December 4, 2020

Solar Panels For Home – 1 Year Later

Well, the time has finally arrived.

Some of you have been asking for an updateon my solar panel system, and I’ve finally passed the one year mark.

It was actually back at the beginning of October, so I’m a little late, but better late than never.

Let’s take a look at how much energy mysystem has produced, how much I’ve saved, and if it met the estimate my solar installerpredicted.

I’m Matt Ferrell.

Welcome to Undecided.

So if you haven’t seen my previous videoson my solar installation, I’ll include links in the description.

But to give a quick summary, I live in theBoston area and have been documenting what it’s been like living with a 9.

49 kW solarpanel system in a colder climate.

My house has a few challenges.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, it’sbest to have a southern facing roof to maximize your solar production, but my house is orientedmore east-to-west.

That’s why I have panels on both sides ofmy roof.

The second issue is that my roof is relativelysmall.

And finally, I have a fair amount of treeson the western side of my house that start to block the sun in the mid-to-late afternoon.

Even with all of those challenges, the moreefficient panels available today are still able to provide me a significant portion ofthe power I use over the year.

Before I jump into some of the year-end results, one important factor that gets brought up a lot on my solar panel videos is the highenergy use some of you see in my numbers.

I do use a lot of power, but it falls rightin line with the national average.

Getting solar panels helps to address thepower generation side of the equation, but the other half is reducing the amount of poweryou use.

I just published a video on that topic lastweek, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested to see some of the things I’vebeen doing to address that.

So we had our solar panels turned on on October4th, 2018.

All of the numbers and data I’m going toshare stretch between that date and October 3rd, 2019.

Over the course of the year we had two shortperiods where our system went down due to a faulty shut off switch: once in Januaryand the other in April.

All in we lost 8 days of production, so nottoo bad.

Ever since the switch was replaced the systemhas been rock solid.

The production amount across the entire yearplayed out exactly like we expected.

There’s a sine wave looking pattern thatemerges, with the lowest production happening in the dead of winter in December, and themost production happening in July during the summer.

What I found most interesting was that wesaw a pretty quick spike in production in March, and a pretty dramatic drop in October.

It wasn’t as gradual as I was expecting.

[I use a Sense energy monitor on my home], so I can closely track our energy use in addition to our solar production.

We average around 875 kWh each month, so ifwe layer on our usage line on top of our production line, you can see we’re not meeting ourfull needs.

This was known going in.

Our goal was to offset as much energy as wecould with our solar production .

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given our home’s specific challenges.

And in that regard we succeeded with abouta 54% reduction in our grid electricity use.

Our solar installer offered a 10 year productionguarantee with yearly estimates.

If our production doesn’t hit the 95% markof those estimates, they’ll pay out the difference.

All in we’ve seen 6, 688 kWh produced inthe first year, which comes in just above their 95% estimate or 6, 615 kWh.

We actually hit 96.

4% of the best case scenario, which is higher than I was expecting.

In fact, in my 9-month update, I thought we’dfall just a little short of the installer estimate, so I’m glad to be wrong with thatprediction.

For the days we missed because of the technicalissue, I averaged out the 4 days before and 4 days after each outage to try and estimatewhat we might have seen during those days.

In January, we were averaging 5.

3 kWh/day, so probably missed out on 21.

2 kWh.

And in April, we were averaging 19.

3 kWh/day, so missed out on 77.

2 kWh.

As disappointing at that is, it’s probablyabout $25 of electricity we lost out on during that period.

If I add those missing Watts back into thegrand total, we probably should have seen something like 6, 786 kWh for the year, orabout 97.

8% of the best case scenario.

I’ve stated this before, but my goal hasbeen to reduce my reliance on the grid as much as I can, and to do so in a financiallyresponsible way that works for us.

So where did we land financially this pastyear? Well, my wife and I are pretty happy.

We used to average $212 a month for our electricbill and now we’re averaging $97.

80 a month .

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and that’s also with adding an EV tothe mix.

If you look at this graph that shows the yearbefore solar compared to the year on solar, you can see exactly how much our electricbills have shifted.

Obviously, it follows the same sine wave trendas the solar production, so there’s a big drop in our bill right around June and July.

You can see that in June we actually had anegative balance on our electric bill.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that mywife stood in the living room laughing out loud when she showed me the bill.

Year over year, we saved $1, 489.

86.

Right in line with the $1, 500 estimate I wasprojecting in my last video update.

In Massachusetts we have full net metering, which means any overproduction we put into the grid gets fully wiped off of our kWh used.

In essence the grid acts like a battery forus for production and cost-wise.

That might not be the case where you live.

So how does all of this work out with thecost of the system as a whole? I’ve gone into great detail on this in previousvideos, so I won’t recap all of the details here, but it worked out like we hoped.

Our system cost a total of $29, 609, whichhas 25 year warranties on the panels and micro-inverters, as well as a 10 year warranty on the workmanshipand production from the installer.

The Federal solar tax credit allowed us torecoup $8, 883 of the cost.

And not to go off on a tangent, but I geta lot of comments about my “neighbors paying for my solar panels” .

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that’s not howthe tax credits work.

It’s a credit on your tax burden for theyear that you claim it and isn’t that different from being able to claim your children asdependents in order to increase your tax deductions.

The money you get back comes in the form ofa tax refund because you’ve overpaid taxes for that year.

Depending on your situation, you aren’tguaranteed to get the full 30% back in cash.

In any case, our final cost works out to $20, 726, which we have in a 10 year solar loan.

We’ve been working on paying that off asquickly as we can, and have actually paid it down by half already, so our interest onthe loan should work out to be pretty low when all is said and done.

Aside from a recent big lump sum we sent, we’ve been paying $200/month on the loan.

We also receive SRECs for the amount of solarwe produce, which amounts to $126.

22 a month for a total of 10 years.

In case you don’t know what SRECs are, [they’resolar renewable energy credits] that are paid out by the electric companies.

Electric companies are required to achievea certain amount of renewable energy in their grid system, so SRECs are an incentive toincrease the number of people contributing to that renewable goal.

Not every state has an SREC market, and thevalue varies region to region.

When you average out our monthly electricbill savings, we’re saving $114.

20 a month.

Add together the SREC and electric bill savingsand you get $240.

42, which means we’re coming out a whopping $40.

42 ahead each month rightnow.

(Yes, my wife is planning to retire earlyon these savings.

) I know solar detractors may point to thatas proof that this wasn’t worth it, but if you look long term, those numbers changequite a bit.

It’s only $40 right now because we’restill paying off our loan at $200 a month.

But at the rate we’re paying this off, we’rehoping to have the loan gone within a couple of years.

The $1, 500 per year electric bill savingswill work out to $15, 000 in savings in the first 10 years alone.

And that’s assuming that electricity priceswon’t increase, which they will.

They’ve increased 15% over the past 10 years, which is about $0.

02 per kWh per year.

But that varies depending on the region.

Even without SRECs, we’d achieve breakevenon the solar panels in 13-14 years.

But with SRECs we’re looking at a paybackperiod much shorter than that.

The SRECs and electric bill savings over 10years work out to $30, 146, which means a breakeven in just under 7 years.

However, we have the interest on the solarloan to contend with.

But as I mentioned before, we’re payingit off much faster than the 10 year loan, so the total interest should be a couple thousanddollars.

We’re on track to breakeven in a littleover 8 years at this point, which is right in the ballpark of what we were expectingbefore we got the panels installed.

And this is on a system with a 25-year warranty, which should be able to last well beyond that.

Yes, there might be maintenance costs hereand there down the line.

And yes, if I have to replace my roof, itmay cost a few thousand dollars to have a solar installer remove and replace the panelsfor me.

But just looking at the total savings in electricityfrom year 10 – 25, once the SRECs are gone, we’re still talking about $20, 000 – $25, 000in electricity savings .

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if not more.

Everything from year 9 onwards should be pureprofit for us, so having to spend a little money here or there to maintain or replaceour roof is a drop in the bucket overall.

And this isn’t even counting the positiveimpact solar panels have on your home’s value.

If you finance and pay for the system yourselfand don’t lease it, adding solar to your home actually increases your home’s valueby 3-4%.

You’ll often see about $4 per watt of theinstalled solar panel system added to your home’s value.

While I’m not counting on that for my system, it’s nice to know that I should be seeing a sizable increase on my home’s value ontop of the electricity savings.

I’ve stated it on previous videos, but mygoal was to get as much energy as I can from a renewable and sustainable resource, anddo it in a manner financially that worked for us.

And on that goal we’ve succeeded so far.

Right now there’s only a small savings month-to-month, but as soon as the panels hit breakeven the system turns into a profit maker each andevery month going forward.

It also doesn’t hurt that my car is mostlycharged with sunlight.

If you’re interested in going solar, I stronglyrecommend checking out Energysage for research and articles.

It’s a completely free service that hasgreat write-ups and reviews of different solar panels, inverters, and solar tech that canbe useful no matter where you live.

But if you live in the U.

S.

and are interestedin going solar, you can get quotes from installers by using my Energysage portal.

You can plug in your information and requestquotes from solar installers, which all get funneled into your EnergySage account.

You don’t have to worry about getting floodedwith phone calls.

It makes it easy to compare installers, costestimates and energy production quotes in one place.

And installers also have customer rankingsand feedback, so you can find a reputable and good quality installer.

I’ve used it myself, that’s how I foundmy installer, so I can vouch for how well it helped me through the process.

I’ll continue doing these solar panel updatesas things move along.

I may be getting a Tesla Powerwall at somepoint down the line, so will absolutely cover that if and when it happens.

Let me know if you have questions you’dlike to see me cover.

And I’d love to hear what your experiencehas been going solar? Jump into the comments and let me know.

I hope you found this video useful.

If you did, be sure to give it a thumbs upand share with your friends because it really helps the channel.

There are some other ways you can supportthe channel too.

Check out my SFSF Shop for some cool Tesla, Space X, science, and Undecided shirts.

There’s also other links in the descriptionfor some great gear and discounts.

And as always, an extra big thank you to allof my Patreon supporters.

Your support is really helping to make thesevideos possible.

Be sure to check out my Patreon page for additionaldetails about joining the crew.

And if you haven’t already, consider subscribingand hitting the notification bell to get alerts when I post a new video.

And as always, thanks so much for watching, I’ll see you in the next one.

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