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Slightly off-topic but I wanted to ask this forum for some opinions on home solar costs.

The green bug bit me hard when I got my Karma...now I'm seriously considering doing a PV solar installation on my home. Problem is there are 1000s of companies out there and I don't know who to trust and what a good price is.

I got a quote yesterday for a 10 kW system (installed) that was going to run me $45k (before federal incentives) to purchase outright. Intuitively this just feels way too high to me. I need 40 250W panels from Canadian Solar....well, guess what, those exact panels are available on Amazon for $375 ea (or $15,000 total for 40). How in the world am I supposed to believe that the installation and other equipment needed equals $30k? Do I really look that stupid? Wait, don't answer that... lol.

Anybody here care to share with me what their total installed cost for a ~10kW system was and if you would recommend the outfit to me - either here in the thread or on PM.

Many thanks in advance.
 

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@Sandy, there has been a lot of discussion about this topic, for example this thread. You may also want to send a PM to @Marswill and @Dennis. I think they both installed PV arrays fairly recently and their information should be fairly current. I had my 3.8KW system (I have a small roof) installed 6 years ago and paid around $25K, but the prices of the panels have come down significantly since then.
 

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... I got a quote yesterday for a 10 kW system (installed) that was going to run me $45k (before federal incentives) to purchase outright. Intuitively this just feels way too high to me. I need 40 250W panels from Canadian Solar....well, guess what, those exact panels are available on Amazon for $375 ea (or $15,000 total for 40). How in the world am I supposed to believe that the installation and other equipment needed equals $30k? Do I really look that stupid? Wait, don't answer that... lol. ...
FWIW: my tiny but expandable system (12 panels, about 2.6 kW peak, all on microinverters) plus hot water system was a total of about $25k I think; not sure how much was which part.

The biggest issue with the panels is installing them such that they'll stand up to local weather (wind; where I am, snow; and so on). Then you have to choose between mono- or poly-crystalline or amorphous etc, and you have to choose an inverter type, and so on.

I went with the microinverters because they can optimize the output from each individual panel (vs attempting to optimize output from many connected panels, the way single-inverter systems do) and because they're easily expanded in the future (to add more panels, you just ... add more panels!). It's slightly more expensive up front but if some panels might be shaded (or covered with snow as mine were most of January, grr) then you get more out of the un-shaded / uncovered ones.

In any case, I figured I was mostly paying for "knowing how to put them in", in the sense of the old (and very outdated) joke about the $5000 payment to the surgeon who puts one titanium screw into a hip-bone. :D (These days it would be the $50,000 payment...)

By the way, the water heating system I got is a "drainback" system that uses gravity to avoid freezing and boiling problems, rather than a glycol loop. The water is then fed through an in-line tankless heater if needed (if the output from the tank is under 125F). I had to rely heavily on the latter all January (two feet of snow the day after Christmas, didn't get rid of it all until Feb!).
 

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While the cost of solar panels has dropped a lot, an installed system is now $4-$5 per watt, vs. $7-$8 per watt when I had mine installed 5 years ago. So your quote is right in the ballpark.

I highly recommend installing solar if you have the capital. The capital cost is paid back in 5-10 years depending on electric rates and installation cost. Then all the generated electricity is free! Plus it is cool that these panels just sit there and make electricity from the sun - no maintenance, no user intervention required.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
FWIW: my tiny but expandable system (12 panels, about 2.6 kW peak, all on microinverters) plus hot water system was a total of about $25k I think; not sure how much was which part.

The biggest issue with the panels is installing them such that they'll stand up to local weather (wind; where I am, snow; and so on). Then you have to choose between mono- or poly-crystalline or amorphous etc, and you have to choose an inverter type, and so on.

I went with the microinverters because they can optimize the output from each individual panel (vs attempting to optimize output from many connected panels, the way single-inverter systems do) and because they're easily expanded in the future (to add more panels, you just ... add more panels!). It's slightly more expensive up front but if some panels might be shaded (or covered with snow as mine were most of January, grr) then you get more out of the un-shaded / uncovered ones.

In any case, I figured I was mostly paying for "knowing how to put them in", in the sense of the old (and very outdated) joke about the $5000 payment to the surgeon who puts one titanium screw into a hip-bone. :D (These days it would be the $50,000 payment...)

By the way, the water heating system I got is a "drainback" system that uses gravity to avoid freezing and boiling problems, rather than a glycol loop. The water is then fed through an in-line tankless heater if needed (if the output from the tank is under 125F). I had to rely heavily on the latter all January (two feet of snow the day after Christmas, didn't get rid of it all until Feb!).
Thanks! I am interested in the micro-inverter technology as well. Seems to be a wise investment in order to optimize each panel's efficiency and makes the whole solution more easy to manage via software.

While the cost of solar panels has dropped a lot, an installed system is now $4-$5 per watt, vs. $7-$8 per watt when I had mine installed 5 years ago. So your quote is right in the ballpark.

I highly recommend installing solar if you have the capital. The capital cost is paid back in 5-10 years depending on electric rates and installation cost. Then all the generated electricity is free! Plus it is cool that these panels just sit there and make electricity from the sun - no maintenance, no user intervention required.
Appreciate the validation on the "installed cost per watt". I'm getting another quote next week from REC Solar (on the advice of another member here).

What I've learned so far is that because I get the "Medical Baseline"...my costs with the utility company are really, really cheap. It's the only silver lining to having sleep apnea (yah me!!) is that you qualify for this program with SDGE. So, the economics for making the switch to solar is very thin in my case...but so long as solar isn't more expensive, then I'm inclined to do it.
 

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I installed a 8.9 kW DC (8.3 kW AC) solar panel array on my home last November. I selected SunPower 240 W AC panels. I have a steel tile roof and the roof tiles had to be removed to allow the cast aluminum brackets to be installed and then the roof tiles put back in place over the mounting body of the brackets. This was quite labor intensive and took 2 to 4 guys 6 working days to install 37 panels. I'm very happy with the system and the installation. I ended up paying $55k of which I will get back 30% as a federal tax credit. I also got a small amount back from California. My payback should be under 10 years. I know I could have put a system in for less but I wanted a first class system. The advantage of the AC panels is that they have the microinverters built in and covered under the panels 25 year warranty. Also, they are just daisy-chained and plugged into there own circuit breaker in the breaker panel with no additional solar shutoff required. I can also monitor my system performance on-line with data presented for each individual panel showing any shading issues as well as the total output in near real-time.
I've also had solar thermal panels for 30 years using a gycol system with a heat exchanger. it has never required any maintenance other than replacing the storage tank once due to a leak and still works as good as new.
 
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