Residential Solar

Evolved

Less-Known Member
Who has installed solar on their home? What company did you use? Are you happy with it? Any advice you can share?

I am looking for negative AND positive feedback. We recently built a new home in a new subdivision and I swear our neighborhood is a magnet for door to door sales guys. I have had multiple companies send an early twenty something sales kid come and knock on my door and tell me what I need. Last week a college aged kid knocked on my door and was super nice, asked what I knew about solar vs. telling me why his was the best. I normally knock sales kids down like bowling pins when they walk up to my door unless they take a creative approach. This kid was knowledgeable, smart and most importantly not pushy and respectful!

I listened to him, asked a bunch of question and invited him into my house to hear more. I got his quote back and I think I am sold on the concept. Now to do A LOT more of my own research. I decided to ask here to get some solid real world feedback. I have heard good stories with totally happy people and a few horror stories (but those came from "My friends, cousins, sisters, brother in law saw him at Baskin Robbins...").

Thank you for helping me decide!
 

glockman

I hate Jeeps
Location
Pleasant Grove
I've looked at it extensively but not pulled the trigger yet. My friend has had a system for about 8 years now and hasn't paid a power bill (above the $6 or$8 monthly fee). He converted his water heater and several other things to electric because the company sold him way more system than he needed so be mindful of that.

Also shop around. I got bids from $17k to $32k for the same size/type (micro inverter) system. The guy with the $32k bid said his panels were the best that's why his was so much, then stated he used x panels which is what the other 2 bids were using too.

You might try buying the parts and paying an electrician to install them. Just parts for a 6kw system when I was looking was about $12k from wholesalesolar.
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
We also looked into it a decent amount but decided the time wasn't right. I was concerned with how much they were going to charge for labor. Out of a 22k quote about half of it was labor. Had we bought panels I would have likely tried to do the basic install myself before bringing in a sparky to do the final connection. No need to pay a grunt to screw the panels to my roof in my mind.

I didn't feel like the cost to buy the panels offset the electrical costs enough to make it worth it. We had changed to LED bulbs and fixtures so we really weren't using much electricity and the salesman were wanting to build a system based on what our monthly payments were, not to fill out our capacity. That system would have only gotten us to 60% of our actual use.

In my mind I would have gotten solar to save money which I didn't feel would be the case for a long while. I know people get them for other reasons too which is totally valid but for me it would need to save me money. I also felt like with the huge influx of interest in panels that they would see a big likelihood for innovation and production improvements so the panels in the next 10-ish years would be cheaper and much improved.

With our new house I don't think we'll ever get panels. The back of the house faces north-east so its the worst direction for solar and I won't put panels on the front of my house. (Not that the neighborhood covenants would allow it anyway...)
 

moab_cj5

Well-Known Member
When I looked into it a few years ago, the payback for me was around 23 years and the lifespan of the panels was 20 years, so I declined. I am with @nnnnnate , If it won't save me money, I won't do it. Also, a 23 year payback isn't a smart investment in my mind, when the panels could die before that time frame.

If I decide to go that direction in the future, it will be with batteries and have a payback under 10 years, so I can realize savings more than half the life span of the panels and system.
 

jeeper

Currently without Jeep
Location
So Jo, Ut
As a person familiar with home values, I can tell you that a solar system adds almost nothing in value to your home. A few thousand at best when it comes to increased value. I can show you that in some cases it has even had negative value. Until the technology is cheaper/more effective, and most homes have it as a standard it will not add any value to a home.
 

Evolved

Less-Known Member
I also felt like with the huge influx of interest in panels that they would see a big likelihood for innovation and production improvements so the panels in the next 10-ish years would be cheaper and much improved.
This right here. I mean we bought a 65 inch TV four years ago that cost us about 4K, when we moved into our new house this year we bought a comparable 75 inch TV that cost half of the 65 inch. The sales kid said that the cost of panels haven't decreased much since the early 2000's.

Ohh and when I posed that question to the sales kid he said the progress in technology has come in the batteries and not the panels themselves. Which, for the solar to work on your house if the grid goes down you need batteries. Batteries come at the cost of an additional 7 thousand dollars a piece and I would need 2!
 
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DAA

Premium Member
Supporting Member
I haven't looked into it too, too seriously. But I have had quite a few door knockers. My house has a lot of south facing roof area - about 70 feet long by however wide. The door knockers have all said how ideal my house is for solar. But so far, none of the actual numbers any have produced/provided have penciled out to make sense to me. Quite a few of my neighbors have gone with them though. They all say it's saving them money, so they must have got a lot better deal than anyone has been willing to offer me.

- DAA
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
I'd say about a quarter to a third of the houses in my old neighborhood had them installed, seems like a new system was popping up every week. (4 of the 8 houses in my little cluster had them.) I seriously started to wonder if it was me that didn't understand things right or whether it was my neighbors that were getting worked. One guy was intrigued and ended up spec-ing out his own system and ordered and installed it himself with an electrician friend doing the final connection.

My best friend over there is an engineer and is all about efficiency and hypermiling and that kind of thing and said he recognized from a financial standpoint he knew it probably wasn't a great investment but he was enthralled with the tech and had the money saved so after doing a lot of research bought the system. He kind of got screwed because the panels he decided on which "were the best" were only installed by this one company in Utah. They installed the system but the controller wasn't set up right so while his system worked correctly his readings were off. It probably wouldn't have mattered for anyone else but the whole reason he bought the system was for the data and he couldn't see it. He pestered the installers who were having financial trouble (and laid all of their workers off) without much success. He escalated it to the panel supplier who tried to turn the screws on the company which looked like it would work but in the end he paid someone else to come troubleshoot the controller. The controller now works and gives him the data he wants and he is happy with the system but ended up paying more because of the issues and doubts the support down the road from the installation company.

I'm all about gadgets and tools and stuff like that so I can't fault my buddy for wanting the panels anymore than me obsessing about a 3d printer or a fancy sawstop table saw. Hes smart with his money and is pretty frugal and made the decision after a lot of thought. I just dread all the people that are going to swoop into my neighborhood and try to sell me this or that because I'll have a pretty new house. I decided years ago that I'd never buy anything from someone that approaches me. (Scout groups are the exception...) If I want something I'll do the research and find a company that I'm happy with and go with them.
 

rholbrook

Well-Known Member
Location
Kaysville, Ut
Its like the difference between owning a gas powered truck or a diesel truck. The extra cost of the engine option, extra cost of fuel and extra cost of oil changes. In order for it to pay for those extra costs, you need to use it and keep it longer to pay the difference. The advantage isn't there for me. I'm an accountant by education and the first 10 years of employment. I can't make it work number wise for me. If I was younger and planned to stay in my house for a long time, then maybe it might work. As technology continues to grow and prices come down more, then maybe I will but for now, I'm out.
 

Brad J

Registered User
Location
Woods Cross, UT
I have been fascinated with solar panels for as long as I can remember. It took a long time to get them since our roof was in bad shape when we bought our house 17 years ago. This year we finally had the money, Vacation time and Courage to take on the shingle tear off and reroof. It took my Dad & I a couple weeks due to the storms that seemed to hit almost daily when we were working on it in May. We have some neighbors that went with https://www.intermtnwindandsolar.com/ that is up here in Woods Cross and they know the family well. They have been very happy with them and so we planned to go with them especially since they have been around for 10 years. We got a few bids from other companies but IWS always had a better price. We never plan to move out of our home so it makes sense for us. We were paying a little over $90/month on average originally. We got a 13 year loan through them at 3% for $23,215 for a 6.3 KW system with 20 - 315W LG panels. It took a few months for all of the permits and inspections to get completed but we now have had 2 months of $10 power bills. I have talked to a couple people at work that ended up paying $30k and $35k for their systems and one ended up with a very small system. I would recommend getting Solar Panels if you do not plan to move anytime soon and your roof is in good condition. Shop around and don't go with a company that will take your money and run.
 

glockman

I hate Jeeps
Location
Pleasant Grove
One thing to consider. If you have a bad roof or need to replace your A/C, those are considered (or can be) part of the Solar power system and qualify for the Federal Tax Credit if that is still happening. It's a way to steal back some of your tax dollars from Uncle Sam which I fully support. So you pay $10k for a new roof and heating/cooling and get a %40 tax credit for that. It helps a little.

One Solar panel I am installing this year is a passive solar heater on my garage. I'll report back with how well it works. The initial investment is around $20 so it shouldn't take too long to recoup my money.
 

Brad J

Registered User
Location
Woods Cross, UT
Spending $23K plus interest for a $1k a year savings. On a 20 year product. I think that is the math by which my neighbors are all saving money. - DAA
$1k a year savings for now. For kicks I averaged what we paid Utah Power the 1st year we moved into our house in 2001 and it was $45.49/ month so it has doubled in 17 years. I know it will continue to go up as well. I have never leased a car and never plan to and till now I've been leasing my Power from Utah Power/Rocky Mountain Power/Pacific Power.

One thing to consider. If you have a bad roof or need to replace your A/C, those are considered (or can be) part of the Solar power system and qualify for the Federal Tax Credit if that is still happening. It's a way to steal back some of your tax dollars from Uncle Sam which I fully support. So you pay $10k for a new roof and heating/cooling and get a %40 tax credit for that. It helps a little.

One Solar panel I am installing this year is a passive solar heater on my garage. I'll report back with how well it works. The initial investment is around $20 so it shouldn't take too long to recoup my money.
We spent $2,500 on our roof and the State offers up to $1,600 in tax credit and 30% federal so that is $9,314.50 of Tax Credit. We'll see how it works out at tax time.

I installed a Solar Powered Attic Fan on our roof 4 years ago and that has helped keep our house cooler in the summer. It was around $250 and well worth it.
 
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