@SolarHawk or anyone else with knowledgable information about solar panels

l.todd

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I saw your posts in the previous thread about solar panels. I am undergoing a home renovation and considering solar. I will give specifics in next paragraph, but have a simple question. I would assume that, like anything else, there are reputable and disreputable dealers. Is there a guide or a group designation for dealers who are reputable? I really just want someone who can give me the straight skinny on cost, ROI, what my local electric company is paying, tax breaks, etc., and want to know where to start. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, 21601. TIA.

My specific situation is that my house faces E/W but we added 2 additions with roofing that faces south and west. the areas facing south aren't terribly large, but there are 2, and if it made sense, we have the west facing section as well. It will be a black, metal roof. Not sure if that is a problem. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, about 25 miles south of the latitude of DC and Annapolis, so pretty strong sun. Nothing blocking either the south or west, once the sun comes around the main part of the house in the am. My electric utility is a local utility called Easton Utilities. They seem to be pretty fair. Living in Maryland, a progressive state, I would assume some decent tax breaks. Since the roof will be new, I would love to have an actual solar roof in those sections, but my understanding is that the technology is not there yet, and Musk's solar roof company has been kind of a disaster.

INFORMED opinions are welcome. Haters talking out there asses are not. TIA.
 
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SolarHawk

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Go to solarreviews.com and find a reputable local company. If you go with the big national brand guys it’s gonna cost ya 20-30% more. Also, make sure you get Enphase brand inverters. They are leaps and bounds the best brand out there. Lastly, do not go with Tesla, their batteries are second to none, but their customer service and inverter brand are shit.
 

seminole97

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PSA: Don't let Facebook know you're shopping for solar....sheesh.

deez-ha.gif
 
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l.todd

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Go to solarreviews.com and find a reputable local company. If you go with the big national brand guys it’s gonna cost ya 20-30% more. Also, make sure you get Enphase brand inverters. They are leaps and bounds the best brand out there. Lastly, do not go with Tesla, their batteries are second to none, but their customer service and inverter brand are shit.
Good advice! Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!!
 
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Bank of Hawk

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That’s goes for anything. Once the algorithm knows you are interested in something you are about to see a ton of ads for that thing for weeks… or longer.
I bought some golf gear directly on footjoy.com, drunk shopping, about two weeks ago. Ever since the, my Fb feed is nothing but footjoy ads, where can I tell the algorithm they are too late, I already made the purchase?

It makes me wonder if the algorithm is lying to companies about how effective their ads work; if people who buy the product outside of a Facebook ad, the algorithm detects that, starts slamming ads for the same items just purchased, to make it appear their ads are more successful than they really are.
 

Joes Place

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Go to solarreviews.com and find a reputable local company. If you go with the big national brand guys it’s gonna cost ya 20-30% more. Also, make sure you get Enphase brand inverters. They are leaps and bounds the best brand out there. Lastly, do not go with Tesla, their batteries are second to none, but their customer service and inverter brand are shit.

Agree

Pay attention to the models of panels/inverters anyone is trying to sell you.
Go look at the spec sheets for them and compare to others. If you don't know what to look for, find someone who understands the stuff that can advise you.

You'll pay more for higher-end panels, but if the output is better per square inch, it MIGHT pay off over time. And some brands of panels have better warranties on degradation over time - many won't clearly show you they'll drop to <90% or worse over 20 yrs, while others may guarantee >90% to >93% output as the panels age.

If you're doing major renovations, figure out if you can eliminate any rooftop vents for heat or water heater - eliminating one exhaust on the roof might make room for 1 or 2 extra panels. It'll cost more to get the appliances that don't naturally aspirate to the roof (and most water heater guys don't recommend the side venting fan gas water heaters just because there's more parts to wear out).

Enphase is pretty good; my folks had their stuff put on their roof years ago, and the customer support has been excellent - they have had a couple failures, but the company "sees" those thru the monitoring and has pro-actively contacted them to come and fix them. They expanded their array based on the great customer service they got. I'd have to ask them who their installer was, but no complaints from them on their investment.
 
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seminole97

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That’s goes for anything. Once the algorithm knows you are interested in something you are about to see a ton of ads for that thing for weeks… or longer.
Just shop for women's bathing suits every once and a while.
I find that eye candy the least obtrusive way to deal with how we fund the internet.
 
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l.todd

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Go to solarreviews.com and find a reputable local company. If you go with the big national brand guys it’s gonna cost ya 20-30% more. Also, make sure you get Enphase brand inverters. They are leaps and bounds the best brand out there. Lastly, do not go with Tesla, their batteries are second to none, but their customer service and inverter brand are shit.
So I took your advice and went to solarreviews.com. They asked me a few questions, then kind of told me what I would need and said people would contact me. Been almost 2 weeks, and only 1 has. I didn't see any chart of companies or their reviews/ratings. No information at all really. My contractor has recommended Paradise solar as they have an office about an hour away from me. Any information on them? Would I be able to go to an Enphase website and have them direct me to companies that use their inverters? Thanks.
 

Slappy Pappy

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So I took your advice and went to solarreviews.com. They asked me a few questions, then kind of told me what I would need and said people would contact me. Been almost 2 weeks, and only 1 has. I didn't see any chart of companies or their reviews/ratings. No information at all really. My contractor has recommended Paradise solar as they have an office about an hour away from me. Any information on them? Would I be able to go to an Enphase website and have them direct me to companies that use their inverters? Thanks.
Find someone in the area that has solar, and ask them about it. They are easy to spot. Everyone has solar where I live, and my neighbor actually has been in the installation business for over 2 decades. Though his work now is pretty much only installing microgrids, he did my system - SMA, with German panels that still charge if partially blocked.

Also, look at phasing out your gas appliances, and make sure you install capacity for powering electric cars. The more stuff you use your own power for, the faster it pays itself off. And even if you have no plans to get an electric car, it won't even be 15 years before that's basically the only thing being sold, so someone living there will likely be driving one during the lifespan of your panels.
 

SolarHawk

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So I took your advice and went to solarreviews.com. They asked me a few questions, then kind of told me what I would need and said people would contact me. Been almost 2 weeks, and only 1 has. I didn't see any chart of companies or their reviews/ratings. No information at all really. My contractor has recommended Paradise solar as they have an office about an hour away from me. Any information on them? Would I be able to go to an Enphase website and have them direct me to companies that use their inverters? Thanks.
Where do you live?
 

SSG T

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@SolarHawk

So, we met with a guy from Purelight Power (on a recommendation from a friend). They are doing a roof/sun/power analysis and going over the plan they develop on Thursday. Any recs on specifics we should ask?

From what I understand from talking to him, the goal is to get enough coverage to balance out the +/- for the year (because of the way Alliant does the i/o charge for customers with solar). Basically get enough of a positive balance during the sunnier and longer days of summer to offset the shorter/darker days in winter.
 

Joes Place

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@SolarHawk

So, we met with a guy from Purelight Power (on a recommendation from a friend). They are doing a roof/sun/power analysis and going over the plan they develop on Thursday. Any recs on specifics we should ask?

From what I understand from talking to him, the goal is to get enough coverage to balance out the +/- for the year (because of the way Alliant does the i/o charge for customers with solar). Basically get enough of a positive balance during the sunnier and longer days of summer to offset the shorter/darker days in winter.
Are you in Iowa?

  • Depends on your Net Metering rules/laws. If you produced more than you use, what are the rules in place for how much you are reimbursed by your utility for it?

  • Review the panel models/types. Pay particular attention to the degradation rate - more expensive ones may output >90% of their energy at 25-30 years. Cheap ones will be rated for <85%.

  • I believe Enphase microinverters are the best in the business.

  • Microinverters (per panel) have been the preferred setup unless they've improved the technology on this - those allow each panel to output it's full power even if one is covered by shade or snow.

  • If you're putting in a home-battery, there might be better options than microinverters, as you lose some energy converting DC to AC and then back to DC for your storage battery. I believe they call the DC-DC types "power optimizers", which do the same thing as microinverters; those are a preferred solution if you're going to store into a central battery, as it eliminates the extra AC to DC loss (keeps them at DC to put directly into the battery)
 
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SSG T

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Are you in Iowa?

  • Depends on your Net Metering rules/laws. If you produced more than you use, what are the rules in place for how much you are reimbursed by your utility for it?

  • Review the panel models/types. Pay particular attention to the degradation rate - more expensive ones may output >90% of their energy at 25-30 years. Cheap ones will be rated for <85%.

  • I believe Enphase inverters are the best in the business.

  • Microinverters (per panel) have been the preferred setup unless they've improved the technology on this - those allow each panel to output it's full power even if one is covered by shade or snow.

  • If you're putting in a home-battery, there might be better options than microinverters, as you lose some energy converting DC to AC and then back to DC for your storage battery. I believe they call the DC-DC types "power optimizers", which do the same thing as microinverters; those are a preferred solution if you're going to store into a central battery, as it eliminates the extra AC to DC loss (keeps them at DC to put directly into the battery)

Alliant does 1:1, which is good. They are kind of a pain to get things connected/transferred, which is bad.

Don't remember the manufacturer specifics, but IIRC, the expected efficiency at 25 years was around 92-93%.

He talked microinverters, but don't remember the specifics other than how they work (already familiar with the electronics I worked on in the Army)

No battery/storage yet. Might in a couple/few years.
 

Joes Place

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Alliant does 1:1, which is good. They are kind of a pain to get things connected/transferred, which is bad.

Don't remember the manufacturer specifics, but IIRC, the expected efficiency at 25 years was around 92-93%.

He talked microinverters, but don't remember the specifics other than how they work (already familiar with the electronics I worked on in the Army)

No battery/storage yet. Might in a couple/few years.

92-93% is good on panel aging; you might find better, but I think those are the higher end ones you generally want. They just cost more.

Definitely talk to them if you may consider adding in a home battery in the future; they may have high-efficiency inverters that make this mostly a 'push', but you will get better efficiency by not having to change DC-AC, then back to DC for your battery storage. It also might lead to a more cost effective install that is "battery-ready" when you decide to do that. I probably wouldn't worry about it if a backup battery isn't in the plans for >10 years, but if sooner it'd probably alter my decision making.
 

chalupa81

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Alliant does 1:1, which is good. They are kind of a pain to get things connected/transferred, which is bad.

Don't remember the manufacturer specifics, but IIRC, the expected efficiency at 25 years was around 92-93%.

He talked microinverters, but don't remember the specifics other than how they work (already familiar with the electronics I worked on in the Army)

No battery/storage yet. Might in a couple/few years.

You are going to get 4 in 1 micro inverters.
 

Joes Place

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You are going to get 4 in 1 micro inverters.
Is that sets of 4 panels tied to each inverter?

Then that will pull the output down to the lowest-performing panel in each 4x array.
If this is the shortcut, then you want to ensure none of the 4 gets shade covered while the others are in bright sun. And, when you have heavy snows, panel production won't recover until all 4 are cleared of snow.
 

chalupa81

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Is that sets of 4 panels tied to each inverter?

Then that will pull the output down to the lowest-performing panel in each 4x array.
If this is the shortcut, then you want to ensure none of the 4 gets shade covered while the others are in bright sun. And, when you have heavy snows, panel production won't recover until all 4 are cleared of snow.

Yes, he will also get either Yingli, V-Sun, or Hyuandi panels, which I think @SolarHawk said are not tier 1 panels but are ok. I had the same quote done a month ago.

Assuming @SSG T is in Iowa (maybe the metro), I am getting a quote from Heartland Solar next week to also compare to.
 

SSG T

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Is that sets of 4 panels tied to each inverter?

Then that will pull the output down to the lowest-performing panel in each 4x array.
If this is the shortcut, then you want to ensure none of the 4 gets shade covered while the others are in bright sun. And, when you have heavy snows, panel production won't recover until all 4 are cleared of snow.

With the way our roof is, other than 1st thing in the morning, none of our panels will get shade at all. Even when out trees mature, they're in locations that won't hamper sunlight.

Snow...that could be another story, unless climate change works in our favor
 

Joes Place

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With the way our roof is, other than 1st thing in the morning, none of our panels will get shade at all. Even when out trees mature, they're in locations that won't hamper sunlight.

Snow...that could be another story, unless climate change works in our favor
They make giant squeegee like brushes you can pull the snow off them with, if your roof isn't too high up.
 

Joes Place

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With the way our roof is, other than 1st thing in the morning, none of our panels will get shade at all. Even when out trees mature, they're in locations that won't hamper sunlight.

Snow...that could be another story, unless climate change works in our favor
Then just clearing snow off the "sets of 4" would be the only real downside.

Unless one of the panels degrades faster, but if they're rated to 93-95% over 25+ years, that's not anything to really fret over.

I'm sure the 4-panel inverter setup probably saves a bit off the quote; it probably will reduce the output a little, since it's "least common denominator" of the 4, but if the cost is that much cheaper than individual inverters, may not be worth it.

See if Solarhawk can provide better insights/experience on that; I just understand "how they work" and you really want info from folks who do this for a living.
 

DouglasHawk

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@SolarHawk

So, we met with a guy from Purelight Power (on a recommendation from a friend). They are doing a roof/sun/power analysis and going over the plan they develop on Thursday. Any recs on specifics we should ask?

From what I understand from talking to him, the goal is to get enough coverage to balance out the +/- for the year (because of the way Alliant does the i/o charge for customers with solar). Basically get enough of a positive balance during the sunnier and longer days of summer to offset the shorter/darker days in winter.

I went through the quoting process last fall, and had a system installed in April. I got 5 quotes, with Purelight being one of them. I am located in Des Moines, btw.

Purelight was far and away the highest bid, and their system design was very inefficient. I would suggest looking into Eagle Point Solar (Dubuque), CB Solar (Des Moines), and Energy Consultants Group (Cedar Rapids I think). All 3 are Iowa based, know the weather and sun directions better, and will definitely get you better pricing. There are others, but those are ones I know are reputable.

If you are drawn in by the 0% financing that Purelight offers, that's fine, as solar is pretty much always going to be a money maker if you're in the house long enough, but you need to understand you're paying at least $10k more for that 0% financing.

I would HIGHLY recommend asking all installers for their cash price, so you can compare apples to apples. As long as you are getting tier 1 panels and Solaredge or Enphase inverters, the equipment will all be similar. It comes down to the workmanship warranty and making sure the company installs themselves, not subbed out.

Take that cash price (before the tax credit) and divide by total watts of output for the system. So in my case, $25900/11500 (11.5kWh)=$2.25 per watt. That's what you need to get to do decide on pricing.

From there, do whatever you want for financing, but consider a HELOC as an option.

Solar is about to explode with the new bill just passed, 30% tax credit (up from 26%) on new installs is awesome. Glad I got mine this year, got an extra $1k in my pocket as soon as the bill was signed today.
 

B1GDeal

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I looked into Solar a few years ago but never made the move. If I recall it was mostly due to the cost and not sure we’d be there which turned out to be true since we sold. But also Linn Co REC had a crappy net metering set up. I think they banked $ earned and they only rolled over maybe 1 month and then you lost them. Plus the rate they paid fluctuated and it was hard to tell what you’d get. No idea if it’s still like that but recall whatever they explained to me being a turnoff to doing it.
 

unIowa

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My advice is to make sure you get a reputable solar company to do your purchasing and install through. Let Facebook know you are shopping and a whole bunch will come to you, that is always the best.

LOL

Interview a few, find one you are comfortable with, make sure the equipment they install is good, get some references and start enjoying that sweet sweet solar life.
 

RileyHawk

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Does anyone know if Iowa is going to extend their credit of 50% of the Federal amount? That's a game changer.
 

Joes Place

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Take that cash price (before the tax credit) and divide by total watts of output for the system. So in my case, $25900/11500 (11.5kWh)=$2.25 per watt. That's what you need to get to do decide on pricing.
Wow....that seems pretty cheap now.

If my math is accurate here:

11.5 kWhr setup
At ~300 days/yr of production (discount snow cover, cloudy days of lower production) and an average of 10 hrs/day producing

11.5 x 300 x 10 = 34,500 kWhrs per year of electricity
At nominal electric costs per kWhr of about $0.12 (US average is closer to $0.14/kWhr I think), that's >$4000 of electricity generation per year. Which makes the payoff on the system ~6 years, for a system that will run 4x to 5x longer.

Now, I may be overestimating average production, but even taking 80% of that number yields 27,600 kWhrs/yr, which is still $3300/yr.
That's 8 years payoff. 100% "free energy" after that.

Once battery tech comes down, we'll see neighborhoods completely self-powered, morning and night.
 

DouglasHawk

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Wow....that seems pretty cheap now.

If my math is accurate here:

11.5 kWhr setup
At ~300 days/yr of production (discount snow cover, cloudy days of lower production) and an average of 10 hrs/day producing

11.5 x 300 x 10 = 34,500 kWhrs per year of electricity
At nominal electric costs per kWhr of about $0.12 (US average is closer to $0.14/kWhr I think), that's >$4000 of electricity generation per year. Which makes the payoff on the system ~6 years, for a system that will run 4x to 5x longer.

Now, I may be overestimating average production, but even taking 80% of that number yields 27,600 kWhrs/yr, which is still $3300/yr.
That's 8 years payoff. 100% "free energy" after that.

Once battery tech comes down, we'll see neighborhoods completely self-powered, morning and night.
From my research, my price does seem like it was on the lower end. I wouldn't go around chasing a number, just make sure you can afford the system, and if the math makes sense, pull the trigger. CB Solar gave me some equation factoring average sunny days, time the sun is out, and everything to calculate total production for a year. Unfortunately I can't find it now. It was about 10% more than our use, which is what I wanted, since we're getting an EV soon.
 

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