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How to tell if solar power will save ME money?

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 09/08/2012 in
Updated 03/22/2017
people eating dinner

That’s the big question, right? Solar Power is cool and awesome for the environment, but will solar power save me cash, personally?

Last week, I visited my folks who are in Chicago for Cubs V. Giants (Pops is a Cubs fan, I’m a Giants fan). After some family friends graciously made us dinner at their home, I decided to write up a post. For fodder, I decided to pick their brains.

I asked them, as regular folks who didn’t know anything about solar, what did they want to know?

They all started with, almost verbatim, the same question:

“How can I tell if solar is going to save me money?”

Then they rattled off several others after that and it reminded me of how sometimes people in the industry need to step back and remember that the most basic of questions are what really need answering the most… so….

Let’s bang out my some of their questions one at a time, in one or two sentences, in layman’s terms.  Here we go:

  1. How can I tell if solar is going to save me money? – Get a quote.  Obviously, I’m biased, but I also think I’m correct that the easiest way to do this is get a quote from one of our partner installers because no one has to come to your house and it’s still accurate – and they have access to multiple deals in your area.
  2. Is solar expensive? – Yes, no, and no.  Yes, in that if you bought it in cash it will cost you thousands, yes.  No, in that most people lease it now where their lease cost is less than their avoided cost of electricity (free, and instant savings).  No, in that it’s about 40% the cost it was a few years ago (usually $8/watt installed in 2007, $3/watt installed in 2017).
  3. Would my neighborhood association try to block it, and could they?– Some states like Nevada have now made it illegal for HOA’s to say no to you if you plan on installing solar on your property. In other areas, it can be more of a pain in the butt if your leadership wants everyone to have the same slowly deteriorating composite shingle look instead of sexy solar panels. We urge you to join the board and make the case for everyone to get solar instead of just you, so everyone is saving money instead of wasting it on foolish posterity. We’ll even help you prepare estimates for everyone to review!
  4. Will it make my roof leak? – probably not.  If you lease it, then it’s the other company’s problem and they will take care of it.  Otherwise, it’s covered under warranty.  The rule of thumb is if the company you bought it from is still around, it’s probably not going to leak.
  5. What if I sell my house? – most people lease their solar panels now, so much like an ADT security system contract, you need to get the new buyer to assume it.   Homes with solar also sell 20% faster and for 17% more.
  6. Is it ugly?Solar panels have certainly gotten a lot prettier since the old blue griddy ones you think of, but, it’s still going on your roof, so it’s up to you.
  7. What about trees? – Yes, trees will shade your panels, and if shaded, they will not make much energy.  Shading used to be much more complicated before the invention of micro-inverters, where the impact of shading one or two panels is no longer critical the whole system.

Last modified: March 22, 2017

3 thoughts on “How to tell if solar power will save ME money?

  1. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Why can’t I lease solar panels at a fixed rate. Instead of a 2.9 rate that goes up

  2. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    How I am I going to save on Solar When my lowincome is Federal Income Tax exempt

  3. Avatar for Eric Eric says:

    Aw, now you’re making me feel bad about my 2 year old “blue griddy” solar panels! ;)

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