Solar electric

Solar electric

Now that everybody's power consumption is going to go up by 300 KWh every month (approximate consumption for 1000 miles), has anybody considered getting solar electric?
When Solar City gave me the estimate for installing the Nema they also gave me a quote for installing solar panels. I can't make up my mind if this additional investment (on top of the already big ticket item of the Model S) is something I should pursue.

rterry | 11. Januar 2013

I live in Georgia and have had my 10kWh array of panels up for a couple of months. Just awaiting the arrival of my Tesla!

TikiMan | 11. Januar 2013

Yup! I just bought a system from Solar City last month! The tax credit (30% off) is just too good to pass up! Never mind, my currently utility bills have been skyrocketing since they passed 'power deregulation' back in the late 1990's. So the system actually starts to pay for itself in under 5 to seven years (with the MS, likely 4 years).

Also, where I live, our nuclear power plant has been off-line for over a years + now, and might never go back on-line, because they have found so man issues with it (including possible sabotage). Thus, part of my current utility bill goes toward paying to maintain a completely defunct nuclear plant, that cost millions of dollars every year, just to maintain, though it is producing ZERO kWh!

I have a strange feeling that in order to maintain the power grid where I live, solar might eventually become mandatory, just to keep our area from brown and blackouts.

If you have a home based business, you can currently deduct the deprecation on the system every year (as well as my MS). So the investment makes even more sense.

DJay | 11. Januar 2013

PGE has two time of use schedules for residential with Low emission vehicles. The E-9A is for a single meter application and the E-9B is for applications where the EV is on a separate meter. The E-9B has a lower rate but because of the added cost of installing a separate meter may or may not be a good economic decision. In my case it is not, and I will be happy to be on the 9A schedule. If you are getting a proposal from anyone, make sure they compare your cost as though you are converted to the 9A rate schedule to the cost with the addition of solar. In my first presentation they assumed I was on the standard rate schedule and charging the Model S when in fact I can switch to the 9A schedule and get some benefit without having solar.

sergiyz | 11. Januar 2013

Another gotcha - your rate change will stay in effect for at least 6 months, meaning if you don't like it you can't change it for 6 months.
With PGE offpeak being late at night, I'd rather wait for Tesla to add scheduled charging before switching.

dtesla | 12. Januar 2013

I have had solar PV since 201. It's very cool to be carbon neutral.... But not as cool as a Model S.

Here in the Northeast we have Solar Renewable Energy credits (S-RECs). It's a market based carbon offset purchase program (but don't call it cap & trade). Check out for info. They pay me to produce electricity... and I get to keep the electricity. I sell my S-RECs to Washington DC. I am currently getting paid about 30 cents for every Kwh I produce.

dtesla | 12. Januar 2013

Please read that as "I have had solar PV since 2010".

archibaldcrane | 12. Januar 2013

Woohoo! Looks like LADWP just approved launch of their feed-in tariff program (FiT) - they'll buy excess solar energy for 17 cents/kwh!

sidney_wang | 12. Januar 2013

Didn't realize that scheduled charging is not yet available in S. Does anyone know if there is some sort of a timer that I can attach to the Nema 14-50 outlet in the meantime? Otherwise, I'll just need to remember to plug in the cord after 11pm every night to take advantage of the lowest TOU rate.

laalan | 12. Januar 2013

I currently have two LEAF's using about $40 per month per car of electricity. I had Southern California Edison (SCE) put in a second meter which drives my charging price down to $0.11 per KWH from 9pm to noon the next day. It cost about $800 for the electrician and the parts to put in the second meter box next to my box. SCE people came out and connected it to the grid for free. A very quick pay back.

I am hoping when I get my Sunset Red Tesla sometime in the March - June timeframe that the built in timer on the Tesla will be working although it isn't a major issue to plug in at 9pm

DaveR75 | 12. Januar 2013

We put a SolarCity system in about 6 months ago and have been extremely happy. We went with their PPA lease program which gave us the option to pay nothing and immediately reduce our SCE bill by about 20%, or pre-pay for blocks of power to lock in lower rates. The cost to pre-buy 20 years of power was less than actually buying the system outright and they own all the equipment so we basically have a 20 year warranty with guaranteed annual output. We put down about 6 years of our average electrical bills (for 20 years of electricity).

I still can't see the down side. System is fantastic and I love the on line monitoring. SolarCity was easy to deal with and respectful of family and neighbors during the install. They have everything turned on about 3 months after my original call to them. Bottom's worth giving them a call and having them come out to do the free assessment..they lay all the options out for you and we didn't get a hard sell in any way.

jk2014 | 12. Januar 2013

DaveR75 -- thanks for the info... I was hoping solarcity offer wasn't to good to be true..

sidney_wang | 12. Januar 2013

DaveR75 is absolutely correct in that there is no hard sell from SolarCity. And they were fine when I told them I'll reconsider their proposal few months from now when I have a concrete bill from PG&E using the TOU rate. It's worth it to have SolarCity create a proposal for your need.

Beaker | 14. Januar 2013

+1 on Enphase micro-inverters. Real Goods solar recommended them to us a few years back when we were just beginning to consider the Model S. They were recommended because we could easily add to the system in the future. We went with the micro micro-inverters and have indeed expanded our system to exceed the additional needs of the Model S.

Enphase's UI for monitoring is great

rcc | 14. Januar 2013

In CA, with the tiered rate system, if you've got A/C, solar power definitely makes sense.

The prepaid lease option is the big win. Costs less than purchasing because Solar City passes along their corporate tax breaks, depreciation, etc. We're putting in a 9.3KW installation. Payback time for us is ~7 years even if PG&E rates stay flat.

The folks at Solar City were really nice to deal with. No hard sell.

Also, you don't want to size your system to cover 100% of your electricity usage with PG&E. Problem is the true-up is every month and any moth where you produce more electricity than you use, PG&E pays you wholesale rates for the power. That's 4 cents a KWH. Even with the prepaid lease, the electricity costs almost 10 cents a KWH to generate with the solar panels.

So any month where you generate more power than you use, you'll lose 6 cents a KWH. And that's with the prepaid lease option. You'll lose more if you go with any other finance structure because your cost to generate a KWH will be higher.

appljd | 14. Januar 2013

I am looking at Solar Panels as well. Looking to get a smaller system (15 Panels @ 255W) and that will offset my bill by roughly $700 per year and generate 6MW per year (about a third of what we use) . I did a quite extensive study and the cost would be around $8500 and then you get 30% back from the Federal Gov. So comes out to 0.96cents/kW. When I called Solar Installers for a similar system they are charging me $14,500 ! UGH. ($3.75KW). In VA we get no state incentives. email me if you want the details. jdman AT mac dot com. I am not going to spend $6000 for installation. It really is not that hard to install. I might get all the parts and pay "roof" specialist to help me with the Unirac Aluminum mounts.

Brian H | 15. Januar 2013

Careful. "Roofer" is one of the most dangerous, accident-prone occupations in the country. The ground is just far enough away from a house roof to smash you up. You may think, "So far, so good!" on the way down, but the sudden deceleration at the end is a bugger.

archibaldcrane | 15. Januar 2013

Ugh, turns out the LADWP feed in tariff program is only for 30kwh+ installations - big apartment buildings and businesses. No power buy-back for home installs, sucks.

HClark | 15. Januar 2013

@ tcunning
You should switch to the HTML version of the site, I think it's even better then the old Flash version.

brdunton | 15. Januar 2013

I have had SolarCity lease for 21 mo. I have found my avg yearly kWh to be 30% higher than their estimate, mainly because they have to give you the avg over the life. That being said, I have not paid Xcel Energy (Denver) for power in 19 mo. I only pay connection and taxes which comes out to be about $15/mo. SolarCity offers two plans that are very affordable. A solar lease where you pay a flat fee and a power purchase where SolarCity acts as a utility and you pay for what you use. The installation costs are zero. Highly recommend you give them a call.

Amped OC | 16. Januar 2013

Thanks for the information. I'm also a PG&E customer looking at a similar Solar City system to yours. Do you mind me asking why you chose the prepaid SolarLease over the SolarPPA? I've read about the two options but don't have a good feel for the pros and cons.

lov2krz | 24. Januar 2013

I've read this thread with interest, wish I found it before my post today in the General Forum: PG&E Experimental Electric Rate Schedule E-9 Anyone On It

Anyway, here are my thoughts:
I've had PV for 7 years, 4 years on my last home and 3 years on my current home. I lived in San Jose and now live in Morgan Hill. I paid for these systems because I don't think leasing is in my best interest. I believe the lease company makes lots of money on the deal (rebates and in some instances tax credits) or they wouldn't be in the lease business. On my first home with PV I had an annual true up bill of ~$500 for the year, that's really cheap since I like my A/C. When we sold the house the appraiser added value to the home almost to the cost of the system installation.

On our current home we over produce about 1100 kWh per year with a 7.7 kWh DC rated system. During the summer I push power to PG&E even when the A/C units are on. Unfortunately, I only get paid wholesale electric rate (per the CPUC) of $0.04/kWh on the excess. If I got paid what they would charge me for the TOU overage it would be in the $500/year range. I'm not complaining since I have zero electric bills other than taxes and fees (~%12/month). My ROI is ~8 years, way better than buying an electric car (I know cars aren't investments)

I strongly recommend that if you live in a good solar location buy solar, yes you have to be able to afford it. There are lots of solar companies out there and get multiple bids, you'd be surprised at how different the bids can be and financing options.

We're retired and are home a lot during the day, we still conserve (CFL, fully insulated walls and ceiling, dual pane windows, good weather stripping, etc.). Our electric usage during the winter usually exceed baseline levels for 3-4 months a year but summers are killer for making power. If your home is empty most of the day then getting solar and TOU will save you money.

ckanuga | 24. Januar 2013

Which company did you go with? I am also in Bay Area and could try to get a quote from the vendor you went with.

xman | 24. Januar 2013

I went Solar last year in Mountain House, CA. I used the calculator below to do all my calculations

My break even is 4 years

The solar o/p graphs can be seen from here

lov2krz | 24. Januar 2013

ckanuga, in my current home I had AES Solar Services install the system, they were the contractor the builder of our house used. They did a good job but were not my first choice. My first system was installed by a Sun Power installer, can't remember who they were but you can get a referral directly from Sun Power. The guy who designed and installed the Sun Power system is Bryan Whitton and I believe he works at Freedom Solar in San Jose. You can look them up on the web.

Don't get me wrong, Solar City is a reputable company, just insist on getting an engineer with lots of experience working on your system.

Hope this helps.

Beaker | 25. Januar 2013

We used RealGoods for our solar install. We added to the system just before the Model S delivery. I was around for the city inspection. The inspector told the RealGoods supervisor that he loves to inspect their work because it's always done right.

As background, when we installed the system in the first place, we mentioned that we were thinking of an electric car in the future. Instead of telling us to get a bigger system, they instead recommended microinverters, because it that would allow the system to be easily expandable. The microinverters also increase the output of the system by about 15% because each panel can produce at peak efficiently instead of in aggregate. e.g. If on panel falls into shade the output of the other panels does not suffer, as it would if there was a single inverter. They also allowed me to identify a bad panel 6 months into the first year. it was producing significantly less than it's neighbor, all day. it was replaced a week later no charge.

dtaubert | 27. Januar 2013

I went with a 10kw system from REC Solar. Lots of shading concerns due to trees on my property - I chose power optimizers with central inverters over microinverters. Prepaid Power Purchase Agreement with SunRun ended up cheaper than cash AND the system will be fully maintained by REC Solar.
Final inspection scheduled for tomorrow. I have a Volt and Model S in the garage and am really looking forward to powering my own commute.

shs | 27. Januar 2013

I posted most of this before, but not in this thread. We had an independent install a 7.2 kW system several years ago to power our (on grid) all electric house, e.g. we use electricity to heat the house with a geothermal heat pump and cook on an induction cook top.

We are PG&E customers, and generate more electricity than we use in the summer with afternoon rates of $0.27/ kWh. In the winter we use more electricity than we generate, but as we are heating our home with a rate of $0.10 a kWh, we come very close to breaking even on our electrical bill for the year. In all months, the electricity generated by the solar panels keeps us within our baseline allowance and thus at the lowest rates.

With an electric vehicle, PG&E offers a single meter plan E-9A, where the off peak rates, when we would charge the S, drop to $0.037 in the summer and $0.047 in the winter. With E-9A rates at all times are equal to or half our current rate, with one exception; E-9A raises to $0.30/kWh the summer afternoon rates where we generate most of our excess power. The only thing we lose is that the rates for summer mornings are also half what it is now, and I expect that most mornings we generate more than we use.

Thus since having an EV combined with solar will not only allow very low cost charging, but will also likely LOWER our overall electricity bill! This E-9A rate schedule will cut in half the cost to heat our home in the winter and thus with PG&E at least, the combination of solar and an EV seems to be a real winner. BTW, our summer use of AC is minimal hence the E-9A plan works for us. If you live in a climate with very hot summers, the E-9b rate (dual meter) would probably be better.

Brian H | 27. Januar 2013

Amazing contrast with the situation here. As I posted earlier, the marginal rate falls here as you use more. Almost as if the utility were trying to maximize sales of its product. Amazing concept!

Solarenergy | 09. März 2013

A lot of misconceptions on Solar programs . I've worked for SolarCity the last 2 years as a Senior Outside Clean Energy Consultant. If anyone has a direct question or wants a no obligation consultation in the NY/NJ/CT area feel free to email me

djm12 | 10. März 2013

Solar City does a great job of explaining the economic benefit in going solar. If the numbers they presented to you are acceptable, go for it.

Mark15 | 13. März 2013

Live in the East Bay near San Francisco, Ca and PG&E offers EV rate called EA9 to electric car owners. Easy to apply and when the timer option comes out with new software release will be the bomb. it gives reduced rates lowest being from midnight to seven AM. My current rate is fixed at $0.37 and this new EA9 will bring it down to $ 0.09 during partial peak time and $0.037 off peak time (midnight to 7am) in summer and $ 0.046 in winter off peak. This is GOOD!

Brian H | 14. März 2013

But isn't all that going away in a few months, rolled into a new schedule?

sidney_wang | 14. März 2013

@Mark15 - I'm currently on E9A. For me, the rate is only good for approx the first half or first 2/3 of the billing cycle. Then, it goes up to more than $.30 for the remainder of the billing cycle. This is because E9A is a tier-based schedule - once you used up the allocation for a given tier, it'll move you up to the next tier rate. So if you charge your car at home, it won't take long before the allocation for the first tier is used up.

I'm actually looking forward to the new EV schedule, which is non-tier based.

aethernet | 18. März 2014

I had SolarCity and a few other installers come out to my house to quote me on solar. They were really pushing a lease deal where they owned the system and I bought the electricity it produced from them. What I didn't like was they got to keep my tax credit. My neighbor is an electrician and he told me he would help with the electrical if I bought the equipment. A local company sold me a kit and my sons and I did most of the insallation. I ended up saving quite a bit although the project did take 4 days and several trips to the company we bought it from. In the end I got to keep the tax credit so I am happy about that.

Tessnme | 18. März 2014

I recommend PetersenDean for solar. They installed a 2K system with micro inverters for $9350. It keeps us in PG&Es tier 1 and should pay for itself in less than 8 years after federal credit. They're easy to work with and are efficient and on time. They also do roofing.

blue_tesla | 18. März 2014

Now that there are many more qualified solar panel installers, there are cheaper alternatives. This one, for example, in the SF bay area, does a good job and will install a 2KW system for less than $8000. On top of that you will get a federal tax credit of 30%. You can find other reputable ones by yelp'ing.