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      02-12-2020, 10:02 AM   #1
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Going solar?

The breadth of knowledge coming from this forum always impresses me, so I want to get some input on this from my fellow bimmerians...

I had an info session with a solar panel firm (Trinity Solar, they been going door to door in my hood). I like the value / economic proposition of solar - if it works as advertised, it will be able to save me a bit money (~70k over 25 years if I finance it). If I pay for it out right (out of pocket about 21k after tax rebate, which is most likely how I would do it if I decide to pull the trigger), should be able to save even a bit more and break even after 7 years or so.

My biggest worry is reliability or potential problems with the system. After-all, it's another construction project, another appliance added to the house, so potentially another problem coming from poorly done installation, potential failure point, maintenance hassles. I have heard horror story about roof leaking after installation. Even most of these firms say they warranty the work, cover roof leak etc, I have heard from a roofer who says he get so many calls from solar owners and it's always a pain to get the warrant work done... I had my share of water damages in houses i owned I'm kinda put off by the addition risk of roof leakÖ Other problems Iím less concern about, say the inverter stopped working, its covered by warranty and system down for a few days here and there while stuff getting fixed doesnít bother me that much.

Anyone got wisdom to share?
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      02-12-2020, 10:21 AM   #2
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      02-12-2020, 10:35 AM   #3
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https://lmgtfy.com/?q=going+solar+in...pp=1&s=l&iie=1
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      02-12-2020, 10:50 AM   #4
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i have done my research from googling and varies forums already, just trying to get more data points here...
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      02-12-2020, 10:54 AM   #5
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There are 2 reasons I don't have solar

1) Worried about a roof leak

2) I've made at least 3 appointments with whomever stops me in HomeDepot, and zero have ever shown up at my house.
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      02-12-2020, 11:23 AM   #6
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What is the source of your savings? You should try to figure out the unsubsidized savings, because those will be your long-term savings most likely. Personally I don’t like the idea of being subsidized by those who cannot afford solar and must pay my share of grid fixed costs, even if the law or regulation allow it, so I’d take that into account too.
Generally grid scale solar is cheaper than rooftop, and energy price trends suggest the grid will be increasingly renewables including solar, plus batteries, over the next 5-10 years. This is more true in states like NY that are pushing GHG reduction schemes. So you may be investing in something that you’ll get at lower cost anyway by just waiting.
On that point, energy prices (nat gas, the fuel “on the margin” for electricity, and electric too) have been falling wholesale for about 5 years now and the outlook is for continued declines, especially in electric costs. Grid costs (poles, wires and substations) are increasing with inflation. So I wouldn’t expect substantially rising electric prices from your utility to be a realistic scenario if that is part of your modeling.
Maintenance isn’t a big deal for rooftop solar. Expect no production when there is snow and either wait for it to melt off (months?) or plan to be able to clear it off. Leaves and other tree fall also need to be cleared. Hail, if that happens often in your area, can do significant damage. Insure against that with your homeowners’ insurer if possible. Labor and materials. If you use an inverter or batteries, there can be more maintenance. These components are less reliable. Lead acid batteries need proper ventillation.
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      02-12-2020, 11:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000cs View Post
What is the source of your savings? You should try to figure out the unsubsidized savings, because those will be your long-term savings most likely. Personally I don’t like the idea of being subsidized by those who cannot afford solar and must pay my share of grid fixed costs, even if the law or regulation allow it, so I’d take that into account too.
Generally grid scale solar is cheaper than rooftop, and energy price trends suggest the grid will be increasingly renewables including solar, plus batteries, over the next 5-10 years. This is more true in states like NY that are pushing GHG reduction schemes. So you may be investing in something that you’ll get at lower cost anyway by just waiting.
On that point, energy prices (nat gas, the fuel “on the margin” for electricity, and electric too) have been falling wholesale for about 5 years now and the outlook is for continued declines, especially in electric costs. Grid costs (poles, wires and substations) are increasing with inflation. So I wouldn’t expect substantially rising electric prices from your utility to be a realistic scenario if that is part of your modeling.
Maintenance isn’t a big deal for rooftop solar. Expect no production when there is snow and either wait for it to melt off (months?) or plan to be able to clear it off. Leaves and other tree fall also need to be cleared. Hail, if that happens often in your area, can do significant damage. Insure against that with your homeowners’ insurer if possible. Labor and materials. If you use an inverter or batteries, there can be more maintenance. These components are less reliable. Lead acid batteries need proper ventillation.
Thanks for the thoughtful response.

The saving is all based on saved electricity bill. The subsidy are tax deductions against the installation cost of the system, the federal and state tax rebates amount to about 13k for the size of system I’m looking at. So basically the math is – say expected electricity bill over next 25 say is roughly 90k, minus my out of pocket cost of 20k, will save 70k.

Now, the calculation he showed me was assuming electricity going up at a rate of 4% a year, which I didn’t fact check. It’s interesting you brought up cost of electric cost has been lowering in the last 5 years, care to share the source of that info? Obviously it will change the math if electricity cost are going down instead of going up...

ps : I found out, at least for NY, residential electricity seems to be about flat in the last 10 year or so... : https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Researche...ty-Residential. Assuming it continues to stay flat, it already take out a large chunk if not most of the saving already, and make it not so much of an attractive proposition... Thanks for your input @2000cs , that's exact the sort of nugget I was hoping to garner from my fellow bimmer brethren!

Last edited by byroncheung; 02-12-2020 at 11:59 AM..
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      02-12-2020, 11:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byroncheung View Post
Thanks for the thoughtful response.

The saving is all based on saved electricity bill. The subsidy are tax deductions against the installation cost of the system, the federal and state tax rebates amount to about 13k for the size of system Iím looking at. So basically the math is Ė say expected electricity bill over next 25 say is roughly 90k, minus my out of pocket cost of 20k, will save 70k.

Now, the calculation he showed me was assuming electricity going up at a rate of 4% a year, which I didnít fact check. Itís interesting you brought up cost of electric cost has been lowering in the last 5 years, care to share the source of that info? Obviously it will change the math if electricity cost are going down instead of going up...

ps : i found out, at least for NY, residential electricity seems to be about flat in the last 10 year or so... : https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Researche...ty-Residential
That would be retail. I was referring to wholesale. My employer is a participant in the PJM market (PJM.com) where you can see wholesale prices. Today prices are under $20/MWh or $0.02/KWh. Ignoring mild weather which has prices low for winter, I would expect that to be in the low $20s. 5 years ago that would have been low $30s. Natural gas below $2.00 and each new generator being more efficient has the conversion below $20 (may be as low as $16). Solar is of course zero dispatch, wind is negative (because of the production tax credit). So on balance costs are falling wholesale. I am most experienced with PJM but this seems to be true nationwide. EIA probably has some reasonably reliable data, as would your stateís electric regulatory body. And for that matter, your utility might even provide it.
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      02-12-2020, 12:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000cs View Post
That would be retail. I was referring to wholesale. My employer is a participant in the PJM market (PJM.com) where you can see wholesale prices. Today prices are under $20/MWh or $0.02/KWh. Ignoring mild weather which has prices low for winter, I would expect that to be in the low $20s. 5 years ago that would have been low $30s. Natural gas below $2.00 and each new generator being more efficient has the conversion below $20 (may be as low as $16). Solar is of course zero dispatch, wind is negative (because of the production tax credit). So on balance costs are falling wholesale. I am most experienced with PJM but this seems to be true nationwide. EIA probably has some reasonably reliable data, as would your stateís electric regulatory body. And for that matter, your utility might even provide it.
but as i said, even the fact that in NY residential electricity rate been flat change the calculation significantly already. if wholesale been falling, retail been flat, it's only reasonable to assume it will at least continue to be flat for residential. again thanks for the insight, this is a game changer in the decision making process...
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      02-12-2020, 12:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byroncheung View Post
but as i said, even the fact that in NY residential electricity rate been flat change the calculation significantly already. if wholesale been falling, retail been flat, it's only reasonable to assume it will at least continue to be flat for residential. again thanks for the insight, this is a game changer in the decision making process...
You are correct. Thatís what I was getting at in the first post mentioning that the wholesale cost of energy is falling, but grid costs (infrastructure, if you will) are rising modestly. Overall retail effect depends on the particular utilityís circumstances so has to be looked at locally. But flat seems like a reasonable expectation.
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      02-12-2020, 12:51 PM   #11
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my point was there are already several threads on this already, one very recently
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      02-12-2020, 01:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upstatedoc View Post
my point was there are already several threads on this already, one very recently
maybe i didn't search properly, but when i search for "solar" in thread title, i didn't see anything coming up. at least i am happy that some new info that are useful to me came up in this thread, which will add to the collective knowledge when someone do a search next time...
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      02-12-2020, 02:29 PM   #13
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I see you are in NY. How does this system manage with snow? Is it heated to melt the snow off the panels, do you have to rake it off, or do you just have 5 months out of the year where it's covered and not generating power for you?

Overall, I feel like the math for solar doesn't pencil out yet unless you live someplace like AZ where you make power 365 days a year and run power hungry appliances like AC damn near all year long. Up in NY you are likely heating with gas or oil. Sure, you run the AC a couple months in the summer and maybe you have an electric water heater and dryer, but on the whole it's tough to see it penciling out. Hence the reason folks need to go door to door to try to sell the product.

I see solar as being in the same boat as electric cars. It's a great idea, but you gotta want it for reasons other than the simple payback calculation. Sure, we save $$ on not going to the gas station and maintenance on our Leaf is nearly non existent, but the drive for ownership was more than a simple "payback in X years" calculation.
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      02-12-2020, 02:54 PM   #14
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I live in NY also and lease solar panels from Vivint Solar. The panels degrade over time and I didnt think it made sense to buy them outright if I need to replace in 10 years anyway. The way the lease works is they pay for the panels, installation, permit fees etc. and then you pay a much cheaper electricity rate through Vivint for the electricity you generate (vs pulling from the grid). We also get a $250 tax credit each year. My wife really likes the idea of us generating our own electricity and I like the idea of saving a few bucks each month. So far no leaks, roof issues or anything like that. Let me know if you have any questions!
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      02-12-2020, 03:17 PM   #15
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      02-12-2020, 05:05 PM   #16
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found this super illustrative article on the solar business : https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2...-solar-panels/
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      02-12-2020, 07:26 PM   #17
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OP i did a thread about this recently and just as this thread a lot of people got their panties all bunched up.

I'm going solar but I am buying my system outright but will finance. Leasing solar you just dont get the full benefit of ownership. In Nj if you own a system you get roughly 210 dollars for every 1000kw of electricity you produce in SRECs. But this program will close when NJ produces 5.1% of total electricity from solar. So my system is being subsidized by the state and really will not cost my anything and will be payed back in 10 years. So you have to look at how much are you really getting from going solar.
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      02-12-2020, 07:41 PM   #18
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OP i did a thread about this recently and just as this thread a lot of people got their panties all bunched up.
https://f80.bimmerpost.com/forums/sh....php?t=1684842
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      02-14-2020, 01:13 PM   #19
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I've worked in the industry for over 10 years.

The modules don't go bad in 10 years. They are all warrantied out to 20 or 25 with production guarantees. They are only allowed to degrade a very small amount. The financial calculations you are show by company X takes the degradation into account. Make sure they are using a Tier 1 module and you will be fine. Not the bloomberg tier 1 ranking as it is only based on money, not facts or science.

DO NOT use SolarEdge for your inverter. Use the latest model Enphase. SolarEdge sucks. Bad CS, bad optimizer,s etc.

Pay cash, do not lease, if you can afford to do so. You will be MUCH better off.

Roof leaks are covered under warranty and you can choose what mounting method you want for as few or many roof penetrations as you want. Buy from a reputable company so you have a number to call in year 12 if you do get a leak. Honestly with the products on the market it's pretty damn hard to have a leak.

Solar works almost everywhere. 7 year payback for the OP is pretty good. I don't think any states have incentives that will get you to 5 or under anymore.

Snow will sheet off your roof and can damage what is below. I have seen it take out parts of porches, railings, etc. when a large sheet of snow and ice comes off a 1 or 2 story. You also do not want to be standing under it when it happens.

Some of the misinformation in the thread is appalling.
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      02-14-2020, 01:18 PM   #20
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I've worked in the industry for over 10 years.

The modules don't go bad in 10 years. lol. They are all warrantied out to 20 or 25 with production guarantees. Make sure they are using a Tier 1 and you will be fine. Not the bloomberg tier 1 ranking as it is only based on money, not facts.

DO NOT use SolarEdge for your inverter. Use the latest model Enphase. SolarEdge sucks. Bad CS, bad optimizers, etc.

Pay cash, do not lease, if you can afford to do so. You will be MUCH better off.

Roof leaks are covered under warranty and you can choose what mounting method you want for as few or many roof penetrations as you want.

Solar works almost everywhere. 7 year payback for the OP is pretty good. I don't think any states have incentives that will get you to 5 or under anymore.

Snow will sheet off your roof and can damage what is below. I have seen it take out parts of porches, railings, etc. when a large sheet of snow and ice comes off a 1 or 2 story.

Some of the misinformation in the thread is appalling.
When you say roof leaks are covered, is that the roof repair, damage to ceiling, wood floors, etc. inside as well?
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      02-14-2020, 01:34 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickFLM4 View Post
When you say roof leaks are covered, is that the roof repair, damage to ceiling, wood floors, etc. inside as well?
It depends on the company and you have to read their warranty very closely. Not all are made equal. There are way to many here today gone tomorrow residential solar installers in the industry. But yes, a good one will cover damage as they should, it's their fault. It is 100% an installation issue if a roof leaks, not the manufacturer's product.

Again any modern penetration used in solar it's basically impossible to leak and VERY hard to install wrong, but I guess you can fuck up anything.

Example:
https://roof-tech.us/support/ https://roof-tech.us/Tech-Brochure.pdf

If you look up any residential rack/rail system they are all waterproof as long as crack head jimmy is not doing the install.
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      02-14-2020, 02:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torgus View Post
It depends on the company and you have to read their warranty very closely. Not all are made equal. There are way to many here today gone tomorrow residential solar installers in the industry. But yes, a good one will cover damage as they should, it's their fault. It is 100% an installation issue if a roof leaks, not the manufacturer's product.

Again any modern penetration used in solar it's basically impossible to leak and VERY hard to install wrong, but I guess you can fuck up anything.

Example:
https://roof-tech.us/support/ https://roof-tech.us/Tech-Brochure.pdf

If you look up any residential rack/rail system they are all waterproof as long as crack head jimmy is not doing the install.
Honestly thatís not very reassuring. First you have to hope the installer is still around when a leak happens because the manufacturer isnít going to cover it? Then you potentially are in a debate over what actually caused the leak. Maybe it would be less of a concern on a brand new roof and an installer who has been in business for 50 years, but I can see how messy it could get if you install on a 10 year old roof that springs a leak a few years later. Not to mention, I expect youíd need to remove and reinstall the panels to fix a leak even if the leak has nothing to do with the panel.
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