Here is the initial estimate I got from a solar marketplace people.
Instead of dealing directly with installers, I am trying out pickmysolar.com which runs a marketplace. They collect my project information, send it out to installers to bid on, and make recommendations to me, then follow through to make sure I’m happy. They get paid a referral fee from whichever vendor I choose. So far they seem helpful and above-board.
This system they put together is designed to have me pay $0 in electricity including 100% of electric car charging. Here are the estimates:
The best estimate so far is $13k but they expect the bids to come in at $11k. (Prices have been plummeting on solar.)
What is the cost savings?
At this cost, the break-even point for this project is 6.5-7 years. The total savings over 25 years is indicated above to be $62,190, accounting for a 5% annual increase in electricity costs from the utility company (which may be a tad aggressive).
How does this affect home value?
Aside from the energy savings, solar directly is said to adds to a house’s value. A quick Google search says a 5kW system such as mine adds nearly $30k of value to a home. That’s roughly 250% ROI on capital improvement alone, before we even start saving on electricity and gas! This is also notable, because most home improvements have negative ROI.
See also: Adding solar increases your house value
Here is what the initial system design looked like, with 20 panels spread across three planes of our roof:
• The 9 southeast panels in the photo should generate 315 kWh/month, but this is the less valuable morning energy. The 8 southwest panels collect 286 kWh/month of the more valuable afternoon and early evening sunlight. You get more credit from PG&E for feeding energy into the grid at this time.
• The 3 northeast panels in the photo are not high ROI and we’re not recommended. They were there to accommodate a greater electric car commute distance than I’m actually doing. We took them out of the bid.
• Solar systems are normally warranted for 25 years and have an expected 30 year life. They are said to be reliable and low-maintenance.
• Solar panels seem almost too good to be true. Are there any downstream costs? The main future hidden cost that I learned is when you eventually need a new roof. Extra labor will be involved in removing and re-installing the panels when replacing the roof. I read that some installers provide a one time allowance for this, doing the job for $500.
• We indeed do need a new roof. Many solar installers can take care of that, or subcontract that as part of the deal. (Many solar installers started off as roofers.) I requested this as part of the bid from solar companies and may complement this with other bid from roofing-only companies.