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Any reviews from SolarCity house owners?

Discussion in 'US' started by Model 3 lover, Apr 9, 2016.

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  1. Model 3 lover

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    I had one SolarCity quote in October 2015. I didn't sign the contract at that time, because I saw some bad reviews online. However I would like to have some feedback from this club. Thank you.
     
  2. Ken Hixson

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    I don't know anything about SolarCity (I don't think they operate here), but I did install a 15kWp ground array last year with fifty-two 285w panels and it has been everything I expected. I solicited bids from three different contractors and did a lot of homework online researching the specific panels, inverters, and optimizers in each of their proposals. There was a wide spread in the different designs they proposed and in the end I decided on what I felt was the best components and design.

    I was hoping to use some extra capacity for home charging an electric vehicle but I suspect my Model 3 will take two years so it is hurry up and wait!
     
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    • AEDennis

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      I was originally signed up for Solar City...

      But in the middle of the process (in 2012), found out that I needed a new roof, and did my opt-out to renegotiate and pitted them off against Real Goods Solar. Real Goods gave me a better deal, so I went with them. Blogpost about my experiences from 2012. Several other posts on Solar here.

      There are a lot of choices for solar and I suggest that you get several competing bids.

      It was a wash my first year, paid on my second year, and a small payment on the third year. A lot of solar has to do with what you're allowed to do in your part of the country. In California, we do net metering, which means that the utility credits us for the same tariff as the kWh during production. In our first few years the peak rate was from 10AM to 6PM, which corresponded to the same time that a solar array is normally producing, so there were massive credits created by the panels. This has been shifted to 2PM to 8PM, which means that between 6PM and 8PM, we're typically paying at peak. Additionally, the power produced during 10AM to 2PM are at off-peak rates which are less. Additionally, any credits at the end of the year is only offset against consumption. Pay-outs are for ACTUAL Overproduction of energy and not credits, and this is at the wholesale rate of energy, which is very low.

      So, best deal is to shop around.
       
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      • patrick0101

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        I have a 8.3kW SolarCity system. It has been installed for ~9 months now. We also have a non-SolarCity 4kW system that was installed in 2007. We paid out-of-pocket for the first system and we have a power purchase agreement (aka solar lease) for the SolarCity system, so I can compare the two.

        For the system that we own, I don't have a monthly bill. That's nice, but I paid a lot up front to receive this benefit. The lease option works better from a cash flow perspective. For the SolarCity system, we paid zero out of pocket up-front and got the first two months of energy free.

        The SolarCity electricity is ~30% cheaper than our local utility and the price is guaranteed not to increase. There were actually three options when we signed up for SolarCity: 1) Buy the system 2) Have a fixed rate with no increase ever 3) Have a cheaper starting rate with small increases on a set schedule. We took option 2.

        With the non-SolarCity system that we have, we used a local installer (in 2007 before SolarCity was here). I am not even sure if the local installer company is in business any longer. The inverter for our non-SolarCity system died twice. Both times it was replaced under warranty. However, that 5-year warranty is now expired and if it dies again, I would have to buy a new inverter and pay to have it installed.

        Whereas with the SolarCity system, if anything breaks anytime during the 20 year contract, they fix it. I don't own the system, they do. If it does not make power, then there is none for me to buy. They are motivated to get it fixed quickly so they can sell me the electricity.

        If you want to know more, I wrote about our install experience here <link>.
         
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        • Tim

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          I suggest you compare the efficiency and longevity of Sunpower to Solar City.
           
        • AEDennis

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          I think the benefit of PPA for solar is that you don't have to... there is a guaranteed amount of kWh that you are buying and it is the responsibility of the solar provider to deliver the guaranteed amount per year of the agreement.

          Any over production is the customer's benefit.
           
        • MJBull13

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          Getting several quotes from different companies is ALWAYS a good idea
          However, imo I would pay a bit more for SolarCity for two reasons. For one, Elon Musk is the CEO, and I believe in his dream for the future. Furthermore, SolarCity is by far the biggest residential solar installer in the USA. I would pay a bit more know to know the company is still going to be around in 5 years.
          BTW, SunEdison was a pretty big solar installer, and they are currently bankrupt. Just my thoughts
           
        • AEDennis

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          Solar City does get the Elon treatment. My decision was purely financial and there was no technological advantage to Solar City at the time we installed our panels in 2012.

          Several months after that, as Tesla was beta-testing what ended up being the Power Wall product, there was an advantage, but that has normalized again. In the meantime, I'm driving on sunshine at a significant savings over Solar City's offer in 2012.

          Things change and the OP situation might best be served by Solar City or its competitors, the only thing for sure is, what other enhancement has a direct payback?
           
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          • teslaliving

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            I also have @SolarCity with a 69 panel system of about 17.5kW. At 100 miles of driving per day its generating double the power I need for my Tesla most of the time.

            I didnt shop around much for a solar system. With SolarCity the math was simple -- no money down and savings from the day I turned on the system. After plunking down a lot of money on the Tesla I didnt want to make a big solar investment too.

            I've had it on for over a year and its saved me a bunch of money already. Very happy with the company and the system.

            What else would you like to know?

            Also, i'd be remiss if I didnt share a referral code :)
            http://share.solarcity.com/teslaliving

            Takes a while to get things installed and you house has to qualify etc as people mentioned above.IMG_5853.jpg
             
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            • AEDennis

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              That's a lot of shade on the picture @teslaliving, later in the day, I presume.
               
            • teslaliving

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            • AEDennis

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              Yup... I get the Twitter updates for your production! ;-)

              I think your array is almost double my panels (28)...
               
            • teslaliving

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              Im compensating... for New England.
               
            • Model 3 lover

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              Nice house and blog. My most concern is winter snow and roof leaking water damage. I think you don't have that kind of problems.
              Thank you for your sharing.
               
            • teslaliving

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              I live in Massachusetts and we get plenty of snow/rain etc. SolarCity guarantees the installation against leaks for the life of the install.
               
            • DeimosEV

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              I'm also a Solar City customer, I've had my system for 3 months now. I like the company a lot, they were very professional and for me the installation happened very quickly. I also saw some people giving negative reviews, but it seems to me there's always somebody that wont be satisfied no matter what. My electric bill so far is 1/2 of what it used to be so I'm basically driving my i3 for free.
               
            • Mr. Watts

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              I'm potentially going to get my panels installed this month. Have my HOA to deal with and its been a nightmare. I know there are solar protection laws in NJ but I didn't want to have to but heads with the president of the HOA. Hopefully we can get things resolved and have them installed asap. Anyone been able to lower/haggle how much they pay per kwH?
               
            • teslaliving

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              SolarCity doesn't seem to negotiate on the price. Current NJ pricing (doing an install with my dad) is 13.1c variable, 16.4c fixed.
               
            • Mr. Watts

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              Gotcha, thanks for the info
               

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