Solar Electricity

Does anyone inspect solar electric systems and do you feel that they are worth the financial outlay at this time.

Please go to the control panel and add your location. The answer to this question could be different based on the state you inspect in.

This is an interesting field if your in to that kind of thing. There are multiple configurations that can be put together. Same old thing on some of the defects boil down to workmanship, ie… cables lying on the roof, the use of nonlisted componets, disconnects mounted off the vertical axis, missing labeling. If you are interested to go solarprofessional and sign up, you can download the past issuses as pdfs, tons of info

As Greg stated it depends on what part of the country you are in. Here on Maui most of our grid electricity is generated using oil which is expensive and the costs fluctuate greatly depending on the oil market.

So here with our abundant sunshine the arrays can be smaller (more affordable) and the price is offset faster with typically a less than five year payback.

With a batch of electric and plugin hybrid cars and trucks coming out soon most people here with the photovoltaics plan to switch over saving even more money.

I live in central Florida and my house faces true south. There is no obstructions to my roof and the south side is large enough to install 10Kw worth of panels plus solar hot water for a 100 gal tank. The quotes I have had for 5Kw plus hot water are in the $28 to $32 thousand. I am trying to figure out if it is worth the investment. I would be paying cash and right now am averaging about a 6.3% return on my investments. By my calculations it would take the best part of 15 years before the solar has paid for itself. Admittedly I am using a static number since I cannot predict what the future price of electricity will be although I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the price of electricity will increase.


I am not sure how far out this is, but it is more efficient and cheaper.

I saw another interesting topic somewhere else, I will try to remember where I saw it. This family bought a house on a 30 year mortgage then installed solar for about the same price you are looking at. They had a similar payback period. What they purposed to do was to continue paying their current bill after the 15 year payback to reduce the mortgage down to about 20 years. Which saved a ton. This is providing they actually live in the house that long.


did you factor in the FED, STATE and UTILITY rebates?

If you are ever in my area you might want to check out the Florida Solar Energy Center. I have taken some training classes there.

the fed rebate is factored in. The utility company is KUA the most useless utility company in the state if not the entire universe (both known and unknown) has no rebates at all and if I happen to be at the end of the feed where the transformers are small I have to pay for them to upgrade the transformers so that there are no problems if I start feeding the grid. I will be upgrading the insulation in the attic to R30 or R40 and I am also looking into vinyl windows, double panes with Argon gas inbetween. The entire north side of my home is glass sliding doors and these will also be converted to low e.,0,222910.story


There is also a limited time program going on in FL for HVAC units.

It requires that a duct leakage test to the outdoors be done in order to receive the incentive.


Solar definitely has a poor payback at today’s costs per watt. For $$$ savings, it may be better to improve the efficiency of your use of electricity in the home by using occupancy sensors for lights, CFL’s, better appliances, change of habits, etc.

I believe there are billions of barrels of oil still to be saved in our homes rather than make the switch to high cost/low payback options at this time.

Well said.

Maybe someday but not yet.

Here Solar turns out to be a good investment as it is in much of the Western States.

That’s a great calculator Brian. Thanks

But if you take away the taxpayer funded subsidies that pay for nearly half the system costs has any real money been saved?

Without the subsidy, a.k.a someones hard earned dollars, my cost goes from and estimated .09/kW produced to 0.17/kW.

I currently pay .11 for conventionally produced power.

The break even point is over 11 years out also.

I don’t think we are there just yet.

My theory is if you can finance the system and pay the same as you are currently than you should do it. Especially if oil or coal is the main source of power. Oil and coal are going to become heavily taxed so take the write off (tax cut) and enjoy tax free power (another tax cut).

It’s more about % of return than cost per kw, If you have the money to invest I think it makes sense in this market, your only risk would be a lower power rate. Plus there is the added value to the home for resale. And in a worst case senerio you could always take it with you to the next house you buy.

I don’t disagree that ROI is more important.

But it simply doesn’t work without taking money from your pocket and giving it to me in the form of a tax credit.

Maybe you could just avoid the middle man and send me the $11,000 to pay about half of the system costs.:wink:

If you are speaking of cap and trade, I think it is largely dead for the foreseeable future but who knows for sure.