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Who knows about solar panel systems?

Old 05-20-2019, 10:30 AM
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Default Who knows about solar panel systems?

I think they're getting cheaper these days and I'd like to consider investing in one.
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:15 AM
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I don't know much about them, but I did look into getting some myself about six or so months ago. The cost of them is still so high, the return on investment is literally a life long process. After you buy the system, then add in the cost of maintenance and whatever else, it just isn't worth it. Not even close. However, if you are doing it because you want to be "green", and not for any cost savings, then it is definitely worth it. I also looked at wind power generation on my house as well. Same problem. I suspect some day the cost will come down enough to be financially a good idea, but right now it just isn't.
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Flippin Sweet View Post
I don't know much about them, but I did look into getting some myself about six or so months ago. The cost of them is still so high, the return on investment is literally a life long process. After you buy the system, then add in the cost of maintenance and whatever else, it just isn't worth it. Not even close. However, if you are doing it because you want to be "green", and not for any cost savings, then it is definitely worth it. I also looked at wind power generation on my house as well. Same problem. I suspect some day the cost will come down enough to be financially a good idea, but right now it just isn't.
Exactly what I tell people as I'm often asked being an EE.
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:37 AM
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At some point in time it should become a viable cost effective option. I do not think it's there yet except as mentioned above being green to be green.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:13 PM
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Someone on here was talking a few months back about buying the panels and equipment on line and having a separate contractor install everything. I don't remember specifics but their cost came in substantially below any of the companies promoting their "full service" systems.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:27 PM
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I know about them. Used to sell kits for boats. What are you trying to do?

I would not purchase anything from a full service "company". The cost isn't super high actually the problem is they jack the prices way up. You can DIY a full house on solar for 3-5k (+ battery cost)
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:33 PM
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The return on investment is really a matter of where you are in terms of sun exposure.

We put in an 11.6KW system just over a year ago. I calculated the return on investment (after tax deduction, ie: using actual out of pocket cost) at about 8.5-9 years. The ROI will be faster if Duke raises power prices (likely), or a little longer if the price of electricity drops (unlikely, IMO).

The system is rated for 20 or 25 years of at least 90% output power (I forget which, but either one was way more than a worst-case ROI).

We have a concrete tile roof, and the house is relatively new. No expectation to have to remove the system for roof repairs anytime soon.

Paid cash, numbers would be worse if financing. Have plenty of other investments, no credit card debt/ car notes/ boat loans/etc, the cash was basically just sitting in a slush account.

Overall, still happy with the decision. You can calculate present/future value of money, investment alternatives, etc., but I like the reduced electric bills, and it's money I was basically going to pay for electricity one way or the other.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by williamwallus View Post
I know about them. Used to sell kits for boats. What are you trying to do?

I would not purchase anything from a full service "company". The cost isn't super high actually the problem is they jack the prices way up. You can DIY a full house on solar for 3-5k (+ battery cost)
Batteries don't make any sense on a residential setup unless your power company does not offer some form of net metering. And even then, it is rarely cost effective to generate that much excessive capacity. If you don't have net metering you would probably be better off slightly undersizing the system vs. overbuilding it to the point that you need batteries to absorb the excess.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by dev View Post
The return on investment is really a matter of where you are in terms of sun exposure.

We put in an 11.6KW system just over a year ago. I calculated the return on investment (after tax deduction, ie: using actual out of pocket cost) at about 8.5-9 years. The ROI will be faster if Duke raises power prices (likely), or a little longer if the price of electricity drops (unlikely, IMO).

The system is rated for 20 or 25 years of at least 90% output power (I forget which, but either one was way more than a worst-case ROI).

We have a concrete tile roof, and the house is relatively new. No expectation to have to remove the system for roof repairs anytime soon.

Paid cash, numbers would be worse if financing. Have plenty of other investments, no credit card debt/ car notes/ boat loans/etc, the cash was basically just sitting in a slush account.

Overall, still happy with the decision. You can calculate present/future value of money, investment alternatives, etc., but I like the reduced electric bills, and it's money I was basically going to pay for electricity one way or the other.
Are you running full battery sets so you're actually free from the grid? during all weather and thru the night?
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dev View Post
Batteries don't make any sense on a residential setup unless your power company does not offer some form of net metering. And even then, it is rarely cost effective to generate that much excessive capacity. If you don't have net metering you would probably be better off slightly undersizing the system vs. overbuilding it to the point that you need batteries to absorb the excess.
Correct. I was more talking about fully off grid setups. OP didn't really state what he was trying to do.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:40 PM
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9-10 year pay back and the current technology will be obsolete in 8-9. It’s a no brainer if you like to break even.
A few points
Lots of scams out there offering “full service”
If you put them on the roof it’s going to leak.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dev View Post
The return on investment is really a matter of where you are in terms of sun exposure.

We put in an 11.6KW system just over a year ago. I calculated the return on investment (after tax deduction, ie: using actual out of pocket cost) at about 8.5-9 years. The ROI will be faster if Duke raises power prices (likely), or a little longer if the price of electricity drops (unlikely, IMO).

The system is rated for 20 or 25 years of at least 90% output power (I forget which, but either one was way more than a worst-case ROI).

We have a concrete tile roof, and the house is relatively new. No expectation to have to remove the system for roof repairs anytime soon.

Paid cash, numbers would be worse if financing. Have plenty of other investments, no credit card debt/ car notes/ boat loans/etc, the cash was basically just sitting in a slush account.

Overall, still happy with the decision. You can calculate present/future value of money, investment alternatives, etc., but I like the reduced electric bills, and it's money I was basically going to pay for electricity one way or the other.
Not to argue but tax subsidies don't change whether they're cost effective or not. It just changes who's paying for it.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by airbrush View Post
Are you running full battery sets so you're actually free from the grid? during all weather and thru the night?
No, not cost effective. We are in a standard residential area, I already have a hookup from Duke energy. Duke offers net metering, so any excess KwH I generate goes into the Duke grid, and I can draw it back later for free. Basically, Duke Energy is a giant battery I get for free. Similarly, if I end up drawing more than the system can generate, then I get all the power I need from Duke's grid.

For reference, our house has 400A service, the solar panels put out roughly the equivalent of a 50A circuit at peak output. *Most* of the time we roughly break even for the day (average daily usage is between 60 and 70KwH), but can easily exceed the output capacity of panels at various times (eg: 2 A/C units for the house, elevator, pool equipment, 2 A/C units running on the boat, electric clothes dryer, etc.). To build a battery bank that could actually allow us to be off-grid would be pretty expensive, plus I'd have to more than double the number of panels (currently have 44) in order to run the house during the day AND charge the batteries.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mikefloyd View Post
Not to argue but tax subsidies don't change whether they're cost effective or not. It just changes who's paying for it.
Yes, but all that matters to me is my personal out of pocket cost. BTW, there are tax subsidies on tons of things (eg: mortgage interest write-offs, your standard deduction on your taxes, etc.). The way I look at it is that money is accrued by the government for solar system tax subsidies. I'd rather get my portion of that subsidy that have it go elsewhere. No, this is not sustainable or scalable to 100% of households, nor was it ever intended to be.

The tax subsidy is 30%, so even without the subsidy my system would still be cost effective and have positive ROI, it is not the subsidy that made it worthwhile. Of course, this is based on being in FL, the same system at my old house in NH it never made sense to go solar.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by WPBTH View Post
9-10 year pay back and the current technology will be obsolete in 8-9. It’s a no brainer if you like to break even.
A few points
Lots of scams out there offering “full service”
If you put them on the roof it’s going to leak.
Bad logic. The system may be obsolete by then-current standards, but it would still be operational. The only thing "obsolete" is likely to be from a total efficiency perspective, meaning that if a modern panel was damaged and needed to be replaced in 10 years the new model would likely be higher output and cheaper, but otherwise compatible with the basic system. The basic architecture of the way the panels tie together/etc. is not likely to change.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:53 PM
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No return on investment for quite a few years. I'll stick with the power company's juice that comes in over the wire for the foreseeable future, but Hank you.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:54 PM
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Every year I look into this and every year I come to the same conclusion, it's still in the early adopter phase.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by dev View Post
Yes, but all that matters to me is my personal out of pocket cost. BTW, there are tax subsidies on tons of things (eg: mortgage interest write-offs, your standard deduction on your taxes, etc.). The way I look at it is that money is accrued by the government for solar system tax subsidies. I'd rather get my portion of that subsidy that have it go elsewhere. No, this is not sustainable or scalable to 100% of households, nor was it ever intended to be.

The tax subsidy is 30%, so even without the subsidy my system would still be cost effective and have positive ROI, it is not the subsidy that made it worthwhile. Of course, this is based on being in FL, the same system at my old house in NH it never made sense to go solar.
Just to be fair I'm not a fan of any of the deductions you listed nor any type of subsidy. If it's a good idea it should be good on it's own. I do agree that if the government is giving back some of your money then you would be foolish not to take it as long as you were going to do it anyway.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:59 PM
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If the state in which you live participate in some type of rebate program with the electric company there is a huge payback. I live in Massachusetts and the state has a sweetheart deal. I had SolarCity install 10.5 kilowatts on my roof. I leased the system for $77 a month for 20 years. Not one ref cent down. No out of pocket. if the technology improves appreciably they will replace the system within that time frame. They guaranteed me a return on the electricity I would generate and feedback to the grid. Lastyear they sent me a check for $183 because they felt the system did not perform as they estimated. but last year ,all in, my total electric bill for the year with credits and including lease payments was $389. I have a 2400 square foot home with a full machine shop in the garage including welders. But once again this only works if the state you live in has some type of great deal. I've done the math for both New Hampshire and Rhode island and it simply does not work out at current cost for a 10 kilowattssystem. Here in New England with the closing of a number of generating stations in the last three years, electric rates will be going through the roof. We are already the most expensive electric cost in the country.
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Old 05-20-2019, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by dev View Post
Bad logic. The system may be obsolete by then-current standards, but it would still be operational. The only thing "obsolete" is likely to be from a total efficiency perspective, meaning that if a modern panel was damaged and needed to be replaced in 10 years the new model would likely be higher output and cheaper, but otherwise compatible with the basic system. The basic architecture of the way the panels tie together/etc. is not likely to change.
what I read stated they lose between 1-4% capacity per year. So 10 years you could lose 40% output. That’s on the high side of course, but those are also estimates. Now the way around that is the warranty but there’s additional cost with that. It’s not for me.
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