on March 7, 2014 - 3:12pm.

I am also looking into this, but hate having to deal with all the sales pitches just to get pricing info. What are some estimates for the cost/size of the solar projects people have done recently?

Submitted by CA renter on March 7, 2014 - 5:20pm.

I've probably over-thinking it, too. We really, really want to install solar panels (we're well into Tier 4, especially in the summer), but are worried it won't turn out as well as they say it will.

Submitted by joec on March 7, 2014 - 8:11pm.

I think SDG&E will be raising base rates for everyone so people with Solar will probably see higher bills for sure. This may make the positive return point longer, but overall, it's nice to not be so dependent on what some energy company does.

I'd personally be interested in getting batteries as well and try to use primarily my batteries/own solar power.

I'd done some reading on more portable solutions for DR/BC, but cost (for me) is still a lot of batteries and all the equipment.

Submitted by patb on March 8, 2014 - 10:37pm.

even if it underperforms, it will be awesome as you realize, how things are changing.

Submitted by moneymaker on March 8, 2014 - 10:58pm.

For me a good job done in a timely manner as promised is all I'm looking for. Found someone who bids labor at $1 a watt, would look for cheaper but am afraid of what I would find.

Submitted by moneymaker on March 9, 2014 - 8:21pm.

Has anyone installed their own solar? Interesting read on net metering. Eventually SDGE will not have to accept net metering customers https://www.sdge.com/clean-energy/net-en... My guess is this will happen about the time Fed Credits expire. Of course there could be new legislation by then.

Submitted by moneymaker on April 22, 2014 - 1:45am.

moneymaker wrote:
Has anyone installed their own solar? Interesting read on net metering. Eventually SDGE will not have to accept net metering customers https://www.sdge.com/clean-energy/net-en... My guess is this will happen about the time Fed Credits expire. Of course there could be new legislation by then.

Even if it takes 10 years for system to pay for itself that would be an effective rate of 7.2% a year, pretty darn good for current economic times. Not to mention free electricity after that.

Submitted by jeff303 on April 22, 2014 - 6:46am.

moneymaker wrote:
Even if it takes 10 years for system to pay for itself that would be an effective rate of 7.2% a year, pretty darn good for current economic times. Not to mention free electricity after that.

Not saying it's not worth doing, but that's not really a 7.2% return, right? The positive return would only begin after the break-even point.

Submitted by no_such_reality on April 22, 2014 - 6:50am.

Ucgal. I'd encourage you to reconsider the skylight in the master bath unless you have a door you keep closed. I used to have one with an open bath arrangement an even living only a mile from the beach. It made for very bright very early mornings June thru September. Even with a thick marine layer it's surprisingly bright with a large skylight that is big enough to provide roof access

Submitted by UCGal on April 23, 2014 - 7:55am.

no_such_reality wrote:
Ucgal. I'd encourage you to reconsider the skylight in the master bath unless you have a door you keep closed. I used to have one with an open bath arrangement an even living only a mile from the beach. It made for very bright very early mornings June thru September. Even with a thick marine layer it's surprisingly bright with a large skylight that is big enough to provide roof access

Good point NSR. We currently have an open area to the bath - and have a solar tube. So I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. Our bathroom remodel will be adding doors to divide the MBR and bath.

Submitted by TeCKis300 on April 23, 2014 - 5:47pm.

I've had my system for 1.5 yrs now and it has been working very well for us.

From my research prior, this is not universally true. You have to be focus'd on the numbers to make this work, as it can turn into an expensive science experiment at best. Unless you're a crunchy type that doesn't put ROI above environmental issues.

Some considerations and lessons learned:
1) Understand the numbers game you're playing. Especially if you have an electric car, and are on a time of use (TOU) rather than tiered rate plan. Offsetting gas expenses is considerably more worthwhile than even offsetting tier 3/4, where you may want to offset 100% of your use.
1a BONUS) You can compound the value of solar with an electric car with a TOU plan. Solar produces during the peak rate hours, whereas charging takes places during the lowest rate hours at night.
2) Don't let the marketers confuse the priorities. Yes, it's important to buy a quality system/components, but don't forget ROI which is the whole reason for the investment.
3) Physical constraints of your installation may seriously compromise system efficiency (and potential ROI) - don't force it to work for you if it won't!
4) Microinverters!! Line inverters may be cheaper up front, but not when you consider they have to be typically replaced in ~10 yrs. Lots of companies don't do microinverters and want to force old school line inverters on customers.
5) Don't hire a 3rd party marketing only company. Cut out the middle man and go directly to the installers.
6) Many lease deals are shady. You may very likely wind up paying more for all the headaches all said and done than paying SDG&E directly.
7) FOCUS on price/watt produced to compare apples to apples and remember...ROI! So what if you have top of the line panels. It's not an investment if there's no ROI.

Good luck!

Submitted by Hobie on April 23, 2014 - 6:07pm.

With your microinverters do you experience RF interference? Hum in the AM band?

Submitted by an on April 23, 2014 - 8:43pm.

Hobie wrote:
With your microinverters do you experience RF interference? Hum in the AM band?

No

Submitted by CA renter on April 24, 2014 - 12:56am.

TeCKis300 wrote:
I've had my system for 1.5 yrs now and it has been working very well for us.

From my research prior, this is not universally true. You have to be focus'd on the numbers to make this work, as it can turn into an expensive science experiment at best. Unless you're a crunchy type that doesn't put ROI above environmental issues.

Some considerations and lessons learned:
1) Understand the numbers game you're playing. Especially if you have an electric car, and are on a time of use (TOU) rather than tiered rate plan. Offsetting gas expenses is considerably more worthwhile than even offsetting tier 3/4, where you may want to offset 100% of your use.
1a BONUS) You can compound the value of solar with an electric car with a TOU plan. Solar produces during the peak rate hours, whereas charging takes places during the lowest rate hours at night.
2) Don't let the marketers confuse the priorities. Yes, it's important to buy a quality system/components, but don't forget ROI which is the whole reason for the investment.
3) Physical constraints of your installation may seriously compromise system efficiency (and potential ROI) - don't force it to work for you if it won't!
4) Microinverters!! Line inverters may be cheaper up front, but not when you consider they have to be typically replaced in ~10 yrs. Lots of companies don't do microinverters and want to force old school line inverters on customers.
5) Don't hire a 3rd party marketing only company. Cut out the middle man and go directly to the installers.
6) Many lease deals are shady. You may very likely wind up paying more for all the headaches all said and done than paying SDG&E directly.
7) FOCUS on price/watt produced to compare apples to apples and remember...ROI! So what if you have top of the line panels. It's not an investment if there's no ROI.

Good luck!

Thank you very much for your post here, TeCK! Good info.

Submitted by tc on April 24, 2014 - 8:09am.

If you get a lighter shade roof you can get a tax credit.

Submitted by tc on April 24, 2014 - 8:19am.

I just paid down my solar loan with my tax credit. My electric bill is now $156/month. It used to be $220-$280. And its going to be that for the next 15 years. Then I can expect 10 more years of use after that.
I love it.

Submitted by CA renter on April 24, 2014 - 5:55pm.

tc wrote:
I just paid down my solar loan with my tax credit. My electric bill is now $156/month. It used to be $220-$280. And its going to be that for the next 15 years. Then I can expect 10 more years of use after that.
I love it.

Is this a lease/power purchasing agreement or a system purchase?

Submitted by moneymaker on May 28, 2014 - 8:55am.

Even if financing over say 10 years, when you factor in the 30% tax credit,subtract out inflation, as long as one gets financing in the 4-5% range the tax credit off sets the cost of financing. I believe this is why Solar City can do it. Of course I think they finance around 10% if you want to purchase, that way they actually make money!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.