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Solar Panels on Roofs, are they worth it?

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Rich, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    One of the luckiest (luck and I don't seem to get along well) things I've ever done was walk away from that kiosk. I don't even want to think about the torture my wife would have put me thru.

  2. lee635

    lee635 Hall Of Fame

    Apr 17, 2002
    Several years ago, I did a fairly in depth evaluation for the university where I worked. The best payback is not from anything sexy -- Insulation, energy efficient windows, energy star appliances all have a pretty short payback periods and are your best investment overall.

    Next is hydro and wind. These produce much more electricity for the dollars you need to invest.

    Finally solar is last on the list. Solar can make more sense if you have tax credits, or if your university has restricted funding that can only be used on a limited set of projects. Solar is sexy, and people are attracted to the "public display of piety" that comes from a gaggle of panels on your roof which you simply don't get from adding insulation in your attic.

    From a strict finance point of view, you are better off adding another layer of insulation, better windows, more energy efficient appliances, wrapping your pipes, installing low flow shower heads, auto shutoff lighting and computers, etc.
  3. dennisj00

    dennisj00 Hall Of Fame

    Sep 27, 2007
    Lake Norman, NC
    I've just completed my first year with 3KW of panels on the roof. Before I committed to the installation, I had an 8 year payback with an average of 8 kwh a day (including tax credits).

    I just completed the first year at 10.5 kwh a day. You do the math. And that includes no increases in the electric charges in the future.
  4. DoyleS

    DoyleS Icon

    Oct 21, 2002
    El Dorado...
    Hydro and Wind are really not options for most of us Wind is probably the most unsightly of all of the energy options, kind of up there with Oil Wells. We have some large wind farms in the hills just east of the SFO Bay Area and I am sure they are generating a lot of power but there is also no one living anywhere near them. Most all of the high schools in our area now have large solar panel arrays over the parking areas. Obviously Solar doesn't make sense in areas with inexpensive power like Oregon and Washington as the payback is out over 10 years. My neighbor is retired and just did a lease system where he paid the full lease in advance. Since he doesn't have a high income, the deductions and credits wouldn't work for him so the Lease company gets those and discounted the price to him and still guaranteed the output of the system for 25 years. If you are in an expensive energy area and have high bills, it makes sense to talk to a number of companies to see what different programs they have. I have about 2 years to go to hit Break Even on my system and then it is all bonus after that.
  5. Drucifer

    Drucifer Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    NY Hudson...
    Here's an idea for the inventors among us - a weather vane on top of those cylinders-type wind generators. Do the combo thing in an antique copper finish and no one will know the weather vane was also a wind generator.
  6. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Every couple of years I do the due diligence on my current situation. While the numbers change, the bottom line doesn't seem to change enough, payback in 8 to 10 years. Thankfully the panels are now rated to last longer than the 8 to 10 years they were a few years ago. :)

    By the way, I am expecting solar panel systems to start being sold much like alarm systems a few years ago. Door to door college students using high pressure sales and other dodgy sales techniques to get people to buy systems. One of the biggest players in the alarm biz has started a solar company. (After a company name change to hide the evidence again...) So remember to buyer beware.

  7. trdrjeff

    trdrjeff Icon

    Dec 3, 2007
    You are correct, the number of companies jumping into it here is exploding. The leasing is really drawing them in, roofing cos, electrical etc are all jumping into the fray here. I had one kid come through the neighborhood last week just "prepping" for the real sales people coming...

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