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New break-even points for PV

Post in 'The Green Room' started by semipro, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    This is a pretty good article about how the recent drop in PV prices has affected the financial break-even points.

    According to this if you're paying $0.14/kwhr or more for grid electricity it makes sense to go solar...and that's not taking into account any purchase incentives. Of course its not considering the time value of money either.

    Article at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com http://preview.tinyurl.com/4xsr8p3

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  2. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the link. If the 45% drop has made it down to what the local certified solar installers are charging, I need to move quick before the end of the tax year. That combined with removing the income tax cap would more than make up for the drop in state incentives that killed my project.
  3. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I pay about $.16/kwh. How does the split between energy and service effect your bill when it comes to a solar/grid combo? I always worry that once PSNH finds out I'm not leaking cash they will simply re-structure the payment schedule.

    Also, my roof line is such that during the Winter months the sun is in front of the house all day, but come Summer it starts in one corner and goes over diagonally to set on the other side. That plays havoc with my wishes for a roof-top system.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    Wide arc swings of the sun are common in northern latitudes. Don't worry about summer. The solar radiation is much more intense at that time of year, it will be your time of greatest gain. The best thing to do is have an assessment of your location with a solar measuring tool. Often this will be done for free by the solar installation company.

    You can also give your site a rough assessment with these tools:
    http://solarrating.ca/index.php
    http://www.builditsolar.com/SiteSurvey/site_survey.htm
  5. macmaine

    macmaine New Member

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    Southern Maine
    Solar is the way to go
    Pay all your electric bills up front
    A good hedge against any future spikes in electricity rates
    Keep working on efficiency in the house
    And soon the 'payback' is realized!
  6. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    And a good hedge against inflation! Maybe that's what was meant by the golden rooftops of Atlantis.
  7. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure if the breakeven point would be as high as .14 kwh (Haven't done a lot of math I admit)
    Say I am paying about $55/month for electric. (4 BR house, family of 5) Looks like my rate now is about .138kwh.
    Seems like it would be a long time to break even with the solar. (I actually looked into it a few years ago with the folks that Slow1 went with) Just not sure if our usage would equate to justifying the pv instal
  8. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    With cheap enough electricity a plug in car starts to make sense.
  9. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    Texas
    Counting the monthly $15 per meter account charge added to our monthly KWhours, ours is about 12-cents.

    I've got two months to get my 3.5kw panel system operational to qualify for the 30% tax credit this year. I've been "fundraising" for about 15 months, but I've finally and fully paid for all the 60 and 135w panels, controllers, inverters, heavy cables and wiring, and eight L-16 batteries.

    With four garage sales, two flea market sales, and from the .925 silver and gold jewelry I've found while shopping local weekly garage sales, it's all paid for. With $1,800 left over, I'll have enough for the installation costs and materials for a 12'x12' tracker pole with twelve Kyocera 135w panels and thirty 60w roof panels.

    The system should run most of the home's 120v circuits, leaving the local Co-Op to power the things requiring 220v....

    Since they are attached to insured structures, the homeowner's policy covers them in the event of massive storm damage. Some people spend "Discressionary Funds" on hunting leases, travel trailers, ATV's, long vacations, etc. I'm using mine as a satisifying DIY project that will offset future electricity costs... We'll see how well Solar works.
  10. rollingflame

    rollingflame New Member

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    Loc:
    arkansas
    Break even can be quick if you are carfull on spending wasted money on the setup.I have a two panel grid tied swstem,two 85 watt panels,one enphase micro inverter,cuttoff switch on side of house,grounding wire for panels and inverter,underground wiring to meter loop box,my whole swstem only cost around 750 dollars,i installed it myself which was ok with the utility company.Because i installed it myself i can not get the gov money but hat is ok.The utiliy company done an inspection and some test,installed a smart meter and it has been operating for around five months now.It lowers my electric bill in two ways,one in the day it cuts down on my use of electricity from the grid,two i over produce around four killowatts every month that is also deducted from my bill.My plan is to go up to ten panels in groups of two,from now on each group of two will be cheaper than the first group because the underground wireing is allready there,the cutoff swith is allready there.I done a lot of research on panels,they are all made basicly the same way,same thickness of glass,my panels cost 200 dollars each and they are fully certified and meet all the gov certified standards,they are made by UL SOLAR,25 year output warrenty just like all panels,the enphase inverter is an outstanding inverter,for every two panels i will have a micro inverter,they cost about the same as one panel.To me there is no gain in buying high priced panels,i could have bought other 85 watt panels for double the price,same warrenty,same construction,same power output,just different name,if i went with un certified i could have got 85 watt panels for 150.
  11. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    Loc:
    Texas
    Did you have to have a liability insurance policy to please your electric company so would allow you to hook to the grid?

    The Co-Op I'm on requires it, plus almost a book of rules you have to follow. For now, I'm not planning to back feed to the grid just because of that problem.
  12. macmaine

    macmaine New Member

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    Southern Maine
    1+ on that solar and wood
    Did you know that it costs about $3
    To "fill up" the leaf? That gives 100 miles for
    3 dollars

    I have a prius and even at 50 + mpg
    I pay $7 to drive the same 100 miles
    I pay $18 to drive highlander 100 miles

    How long will people stick with ice (internal combustion engine)when you can drive for a fraction of the cost?
    Add in no oil changes water pumps radiator leaks and
    True lifetime cost of ownership for all electric
    Or even Volt is tiny compared with conventional ice

    Ev project is rolling out fast charge stations in pacific NW and sunbelt

    Range is limited with electric but average USA commute is 40 miles
    Also most people >80% of the time your vehicle is asleep so


    Finally plasma screen TV uses same amount of energy as
    Electric car charging overnight
  13. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    Texas
    Sadly, how long depends on our politicians and the laws they make.... I've heard there's already talk of a bill designed to tax electric and hybrid owners... It seems that since the price of gasoline includes "Road Tax" for upkeep of the highways, green cars use less or none so they have to be taxed "to be fair"......

    Utility companies are now adding "Tie In" and monthly adminstrative fees for homeowners wanting to backfeed their surplus in to their grid....

    It will be interesting to see how leaders of our government and the Utility companies find ways to get money out of our pocket....
  14. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    SW Montana
    Hi,
    I don't see why you can't get the federal tax credit -- I installed an enphase system myself and collected the federal 30% tax credit and the Montana $500 tax credit.
    I don't think there is anything in the rules that keeps you from collecting these just because you did the install.

    Gary
  15. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    Hello Gary,

    I was wondering if you counted your time and labor as part of the expense in installing your system, or if you just turned what your reciepts totalled to get your tax credits?

    Even though Texas has several large wind farms, our Govenor hasn't seen fit to support residential/business solar and wind credits. Big coal and Big oil seem to have his support.....
  16. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    SW Montana
    Hi Bill,
    I just counted the total cost of materials -- I did not put anything in for my labor.

    I just looked at the place where I bought almost all the stuff as a package, and they now offer the equivalent package at about 30% less than what I paid back in Nov of 2009. I'm thinking seriously of doubling the size of mine with a new bank of panels -- this would get me right down to zero, and allow a bit extra for a plugin hybrid.

    Gary
  17. rollingflame

    rollingflame New Member

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    arkansas
    my utility company did not require an insurence policy,all they were concerned about was the inverter,it had to meet a list of certifications for grid tie,they done a test that simulated the grid shutting down to make sure the inverter shutt down also,they required all underground wireing to be in conduit and that there be a 15 amp breaker between the inverter and tie in to meter box,i found out when they done the inspection that they were not concerned about the panels being certified,only the inverter,but i will keep buying the certified panels anyway.I can deduct the cost of the system from my taxes but i can not get the energy paback bonus from the gov because i installed it myself,anyway the utility company is pleased with the setup and it is lowering my bill and also backfeeding witch i get credit for,solar is a good investmant,it will pay for its self with a lot of years operation after that.
  18. cottonwoodsteve

    cottonwoodsteve Member

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    Break even cost modifiers that are not discussed by solar industry people;
    These may not be as important to a smaller do it your self system.

    The panels are on the roof. That is the area that takes the; high wind, large hail, fallen tree limbs, etc..
    A small tree branch may not damage the roof but it could easily break a solar panel.
    The pay off has a high chance of being extended due to damage or destruction.

    You may have to pay extra you can get it covered by your home owners insurance to cover your setup.

    This is an improvement to your home. You may have to pay more property tax for the life of the system.

    Any roof leaks or total replacement means you have remove and replace the panels, supports and wiring to get to the shingles.

    Lot's of extra cost that nobody wants to mention. The pay off usually takes years because it is only a slight gain every month compared to the total cost.
    Any extra expense will easily tip the project into the red for a long time, maybe even permanently.

    Basically, taxes, insurance, roof maintenance, and damage are a lot of little subjects that can add up to a lot of yearly expenses.
  19. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    Lothian, MD
    backwoodssolar.com had panels recently at $1.50 a watt in quantity, a little higher for smaller lots. Wish I had the cash right now. This is less than 1/3 of the cost of a panel 5 years ago.
  20. DaveH9

    DaveH9 Member

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  21. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    All good points - however what is stopping me right now is the initial cost. For the same functionality (getting 5 people around) I can purchase a small ICE car (think Hyundai Accent) for < $15K vs the $35K ($28K after fed rebate) for a Leaf (not including the home charging station. Both of these will meet my small vehicle transportation needs.

    Now I haven't done the lifetime cost comparison over the 10-15 year use of the vehicles (our family's lifetime view of cars), but I have to imagine that replacing the batteries once before 200K miles will make up for a LOT of oil changes and other engine maintenance chores. And of course there are a lot of unknowns with electric vehicles - hard to factor in whether those will be positive or negative for TCO.

    That initial $13K up front cost will take a tremendous number of miles to pay back when compared to my current estimated approx $11 to drive your 100 miles ($8 difference comes to 162,500 miles to break even).

    Still, I would like to have an electric vehicle - I hope they come down in price soon as well. Counting on battery tech to follow the same curve as solar panels have in terms of performance improvements and cost reduction is rather optimistic perhaps, but I can dream eh? It does seem to me that these are niche vehicles being sold to early adopters still. My wife interestingly has expressed interest recently so maybe we'll be a 'statement maker' type - not all decisions are purely financial.
  22. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

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    Loc:
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    If you've followed my posts you know that I installed 200KW last year for $5.50/watt. I am currently under contract for $2.96/watt for another 100KW system which is just about completed. I had a deduct change order from my last post. In my location 1 watt installed will generate roughly 1.1 watts per year. So it cost me roughly $2.96 to get $.15 of electricity per year for the next 25 years or so. In year 25 the panels will probably produce .8 or .9 watts, down from the 1.1 watt.

    Roughly the return right now is 5% on a small commercial system pre-subsidies.

    The 30% Federal Tax Credit reduces the $2.96 to $2.07 per watt and jumps it up to a 7.2% return.

    To get a better return, if you own a business, put the system in your companies name and they can deduct 85% of the system cost this year as bonus depreciation. For me, that kicks my return up to 10-11%.

    Additionally you have things like SREC sales and state grants that may get you an even better return. My installer is doing 10-30KW residential systems at $3.50/watt.

    I can't say this enough, your inverter WILL go bad. You will have some operations cost. I have a 10KW windmill installed in 2004ish and the inverter just went bad and it just got sent back. I'll know the damage better in 30-60 days or so. My installer installed 45 10KW inverters last year and so far no problems with any of them. I did have a panel break and they replaced it under warranty for free. That's one panel out of 900 or so, we are operational 14 months.

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