Solar system

Solar system

I am planning to install solar to power my house and the Model S. Got a quote for purchase of 4.7kw system from SolarCity for $24K before the tax incentives. Seems like a pretty high price for the size of the system. This would only offset about 58% of my electricity usage with the Model S.

I am getting Real Goods Solar to come out next week for another quote. Anyone know of any other good/reasonable solar company in southern CA that I can also get a quote from? Planning on calling SunPower and Sungevity also. thanks

AmpedRealtor | 05. September 2013

Although I live in AZ, I can vouch for the quality of Sunpower panels and equipment. I have a Sunpower lease and I pay $168/mo for a 14.5 kW system. No pre-pay or money down for that lease rate.

Tylyoung | 05. September 2013

Make it easy on yourself, 20 year lease the system from Solar City. They do it all... and Solar City maintains it.
I did. It was effortless! My 5.4kwh system produces 3/4 more power than my car uses. Grid tied. Overall savings about $1200.00 a year in total energy usage. ....this is my suggestion to you.. why? ..
keep it simple, it works and I had to do nothing! I charge my MS with a NEMA 14-50 Solar City put in my garage.... sweet... it's all you need!

JPPTM | 05. September 2013

SolarCity did my system under a Power Purchase Agreement. No $$ down, no lease, just cheaper power. Yes, they are making more money on me over 20 years, but I get none of the up front costs or headache.

And, yes, their electricians installed 2 NEMA 14-50s in my garages at a discount for going with them for PV solar.


AmpedRealtor | 05. September 2013

I find solar leases to be the best option for the most up front savings. No money down, low monthly lease payment, everything is warranted and the inverters will be replaced once the time comes. What I have on my roof is basically a $50k-$70k system, depending on where you go. If I had to shell out that kind of money up front, I would rather take the lease and buy myself another rental property and get a 10% return on that money.

howsbayou2 | 05. September 2013

REC did my installation using Sunrun panels. I opted for $0 out of pocket and just started saving $150/month. They sized the unit for adding an electric car, which I now have in production . They are partnered with Costco and currently are running a referral program which gives me $1000 in costco card plus free Nest thermostat. Their normal referral is $500. I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't do this if your roof has orientation right. They will evaluate for free.

jeffaa | 05. September 2013

OP: That quote is definitely high. Keep shopping.

AmpedRealtor | 05. September 2013

Just to complete my previous thought...

I'm on track to save $1,200 in my first year (October) versus doing nothing and continuing to pay the power company. And that's after I added my monthly lease payment into my costs. So going with a solar lease has no downsides in my mind, as long as the numbers make sense.

joehuber | 05. September 2013

Depends on whether you want to save the most money in the long run, or if you just want to easily start lowering your electric bill. How long do you plan to stay in this house?

Personally I wanted to save the most money over the long term and didn't mind making an upfront investment to do so. So I bought my solar system, and will have a virtually Zero electric bill for the next 25 years, well into retirement.

Others maximize their long term savings, but avoid short term cash outlay by taking out a Home Equity Loan to buy the solar system. That interest is usually tax deductable.

A solar lease or a PPA are ways to immediately start lowering your electric bill, at least for the hight tier or high TOU portions of your electricity consumption. But they do result in paying a higher cost per kWh over the long term than if you owned your own system.

Frankly I find it a simpler and easier decision to just buy your own solar system, rather than complicate the resale value of your house with encumberances to third parties that a prospective buyer may not want to understand.

pebell | 05. September 2013

Weird price, $24k for 4.7kWp, really? I just had a 2.5kWp system installed for under $5k. Perhaps I am missing something here...

simplesolarinc | 05. September 2013

Give my company a call tomorrow and just mentioned you saw this on the forum. I own the company and have done multiple systems for tesla owners including my own Tesla. I am very familiar with the time of use and what is required to get you the lowest bill for the least amount of money. 90% of the solar company just wants to sell you a lease and move on. Leasing is one of the worse way to own solar, even borrowing money at 15% to own is better than leasing.

We just did a 6.5kw for less than 24k and his first 2 bills were in the negatives.

1-888-891-6888 ask for Danny or shoot me an email at and I will take care of you.

evanstumpges | 05. September 2013

SunPower likely won't be the cheapest option, but they are definitely worth considering if you care about value over the long term. SunPower produces the highest efficiency commercially available solar panels in the world. Their product quality/reliability is generally very high. Also, their 25 year warranty is much better than competitors because it guarantees 95% power production for the first 5 years and degradation of no greater than 0.4% each year thereafter. So at the end of 25 years, the panels are still guaranteed to be 87% efficient. Finally, SunPower among just a handful of solar panel producers that I have confidence will be around long enough to honor warranty claims.

My understanding is that Solar City buys panels from a number of different solar panel manufactures that offer a cheaper purchase price than SunPower. If going this route, I'd recommend finding out from them what panels they plan to use and do some research into the company and the panel warranty to ensure you are comfortable with the risk that the panels might not produce as much energy as you expect them to after 10-25 years. How likely is it that the company will still be in business then to repair or replace them? That is always one of the key questions that needs to be asked when making your solar panel selection.

radsvision | 05. September 2013

Thanks for all the thoughts/advice. I definitely have to do more research :)

AmpedRealtor | 05. September 2013

Sunpower panels also perform much better in hot climates than the other guys. Because of how they are designed, partial shading of a Sunpower cell has very little impact on the rest of the panel while a more conventional panel will have its entire output cut if even one cell is shaded.

I live in AZ and Sunpower was definitely a no-brainer. It's the best, highest output, most reliable panel in production today. Tilting your panels is another way to achieve better efficiency if your roof doesn't have the best orientation. I would not worry at all about resale with a solar lease. If you keep copies of your bills, you can clearly show the savings. A lot of people are wanting solar now, so it's going to be a great feature to have down the road when you sell.

blue_tesla | 05. September 2013

This is not in southern California, but look for someone reasonable like this -

michael1800 | 05. September 2013

Meh, thought this would be an astrophysics thread. :(