Solar - Should You or Shouldn't You
Solar seems to be the fad taking place now in our community. Everywhere you turn there is another roof top of solar panels. Should we or shouldn’t we?
Falling costs, availability of incentives, value added to your home and saving on energy would certainly give someone a sunny outlook on installing solar panels. One could say that solar panels are mainstream and yes, locally a lot of homeowners are jumping on the solar bandwagon. Solar power is so abundant in Arizona and there are mega watts of solar energy striking the earth continuously.
Should you or shouldn’t you? Solar panel prices have fallen dramatically over the past couple of years with installation methods and panel designs far more efficient and attractive than earlier years.
Should you or shouldn’t you? Rebates and incentives and tax credits are currently available with the largest tax credit from the Federal Government of 30% of the price of your installed system available through December 31, 2016. The largest reason why there are incentives and rebates on solar is that several states have imposed mandates on the utilities to provide renewable energy to their customer base.
Should you or shouldn’t you? Lease or purchase. A solar lease would allow you to “go solar” for a lower up front cost then an outright purchase and a solar lease is “full system management” meaning that the leasing company handles warranty issues and maintenance. If you purchase a system outright the questions to try and answer is will the company be in business in several years for warranty and maintenance issue? With an outright purchase you are responsible for warranty labor. With a solar leasing company, some companies insure your system so you do not have to cover it under your homeowner insurance and it is important to confirm what is covered in terms of your solar lease through the leasing company. They all vary. Some companies cover hail damages, while others do not. Some cover the inverter replacement and others do not. Leasing vs. purchase is definitely specific to individual budget situations. Over a 20 year lease, the cost of the leased system is more than what a homeowner would pay for an outright purchase.
In talking with Darrin Baker, CEO of Blazing Sky Energy Group, who is indeed a local supreme renewable energy expert, Darrin says that anyone who is thinking about solar should look at both options and determine which option is best for their needs. The down payment on a solar lease varies from $0 dollars to possible a few thousand dollars and this amount is tied into various factors such as the size of the unit, panel type, complexity of design, etc. Leases typically are 20 years. With a lease you will still pay the utility a nominal monthly fee to keep the grid up, plus if you use any electricity in excess of what the solar system is providing, there will be a fee attached.
With a lease it is also important to confirm what happens if you sell your home before the lease is over. Can the lease be transferred to the new homeowner? Are you as the current homeowner responsible to pay for any remaining electricity in the contract? Can you purchase the system? Does the new homeowner qualify for the lease?
It is important to ensure that you are dealing with a well financed established solar company and that they are financially strong. Make sure the lease contract indicates that if the company does declare bankruptcy or close their doors, you are able to keep your solar system and will continue to receive the renewable benefits. In this case, usually another solar company will pick up the maintenance and warranty.
As solar systems prices continue to drop, the payback times have certainly been reduced. The average payback time is now around 8-9 years. Local electrical rates determine how much money you will save and the length of time it will take for your energy savings to pay back the cost of the system. Once the payback has been achieved, it is nothing but absolute energy savings adding up.
We are very fortunate that Prescott has top drawer photovoltaic installation companies that are knowledgeable on design, installation, purchase and leasing of solar systems. Any of these companies can give you the comparative advantages and disadvantages, design overview and whether you should or shouldn’t. They can provide an accurate cost, production and savings estimate based on their model. It is important to talk with more than one solar company because of different panels and design models and methods
Just remember, net metering can rock! Net metering is the grid produced electricity you use, less what you generate from your solar panels and this is what the utility company charges you. In most cases if you make more solar energy that what you use, a credit is applied to the next month’s bill. So save the planet, lower fossil fuel usage and be green.