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Solar, Marshmallows, and Success

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 10/19/2009 in
Updated 03/04/2020

 MarshmallowOakleyOriginals

photo: Flickr/OakleyOriginals

This is not a post about Marshmallows, but as you’ll see from this very interesting and kid cute video below, successful people know how to make a good investment—even when they’re 4 or 5 year old.

The same could be true if you’re buying solar in Los Angeles, Boulder, Colorado, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, Arizona. The local solar rebates and incentives in these and other cities are a  great investment, yet a lot of people are still unsure whether it’s worth getting a free quote, fearing the upfront costs (even though they’re very low right now if you have some home equity.)

To help dampen those fears, I hope you’ll learn from the Marshmallow experiment described below. (Forgive me if you’re on a low carb diet or don’t like to watch little kids struggle with not eating a Marshmallow. So cute. But I digress.)

In this Marshmallow experiment, little kids are given a single marshmallow and told that they can eat the marshmallow right away, OR,  if they wait for 15 minutes, they’ll get 2 marshmallows. So, patience will double their marshmallow investment.

As you’ll see, 2/3 of these kids couldn’t wait, but 1/3 did wait, receiving 2 delicious marshmallows instead of one.  Here’s the really interesting part that matches making a solar investment: Years later when the kids are adults, the experimenters check on them. And what did they find?

• The kids that ate the single marshmallow had a lot of problems in their adult life and were not very successful.
• The kids that did wait and got 2 marshmallows? They turned out to be successful adults. Somehow, delayed gratification carried into their adult behavior.

If you think about it, Solar is the double marshmallow.

A good salesman will show you graphs about your payback period and Return on  Investment (ROI), which differ for every home based on:

• Initial installed cost
• Size of the system.
• Utility rates.
• State and/or utility rebates
• Federal and State tax incentives
• Loan rates

In general, Solar friendly states like California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and others mentioned above can see a payback within 7 to 12 years, depending on the above factors. After that, you get to eat both marshmallows (Cash!). Because not only has your system paid for itself, but it’s saving you money that you would be paying to your coal fired (think liver flavored marshmallow) utility without solar.

You can use that sweet solar marshmallow money for, say a vacation or a shopping spree. And remember that solar panels are usually guaranteed to produce clean energy for 25 years, but usually go even longer, so those savings really add up.

The point is that if you’re on the fence about going solar because of the investment, remember this Marshmallow experiment. Delicious solar marshmallows come to those who wait.

Last modified: March 4, 2020

4 thoughts on “Solar, Marshmallows, and Success

  1. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

    Christof, thanks for commenting. I don’t think that’s “typical” actually. If you check our past posts, when we mention inverters, we always mention the replacement. See:

    https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/energy-efficiency/whats-inverter-and-why-should-i-care/

    Also, installers usually show a graph that show you the payback period. Usually there’s a spike at year 12, and that’s where installers explain about the inverter replacement cost. Also, you still come out ahead, but yes, there will be that repair cost at that time.

    Bottom line, get educated here, and don’t go with any installer who isn’t up front about the inverter needing replacement.

    Thanks again for commenting, and if you have any other questions, please feel free to leave another comment.

  2. Avatar for Christof Christof says:

    Of course, the dirty little “secret” in the payback projections is that, as far as I know, they typically don’t include the cost of replacing the system inverter somewhere between years 10 and 15. And this replacement is likely to cost quite a bit, possibly one, two, three thousand dollars.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge solar proponent, but I’m not sure why the cost of replacing the solar inverter is almost never talked about or addressed in long-term cost projectsions

  3. Avatar for Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" Tor a.k.a. "Solar Fred" says:

    Thanks, Nan. :)

  4. Avatar for nan nan says:

    Great analogy, Tor, especially the liver flavored marshmallows! lol

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