Four years of Solar Powered living...

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AEDennis

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#1
The beginning of September is often the start of another year of Net Metering for us.

When we first installed and were given the Permission to Operate (PTO) by the utility four years ago, I estimated that we would be driving one Active E like EV (BMW's 80-100 mile EV that was the pre-cursor to the i3) and that our payback period was closer to six to seven years. Our average electricity bill was over $200 a month (without an EV) and I drove a lot of miles.

Last year our bill for year 3 was $40 and I expected to break even sometime this past year.

This close of our fourth year we've actually hit break-even and now looking forward to further independence.

Here is a summary of our year.
 

Mark C

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Aug 26, 2016
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264
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Arab, AL
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#2
My wife and I have 6.81 kW of solar, ground mounted that went live 12/17/12. We've gone to a great deal of effort to make the house energy efficient and achieved a HERS score of 19 2 years ago. Doing a slow LED conversion from CFLs and looking forward to driving electric.

When our solar displaces gas, I expect our payback to speed up a small amount, but currently we're on track for a 10.5 year payback. Friends tell me that is too long a payback to make solar worthwhile. I tell them in my present home of the last 14+ years, the electric company still doesn't consider me paid in full, so 10.5 years can't be too bad.
 

AEDennis

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#3
My wife and I have 6.81 kW of solar, ground mounted that went live 12/17/12. We've gone to a great deal of effort to make the house energy efficient and achieved a HERS score of 19 2 years ago. Doing a slow LED conversion from CFLs and looking forward to driving electric.

When our solar displaces gas, I expect our payback to speed up a small amount, but currently we're on track for a 10.5 year payback. Friends tell me that is too long a payback to make solar worthwhile. I tell them in my present home of the last 14+ years, the electric company still doesn't consider me paid in full, so 10.5 years can't be too bad.
Every step counts. Driving EV helps speed up not only one's transport but also one's payback.

Kudos to you for doing all the other stuff. We're optimizing other aspects of our electrical use.
 

Mark C

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264
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Arab, AL
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#4
Any thoughts on getting a Powerwall at some point in the future? I've been to the Tesla Site and it describes the Powerpack and the Powerwall. Trouble is, when you try and find pricing info, it just isn't there.

I know the Powerwall is a wall mounted lilthium battery setup, 6.4 kWh of energy storage, etc... I also know that a Powerwall, even with a solar array, is nothing but wall art without an inverter. Since I use a Sunny Boy inverter already, I'll get a Sunny Island to go with it.

All that said, I could calculate the price of admission, less labor, if I knew how much a Powerwall cost. I don't want to be charged a 50% markup by a solar guru should I choose to buy one.
 

AEDennis

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#6
Any thoughts on getting a Powerwall at some point in the future? I've been to the Tesla Site and it describes the Powerpack and the Powerwall. Trouble is, when you try and find pricing info, it just isn't there.

I know the Powerwall is a wall mounted lilthium battery setup, 6.4 kWh of energy storage, etc... I also know that a Powerwall, even with a solar array, is nothing but wall art without an inverter. Since I use a Sunny Boy inverter already, I'll get a Sunny Island to go with it.

All that said, I could calculate the price of admission, less labor, if I knew how much a Powerwall cost. I don't want to be charged a 50% markup by a solar guru should I choose to buy one.
I was at the launch event for Tesla Energy and registered my interest at the time. Still only one email to follow up my interest.

Waiting.

On Wholesale Solar they list the 6.4KWH Power Wall stand alone for $3K. On October 28th we may see some new options in this area.
Looking forward to seeing this, but it's ridiculous to be waiting as long as we have been to see options on this. Tesla needs to learn to work well with others rather than have to sell complete solutions. I already have a solar solution I just want to add batteries.
 

Topher

Energy Curmudgeon
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May 11, 2016
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Maine
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#7
Friends tell me that is too long a payback to make solar worthwhile.
Another financial metric you can use is "time until free". If you pay for your solar system with a loan, and the monthly payments are the same as your current electric bill, you are basically locked into your current price for electricity (can they get that deal from their electric company) for a number of years, at which point, your electric bill goes to zero (or whatever your minimum is).

Thank you kindly.
 

Mark C

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Arab, AL
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#8
Just reached the 4 year point of net metering on our solar setup on 12/16/16. Total production 39380 kWh and 58.172% paid back. I track the money for the folks who ultimately question what the payback is.

What they really don't understand, and I'm not sure I can quantify is how good having it makes me feel. And, for those out there who've never had their electric bill show up with a line item at the bottom that says, "Credit, Do Not Pay," well, they just haven't lived! :)
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2016
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1210 Minnesota Ave, San Jose, CA 95125
#9
I've had a 5.5 kW system running since November 2004. It's been very reliable but I'm still paying PG&E about $80 per month for electricity. I would like to get to $0 and also have been thinking about getting a Powerwall. I got Solar City to come out to quote on adding 10 more panels. I discussed the Powerwall and they told me it is strictly a backup power supply. Since I have a Model 3 reserved (within the first 100K), I wanted to be able to charge the car in the evening without depending on the grid, but this does not seem to be the way the Powerwall works. Since we live in the city and power outages are both infrequent and short, it seems that the Powerwall really does not make much sense. Anybody have any other knowledge on use of the Powerwall?
 

Mark C

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#10
I've had a 5.5 kW system running since November 2004.

I would like to get to $0 and also have been thinking about getting a Powerwall. I got Solar City to come out to quote on adding 10 more panels. I discussed the Powerwall and they told me it is strictly a backup power supply.
First off, thanks for buying in while the system prices were still very substantial, even compared to the pricing I paid. Early adopters pay dearly, but I know, as in I really know how good it feels to have a solar array.

The part about the Powerwall was disturbing. I too am a reservation holder and I filled out the information on the Tesla Energy page expressing an interest in getting a Powerwall 2.0. I was under the impression that they would be offering AC and DC versions for on or off grid systems. I hope the person who told you that it is strictly a backup power supply was just poorly trained and gave the wrong answer. It isn't what I was led to expect.
 

KennethK

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Michigan
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#11
The part about the Powerwall was disturbing. I too am a reservation holder and I filled out the information on the Tesla Energy page expressing an interest in getting a Powerwall 2.0. I was under the impression that they would be offering AC and DC versions for on or off grid systems. I hope the person who told you that it is strictly a backup power supply was just poorly trained and gave the wrong answer. It isn't what I was led to expect.
I, too, am a reservation holder for Powerwall 2. I was about to get a Powerwall 1, however, the installer was going to soak me on cost to install it. I'm glad I waited to the reveal of Powerwall 2. Tesla is offering a Powerwall 2 in both AC and DC coupled version.

Solar City contacted me a couple weeks ago. They will be serving my area in late summer with Powerwall 2. I will be getting a DC coupled version to connect to my Solaredge Storedge system.
 

Uricasha

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Phoenix, AZ
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#12
I've had a 5.5 kW system running since November 2004. It's been very reliable but I'm still paying PG&E about $80 per month for electricity. I would like to get to $0 and also have been thinking about getting a Powerwall. I got Solar City to come out to quote on adding 10 more panels. I discussed the Powerwall and they told me it is strictly a backup power supply. Since I have a Model 3 reserved (within the first 100K), I wanted to be able to charge the car in the evening without depending on the grid, but this does not seem to be the way the Powerwall works. Since we live in the city and power outages are both infrequent and short, it seems that the Powerwall really does not make much sense. Anybody have any other knowledge on use of the Powerwall?
I think the SolarCity Rep was mid-informed. Per https://www.tesla.com/powerwall , the Powerwall has time of use load shifting and solar self consumption which means you could charge your Model 3 in the evening (13.5 kW-hr worth if your Powerwall was fully charged).
 

AscendedSaiyan

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Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
66
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Atlanta
#13
I decided to try to not only stop his electric bill, for the future, but also to have the electric company pay him. Tesla should be installing a 16.25 kW system with 4 Powerwall 2 units. It should be installed after permits are received. Hopefully, I can convince him to let me buy him a long range Tesla car to go with it. I am teaching him about BEVs and how he would never need to go to a gas station, again.

Anyway, is there any words of advice that I should attempt to pass on about day to day solar life?
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
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Wichita Falls texas
#14
I been enjoying my 7KW solar array since August 2014. In 2015 I paid $50 for the entire year to my utility. In 2016 they owed me money. So far in 2017 my electric bill is negative $400.00. Payback will be six years or less. I have Green Mountain as a provider. They pay me $0.11 for every KWH I put in the grid. I drive a 2011 Leaf and have a model 3 reservation.
 

AEDennis

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#15
I think the SolarCity Rep was mid-informed. Per https://www.tesla.com/powerwall , the Powerwall has time of use load shifting and solar self consumption which means you could charge your Model 3 in the evening (13.5 kW-hr worth if your Powerwall was fully charged).
To be fair, Tesla has been quite confusing on this issue and it wasn't until I saw the interface on the My Tesla App have I figured out how to do this for my system. Since we still have Net Metering with our utility, I will be doing this manually if I can't get it working on a scheduled basis. Charge the system at night and run off battery during the peak (and feed my solar at a higher rate back to the utility.)

I decided to try to not only stop his electric bill, for the future, but also to have the electric company pay him. Tesla should be installing a 16.25 kW system with 4 Powerwall 2 units. It should be installed after permits are received. Hopefully, I can convince him to let me buy him a long range Tesla car to go with it. I am teaching him about BEVs and how he would never need to go to a gas station, again.

Anyway, is there any words of advice that I should attempt to pass on about day to day solar life?
So, you have a family member who has solar, but no electric vehicle? That's great too, but an even better pay-back to both by pairing the two together.

I been enjoying my 7KW solar array since August 2014. In 2015 I paid $50 for the entire year to my utility. In 2016 they owed me money. So far in 2017 my electric bill is negative $400.00. Payback will be six years or less. I have Green Mountain as a provider. They pay me $0.11 for every KWH I put in the grid. I drive a 2011 Leaf and have a model 3 reservation.
That $0.11 is using net metering I presume. That's what I am planning on doing. Until that goes away, then I will store the solar into the batteries to use at night.
 

AscendedSaiyan

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Atlanta
#16
So, you have a family member who has solar, but no electric vehicle? That's great too, but an even better pay-back to both by pairing the two together.
I paid for it, but it has not been installed, yet. It's just finishing the design phase. Then, Tesla/SolarCity files for the work permits. Once they get that back, they install the system.

I had a Tesla connector and NEMA 14-50 plug installed at his place. He is a retiree. He needs some convincing for a BEV (even when not paying for it, himself). :)
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2017
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Bastrop, Texas
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#17
Been living off-grid solar since 3/1/2011. Turn key redundant Outback system with Sharp panels and Sun Extender batteries and 10K Perkins diesel generator. No electric bills for 7 years. Considering adding two trackers full of panels to our system. Have a minimum 110 mile commute. Employer has agreed to install 50 Amp outdoor plug for EV charging (will use a Juice Box). Intend to charge our Model 3 all day Mon - Fri. at work. Payroll deductions for usage if they require it.

There is no going back. Solar rocks! Notice my graphic? Sun with blue lightning bolts... have a tattoo to match :)
 

AEDennis

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#18
Been living off-grid solar since 3/1/2011. Turn key redundant Outback system with Sharp panels and Sun Extender batteries and 10K Perkins diesel generator. No electric bills for 7 years. Considering adding two trackers full of panels to our system. Have a minimum 110 mile commute. Employer has agreed to install 50 Amp outdoor plug for EV charging (will use a Juice Box). Intend to charge our Model 3 all day Mon - Fri. at work. Payroll deductions for usage if they require it.

There is no going back. Solar rocks! Notice my graphic? Sun with blue lightning bolts... have a tattoo to match :)
Depending on your utilitiy in Texas, you could actually charge for free... not sure about other costs to "connect to grid" though.
 

sjcsale

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Austin, TX
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#19
@AEDennis @escondidos

Just beginning to research solar for install at home. Curious how do you guys calculate break even point.
What I have so far is simplistic, take my average bill for the year and estimate what percentage of that I will get from solar and hence a payback period based off of that.

Specially considering the EV - how does that factory into payback ?

Thanks !!
 

akomlik

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San Jose, CA
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#20
@AEDennis @escondidos

Just beginning to research solar for install at home. Curious how do you guys calculate break even point.
What I have so far is simplistic, take my average bill for the year and estimate what percentage of that I will get from solar and hence a payback period based off of that.

Specially considering the EV - how does that factory into payback ?

Thanks !!
Step 1: Figure out size of your solar system
there are plenty of good solar calculators online. Energy Sage is good starting point.
When I used that in Feb. 2018 we did not yet have EV so I added our total 2017 consumption of 6300kWh plus expected another 2400kWh for the Model 3 (12k miles / 4 miles/kWh at 80% home charging) for a total expected yearly consumption of 8700kWh.

Step 2: solicit quotes from installers.
I used Solar Reviews , Yelp, etc.
We had 4 quotes that had break-even calculations in there.
After much consideration and checking references with local customers we went with small local installer Highlight Solar.
Expected break-even was 6.5 years.
They put 5.7kW panel capacity system (capped at 4kWt by the inverter) with expected 8400kWh yearly production in March, plus ran EV charging line form panel to garage.
This system makes about 32kWh daily now (data for May).

step 3: Switch to Solar/EV rate and program the car to charge when price is lowest.
We got our Model 3 on 4/20/18 and after registration came in I submitted switch to PG&E EV-A rate plan.
I charge at night (11pm-7am) at only $0.12/kWh and send electricity to a grid at $0.45/kWt during peak afternoon hours
Using comparison App PG&E Toolkit I see so far in 13 days of May I rolled forward $60 of credit.