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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Solar panels capture the solar energy generated by the sun to power your home — at one of the lowest costs per watt of any national provider.​

With a sleek aesthetic and low-profile design, each panel stays close to your roof and close to each other — while simple installation minimizes impact.​

Add Powerwall to your order and receive an incentive to reduce your installation costs. Powerwall stores your excess solar for 24/7 clean energy to help secure against power outages.​

Start your order with a $100 deposit — and use a friend’s referral link to earn a $250 award after system activation. All installations are eligible for a federal tax credit up to 26 percent of the cost of the system.​

I received this email today, which was unexpected. I thought Solar City was Tesla's child company. Did they drop that name and absorb the Solar business under the Tesla umbrella?

Here's what was offered for Oregon/Washington:

Small - $7030 after $2470 federal subsidy
3.8 kW1,000 - 2,000 sq ft home

  • Produces an average of 8-12 kWh per day
  • Best suited for a home with an average electric bill of $20-$30 /mo
Medium - $12,580 after $2470 federal subsidy
7.6 kW2,000 - 3,000 sq ft home

  • Produces an average of 17-24 kWh per day
  • Best suited for a home with an average electric bill of $50-$70 /mo
Large - $18,500 after $2470 federal subsidy
11.4 kW3,000 - 4,000 sq ft home

  • Produces an average of 25-35 kWh per day
  • Best suited for a home with an average electric bill of $70-$100 /mo
X-Large - $23,680 after $2470 federal subsidy
15.2 kW4,000+ sq ft home

  • Produces an average of 34-47 kWh per day
  • Best suited for a home with an average electric bill of $100-$130 /mo
Add a 13.5 kWh Powerwall for $7,770

... I probably average 19 kWh per day, and according to Tesla the medium size would mostly cover that. It would be nice to go off-grid, but there's simply too many overcast days in a row to rely on battery power to get through those days. Quick math says the payback period would be about 15 years, which seems extreme.

If I ever did solar, I'd probably homebuild it to save money and for the experience.
 

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Those prices are really really good! I paid $32,000 for a 11.25 kW system about two years ago. I could have gotten the 15.2 kW system with a Powerwall for the same price :( I would never homebuild solar at those prices. $1.72 per kW before incentives is crazy low. Doubt you could buy the materials and get permitting for much less. BTW, Tesla dropped Solar City's name well over a year ago.
 

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Have to compare 20 year loan pmt to potential savings. I looked at solar since 2014, still have not bought because TOU is cheaper and easier. Power prices have been going down since I started looking at the rates more carefully in 2014.
 

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Those prices are after fed tax credits that coud take you 3yrs or longer to use.
Unlike our EV tax credit that has to be used or lost the same year the car was purchased, solar (officially called "Residential Energy") credits carry forward to the next year(s) till exhausted. My 14.6kW 43-panel system installed in 2019 cost $28K after fed and NY State tax credits. It will take me 3 tax yrs to apply the almost $15k Fed credits and two tax yrs to exhaust the $5K NY State credit.
No way Elon is laying down a 48-panel system (315watts/panel) plus inverters, wiring, labor, etc for $23,680 (after $2470 Fed Subsidy) and then you get the standard 30% Residential Energy Credit on top of that.
Kind of misleading if the ad/email didn't mention the fed tax credit (which may take several years to exhaust) was included in the final price.
 

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As solar power becomes more widespread, as it is certainly going to do, it will be interesting to see if power companies lower prices to compete (they can never match) or increase prices to try to maintain margin. Also, please (you smarter-than-I forum members) tell me why a 57 kWh Chevy Bolt EV battery pack is <$6000, and a 13.5 kWh Powerwall is $7770?
 

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Utility scale solar is is a penny (Long term financed) a KWh. Rooftop solar still about 12 cents (Long term financed) a KWh. It's still profitable for the grid operators.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
It was fairly clear the advertised prices were after subsidy.

I would pay cash for this if I did it, so there is no financing costs associated, but rather opportunity cost of that money leveraged as an investment. Perhaps it could earn 7% real interest if invested in an index fund. The rough payback period I calculated doesn't even factor in the lost opportunity cost of a fairly conservative investment strategy. For most people, when you factor in the opportunity cost of lost investment potential, the payback period of a PV system is infinite. Still, it's a better investment than blowing the money on a new car or something else that depreciates or is consumed quickly.

Utilities will likely always have a cost advantage of implementing solar over consumers because they can leverage economies of scale. The only advantage a consumer has is "free" land to place a solar panel in the form of an existing roof. There's plenty of dirt cheap dirt out in deserts that offer more sunshine potential, optimal panel placement, and economies of scale.

The thing that annoys me about solar "roofs" is that they don't replace the roof. Asphalt shingle roofs are expensive, failure prone, and only last about 25 years. If that could be replaced by a PV roof that holds up better, then I'd be more inclined to go that route. As it is, there's probably about 5 years left on my roof, and I don't want to replace it early just because there is a generous subsidy that makes PV attractive at the moment.

That said, if I can somehow make numbers work out financially, I'd be all over it.

Currently my parents are paying $10 ea for 2 electrical meters on their property. I'd want to disconnect from the grid to save that $20/mo, but that requires massively oversizing both the PV and battery, and then the excess in the summer is wasted. Probably best to grid tie and net meter.

My first interest was in micro-hydro generation from either the spring on my parent's property, or the creek that runs through. My next interest is in wind, as that should be more economical in this climate.
 

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That's my point. Even assuming 0% financing, rooftop solar is still more expensive. If solar is advantageous to me, it's advantageous to my local utility. Looking at how PG&E keeps shifting the TOU peak times, I know that getting solar without storage is just a bad idea.
 

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It was fairly clear the advertised prices were after subsidy.
What is this $2470 Fed "Subsidy" they mention ?
The Fed Residential Energy Credit (26% for property placed in service after December 31, 2019, and before January 1, 2021) is based on system cost, so you will not get the same amount of fed credit on a $7K system as a $24K system?
 

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Here's what was offered for Oregon/Washington:

Small - $7030 after $2470 federal subsidy
3.8 kW1,000 - 2,000 sq ft home

  • Produces an average of 8-12 kWh per day
  • Best suited for a home with an average electric bill of $20-$30 /mo
I wish I had more faith that the "8-12kWh/day" was the amount you could reasonably expect in cloudy Washington rather than an optimistic assumption by a company located in California.
 

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RE installing the solar panels on a old roof, the last time I looked at those systems (in Texas) it was explained to me that the federal tax credit was based on the total cost of the system installation, INCLUDING the cost of "reinforcing" the roof structure to support the panels. The companies I talked to said that "could" include the cost of new roof covering (shingles or metal) if the installing company thought it was required to "safely" support the new PV system. So, in other words, a new roof could be included in the cost of the installation for federal tax credit calculations.

Correct interpretation of federal tax laws, or an attempt by solar installers to scam the government? I don't know - I'm not a tax lawyer. Never got past the "looking into it" stage...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I was going to let this go, but after researching a bit more, my parents qualify for a 60% (vs 40%) program that covers the total cost due to their low income. They need a new roof, so that makes the subject of rolling that into the tax credit relevant. Does the new roof have to be installed professionally, or can just the materials be claimed with the owner doing the install? Can the unused portion of the tax credit be rolled into the following tax year, and if so, can it be rolled into even more tax years if it isn't exhausted?
 

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I believe you just have to be able to show a receipt for the roofing (if audited). The tax form doesn't ask the name of the installer.

Yes, you can "carry forward" unused FED tax credits to future years if needed. Right now there is no limit on how many years you can carry it forward for, but I recall reading something on Congress considering putting a limit on the years sometime in the future.

Look up "IRS Residential Energy Credits Form 5695" instructions, that will tell you what you need to do to get the 26% FED tax credit. My 2018 H&R Block program handled the whole solar credit thing for me very easily and when I installed this year's H&R Block program it did indeed import the amount carried forward from last year.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks Rob! I'll be looking into the particulars of the materials once I get more serious about this and get some bids. If things work out well for my parents, I'll think about doing it for my house. If that goes well, I'll consider it for my rental.

I started my own thread on this subject here so I don't derail this one further:

https://www.chevybolt.org/threads/email-from-tesla-solar.34673/unread
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Whoops, just realized I linked my own thread above...

Anyhow, the first bid on my parents house is in. Here is what stood out to me:

They quoted a much larger system than I had originally expected. 10.4 kW 30 panel system (Hanwha duo g5 325 Mono). I asked why not poly, and he said the cost savings aren't there and hardly anyone makes them. AP System YC600 dual microinverter x15.

$31,558 gross cost parts and labor = $3.03 per installed watt.

1. Pretty much needs to be ground mount because permitting on a manufactured home is a 60/40 gamble. That adds $0.30 - $0.40 per kWh, or about 12%.

2. Oregon law precludes series inverters if solar is installed on a habitable structure. That means this contractor has only been installing micros and optimizers, so the quoted cost was for one of those even though a series inverter is acceptable on a ground mount. I didn't follow his logic on that...

3. Array would be approximately 50 feet by 10 feet and a line trenched about 150ft to the house.

Should qualify for $14,000 in upfront incentives or a total bill of $17,558. = $1.69 net cost. Federal tax credit of 26% should bring that down to $12,993, or $1.25 net cost.
 
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