Time To Get Off Your Butt & Go Solar!

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

get off your buttPhoto Credit: Jazmin Million / Foter / CC BY-SA

This is a motivational post. This is a call to action. This is a mid-week, time-to-finally-change-something piece.

The fact of the matter is: millions of Americans are throwing away money. Actually, not just throwing it away, but giving it to semi-monopolistic utility companies for electricity produced from the burning of dirty energy sources such as coal and natural gas.

In other words, millions of Americans are giving money to companies that, in return, pollute our air and water, ruin our climate, and simply make our lives more difficult and shorter.

You should know by now that you have a better choice. If you own the roof over your head, you can put solar panels on it, solar panels that will probably save you a ton of money. Look at the benefits: You save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. You stop polluting and harming your neighbors, your kids, your grandkids, and yourself. You become a power producer rather than simply a dependent slave to the energy system. You have a positive effect on the world as well as your own household.

Join the solar rooftop revolution!


Join the solar rooftop revolution.

Furthermore, you can get an electric car, fuel it with electricity from those solar panels, and thus also cut your dependency on pollution from the burning of oil, as well as your dependency on oil-producing countries that don’t like the US and wars that are centered around oil security.

It’s really a simple matter. It’s common sense. The price is right — for millions or even hundreds of millions of you!!

You may think that the story is different for you. You may think your situation is not so peachy. If you got a solar quote a year or more ago, you may think solar is too expensive. But the cost of solar has dropped tremendously in the past few years. It has put solar power growth off the charts. If you haven’t gotten a solar quote in a few months, now is probably a good time to check again.

Plus, if you have solar leasing or a residential solar PPA option available in your state, you may be able to go solar for $0 down or very little money down, and then save money from Day 1 or at least within months of getting solar panels on your roof.

Know all this and haven’t gone solar or at least gotten a solar quote yet? Know is the time! Just do it!

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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5 thoughts on “Time To Get Off Your Butt & Go Solar!

  • Everybody probably would go solar if it were just a matter of putting them on their roofs. Unfortunately the hardware is the easy part of the equation as you well know. Better kits are needed that plug in without any big brother being involved.

  • In many cases, if you contracted out to install your solar, it doesn’t make financial sense especially if your current electricity rate is low and your APR is high. The solar installers are not lowering their prices that matches the savings in labor and cost of today’s solar panels. If you have PPA with the likes of Solar City, you are hooked with their equipments for a very long time and you are guaranteeing their price escalation of electricity rates by hooking you up with an initial low rate and zero cost of installation but you won’t get out of it without penalty when your rates become more expensive than that of the utilities in the future.

    I strongly recommend not to use the lease program because they can truly rip you apart in the future and you will regret it the rest of your life. Whenever you can, DIY the solar panel installation or contract it out depending on the current electricity rate that you are paying, the APR and the cost of the panels. If possible, try to do it without factoring in rebates to appease the critics. Here’s some calculations for decision to go or not:

    Assuming you get a loan from Admirals Bank at APR of 4.95% for 20 years to pay, here’s what the prices of installed solar panels in order to make financial sense. If quoted prices are lower than these, then go for it, otherwise negotiate or abandon the idea:

    Utility rate: $0.07/kWh, price of installed panels should be lower than $1.35/Watt
    Utility rate: $0.12/kWh, price of installed panels should be lower than $2.55/Watt
    Utility rate: $0.22/kWh, price of installed panels should be lower than $4.55/Watt

    The key really is how much the utility is your average tiered rate. I have not seen any solar PV installer quoting a price below $2.55/Watt in order to make financial sense based on national average utility rate. Many installers are quoting in the neighborhood of $3.50-$3.90 per Watt, and if your weighted average utility rate is more than $0.17/kWH, then by all means go solar, it will really make financial sense. If you can get prices lower than these, then your payback would be shortened a lot, and you can laugh off those people who got hooked with Solar City for their leases that won’t make sense in the near future. Those people would be fleeced out in case their future rates becomes higher than what the utilities would have charged them, while you have no worries at all and you won’t care what the rates are after the payback period.

  • Our system (8kW) was put in about 3-1/2 years ago for $6.00/watt installed. Back then it made sense because of our utility’s rebate program which has since dried up to a trickle. However, a few months ago I contacted our solar installation company to see what the current rate is. They said they do them now for $4.00/watt. Thus, they are letting the cost savings flow through.

    The utility in Phoenix (APS) on peak rate is $0.26/kWh. The math works out to about 7 years for payback with no subsidies. Any tax credit or utility subsidy only makes the payback time shorter. Where else can you get a 14% risk free investment?

    Of course this all depends on your particular circumstances, don’t be dissuaded from doing the math for your particular area. As the costs fall, it becomes more attractive to a wider (i.e. less sunny) area of the country.

  • Another thing that is commonly left out of the calculation, is that most people in the US have asphalt shingles. They only have a life time of around 20 to 30 years. The question for me is if I have a 15 year old roof, should I replace it prior to getting solar. What I’m trying to say is that there is another factor that I’ve never seen addressed…

    • Were it me, I’d consider putting something very long term underneath the solar panels. A section of standing ridge steel roofing should be good for 100+ years. Transition back to shingles past the panels.

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