Finally did the math

–Bit of a long tale but here we go. Maybe 6 yrs ago I opted in for the ‘package deal’ and got 3kw installed on the roof for $20k. Result: saw a drop in the electric bill of maybe $100/mo. So figuring 100 x 12 x 7 I’ve saved about $8,400 so the loan will be paid off in 14 more years: not much of a deal. Now at the time I did benefit from the California rebate or else the installed cost would have been $30k and I would have been dead and buried B4 breakeven. As it is I’ll be in my late 70s when it’s finally paid off. The reason for this ream job comes down to a change in the law. When first instituted the rebate program included a proviso that the customer’s pay rate would be dropped to the first tier. But after the law change one could only drop one tier. So I was in 4th tier and I only dropped to 3rd tier.
–Well in for a penny, in for a pound as they say so a year ago I added another 4kw. Surprise, surprise I got screwed again; i.e. B4 the installation was completed California ran out of rebate money!!. Fortunately the price of solar cells had dropped and the efficiencies had increased so what had been a 200w panel was now a 250 w panel. Also the way DC is turned into AC has improved so there was no central control panel which saved another $3k. Now the good news: I seem to have crossed a threshold in terms of consumption vs generation and my electric bill has dropped by something like $335/mo. So to date my investment is $50,000 for 7kw and my monthly savings have jumped from $100/mo to $350/mo. So doing the math I should be at breakeven in 10.4 years which is getting close to reasonable.
–Bottom line: if you’ve a yen to go solar don’t go small or you’ll never live to see breakeven. Now admittedly B4 I had solar my electric bill was *very* high: around $750/mo (machine shop) but whatever you use plan on getting as close to breakeven as you can or it ain’t worth it.
–And don’t forget: the power company won’t buy more than you use any more so don’t put in more than you need either.

Comments (2)

Philip FreidinJune 16th, 2014 at 6:31 am

Or you can look at Power Purchase Agreements from someone like Solar City. No money out of pocket, and if you size it right, no T3, T4 or T5 (but slowly rising payments to PPA company at a rate that is between T2 and T3). Better than break even from day 1. Be glad to explain more if interested.

Steamboat Ed HaasJune 27th, 2014 at 8:57 am

Please do! I’m in a bit of a fog.. :-)

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