Residential Solar

theiacowtipper

HR Legend
Gold Member
Feb 17, 2004
14,568
12,938
113
I have a home with a center roof line that runs north-south. Is it practical for the panels to be installed on the east and west side of a home's roof?
Going with the solar guys input I talked with, they account for that and install another panel or two
 

CLUB215

HR MVP
Apr 28, 2015
2,090
1,891
113
Iowa City
OP remember the guy who came was a salesman who wants to sell you something.

I did some work with solar 2012-2013. Things that have changed since then:
1. Equipment is probably better and cheaper
2. Net metering arrangements with the utility companies are less in the customer's favor
3. I think the state of Iowa tax rebate is over

Things to think about:
1. There is an shading loss for surrounding trees and if you don't put the panels on a southern exposure.
2. I don't know where in the country you are but in Iowa the sun's position changes fairly drastically depending on seasons. We used to recommend adjustable ground mount racking units to the hog farmers.
3. Key is not to produce more than you use annually. You typically can overproduce in the summer and slide into winter using your "bank". A lot of the people I worked with were farmers so as soon as they turned on the corn dryer in the fall they used up whatever was left over from summer.
4. There used to be an inverter replacement around year 11-12 that was pretty pricey. You should ask if that's still the case.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Gimmered

noleclone2

HR Legend
May 4, 2015
15,153
45,647
113
Rest of my Father’s Day, I will be wondering how many roofs across the SE that Trad Jr screwed up before they finally fired him.

math-zack-galifianakis.gif
 

Car-go

All-Conference
Jul 19, 2006
465
422
63
The key to it working is net metering. I’m building a new house and checked on solar. I buy electricity for .08 a kWh or something like that and can sell excess back during peak hours at .02 or something. Also, peak usage hours according to electric company are early in morning and later at night, which aren’t peak sun hours. So I passed
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
OP remember the guy who came was a salesman who wants to sell you something.

I did some work with solar 2012-2013. Things that have changed since then:
1. Equipment is probably better and cheaper
2. Net metering arrangements with the utility companies are less in the customer's favor
3. I think the state of Iowa tax rebate is over

Things to think about:
1. There is an shading loss for surrounding trees and if you don't put the panels on a southern exposure.
2. I don't know where in the country you are but in Iowa the sun's position changes fairly drastically depending on seasons. We used to recommend adjustable ground mount racking units to the hog farmers.
3. Key is not to produce more than you use annually. You typically can overproduce in the summer and slide into winter using your "bank". A lot of the people I worked with were farmers so as soon as they turned on the corn dryer in the fall they used up whatever was left over from summer.
4. There used to be an inverter replacement around year 11-12 that was pretty pricey. You should ask if that's still the case.
As long as he has 1:1 net metering he’s good. Any company worth a shit will use one of many software packages available that will show the offset based on his usage. I suggest anyone who goes solar today use enphase brand inverters. It’s microinverter technology which means each panel has an inverter underneath it. The big upside to microinverters is if a micro goes bad, you’re only down 1 panel until they can get the warranty replacement vs a string inverter goes bad you could have your whole system down. Prices have come down year over year until this year due to supply chain issues so be aware of that. As long as you get quality equipment and under $4/watt with financing fees you should be good.

Edit, if anyone in Florida within 3 hours of tampa bay is looking to go solar let me know. I’ll hook you up. Seriously.
 

CLUB215

HR MVP
Apr 28, 2015
2,090
1,891
113
Iowa City
As long as he has 1:1 net metering he’s good. Any company worth a shit will use one of many software packages available that will show the offset based on his usage. I suggest anyone who goes solar today use enphase brand inverters. It’s microinverter technology which means each panel has an inverter underneath it. The big upside to microinverters is if a micro goes bad, you’re only down 1 panel until they can get the warranty replacement vs a string inverter goes bad you could have your whole system down. Prices have come down year over year until this year due to supply chain issues so be aware of that. As long as you get quality equipment and under $4/watt with financing fees you should be good.

Edit, if anyone in Florida within 3 hours of tampa bay is looking to go solar let me know. I’ll hook you up. Seriously.
Net metering arrangements for Alliant in Iowa had "reset" dates where you lost your banked production either in November or February. Big difference, February is far preferred. At least this was a few years ago when my dad put some up next to the hog shed.

In 2012 the banked hours never "reset" so you could accumulate over production year over year and maybe put up another hog building a few years down the road and capture that banked production. Utility companies changed their agreements since then.
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
Net metering arrangements for Alliant in Iowa had "reset" dates where you lost your banked production either in November or February. Big difference, February is far preferred. At least this was a few years ago when my dad put some up next to the hog shed.

In 2012 the banked hours never "reset" so you could accumulate over production year over year and maybe put up another hog building a few years down the road and capture that banked production. Utility companies changed their agreements since then.
That’s pretty much true for all net metering arrangements. You may get a small bill during the reset, but most of our customers we oversize the system so that usually doesn’t happen as you can roll over some unused credits to the next year.
 

CLUB215

HR MVP
Apr 28, 2015
2,090
1,891
113
Iowa City
That’s pretty much true for all net metering arrangements. You may get a small bill during the reset, but most of our customers we oversize the system so that usually doesn’t happen as you can roll over some unused credits to the next year.
OP be sure to check the MidAmerican arrangements. I think you are forced to sell back the excess at the reset date at the lower wholesale rate.

Current Alliant agreements:

Is there a bank?
• Yes. The energy outflow is credited at the kWh retail volumetric rate. If there is a billing
month where your outflow credit exceeds your monthly kWh charges (including riders), the
excess credits will carry over to a future bill period.
• However, any excess credits at the end of the annual period (either January or April) will be
forfeited. The forfeited excess credits will serve to reduce purchased power expenses for
all customers.
 
Last edited:

ichawkeye

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Jan 11, 2003
5,208
3,021
113
Some in this thread are over-complicating it...

Any company that sells and installs solar has the ability to take into account all factors - where to install, sun exposure, annual energy production, monthly energy production, estimated monthly electric bill based on your location's net metering rules, system warranty, scheduled upkeep, system size, system cost, tax credits, etc.

A prospective customer does not need to become a well-studied expert in solar. You just need to know the questions to ask.
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
Some in this thread are over-complicating it...

Any company that sells and installs solar has the ability to take into account all factors - where to install, sun exposure, annual energy production, monthly energy production, estimated monthly electric bill based on your location's net metering rules, system warranty, scheduled upkeep, system size, system cost, tax credits, etc.

A prospective customer does not need to become a well-studied expert in solar. You just need to know the questions to ask.
This is also true.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ichawkeye

CLUB215

HR MVP
Apr 28, 2015
2,090
1,891
113
Iowa City
Some in this thread are over-complicating it...

Any company that sells and installs solar has the ability to take into account all factors - where to install, sun exposure, annual energy production, monthly energy production, estimated monthly electric bill based on your location's net metering rules, system warranty, scheduled upkeep, system size, system cost, tax credits, etc.

A prospective customer does not need to become a well-studied expert in solar. You just need to know the questions to ask.
Remember, they are in sales trying to sell you something. Having an idea of what you're buying for $40k is a good idea.
 

SF HAWKEYE

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Jan 11, 2003
7,150
3,770
113
At dinner tonight my parents told us they had a solar company come by yesterday to give them a quote. They were quoted $24,000 for their house. They spend around $100 a month on electric. They were told that they can pay it off in 12 years with an interest free loan. They were also told that Mid American Energy doesn't pay you for the overages that you produce. They're on the fence about it. The sales man said he did another house in the neighborhood and pointed it out down the block, so my dad went over and asked them. They told him the company that did their house sold to another company right after they installed and won't stand by the warranty sold to them.
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
At dinner tonight my parents told us they had a solar company come by yesterday to give them a quote. They were quoted $24,000 for their house. They spend around $100 a month on electric. They were told that they can pay it off in 12 years with an interest free loan. They were also told that Mid American Energy doesn't pay you for the overages that you produce. They're on the fence about it. The sales man said he did another house in the neighborhood and pointed it out down the block, so my dad went over and asked them. They told him the company that did their house sold to another company right after they installed and won't stand by the warranty sold to them.
Always make sure the company you buy from doesn’t sub out the work. The best companies do everything in house.
 

ichawkeye

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Jan 11, 2003
5,208
3,021
113
At dinner tonight my parents told us they had a solar company come by yesterday to give them a quote. They were quoted $24,000 for their house. They spend around $100 a month on electric. They were told that they can pay it off in 12 years with an interest free loan. They were also told that Mid American Energy doesn't pay you for the overages that you produce. They're on the fence about it. The sales man said he did another house in the neighborhood and pointed it out down the block, so my dad went over and asked them. They told him the company that did their house sold to another company right after they installed and won't stand by the warranty sold to them.

In many cases you are better off self-financing, otherwise you are forfeiting the tax credits (26% federal), which can be a much better benefit than interest free financing.
 
Last edited:

chalupa81

HR All-State
Gold Member
Apr 14, 2005
603
643
93
Waukee, Iowa
In many cases you are better off self-financing, otherwise you are forfeiting the tax credits (26% federal), which can be a much better benefit than interest free financing.

Why would you forfeit the tax credits if you finance through the solar company?
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
In many cases you are better off self-financing, otherwise you are forfeiting the tax credits (26% federal), which can be a much better benefit than interest free financing.
That's not true, I think you're referring to leasing panels from a company, which you are correct in that you would not receive the credit in that case. That's definitely not the way to go if you're putting solar on your house.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ichawkeye

partymarty

HR MVP
Gold Member
Feb 10, 2002
1,958
514
113
Anybody look into a power wall or similar storage batteries?

seems cool, but a bit steep at 11k.
 

chalupa81

HR All-State
Gold Member
Apr 14, 2005
603
643
93
Waukee, Iowa
@SolarHawk

Got my quote, so any feedback would be great.

7.2 kw system (10,024 kWh yearly production) 101% of solar offset.
20 360w Tier 1 black modules
4-in-1 micro inverter (x5)
25yr 1.99% loan for $28,642 with $7,446 FTC for $21,195 net system cost.
$91/month loan assuming I dump in the FTC (Can do a 20 yr loan at 0.99% for $100 month)
Probably still have $10/monthly cost to MidAmerican so that + loan = current payment to MidAmerican.
 

CLUB215

HR MVP
Apr 28, 2015
2,090
1,891
113
Iowa City
@SolarHawk

Got my quote, so any feedback would be great.

7.2 kw system (10,024 kWh yearly production) 101% of solar offset.
20 360w Tier 1 black modules
4-in-1 micro inverter (x5)
25yr 1.99% loan for $28,642 with $7,446 FTC for $21,195 net system cost. (Can do a 20 yr loan at 0.99% for $100 month)
$91/month loan assuming I dump in the FTC
Probably still have $10/monthly cost to MidAmerican so that + loan = current payment to MidAmerican.
Gas heat? Do you pay $1200 annually for electric now?
 

chalupa81

HR All-State
Gold Member
Apr 14, 2005
603
643
93
Waukee, Iowa
@SolarHawk

Got my quote, so any feedback would be great.

7.2 kw system (10,024 kWh yearly production) 101% of solar offset.
20 360w Tier 1 black modules
4-in-1 micro inverter (x5)
25yr 1.99% loan for $28,642 with $7,446 FTC for $21,195 net system cost.
$91/month loan assuming I dump in the FTC (Can do a 20 yr loan at 0.99% for $100 month)
Probably still have $10/monthly cost to MidAmerican so that + loan = current payment to MidAmerican.
Since I know others were following.

That quote included AP Phase 4 in 1 micro inverters. Panels would either be Yingli, V-Sun or Hyundai. Still doing my research on the brands

@SolarHawk
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
Since I know others were following.

That quote included AP Phase 4 in 1 micro inverters. Panels would either be Yingli, V-Sun or Hyundai. Still doing my research on the brands

@SolarHawk
Do not buy AP systems inverters. They are shit. Get enphase. Enphase is miles ahead of any other brand out there, it’s all we use. Secondly, those panels are fine but they are not tier 1. Those are mid grade panels.
 
  • Like
Reactions: chalupa81

naturalbornhawk

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Dec 4, 2004
7,054
2,600
113
Yes they can be tied together
I'm trying to figure out on-grid vs. off-grid systems. I think it's relatively straight forward until you get to an on grid system with battery backup. With this type of system, it seems you'd be covered in a grid-down scenario, but can still "sell" any extra solar generated to the grid? Is that how it works? If there is such a set-up, what extra expenses should I expect vs. a completely off-grid system? Thanks!
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
I'm trying to figure out on-grid vs. off-grid systems. I think it's relatively straight forward until you get to an on grid system with battery backup. With this type of system, it seems you'd be covered in a grid-down scenario, but can still "sell" any extra solar generated to the grid? Is that how it works? If there is such a set-up, what extra expenses should I expect vs. a completely off-grid system? Thanks!
I don’t have a lot of knowledge regarding truly off grid systems. Off grid is a standalone solar system with battery storage and no grid power available. That type of system is typically for small cabins, tiny homes, etc. Now, grid tied systems have all kinds of options for battery backup integration. If you’re looking for battery backup in a grid outage scenario, they function similarly to a generator. There’s an ATS(automatic transfer switch) that will transfer off grid when power is lost. The batteries and solar panels will form a micro grid and power your back up loads panel. When on grid the batteries will stay charged up and the solar will power the home and any excess power will be sold to the utility. You can also use the batteries to power your home in the evening when the panels stop producing, but as long as you have 1:1 net metering, it doesn’t make financial sense to do that as the batteries have a finite number of cycles. As battery prices come down, that could change but they’re not cheap right now. Hope this info helps.
 
  • Like
Reactions: naturalbornhawk

ichawkeye

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Jan 11, 2003
5,208
3,021
113
Can you explain to me what this is? Thanks!

Yes - We pay $0/year for electricity, but we pay $25/month for the ability to consume electricity from the grid when needed, and to send electricity into the grid when our panels are producing more than we're consuming at that time. This $25/month is labeled as "Customer" and "Energy Efficiency" fees on our bill. I assume anyone connected to an electricity provider would have similar fixed fees each month.
 

naturalbornhawk

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Dec 4, 2004
7,054
2,600
113
I don’t have a lot of knowledge regarding truly off grid systems. Off grid is a standalone solar system with battery storage and no grid power available. That type of system is typically for small cabins, tiny homes, etc. Now, grid tied systems have all kinds of options for battery backup integration. If you’re looking for battery backup in a grid outage scenario, they function similarly to a generator. There’s an ATS(automatic transfer switch) that will transfer off grid when power is lost. The batteries and solar panels will form a micro grid and power your back up loads panel. When on grid the batteries will stay charged up and the solar will power the home and any excess power will be sold to the utility. You can also use the batteries to power your home in the evening when the panels stop producing, but as long as you have 1:1 net metering, it doesn’t make financial sense to do that as the batteries have a finite number of cycles. As battery prices come down, that could change but they’re not cheap right now. Hope this info helps.
Yes that was very helpful, thank you. My main goal is to remain functional if the grid goes down. Maybe it would make better financial sense for me to wait until the battery prices come down.
 

naturalbornhawk

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Dec 4, 2004
7,054
2,600
113
Yes - We pay $0/year for electricity, but we pay $25/month for the ability to consume electricity from the grid when needed, and to send electricity into the grid when our panels are producing more than we're consuming at that time. This $25/month is labeled as "Customer" and "Energy Efficiency" fees on our bill. I assume anyone connected to an electricity provider would have similar fixed fees each month.
OK that makes sense, thanks for explaining. Do you have a battery?
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
Yes that was very helpful, thank you. My main goal is to remain functional if the grid goes down. Maybe it would make better financial sense for me to wait until the battery prices come down.
Yeah, definitely wait on the batteries. The brand I always promote, Enphase, is coming out with some new batteries Q1 or Q2 next year. MAJOR improvements. I don't know what prices will look like, but you will get more bang for your buck with the new batteries that are coming. Also, if you want to get just the solar now, Enphase is plug and play, so you can add the batteries down the road no problem.
 
  • Like
Reactions: naturalbornhawk

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
Yes - We pay $0/year for electricity, but we pay $25/month for the ability to consume electricity from the grid when needed, and to send electricity into the grid when our panels are producing more than we're consuming at that time. This $25/month is labeled as "Customer" and "Energy Efficiency" fees on our bill. I assume anyone connected to an electricity provider would have similar fixed fees each month.
Correct, it's typically called an "interconnection fee". All the utilities increased this fee within the last year here in Florida. Usually it's a minimum of $25-$30. What it really is, is just another way to fleece people out of money. The energy you send back during the day is of great benefit to the utilities and eases the strain on their power distribution. The utilities are fighting solar tooth and nail, and that should tell you all you need to know about how good solar is for the average consumer.
 

SolarHawk

HR MVP
Jun 27, 2021
1,752
3,976
113
And just to add a little more info to anyone considering solar, when you buy a system, the company should be selling you a system that is appropriately sized for your consumption. If you buy a system without giving them any utility bills RUN! The only way to properly size a system is to build it based on your Kwh usage. Also, keep in mind that the system will offset what you have been using up to that point. So if a year down the road you get an EV and start charging it from home, you're gonna get a bill as your consumption is gonna jump drastically. So if you anticipate any kind of major energy consuming purchases in the near future I would suggest oversizing your system.