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Solar Panels for the home

Solar Panels for the home

I was thinking of getting solar panels for my home.
1. For those of you who have gone solar, who did you use?
2. How many of you have changed your usage habits to stay on “clean” energy instead of pulling extra energy off the grid?
3. What are some things about daily usage, installation, etc that you wish someone had told you before you went solar?
Thanks.

jimglas | 15 August 2019

I started at www.energysage.com
Hooked me up with several bids
I met with them and chose the installer I had the most confidence in after meeting as well as reading reviews
I didn't get a battery back up as I suspect battery costs will decrease in the next few years

azdonna | 15 August 2019

I lease my panels from Solar City, which is now owned by Tesla. I love having them, and loved working with SC. I did a pre-paid 20 year lease, and have an 8kW system. I am grandfathered into a net metering plan.
Tesla recently came out to do 5 year maintenance on my system, and they spent 4 hours taking every panel off, testing it, washing it and replacing it. Great service. If buying panels is a little out of anyone's price range, consider leasing. It's a more affordable option and you'll still save a lot of money over not having them at all. My electricity conserving habits changed a bit when I first got them, trying to hit a break even point between generation and usage. But now I don't think about them much. I've settled into a routine and know what my bill is going to be.

Magic 8 Ball | 15 August 2019

1) https://cinnamon.energy
2) No need, in fact since since we produce surplus I put in some electric heaters in my greenhouse for winter.
3) I wish we did it earlier

kevin_rf | 15 August 2019

If I had to do it all over again, I would have mounted them on a tracker. We get killed on production in the winter and that would help.

Shop around, get at least three quotes.

Treat all claimed energy savings as being inflated and do your own math. Sales people have a tendency to exaggerate.

7.4 kw array with enphase micro inverters (inverter on each panel), 61.06 MWh over the last 7 years. Local contractor.

pweady | 15 August 2019

I went with Solar Optimum in Southern California. I also used Energy Sage to get multiple quotes but a friend recommended SO and they ended up giving my the best price and system. I purchased it outright. 16x LG 365W panels. I didn't add a battery but made sure the system was compatible in case I wanted to get one in the future. I'm super happy with my system. It's bigger than I need but I can grow into it. The only thing I changed is to keep the thermostat lower because all of the power is free. BTW, just about every solar company has a referral program so if you end up going with a company from this thread be sure to ask the person how to get the referral.

dchuck | 15 August 2019

1) A local provider here in Western Canada.

2) Asked the wife and kids to do simple things like use the Laundry, Baking, and Dishwasher during the day instead of waiting until evening.

3) Go over in detail exactly what they are planning on installing and where everything is going to go and even what materials they are using. I ended up with an exposed black 3' cable going down from the awning of the house to the roof of my garage that could have been avoided if they told me that was their plan. (its on the back of the house so it is not an eye sore, but i could have showed them where they could run it inside the house and avoided a roof penetration and a made a shorter cable run)

The difference in generation between summer and winter is a huge. I make nothing in winter and far too much in summer. So unless your utility allows you to bank your excess power throughout the year your still going to have bills to pay. Batteries you say? Batteries will not help since it is not economical to keep them charged for 6 months. Obviously if your below the snow belt it will not be as bad but your still looking at generating 2x more in the summer than winter in most locations and so sizing is critical.

Quinten | 15 August 2019

Hi HKH,

I got my SunPower 8.5 kWp (DC) that is 26 EA 327 Watt panels. It is estimated of making 15,740 kWh per year. I got my installed last month or so with a bird nest barrier. My system cost me 28,972 and with 30% Federal tax credit it will drop it by $8,691. So it would be $20,280. The SunPower brand and their solar panel are nice and very efficacy. Make sure you count for how much your new Tesla EV will use in energy. My per a month avg about 300 kWh more per month bring it to about 1,000 kWh to 1,200 kWh avg.

Also keep in mind that even that what brand and solar system you get don't forget what is stated at the panel wattage is not what you get. Do the math base of at about 85% efficacy. So on my 8,500 x .85 = 7,225 kWp (DC) only. It drop due to micro-inverters and electricity travel thru the power line and conversion from DC to AC.

One important thing is NOT to do lease as many solar company will not do now a day. And don't let the sale rep talk to down on a system it is under producing your needs. You can end up with not making enough electricity and seeing a big 12-month bill at the end of the years instead of getting $70 for meter connection fee and some solar credit you will be getting back for excess you made going back to the grid.

Here in SoCal Edison I think it at a discounted market rate of only $0.035 cents vs me paying them 19 cents avg on. So again make sure you get a solar system that meets your needs now and add for future coverage i.e. 2nd EV or kids growing up and using more electricity and global warning in using AC more often. I hope this helps you.

P.S. Don't get suck into getting the Tesla Wall battery for your house if you do get the Tesla Solar System. Here at CA the rate of buying back energy is cheap and we don't have that much electric outage often. I have offset my needs by 166% for the solar system. A few company that is good and bad.

SunPower: Make one of the best solar panel and very efficient but you make a premium pay for their system. SunPower is also going thru a company going bankrupt as they don't make much money on their solar panel and the tariff does not help. There is 25 Years warranty on them so even if the company goes out of business I think they have to set money on the side for that coverage by law.

SunRun: It one of the best solar company now. Don't know much about them other that are at the top seller now.

Tesla SolarCity: They are the 2nd biggest solar company. Their price now is pretty good but I am not sure you wanted to deal with their SoarCity side that has many issue now still.

Do ton of research and make a system that is right for you and add some buffer for future grown and remember the 85% efficient math go he a real world idea of your solar system will make?

I was thinking of getting solar panels for my home.
1. For those of you who have gone solar, who did you use? SunPower.
2. How many of you have changed your usage habits to stay on “clean” energy instead of pulling extra energy off the grid? Not much changed as I planned for the extra 300 kWh it will needed per month.
3. What are some things about daily usage, installation, etc. that you wish someone had told you before you went solar? Check your local electric company they might have incentive. Here in SoCal Edison they will pay about $1,500 for install 240v EV plugs to your house. I got two but decided to pay out of my own pocket due to the TOU you must stay on for two years. The cost about like $1,300 for two plugs.

Quinten

JustSaying | 15 August 2019

I used Sunrun ( at Costco and considered a Costco purchase helps as you are not a hit and run customer). A good system with a linear vs step guarantee. Look it up and ask about it,
System size is 6 KW my use requirements at the time pre Tesla(s). I should have gotten a bit larger system. Unless you are on a "roof rental" program where they sell the excess generated back to the utility they allow a plus 10%.
I look at it as a 17% Plus Guaranteed return on investment. Guaranteed as I am paying myself and Plus as electric rates are not coming down.
BTW I understand If the purchase is bundled with new Battery system the total system cost is subject to the fed credit (some also claim a new roof, please check with your tax person)

CharleyBC | 15 August 2019

1. We went with Sierra Pacific, a Sacramento-area company. Maybe more relevant for the general reader is the products: Panasonic HIT 330W panels and a SolarEdge inverter ready for future battery upgrade, if we ever decide to add battery. There are cheaper panels out there, but I wanted ones from a company that would likely be around for the duration of the warranty and had an excellent performance reputation. Note: Tesla was our runner-up. Physically more attractive installation, but weaker on warranty coverage, at least at the time we bought.

2. We changed habits mainly in two ways, both of which we envisioned when I sized the system (7.92 kWp). First, we now charge a car. In fact, it was while we were in the 2+ year wait that we did the solar project, motivated in large part by not wanting to charge our clean car with dirty gas-fired power. Second, we rarely used to use our air conditioning at home, even in Sacramento (today’s high will be 108°) heat. Now we do more often. But we produce enough to support all that and still run net-zero or better.

3. As I mentioned above, it pays to get the best equipment. It may cost a bit more, but you want the system to perform for a quarter century or more. You will need to clean it from time to time; drag a hose with a spray nozzle and a microfiber mop on your roof a couple times a year. You will come to hate each of your neighbors’ trees that cast a shadow on your panels at any time!

billstanton | 15 August 2019

1. Tesla/Solar City
2. No need as we signed up for net metering. You get out of the grid what you feed in. Then we added a Powerwall, it balances everything for you. Panels feed the Powerwall first, then feed the grid. After sunset, we set the Powerwall to feed the house until it gets down to 75% (this is user settable) this gets us past the peak and even partial peak grid periods. Then the Wall Charger charges the car at off peak rates overnight, assuming we end up needing more power after net at True Up.
3. Went Tesla all the way. Didn't want different vendors pointing fingers in the event of problems. 30% Fed tax credit was a big plus when buying. The Tesla phone app is cool and it annoys my wife when I point out what the system is doing automatically. Oh, I trim any neighbor tree that comes across my fence. Won't admit to anything further.

jamilworm | 15 August 2019

I just bought sunpower panels through Stellar solar in San Diego. They are being installed tomorrow actually. I bought a bit more than my expected annual usage so that I'll be covered even as they degrade over time. Because of that I dont expect tor change my habits apart from maybe being more liberal with the a/c.

CST | 15 August 2019

Local installer, recommended by a guy I knew that almost used them but did his own install.
Basically, it over-generate nearly 2 MWhr/ yr, the piddly amount PG&E buys back overage will pay off my NBC charges.
$30K for the system, $10K in rebates.
Total cost is that my loan is $70/mo less than my power bill would be.

styvwerx | 15 August 2019

I, too, used Energy Sage, and they were the clincher for me. They started by showing me how many panels I would get on my roof, which is not optimally configured for Solar. They bid it out for me, and I chose what seemed to me to be the best vendor/hardware combination (using Panasonic Panels). Installation was fairly straightforward, and after PG&E ditzed around with it for about a week, I am now generating about 75 to 85% of what PG&E says my daily average use is. I only charge the M3 after 11pm. I live in a fog belt in San Francisco, so I think this is pretty cool! I've only been online with it for about a week, but am satisfied with everything so far. Rebates are the next issue to conquer.

vincelorto | 15 August 2019

If o had to do it again, I would first start with spending money on cheaper and more efficient energy products. This means switching to all led lighting and getting rid of or slowing the use of high energy products like the xbox plasma TVs and cable box. Then I would measure my energy use and make my determination on car energy after that. Good luck.

eztider | 15 August 2019

Three years ago I went with Solar City. I got a $500 discount since at the time I owned a Model S and qualified for the promotion. Solar City gave me a quote for a 5.3 kw system, I got a quote from a different company that was $2K lower and for a 5.7 kw system. Solar City then matched the price AND installed the bigger system. So, make at least two companies compete for your business. And, if you lease instead of buy you won't get the federal tax credits. Don't lease.There was 3% financing available from Mosaic when I closed the deal.

nwfan | 16 August 2019

I'm in TX. Went with a local company over Solar City now Tesla Energy. I needed microinverters
due to trees surrounding my property. Shading cuts into your power generation.
I also wanted my trunk lines from the roof to be AC instead of DC.

My system was orig 10kW with one Tesla auto. After 1 year use I purchased another Tesla auto and
discovered through 1 year's operation that I needed more power. I grew my system to 17kW.
I have panels pointed in all directions. During the winter months my north facing panels generate not enough
energy to power my LED lights. But in the summer they more than pay for themselves.
I also have a battery set up for self consumption. At night it discharges powering my household loads.
As others have mentioned. Charge both cars during the day. Peak solar production. I do not charge at night.
I keep my house as cold as I can stand it. Use net metering. My power provider bank my excess power during the summer and I draw on it during the winter months and rainy days.

I'm starting my 4th year. I did not lease my system. Recieved 30 percent federal tax credit and incentive from TDU utility. Would I do it all over again? Yes. Research what's available. Figure what your power requirements will be during the summer and winter. Electric heat or gas? Hot summers? Electric vehicles? Or will you be purchasing electric car in the future. My Model S easily can require 28kW to fill it every other day. My Model 3 not as much energy due to it's efficiency. I've become more wasteful. I tend to not worry about leaving lights on. I keep my A/C on as cold as I can stand it. I charge my Model 3 (pay for supercharging totally off solar). I can see where the future is headed and I'm ready.

Fuzzball | 16 August 2019

Purchased via Sunrun. Tesla is cheap but doesnt install in NYC. Sunpower quoted 30pct higher and also insisted on some work to be compliant with local requirements that sunrun ran several assessments on and concluded they will pass inspections without the additional work - local inspections experience was key reason i went with Sunrun.
Other than that process was great and i also had a great sales rep i initially met at Costco who was steller in managing us through the process.
5kw system (95pct offset) as this was optimal setup. Next panel would have started to be limited by angles or potential shade. I would have gone much bigger if my roof allowed it.

bj | 16 August 2019

Not sure why this is in the Model 3 Forum, but...

1. Since I’m in Australia, I doubt who I used is relevant to anyone here.
2. I changed the charge timers on my LEAF to charge during the day on days of the week when it is mostly at home, and to charge only at off-peak times (midnight to 6am) on days when it isn’t. Also push stuff like running the dishwasher into the day instead of overnight. I also use the A/C a lot less, but we also replaced every window in the house with double glazing so that has made A/C much less necessary. We want to maximise self-consumption.
3. Not much because I did a lot of research prior.

The solar+ PW2 combination is stunning. We have massively reduced our grid draw. Consider this: it is only just past mid-winter here, but according to the Tesla app, so far this month we have used 327 kWh, generated 417 kWh from solar, taken 161 kWh from the PW2, used 52 kWh from the grid but injected 118 kWh into the grid. Self consumption is 84% for the month, and that excludes grid export.

Basically, if we could store all the solar, we would be off-grid. In winter! In summer this is going to be completely nuts. We will generate so much power we won’t know what to do with it. This is the future, here and now!

bddaughe | 16 August 2019

I'd love to install solar panels, but am in the midwest (Indiana). Anyone have any experience with companies in the midwest?

HKH | 16 August 2019

Thanks for all the insights. I'm in LA and get power from SoCal Edison.

a. Am I right to infer from @JustSaying that there is a cap to the amount of energy the utility company will buy back?
b. If I value energy output over cost, would it be correct to max out the system, eg, should I put panels on my detached garage?
c. I'm not sure I understood-- you can choose inverters separately from the panels?

jimglas | 16 August 2019

FWIW:
32 Panasonic panels with microinverters, Approximately 11 kW
Initially tried tesla, but our roof was "too steep" (max 45 degrees, ours is 47)

pweady | 16 August 2019

@HKH

a) I don't think there's a cap for how much energy the utility will buy back in CA but the buyback rate is really cheap. I was told that I couldn't build a system over 125% my normal usage but you can get around it by saying you just got an electric car. It seems to be a pretty lenient rule.
b) I built a larger system instead of trying to manage my power usage with a battery. Calculate the payback time but I'd go with a larger system up front. Adding a few panels to the initial install is cheaper than having them come out a second time to upgrade your system.
c) The inverters are separate from the panels. I got Enphase microinverters for my LG panels. They seem to be top of the line. Plus Enphase has a great app for tracking your system performance.

Be sure to shop around but since you're in LA give Solar Optimum a shot. I'm really with my system from them.

Quinten | 16 August 2019

Hi HKH,

I am also from SoCal with Edison. Here is the website for the discounted rate that Edison will buy back from you for the extra energy you made thru out the whole year. It is not much at about 5 cents rate.
https://www.sce.com/regulatory/tariff-books/rates-pricing-choices/net-su...
a. Am I right to infer from @JustSaying that there is a cap to the amount of energy the utility company will buy back?
Answer: Not that I know from Edison. They do recommend consumer get a solar system not over 150% but it really up to you. They don't wanted the local solar installer to over bid and over size your solar system to make more money.
b. If I value energy output over cost, would it be correct to max out the system, eg, should I put panels on my detached garage?
Answer: Yes, pay attention to their warranty too. That is why I gone with SunPower. They have much better solar panel design and each panel has their own micro-inverter. The good is if a few solar panel break it will still generate electricity. The cheaper solar system has one big inverter that placed inside/outside near your electric panels/garage. I had 26 panels and they place them all over my roof. I had 3 solar panels in my garage roof too.
Please do your research. For consumer SunPower offer the two series of their solar panels. X-Series which is their high end and E-Series which is their standard solar panel that makes 327 Watts. I would not recommend the X - series as they will cost about 5 to 6K more unless you can get it the same price. Check it with Henry from Fresno, CA at SunPower Energy Concepts. They offered my brother and I both the same X series for the same price as the E-Series. This company has the best price and services. They will even service area in LA too.
In general, you wanted X series only if your house don't have the mounting surface for it but if you can get it same price do it!

E-Series: https://us.sunpower.com/solar-panels-technology/e-series-solar-panels
X-Series: https://us.sunpower.com/solar-panels-technology/x-series-solar-panels

c. I'm not sure I understood-- you can choose inverters separately from the panels?

Yes, there are two types of inverters. One big one for the whole solar system or micro-inverters for each solar panel.

And even if you are getting price quotes from SunPower each local installer company can charge different rates. I gone with a 2nd SunPower install after the first contract failed due to how my roof is missing battens and they refuses to honor the installation as they offer lifetime warranty on the area where the solar panels are installed. This 2nd SunPower installer did not have that issue and found other solution to mount the solar system.

JustSaying | 16 August 2019

I am a SDGE grandfathered net metering customer.
"Under rules set by the California Public Utilities Commission, once net metering at the state’s three investor-owned utilities exceeds 5 percent of peak customer demand, a “successor tariff” goes into effect for new customers"
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-solar-metering-cap-2016jun17-s...
BTW in Hawaii for a while they severely limited the number of new solar customers allowed to hook up to the grid.

JustSaying | 16 August 2019

Not sure about the current regulations but under my net metering we in essence use SDGE as our power wall.
I can't add to our system our i will lose the 20 year exemption.

kevin_rf | 16 August 2019

I know when we installed in MA, you where limited to a 10kw system. Anything larger and it was no longer considered residential.

Tronguy | 16 August 2019

New Jersey here. Installed in 2008, although, when the house was being built, we tried; but then discovered a rider in the sales contract said, "no eyesores until four years after the last house sold." The builder said, "Panels are an eyesore.". What the heck, they were trying to build and sell houses and didn't want to get in the way of that. Four of our 13 neighbors all have them now..
In this state, the go-to place is njcleanenergy.com, which despite the name, is run by the local Public Utilities Commission. And maybe gives an idea of how solar is treated around here (i.e., well.). They run an estimator; put in the size and shape of a roof, R-values, how many appliances, location, angles of roof, solar panel types, and it'll generate NASA solar irradiation-based curves about how much energy an installation will generate given the array size, inverter efficiencies, and so on. Temperatures figure into that, too.
Both the SO and I are engineers. At the time, there was no sales tax on the panels; there were state grants (sadly, now gone) for those who put in panels; there was, and still is, the 30% federal tax rebate on the net user cost; and, thanks to a very smart state house legislator who happened to have (I think) both a degree in economics and in Electrical Engineer (Power), Solar Renewable Energy Credits. Which we're still getting.
He came up with the bill that put in the original state incentive programs, designed to make ratepayers, power companies, solar adopters, and NIMBY types all wildly happy. It passed the state house, senate, and the governor's pen in a landslide. Power companies like it because they sell at retail and buy at wholesale; solar adopters because they actually Save Money with a 5-year payback; and ratepayers, NIMBY and power companies all love the side effect of being able to get rid of peaking electrical power plants since peak demand is during sunny days during the summer - which is when solar panels do their thing. NIMBY people get to stay home and not demonstrate; power companies love not paying capital and running costs on those peaking plants. And that latter means that ratepayers, while they shoulder the cost of the program, don't have to pay for those peaking plants, either, which makes up for it.
SREC's are issued to the panel owners, whoever they might be, one per MW-hr of energy generated by the panels. For every MW-hr of green energy that the power companies are supposed to be generate (as a percentage of total generation, which goes up year on year), they have to pay a penalty (which goes down year on year, as economies of scale kick in on solar panel manufacture); or, instead of paying the penalty, they can cough up an SREC. And the SRECs are traded on a low-cost market. This has a limiting effect on how fast panels are adopted; too many subscribers, 'way more SRECs on the marketplace than the power companies need, value of the SREC drops, fewer people do it. Too few and the value goes up. When my system first went in, SRECs were trading around $600 each; that's a pretty penny if one is getting 10-12 SRECs a year, which we are.
There's been some renegotiation of the penalty/percentage terms over the years as solar panel prices dropped faster than expected; SRECs are currently trading around $200-$250.
All those with solar installations are on Net Metering; if one generates more than one uses, the account goes positive from the solar owner's perspective, and that can accumulate over a year's time. If, in any month, the running balance of kW-hr's goes negative, then the solar owner pays retail. At the end of each year, if there's still a positive balance, the owner gets the wholesale value. Until we got the Tesla, we were running around 2 MW-hr surplus each year, yielding around $100-$150, which handily took care of the minimal ($5.00, now) connection fee.
Two more notes before we get into Money:
1. Can't put more panels on the roof that would generate more power than the house would use in a year. (This keeps the costs for the power companies and rate payers under control.)
2. The PUC is mandated to disapprove any solar installation that would Disrupt The Market for SRECs. This is to prevent what happened in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where a couple of financial types managed to corner the market on SRECs. In those states, initially healthy SREC markets collapsed, with, if memory serves, around $2 or $3 per SREC. That mandate has attracted a bunch of lawsuits. Which are proceeding very, very slowly, since the financeers who want to do the same damage to NJ release they haven't a leg to stand upon.
Money:
1. Average sized house here. In terms of cash flow, we avoid ~$2000+/year in electricity costs.
2. At 10-12 SREC's a year, that's $2000-$2400 incoming cash/year.
Given that solar system costs are somewhere around $2500-$3000/kW installed, (that's kW of panels, not kW-hr), the 9 kW array we've got up there is around $21,000 (could be off, haven't been buying systems recently); knock off 30% because of the federal incentive, and we're talking total cost around $14,700. With around $4000 a year cash flow improvement (2000 from not paying for energy, $2000 for the SRECs), that's around a 4-year payback; and the SRECs go on for 15 _years_. One would be insane _not_ to put in solar panels.
Now, if one has the capital on hand, that's fine. But, in a way, it's just like buying a car. Home improvement loans get mortgage-rate style interest rates. Get the loan, pay it off with the SRECs, and one still has extra cash on hand. (In fact, a local power company, PSE&G, offers such a program. It's paid in SRECs, and they value the SRECs at $350, which is a heck of a premium.) Solar installers will, in no particular order:
1. Rent the panels, where one pays cash but pays a lot less for electricity. And, usually, the installer gets the SRECs (yum for them.)
2. Do a loan and pay cash.
Or any other number of ideas.
Main negatives for panels these days: Shady trees over one's roof, roofs that aren't aligned N-S (although East-West is OK: just need about 20% more panels, but still works monetarily).
Did I mention that in NJ, they're not allowed to change the property tax valuation based upon the panels?
Oh, yeah: In NJ, solar installers are _required_ to warrantee their installations for 15 years.

Tronguy | 16 August 2019

Oh, yeah: Installer here was Trinity Solar, which works up and down New England and the middle Atlantic.
Given the cost incentives and the Sense It Makes, we get door-to-door-drum-up-business types from Telsa and other solar installers; there's around 600 companies all plying their solar installation shtick in this state with who knows how many employees.

JustSaying | 16 August 2019

FYI, not sure how this pencils out. But it might make sense for someone.
https://electrek.co/2019/08/16/tesla-solar-rental-service-solar-panel-sy...

Cactusone | 17 August 2019

Check out Project Sunroof - Google
Project Sunroof is a solar calculator from Google that helps you map your roof's solar savings potential. Learn more, get an estimate and connect with providers.

Where do you live? I have the best installer available here in the Phoenix area.. An independent electrician that will save you thousands.

I have a 12kW system, with 2 LG Chem batteries, with SolarEdge equipment..Powerwall was not available at the time of installation.

Get the largest array you can afford...you will not regret it. But, I personally would never lease the equipment.

Magic 8 Ball | 18 August 2019

Tesla just launched a solar panel rental program, seems interesting:

https://electrek.co/2019/08/16/tesla-solar-rental-service-solar-panel-sy...

sunil100 | 18 August 2019

I have had my panels for many years now and my installer is no longer in business, but a few tips from my side

- get micro inverters instead of just one inverter (they were just coming out with these when I installed). That way if a microinverter fails you just replace one and the rest of the panels keep working

- my house has 100amp current. Wish we had upgraded to 200 when we got solar. If u r in this boat, upgrade your service - usage will go up a lot

- plan enough capacity for multiple EVs.

sunil100 | 18 August 2019

Oh and one more thing. Get a roof check done and fix anything that could cause a problem. I had to uninstall and reinstall mine to fix a problem in the roof a few years ago, which I could have avoided.

landoncube | 18 August 2019

@Magic 8 Ball
Just placed my deposit for the “Large” option.

Large
11.4 kW
3,000+ sq ft home
Produces an average of 38-49 kWh per day
Best suited for a home with an average electric bill of $140-$180 /mo

tim.raymund | 18 August 2019

7 kW system microinverter system (28 250 W panels), now just over 6 years old, 42 MWh generated so far. List price was $32k, we paid about $12k after rebates and tax credits. Bought, not rented.

Used a local installer and had a very positive experience. http://www.sunblueenergy.com/

Con Ed runs the meter backwards when we generate excess. If we're net negative at the end of the year, they settle up at wholesale prices. Of note, it looks like utilities are starting to balk at this policy. Net metering may not last unless the utilities start adopting a different business model, like virtual power plants.

Without an EV, we generated more than we needed over the course of a year. With the EV, it looks like we need something like 11 kW to break even annually on consumption. We could do that by replacing our 250 W panels with something more recent and/or adding another six or eight new panels. Also thinking hard about batteries as the panels do nothing when the power is out.

Strongly endorse having a 200 amp panel or more, especially if you're considering adding both an EV and solar panels.

slingshot18 | 18 August 2019

Added a second system about 8 months ago. Now have 44 panels.

Used a local place that is owned by a 40yr old roofing company.

Be careful with batteries. Huge amount of problems and returns.

Don’t just move usage to night off peak because you will be using peaker plants, which are usually dirty.

Magic 8 Ball | 18 August 2019

@landoncube You will not regret the investment, congratulations you are an Alpha consumer.

kevin_rf | 18 August 2019

landoncube, that seems a little low for a 11kw system. Spring through Fall on good days we vary between 40 kwh and 50 kwh with a 7.3 kw roof mount. We often hit 50 kwh days near the spring and fall equinox's. Equinox's are the max production period for us, not the summer months.

Is your roof orientation not ideal, or did they derate it to account for the lower winter production?

Mikael13 | 18 August 2019

@landoncube - please update once you finalize your solar rental. I’m very interested. Always wanted solar, however unsure if I’m living in my forever home, so this rent option with Tesla sounds appealing.

AlasCon | 4 November 2019

Anyone have an email address for Tesla's Solar Panels divisions? Googled my fingers to the bone and can't find it. I know Elon Musk tweeted about that weeks ago and I searched but can't find it in the mass of info :-)

jimmyk667 | 4 November 2019

Went with a 20 year Solar City lease. Can't get out of it if I want to lease the new panels that Tesla is offering now so I'm stuck. Can't even sell the house because no other buyers want to be stuck on a contract.....
I seem to be paying more than I was paying for pg&e purely on grid.

sroh | 4 November 2019

Installed solar two years ago in anticipation of 1 or 2 Model 3s. 10.56 kW system that covers all of our electricity needs including charging two Model 3s. We met with SunRun (Costco) and Solar City. SunRun tried to sell us an underpowered system with Chinese panels. Solar City was very expensive. We ultimately went with a small local shop. LG Panels and Enphase inverters.

We underproduce in the winter and overproduce in spring and summer. With net metering, we get a small refund at true-up.

Taking into account our 30% tax credit, we calculate payback in 5.5 years. Only regret is we didn't do it sooner.

-TheJohn- | 4 November 2019

At the moment one should go with a local solar installer.
Tesla is so -almost- there with the roof etc but they aren't quite there..

Please do put in a PV system if your region and income allows it. Besides the potential 10-15% yearly return (your mileage may vary depending upon your geo location) you also get to legit feel like you're doing something about our carbon problem. Todays systems have a 40 ish year lifespan btw so it's a 10 years to pay off and then 30 years of salad days. If I hear another person say that Oh I'll be dead before they pay off I will scream You Are Such A Privileged Wastrel so loudly that you'll hear it. DO THE RIGHT THING FFS.
/offsoapbox

MAB1980 | 5 November 2019

1 if you have the space, put them on the ground. Cells in your roof complicate firefighting as well as roof repair.
2 if you can, put them on a tracker.

I’m not 100% off grid (no storage yet).

Magic 8 Ball | 5 November 2019

I am looking into batteries now. Choice is LG 35% of US market or Tesla 14% of market. I called Tesla a week ago and no one has called back. My solar installer, who sells LG, called me back in an hour.

jimglas | 5 November 2019

@M8B: What made you pull the trigger on battery back up?
I was going to wait until the price came down, but the recent California blackouts are making me reconsider

Magic 8 Ball | 5 November 2019

We recently were victims of the extortion event put on by PG&E. After 40 hrs, without power, my wife put the thumbscrews on me. During the outage we went to Lowe's for something, it was not very crowded, and we saw 3 people with generators at the checkout during the few minutes we were there. Many experts are saying this is the new normal and the outages will get worse. I thought we were in the clear since they spent a week with a Lidar equipped chopper inspecting our lines and we escaped the first outage but we got caught in the second one.

andy.connor.e | 5 November 2019

Too bad utilities cant provide reliable connection anymore. I think it'll be better for people in the long run, no more utility bills.

jimglas | 5 November 2019

@M8B: I am lucky in that our utilities are buried. But we still have occasional outages.
I suppose they will be useful for any apocalypse. I will look into them.
Are you going with powerwalls or other supplier?

Magic 8 Ball | 5 November 2019

Have not decided yet. There seems to be no urgency for Tesla to follow up on my contact so I am leaning the LG panels. I prefer to buy American made but..................

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