To Buy, Or Not To Buy? That is a question?

To Buy, Or Not To Buy? That is a question?

OK. I've gotten permission from my energy COOP here in Central Texas to interconnect. Tesla has made is stupidly simply to order, so now I must ask: buy or lease? I'm thinking medium package with Power Walls. What's pros/cons either way? If I sign up on a lease, can I switch to purchase later (I understand losing the tax credit).

What say ye oh fella geniuses?

jrweiss98020 | September 30, 2019

ALWAYS, if you can afford it, buy it.

gregbrew | September 30, 2019

Purchasing outright will likely be the cheapest solution in the long run. With Powerwalls, your ROI will be lower than with PV alone, probably about 10% on an approximately ten year payback period. My 5kW PV system's ROI was about 12%, with an eight year payback period, before I added two PWs early this year. PWs don't really save any money, here in SCE territory.

I took money that was making 1.5% in the bank, and put it on my roof for an eight times better return. The savings month-to-month go back into the bank. It's a no-brainer.

JustSaying | October 14, 2019

"I took money that was making 1.5% in the bank, and put it on my roof for an eight times better return. The savings month-to-month go back into the bank. It's a no-brainer"
Agreed and as electric rates will continue to increase your ROI will also increase.
When we installed our solar in 2015 Tier 1 rate was .17 KWH with a top Tier of .42KWH currently Tier 1 is .29 with the top Tier at .55
Our solar cost of production is about .07 KWH (a quick and dirty calc , net system cost divided by 20 year life divided by annual KW production)

Tesla-David | October 14, 2019

Yep, if you can afford to buy that would be my recommendation. I have solar and powerwalls. Best decision I ever made, with zero regrets.

nwfan | October 15, 2019

Only problem TX electric power is dirt cheap compared to CA and the right coast.
It's hard to justify expense when you can sign up for a multi year plan at .07kWh

If our power rates were as high as CA buy. Will our rates in TX go up to levels of
others? If nextera energy gets into TX, buy solar.

bp | October 15, 2019

We just put a contract down for solar panels and PowerWalls in Texas, after spending much of this year debating whether or not to make the plunge.

Our electricity rates have been around $.11/KWh - for years. And based on the assumption we would see similar prices going forward, it didn't make economic sense to buy PowerWalls - with a breakeven estimated at 18-20 years, with such low electric rates.

Our current electricity contract expires in a few months, and our provider (who has always had lower prices) will increase our rate by 30% for a 2 year contract. So we adjusted our financial projections based on the 30% increase, and an expected annual increase of 3% - since Texas rates appears to be on the rise, especially with increasing charges for the grid infrastructure and a trend of the lower priced fossil fuel plants shutting down. And that brought our breakeven to 13-15 years - and even better when we adjusted for the even lower rates we should get by consuming much less grid electricity.

We didn't consider leasing and plan to purchase the system. A few comments:

First, when estimating break even, if you plan to use the PowerWalls to provide long-term battery backup during an emergency (hurricane), you should exclude a portion of the PowerWall costs from your calculations, since purchasing a gas generator with installation would likely cost $8-10K. There is some value in having the ability to operate "off grid" in an emergency, and not reasonable to include that in "breakeven" calculations.

Second, if you purchase the system by the end of this year, you'll qualify for the 30% federal tax rebate (if you have enough income to cover that). If you lease, you won't get that tax break, so you'll be paying a lease on 100% of the system cost, and if you decide to purchase the system in the future, you'll be paying the 100% cost. Even with the projected Texas electricity rate increases, breakeven against 100% solar/PowerWall costs is not practical.

Third, in most places in Texas, homes with solar are still a very small portion of the market - and could face some resistance from potential purchasers for homes with solar installed. Expecting a new owner to inherit a lease or loan on the solar panels/PowerWalls could make it even more difficult to sell your home.

Our installer indicated they are beginning to see panel shortages as installers push to get installations done before the end of this year - and that some installers have already hit a cutoff for promising installation this year.

So anyone considering solar - should make another assessment now - if they want to take advantage of the 30% US rebate this year...

jrweiss98020 | October 15, 2019

The year-end deadline isn't a showstopper - the rebate only falls to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021 before it stops.

Passion2Fly | October 15, 2019

I don't really understand why you are addressing energy savings as a combo solar+powerwall. The PowerWall is an energy storage device, it doesn't produce energy. So, unless you're on a TOU schedule with peak rates after dark, the battery won't "save" you any money. It's a pure backup system and probably not the best investment since natural gas generators from Generac are cheaper and very reliable.

Regarding leasing vs buy, the answer is simple. If you can afford it, buy it. In 2022 the solar rebates are going to be gone. So, if you lease a system now and don't plan on selling your house before 2022, you won't be penalized by missing the rebate with a lease. Leases are fully transferable with the house and have a "system purchase" clause.

Tesla-David | October 15, 2019

@Passion2Fly I would differ with your dismissal of Powerwalls. We use ours in self-powered mode and are generally operating as a microgrid producing all our electricity to run our all-electric home + charge two Tesla's. They are an incredible complement to our 13.2 Solar PV system, and have operated flawlessly over the past 16 months. For me the payback is peace of mind knowing we are less reliant on the grid, and moving away from ALL fossil fuel based energy sources, which includes natural gas generators, etc. We are in a Climate Emergency/CRISIS, and have precious little time to move a carbon neutral society.

We also have our PW2 backup limit set to 25 percent so we keep the lights on in case of a brownout/blackout. We are NOT on TOU here, but we have zero regrets about installing our 2-PW2's.

Passion2Fly | October 15, 2019

You're right. Texas doesn't require utilities to buyback electricity, so storing your energy for night use and EV charging makes sense.
In California, the utilities buyback at retail rates (same rates you would pay for electricity), so the only advantage of the PW is load shifting since our peak rates are after dark... and, of course, emergency backup...

I see your argument against gas generators but these are ONLY used as an emergency. Very rarely.

Sonofman | October 15, 2019

Here in AZ the utilities have net metering but awful plans with high TOU costs when the sun sets. I bought solar and powerwall together to lump the total cost into the 30% credit and to shift my power use to an ultra low .04kwh during off peak times.

Owning the system also gives me more equity in the event I wanted to sell the property (no plans ever so far).

Only downside is with two Teslas I can't generate enough to charge them and power the two AC units etc.

gregbrew | October 15, 2019

Even if you pay for the electricity, an EV fuels for less than half the cost per mile of an ICE.

bp | October 16, 2019

For us, the PowerWalls will serve two functions.

They will primarily store solar energy during the day for use during the non-daylight hours.

The secondary use will be for backup power for unplanned outages (up to a few hours) and anticipated emergencies (hurricanes) for several days.

In that scenario, it makes sense to remove a portion of the PowerWall cost from the breakeven projections, equivalent to the cost of a generator plus installation.

In doing more research on our pending installation, found several additional factors.

In addition to the electricity cost savings from the power we'll be getting from solar, by significantly reducing our electric use, we'll also qualify for even lower rates for the electricity we will be pulling from the grid. This could reduce our breakeven time from 13 years down to 10 years.

In reviewing our current electric use - the largest usage was our pool equipment - which appears to be 30% of our electricity. And out of that - the largest use was a pump for water features. After reviewing the pump power usage, we can easily reduce our current usage by at least 10%, and will likely look at replacing one of the pumps with a more efficient variable speed pump to further reduce power usage.

Henry.jask | October 26, 2019

What about Pittsburgh PA? Wonder if it is worth it?

bp | October 27, 2019

The decision process is different outside of California. In California, there are very high electric rates, utilities are required to buyback solar electricity, and there are many homes that are adding solar.

With lower electric rates, it's harder to justify economically solar - with longer time required to "break even on the investment".

If local utilities aren't required to buy back excess electricity, then you'll either be limited to using solar power only during sunlight hours, or have to increase you investment with PowerWalls to store the solar power for use later. Though a benefit of PowerWalls is that it also provides backup power - something that could cost $10-15K to add to a home (plus the cost of fuel).

In our area, very few homes have solar. We've been warned by our realtor that homes with solar can discourage many potential buyers who don't understand solar - and may not want to deal with it. We considered that when committing to our solar/PowerWall purchase - and like with the purchase of our first Tesla (VIN 3xxx) in early 2013, we're confident buyer perspectives will change several years from now, and having solar will be viewed as a positive here, like it should be today in California.

Does this work in Pittsburgh - maybe. Review how much electricity is being used. Assess how many panels can be installed - and the likely power they'll get (roof shape/direction, objects like trees blocking sunlight, …). And then do an economic analysis on how much electricity will likely cost for the next 10-20 years, how much you'll save by adding solar (and possibly PowerWalls), and project how long it will take to 'break even'.

Or get solar because you want to reduce your dependence on the grid - and do your part in the shift to renewable energy (which was part of our justification).

kevinsabarese | November 4, 2019

I wouldn’t recommend the powerwall system (and insanely terrible/non-existent customer service from Tesla). Once Tesla gets your money, they don’t seem to care about you as a customer on the powerwall side. I had 2 Powerwalls installed in June. 1 stopped working in August and now in november I only get lies from Tesla (when I can actually get in touch with them). Worst customer service I have ever seen in my life. I was told my solar would charge the powerwall during an outage, but it doesn’t and after browsing these forums I’m wondering if that was just another lie Tesla told me when I was asking about the system. If the powerwall is powering the solar inverter, why wouldn’t the arrays charge the battery when off grid?

jojosidarolod | December 6, 2019

It seems to me that components for Tesla vehicle are too expensive if you have to make repairs without a guarantee from the manufacturer. And it may not sound ironic, but it’s easier to make money at and repair your car, because repair can hit your pocket

Tesla-David | December 7, 2019

troll flagged

gregbrew | December 8, 2019

How does one "flag" a troll? I want to do so as well.

Also, I have seen zero evidence that flagging their posts has had any effect at all. If anything, the incidences of spam advertising posts has dramatically *increased* as of late. It's rendering this forum nearly useless.

I recommend that this website simply disable the ability to post links of any kind. That will take away most of the incentive to post spam advertising.