Solar Panel Decision

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Topic Author
boston85
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:30 pm

Solar Panel Decision

Post by boston85 »

I am looking into adding solar panels to my house. New construction and just built last year, so roof has plenty of life left in it. Since I now have 12 months of utilities under my belt, our total kWh was 10,290 or about 858 per month. My average electric bill over those two months was about $210.

I used energysage (wish more household projects had a process so easy to use) and have already received a number of quotes. I am trying to choose between 2.

1.) Cheapest option with a net cost of $16,405 after tax credits. Price/Watt is $2.80. The system is 24 LG Solar panels each with 350 watts. Total system size is 8.40 kW with year 1 production of 10,080 kWh and it says it should cover 98% of my usage each year. Based on their projections, my payback period is 5 years. Total savings projection over 20 years is $59,585

2.) Middle tier option with a net cost of $21,557 after credits. Price/Watt is $2.89. System is 28 Solaria panels each with 360 watts. Total system size is 10.1 kW, year 1 production of 11,500 kWh and covering 112% of my usage. Payback period is 5.7 years and total savings is $65,137.

We currently don't have electric cars, but I would be interested in getting one down the road. With the shift to WFH though, I don't know when that will be. DW has a 2015 CRV that we own outright and I have a 2012 accord that was really just being used to drive to and from train. It has 90k miles on it, but I likely will not need to replace it any time soon. For solar panels, I have seen some arguments saying get a little more capacity in case you add electric car charger down road, and then other arguments that say get just enough for your current usage since "selling back" usage is never as good as it seems.

I also am a bit unsure on how the SREC process works. It seems as though MA is a good state to go solar. I am paying around .23 per kWh right now for electricity (.13 supplier fee and .10 delivery).

Which one should I choose?
bikesandbeers
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:08 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by bikesandbeers »

Depending on the car, electric vehicles get between 3-and miles per KWH, so if you get an EV and drive 10,000 miles per year, you are looking at an additional 2500-300 KWH/year.
MA does have a vehicle rebate in addition to the federal tax credit.

$2.80-$2.90/watt is right around average I think. LG panels are good quality, I am not as familiar Solaria. There is a consideration on if you like the appearance of one or the other. A bigger consideration would be the reputation of the installers.
redstar
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:15 pm

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by redstar »

Depending on your preferences for service vs. cost, you might consider Tesla. Based on another post on here, they are significantly undercutting the competition. I was seeing $1.40/watt after incentives from them last night for here in PA. Supposedly they can afford to be that cheap because they don't have to invest much in sales (since they are using the Tesla brand). But also there are many who say customer service is lacking.

Link to their calculator so you can see your pricing: https://www.tesla.com/energy/design
clutchied
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:11 pm

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by clutchied »

energysage is really great so good choice there. LG panels are fantastic. I've had mine for 3 years and they are pumping still.

A couple of data points. I drive about 12k miles annually and use about 4000 kWh's in my Tesla. SW Ohio so we get cold but less than you.

Overproducing has been terrible as we sized our system when my brother in law was renting out the place to friends and they were power users and probably mining crypto. Our overproduction of 5000 kWh's netted us about $100. Way better to use that power w/ an EV.

$2.8 / watt seems to be pretty common on energysage.
bikesandbeers
Posts: 244
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:08 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by bikesandbeers »

I am not familiar with Massachusetts rules but definitely check on overproduction and how things net out. Although 2.80 a watt seems reasonable, I an tell you that the whole sale cost of panels is around .50 a watt, I would not be suprised to see Tesla offering under $2 a watt.
Topic Author
boston85
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Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:30 pm

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by boston85 »

Tesla definitely was cheaper at 1.49 /Watt. I just am a little concerned there as the reviews seem pretty poor. I suppose I can just get the size that fits my needs now, considering an EV is still at least 5 years away for me. Then if at that time I only have to pay for the EV charging it isn't that bad if the solar panels pay for the rest of my electricity usage.
Old Sage(brush)
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:27 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by Old Sage(brush) »

We did 20 Solaria panels all black at $2.98 per watt in Massachusetts within the past year, 7 kW approximate system that covers 110% of our usage. So I think your deals are quite competitive. I also used energysage. Also have payback around year 5. Only suggestion is to cover at 105-110%, and potentially higher if you plan for EV. Comment on importance of installers I agree with. We had some delays with utility metering so I’d suggest actively managing. So far happy with Solaria panels.
megabad
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Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:00 pm

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by megabad »

Am I misunderstanding your question? Why would you choose the more expensive option? Do you think the equipment is higher quality and will last longer? I would just go with the lowest quote that you felt would give you a quality job. I don't know why prices "include tax credits" as this should be pretty much irrelevant when selecting a contractor.

Side note, I always forget how insane the incentives and utility prices in that area are. Make sure you include the SMART additional incentive in your numbers if applicable. I would definitely be a little more careful about turning off lights if I was paying double the rest of the country for electric. I might also have solar on my roof :D
Thegame14
Posts: 1827
Joined: Mon May 07, 2018 11:53 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by Thegame14 »

boston85 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:20 pm I am looking into adding solar panels to my house. New construction and just built last year, so roof has plenty of life left in it. Since I now have 12 months of utilities under my belt, our total kWh was 10,290 or about 858 per month. My average electric bill over those two months was about $210.

I used energysage (wish more household projects had a process so easy to use) and have already received a number of quotes. I am trying to choose between 2.

1.) Cheapest option with a net cost of $16,405 after tax credits. Price/Watt is $2.80. The system is 24 LG Solar panels each with 350 watts. Total system size is 8.40 kW with year 1 production of 10,080 kWh and it says it should cover 98% of my usage each year. Based on their projections, my payback period is 5 years. Total savings projection over 20 years is $59,585

2.) Middle tier option with a net cost of $21,557 after credits. Price/Watt is $2.89. System is 28 Solaria panels each with 360 watts. Total system size is 10.1 kW, year 1 production of 11,500 kWh and covering 112% of my usage. Payback period is 5.7 years and total savings is $65,137.

We currently don't have electric cars, but I would be interested in getting one down the road. With the shift to WFH though, I don't know when that will be. DW has a 2015 CRV that we own outright and I have a 2012 accord that was really just being used to drive to and from train. It has 90k miles on it, but I likely will not need to replace it any time soon. For solar panels, I have seen some arguments saying get a little more capacity in case you add electric car charger down road, and then other arguments that say get just enough for your current usage since "selling back" usage is never as good as it seems.

I also am a bit unsure on how the SREC process works. It seems as though MA is a good state to go solar. I am paying around .23 per kWh right now for electricity (.13 supplier fee and .10 delivery).

Which one should I choose?
The SREC process can be HUGE payback. For us we get one SREC per 1,000KW production so about 10 per year, and we then have the company who sold us the solar administer the recording and selling of the SREC''s for 10% selling price and we get about $200 per SREC each month, and this lasts for 15 years, so for use that is around $30,000 added to the payback.
Topic Author
boston85
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:30 pm

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by boston85 »

Thegame14 wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:33 am
boston85 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:20 pm I am looking into adding solar panels to my house. New construction and just built last year, so roof has plenty of life left in it. Since I now have 12 months of utilities under my belt, our total kWh was 10,290 or about 858 per month. My average electric bill over those two months was about $210.

I used energysage (wish more household projects had a process so easy to use) and have already received a number of quotes. I am trying to choose between 2.

1.) Cheapest option with a net cost of $16,405 after tax credits. Price/Watt is $2.80. The system is 24 LG Solar panels each with 350 watts. Total system size is 8.40 kW with year 1 production of 10,080 kWh and it says it should cover 98% of my usage each year. Based on their projections, my payback period is 5 years. Total savings projection over 20 years is $59,585

2.) Middle tier option with a net cost of $21,557 after credits. Price/Watt is $2.89. System is 28 Solaria panels each with 360 watts. Total system size is 10.1 kW, year 1 production of 11,500 kWh and covering 112% of my usage. Payback period is 5.7 years and total savings is $65,137.

We currently don't have electric cars, but I would be interested in getting one down the road. With the shift to WFH though, I don't know when that will be. DW has a 2015 CRV that we own outright and I have a 2012 accord that was really just being used to drive to and from train. It has 90k miles on it, but I likely will not need to replace it any time soon. For solar panels, I have seen some arguments saying get a little more capacity in case you add electric car charger down road, and then other arguments that say get just enough for your current usage since "selling back" usage is never as good as it seems.

I also am a bit unsure on how the SREC process works. It seems as though MA is a good state to go solar. I am paying around .23 per kWh right now for electricity (.13 supplier fee and .10 delivery).

Which one should I choose?
The SREC process can be HUGE payback. For us we get one SREC per 1,000KW production so about 10 per year, and we then have the company who sold us the solar administer the recording and selling of the SREC''s for 10% selling price and we get about $200 per SREC each month, and this lasts for 15 years, so for use that is around $30,000 added to the payback.
I believe the MA SREC process expired though and is no longer offered. It is now the SMART program which is not as great from what I can tell.

I did get another quote of 9.52 kW system with year one 10,450 kWh. Total cost after credits is $18,800 and payback is just under 6 years. I think I may choose that one as the system is a big larger than the cheapest option. I would rather have a little extra initially for if I add an EV down the road.
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BrandonBogle
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Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by BrandonBogle »

boston85 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:47 pm I suppose I can just get the size that fits my needs now, considering an EV is still at least 5 years away for me.
If the increases usage is 5-years out, I would not oversize for it. There will be cost reductions again after the incentives run out. While 2022 may be more expensive than 2020/2021, 2025 could very well be back to around the same price. Meanwhile, you won't be doing wholesale buyback of excess.

Now if SRECs were available or you find that you can get non-wholesale rates on excess production, that can change things. But if I were looking at excess production for planned increases, I would limit that to 24 months ahead. If it won't be there in that timeframe, don't oversize.
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BrandonBogle
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Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by BrandonBogle »

Old Sage(brush) wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:29 am We did 20 Solaria panels all black at $2.98 per watt in Massachusetts within the past year, 7 kW approximate system that covers 110% of our usage. So I think your deals are quite competitive. I also used energysage. Also have payback around year 5. Only suggestion is to cover at 105-110%, and potentially higher if you plan for EV. Comment on importance of installers I agree with. We had some delays with utility metering so I’d suggest actively managing. So far happy with Solaria panels.
I am glad to hear that. I just signed up to get the 28 Solaria PowerXT 360 panels as well. I was unfamiliar with them, but hear they are a Tier 1 supplier. It helps to hear others have these panels and feel good about them/don't have regrets. My only real remaining concern now is how much it will cost to take out a tree that has grown over the house to make solar viable.
squirm
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Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by squirm »

we have an electric car and panels. i wouldn't stress about the panel efficiency too much. if you oversize, you'll feel compelled that you must get an ev, so take that into account. the best size array is one where you won't have any credits at true up. your costs seem about ball park. orientation is everything, southwest is best. some utilities are changing best credits past 4pm where production falls off like a cliff. the ev will hog all the juice, so best to charge off peak.
dsmil
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Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by dsmil »

I would take Energy Sage's savings projections with a grain of salt. They were assuming something like 5.5% annual increases in electricity costs when I was pricing things out last year and I find that ridiculous. Instead I simply changed my electricity supplier to a wind powered one.
SmallSaver
Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:34 am

Re: Solar Panel Decision

Post by SmallSaver »

boston85 wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:20 pm I am looking into adding solar panels to my house. New construction and just built last year, so roof has plenty of life left in it. Since I now have 12 months of utilities under my belt, our total kWh was 10,290 or about 858 per month. My average electric bill over those two months was about $210.

I used energysage (wish more household projects had a process so easy to use) and have already received a number of quotes. I am trying to choose between 2.

1.) Cheapest option with a net cost of $16,405 after tax credits. Price/Watt is $2.80. The system is 24 LG Solar panels each with 350 watts. Total system size is 8.40 kW with year 1 production of 10,080 kWh and it says it should cover 98% of my usage each year. Based on their projections, my payback period is 5 years. Total savings projection over 20 years is $59,585

2.) Middle tier option with a net cost of $21,557 after credits. Price/Watt is $2.89. System is 28 Solaria panels each with 360 watts. Total system size is 10.1 kW, year 1 production of 11,500 kWh and covering 112% of my usage. Payback period is 5.7 years and total savings is $65,137.

We currently don't have electric cars, but I would be interested in getting one down the road. With the shift to WFH though, I don't know when that will be. DW has a 2015 CRV that we own outright and I have a 2012 accord that was really just being used to drive to and from train. It has 90k miles on it, but I likely will not need to replace it any time soon. For solar panels, I have seen some arguments saying get a little more capacity in case you add electric car charger down road, and then other arguments that say get just enough for your current usage since "selling back" usage is never as good as it seems.

I also am a bit unsure on how the SREC process works. It seems as though MA is a good state to go solar. I am paying around .23 per kWh right now for electricity (.13 supplier fee and .10 delivery).

Which one should I choose?
A couple of things. First, you need to be clear about the net metering agreement with your utility. Where I am the system is trued up once a year and any outstanding credits are simply extinguished, so you don't get any benefit from producing more than your annual use. As far as panel efficiency, as another poster said don't sweat it. The actual panel modules are about the cheapest part of the system, so no need to get the fanciest, often just most cost effective to just slap a few more up. Do check the warranty on the panels and inverter, and the reliability of the installer (this varies widely). If you do want to maybe add an EV down the line you could ask them about oversizing the inverter a little and building the array so that it would be easy to add panels later. If you're paying $0.23/kWh and get full credit for produced power I'd expect the financials to look pretty good, especially if you can capture the full tax credit. Also check if electric rate is straightforward or is more detailed (time of use pricing, tiered pricing, etc...). If you're working with a good installer they should be able to help with all this. Again, quality of installers varies widely.
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