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What's the deal with these rooftop solar panels?

WinniWoman

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I see a lot more homes with these. I was wondering what happens if you have a roofing problem? The panels would obviously have to come off? I read somewhere that they cancel out any roofing warranty you might have? That they are best installed on metal roofs as they can be attached to the ridges instead of drilling into your roof.Also, what happens when you have the big snow storms and they get covered in snow? I know we wouldn't be able to get that high up on our steep roof to clean them off.

Just wondering because I love the idea of solar- but we are older and might be moving withing 5-8 years, but do have a lot of land and thought about putting them on the ground. Not sure of the cost or if it would be worth it for us. Our roof has a perfect southern exposure, but no way would I want them up there. Not to mention the weight of them. Just curious. Probably wouldn't install them any way.

Does any one here have them? Are you saving a lot of money? How much do they cost generally speaking?
 

SMHarman

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The installation team inspect the roof and won't install on an end of life roof.

I don't think it is heavy so structurally unlikely to be material though part of the install evaluation.

Snow, similarly, the surface has leas friction so should clear quicker than a roof felt. They won't generate electrical when covered but roof plus Snow plus panels should be considers by installing evaluation.

Two install strategies. You buy outright, they pay more for energy surplus.

They pay install and keep the energy surplus.

The former is better value for you if you are staying in the home and can afford the upfront.

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WinniWoman

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The thing is- even with a roof that is- let's say 5-10 years old- things can go wrong on roofs anyway. You can get leaks/ice damns/wind damage/whatever. stuff happens, even if the roof isn't old.

And- yeah- There's the issue of the weight of the snow on top of the panels.

Hmmmmm.....just wondering if anyone has experience with any of this on their own roof.
 

sjsharkie

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Yes, I have them but I live in northern California where snow is not an issue.

The solar install company will inspect the roof to determine any issues. If you have an old roof, you probably should replace the roof before putting panels up - the panels would need to be removed if you needed to reroof after install.

They will size your installation and then calculate the weight load on the roof. In winter areas, they would have to calculate weight of potential snow. In my county, all this needs to be approved by the planning department so it is double checked by the county. In our case we had to get an additional wind calculation since we live in a windy area before approval.

As far as savings, the solar company should also calculate that for you based on prior usage. This will size the system for your needs.

A big plus is the tax credit. 30% federal credit plus a utility rebate when we purchased and installed. You can also lease the panels and buy the electricity from the solar operator - there are different models - buy, lease panel, lease power.

I could go on and on. Based on the price of power in our area, we save about $130 per month. Let me know if you have other questions.

Ryan

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vacationhopeful

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I have had solar for around 10 years ...

I brought my panels and with state of NJ solar renewal energy credits plus a grant for 10s of thousand of dollars.

Snow rolls off the panels ... sounds like a BIG boulder rolling off the roof ... don't stand close as the snow will hurt as in dumps on you. Usually clears within an hour or two of good sun.

If you do a "rent the panels" and you get a discount OFF your buying your electric from them. You get NO tax credits or solar renewal energy credits. But if you need roof maintenance ... the company comes out and removes and returns the panels at NO cost (as what I was told).

"If you buy the panels", they last about 15-20 years... there are almost NO moving parts. I have a 10KWH solar system ... I have gas heat & gas hot water. Electric stove and lights; room air conditioners and LOTs of those small electric radiator heats. I am WARM in the winter and COLD in the summer ... AND I have NOT paid a penny to the electric company ... I carry a $350-400 annual credit on my bill (says I use all my output) plus they deduct around a $4 monthly fee to send me a bill .... I wonder if I go paperless ... if that charge will go away (and I never pay it as I have a credit on my account).

When I brought SRECs in NJ were around $600-675 each ... try 13 times equals between $7800-8775 by selling my SRECS to a broker on the NY commodities market exchange. Good prices for about 4 years ... that is WHAT really paid for the system plus my 50% credit paid by NJ.

Prices and technology has CHANGE big time!. Talk to several brokers or vendors ... whatever they are calling themselves ... and LEARN. And drive around and stop/ask people who have panels.... many will be happy to explain their setup.

I had at least 5 people knock on my door ... most did put a system on their roofs. And I have caught a new neighbor who put a small system on his house ... his (and his neighbor) did the lease with a DISCOUNT ... but inside the 15 minute chat with him ... he did not do MUCH research and I felt he did not understand what he got (or could have gotten). Home Depot rents floor space in their stores to this type of dealers in my area.

The one guy about 3/4 mile from my house stopped and knock on my door ... his wife figured out who I was at the election polling place. She thanked me for explaining it to her husband 8+ years ago .... thought it was TOO GOOD to be real ... loves her CHEAP electric (almost NO bill).

WORK the numbers for yourself ... the salespeople I have run into the last 4 years ... prior experience might have been selling magazines door-to-door.
 

Passepartout

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There are very very few homes here with photovoltaic solar panels. Just the odd 'pre-heater' for water. We've talked about it, in case DW bought a plug-in car. Two things kill PV solar here, (1) our electric rates are so low (between 7 & 8 cents a kWH)- so the payback would be like forever and a day, and (b) the power company has successfully lobbied the State Commerce Commission who set rates to disallow the meters that 'run backwards' when supply from the panels exceeds the homeowners' demand. You can get the meter to stop, but they don't have to buy your excess.

Hopefully those rules will be changed, but I'm not holding my breath.

Jim
 

silentg

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We had solar panels installed to heat our pool, we had a fast talking solar Salesman that guaranteed we would love them and if we didn't he would remove them no questions asked, well we did not like them, the salesman claimed he never promised to remove them he said he would move them...they were placed on a rack up on our flat roof. We kept them for a few years, never liked them. Did not do much to heat the pool either. We had them removed when we put on a new roof. Should have turned to a salt water pool. I have heard good things about them?
Silents
 
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LUVourMarriotts

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I'm interested in the Tesla Powerwall. The same company that makes the Tesla vehicles has been talking about releasing a solar system for the house. The thing I like about it the most is that it directly provides energy to your house. They have an inverter that converts the DC power from your solar panels to AC power for your house. In traditional solar, there is no inverter, so you are pushing all energy onto your electrical grid, then getting it back as you need it.

I live in NY. My neighbor just put a ton of panels on his house because he's got huge electric bills due to his food truck and other items always plugged into his house. Its saving him money. But I'm not sure how much I would really save. There are no incentives in the state of NY, other than the upfront rebates. As a comparison, my buddy in MA gets paid back by the state for all of the energy he puts back onto the grid and does not use himself. He has only had his panels for 3 years and has already paid them off and started making money with all of the incentive money he gets from the state. In MA, it pays to have more panels. In other states, like NY, you want to size your panels to get just enough power to power your house.
 

tompalm

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I sold PV for a couple years during the boom of 2012, or at least it was a boom in Hawaii because the tax credits were 35% for the state and Fed was 30%. The average payback was three years to break even and it was a no brainer. The boom occurred because the state changed the tax credits and they are not as good now and also Hawaiian Electric created a rule that nobody could install without their approval. As soon as the electric company put a halt to things, then everyone that had been on the fence wanted them and put in an order. Most people are finally getting approval one or two years later.

I also have a contractor's license and know about roofs. We have a standing seem aluminum roof and our panels are attached to the seams or ridges. This is the best way because there are no holes drilled into the roof and no possible way it will leak. Regarding other roofs, there are companies that will install on any old roof and don't care about your house. They just want to make a sale. A lot of the salesmen had experience in sales in other areas prior to solar, that includes used cars, real estate, construction equipment, etc... So do your own homework and use a good company. The lowest estimate might not be the right estimate and you could have major problems later with leaks. As long as they use the right flashing and install it right, you will not have a problem. If your roof is over 10 years old, think about replacing the area the panels will go. The exception to that is metal roofs will last 50 years and tile will last 30 years, so you need to have 20-25 years left on your roof before installing panels. If you only have five years left and don't want to replace the roof, you might want to go ahead and install because the money you save might pay for a new roof in five year. It will cost money to take the panels off and put them back on, but in the long run, you save a lot of money. I bought a new roof just so I didn't have to worry about it.

It really depends how much your electric bill is and how much your net cost is in your state, or what the tax credits are. If the payback takes less than five years, you will be fine. In Hawaii, electricity is higher than any other state at 34 cents a kwh. When you take the net cost of a PV system, that is the cost after tax credits and use that number ($13,000) to figure out how much your electric will cost over 25 years (PV has a 25 year warranty), you can determine the cost of electricity at 4 cents kwh. That is, the system above produces 12,500 kwh per year x 25 years = 312,500 kwh. Divide $13,000 by 312,500 = 4.16 cents per kwh. It is a no brainer in Hawaii, but may be different in other states. Over a 25 year period, the system above, that is my system will save over $100,000. Solar is an investment, not home improvement.
 
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