Solar Panels: Worth The Investment
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Electric bills can be a strain on your budget, especially during periods of heavy usage. One easy way to lower your electricity costs is to install solar panels on your home. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity so you’re not beholden to a utility company to power your home. But are solar panels a good choice for you?
Solar Plans In Australia
Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.
Solar Shingles Electricity Generation
Since solar shingles are BIPV products, they understandably work like traditional solar panels. In other words, solar shingles make use of sunlight to generate electricity.
Sunlight strikes the solar single with the silicon semiconductor, and this semiconductor will then contain the captured energy. After some time, the electrons from the particles of light get loose and move freely, and these freed electrons travel through an electrical circuit to an area where other electrons are stored. This collection of electrons will then be harvested to generate a current, which can be used for electrical power.
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Forget Leasing How About Financing Your System Instead
The revolutionary thing about solar leases was that they made it possible for virtually anyone with a roof to go solar. Solar leases were crucial in removing barriers to entry back when solar system prices were prohibitively high.
But times have changed! Solar prices have plummeted in the last 5 years. and financing options other than solar leases have become viable. The most important of these is the solar loan. With our SolarBase Program, we can provide homeowners with $99 down financing options with 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 and 20-year term options along with the benefits of system ownership.
So before you sign up for the first free solar panel deal that comes your way, make sure you understand what youre being offered and that youve considered our SolarBase Program.
Tesla Slashes Solar Price Again Now Starts At $6k Bigger Systems See Price Increase
Tesla has updated its solar panel pricing again, slashing the price of its base system to just $8,200, but bigger systems are now a little more expensive.
Over the last few weeks, Tesla made some massive changes to its solar panel price structure after introducing a new more efficient solar panel last month.
Prices went down significantly. Now Tesla has updated pricing again.
The biggest difference is that the base solar system that someone can buy, a 4.08kW system, starts at just $8,200, or $6,000 after incentives.
Thats a $1,800 price drop before the federal tax credit.
On the other hand, Tesla has increased the price of its bigger systems, seemingly to maintain the same price per watt across the board.
Generally, solar systems become cheaper per watt as you make them bigger and increase their capacity.
Here are Teslas new prices for the bigger solar rooftop panel systems:
- Medium 8.16kW system got a $400 price increase to $16,400 before incentives
- Large 12.24kW system got a $1,100 price increase to $24,600 before incentives
- Extra Large 16.34kW system got a $2,800 price increase to $32,800 before incentives
Although these systems are seeing price increases, Tesla has also started offering price matching, so you can shop for a lower price if its available in your market from another solar installer.
Also, as we reported earlier this morning, Tesla has doubled its referral reward for solar roof and panel installations in a new push to expand its solar business.
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How Does A Solarcity Lease Work
In this video, SolarCity explains how homeowners can avail of their solar lease program.
After just a little digging, I was able to find this example contract on SolarCitys website. Its for the lease of a relatively small system for a property in California.
So what does the lease include?
The exact details of the system laid out in the contract are pretty sparse. What we do know is that the imaginatively named John Smith is getting a 4.25 kW system installed, with the necessary inverters and the mounting equipment for the panels. This will be a straightforward system, with no battery bank.
The warranty SolarCity are offering on the set up is pretty good youre looking at a workmanship and defect warranty for the full 20-year life of the lease, and theyre also covering any damage to the roof for 10 years. Even better, if you have an existing warranty on the roof for longer than that, SolarCity will match it.
Making some minor assumptions
Now, while evaluating this lease Im going to have to make a few assumptions. To simplify things, Im going to assume that Mr. Smith owns a pretty small house and the system being installed meets all of his needs for power.
SolarCity claims that this 4.25kW system will provide 6,016kWh during the first year of operation. According to the US Energy Information Administration , the average US home uses 10,812kWh per year, so Mr. Smiths requirements are definitely on the modest end of things.
Comparing The Costs Of Solar
If solar is getting cheaper, and the technology is improving all the time, does that make it a better investment than other options? To answer that, its not enough to compare the cost of solar against historical benchmarks. We have to look at how clean energy stacks up against alternative methods of delivering power to your home because solar panels are really only worth the investment if they can outperform the other options on the market.
For grid-tied systems, the math is pretty simple: you compare the cost of solar against the cost of buying power from the utility company to estimate the grid-tied rebates payback period.
These calculations can also be applied to evaluate off-grid systems. instead of utility power, though, youll need to compare solar to the costs of running a power line to your property or look at alternative power sources, like wind, hydro, or a trusty generator. Sometimes a combination of methods may be the smartest option.
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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Power My House
When asking yourself how many solar panels you need for your home, there are again a number of variables to take into account. The most significant contributing factor here is how much energy you use. While there’s no single answer, a good rule of thumb is that it takes roughly four solar panels per kilowatts needed.
Most solar panels produce around 250W every four hours of full sunlight. So how does this all play out reality?
A 3kW PV system will be sufficient for roughly three residents, according to average energy consumption. Using this formula, a system of this size would use about 12 panels on average.
A more common size for homes in the UK is 4kW, which can provide for three to four residents. If you use the same formula, a 4kW system would need an average of 16 solar panels.
You can always use a solar PV system to power some of your home instead of all of it. That would certainly lower the number of solar panels you need, but may not be as profitable in the long run.
Other Solar Products Offered By Tesla
Tesla offers energy storage and an alternative solar power generator with its battery back-up and solar roof offerings.
- Battery back-upTesla allows customers to store the excess energy their solar panels generate with a Powerwall solar battery. Powerwall collects energy for you to use at night or during a power outage.
- Solar roofThe Tesla solar roof is an alternative to solar panels and replaces your current roof with solar tile shingles. The solar tiles act as mini solar panels, harnessing sunlight to produce electricity for your home.
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Solar Installation: How To Find A Qualified Installer
Its important you choose a certified installation company because they will be able to advise you on all regulations. It’s best to talk to a few installers and get their estimates. Most of them will give you an idea of costs over the phone before arranging a survey on your home. Ask them how long the work will take as well as what the warranty and/or guarantee for their work is. If any guarantees are insurance-backed this will help you avoid any surprises later. If you’re looking to qualify for FiT then your system will need to be installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme accredited installer.
If You’re Likely To Move Home In The Next Decade It Probably Doesn’t Add Up
As it takes typically more than 10 years to recoup your installation costs, if you’re considering moving it’s probably not worth it .
While you could physically remove the panels from your old home and install them on the new one, this could prove costly. Plus, while you could still use what you generate yourself at your new address, you’d no longer get paid for what you export. To receive payments your panels need to be certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme and the organisation told us it wouldn’t certify panels that have been moved.
It’s also worth noting solar panel installations are tailored to each home to fit the roof and be positioned to maximise the level of sunlight they receive so it’s likely they wouldn’t perform as well if you installed them on a different home anyway.
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Sales Pitch: Free Solar In New Jersey
The term free solar panels is typically used to advertise solar lease or solar power purchase agreements . Under both of these arrangements, a leasing company will put solar panels on your roof for no money up-front, but will charge you for the electricity that they produce.
Most offers will save you a little money but not all of them, so make sure youve done your research. Beware of a few other things:
Why Would You Chose A Solar Lease
When you sign a contract for a solar lease or PPA, you dont pay for the cost of the equipment – youre pay to use them. In other words, its like a rental agreement. This can be appealing because the average upfront cost when you purchase a system is several thousand dollars.
Another advantage is that at the start of your lease or PPA, you should pay less for electricity than you did before.
One last possible advantage is that if you dont have enough tax liability to take advantage of solar tax credits, such as the 26% federal tax credit, a solar lease or PPA might make financial sense for you.
I said that you should pay less for electricity with a lease deal, but thats not always the case. In fact, due to escalator clauses in most contracts you might find yourself in a losing situation where you end up paying more for electricity than you did before!
This is one of the reasons why two states attorneys general have sued Vivint Solar, one of the largest companies in this market. More about that later.
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How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Panels
How much does solar cost to install? On average, it costs around $13,142 to install a solar system. How much it costs to install solar panels depends on how many solar panels you need to generate energy for your home. The good news is, how much solar panels cost upfront is offset by the savings and return on investment they earn.
The average cost of solar panels and their upfront cost can be offset by the federal tax credit, which currently sits at 26 percent. After 2020, the tax credit will step down to 22 percent. So the sooner you take advantage of the full credit, the better. The federal tax credit was created to encourage investment in solar systems and renewable energy, and claiming it is a matter of filling out the right IRS Form.
Besides the federal tax credit, solar panels increase property values while lowering utility bills. Compared to gas or electric heating systems, solar panels save you much more in the long-run. Your solar panel system can pay for itself in three years!
You May Be Paying More For Your Lease Than You Would Have For Traditional Electric
Because of the lease escalator, it is entirely possible that over the twenty year lease, youll reach a point where youre spending more on the lease than you would if you received a bill from your utility company.
Also, if your consumption goes down, you are on the hook for making the loan payments. For example, we all know the family components of the house change. If you get into a lease when you have a large family and then your family reduces in size the lease costs now does not outpace your energy. The lease payment is more then the average electric bill because it was done on data when more people were in the home. In addition, it is a mistake to assume energy prices will go up over the next 20 years. Better energy technology, both from fracking and renewables, should increase supply and reduce costs over time.
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Is Sunrun A Good Deal Compared To Other Solar Companies
In a word: no.
We mentioned Sunruns business model above that they hire outside sales and installation companies in a bid to lower operating costs, which they can then pass on to you through cheaper installation prices. However, their public filings tell a different story.
In the fall of 2016, the National Renewable Energy Lab published their study of the solar industry. In the report, they analyze three national installers installation costs, including Sunrun and SolarCity. They found that Sunruns costs of $3.63 per watt were much higher than the other national installers they looked at, ie. Vivint Solars $3.21 and SolarCitys extremely low $2.71 .
Sunruns installation costs were a full 75% higher than SolarCity! When we look closer, we see that Sunruns overhead, as well as actual installation costs, were much higher than the other two somewhat of an anomaly since the entire reason for their business model is decreased operating costs.
This should probably go without saying, but higher costs for the installer means higher costs for the buyer. If it costs more for Sunrun to install solar, you can be pretty certain youll pay more as well. This doesnt seem like a great deal to us.
Are Tesla Solar Panels A Good Deal
Each of Tesla’s four offerings compare favorably to national averages for value measured in dollars per watt. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the median price for residential solar in 2020 was $3.80 per watt. The value of Tesla’s offering increases with size.
Tesla’s online estimates usually come in well below that amount, even including one Powerwall . With the suggested storage options and the federal tax credit , Tesla’s estimates range from $3.32 per watt for the smallest option down to $2.23 per watt for the largest.
The prices Tesla spits out online might not be the final cost. Your $100 refundable deposit only starts the process. You may need to upgrade your electrical main panel or pay extra for hiding the conduit from your solar panels.
While the overall cost won’t be clear until a bit later in the process, Tesla will match any installer who quotes you a lower price. If that quote comes within 14 days and is for an array of the same size or larger, Tesla will match the price on a dollar-per-watt basis. All you need to do is to email them the quote and your Tesla reservation number.
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