Solar System Roadmap
A lot of interest is arising in solar energy and people are just starting to make real sense of how it should work and how much it may cost. Nowadays, there are some alternatives to get a solar system installed at home and you can accomplish this with lower or minimal costs.
First, you may want to consider buying a used equipment to reduce costs. In addition, if you or someone in your family is a do-it-yourself kind of person, building your own system can reduce the cost of a system substantially. If neither one of those options work, then you may be able to lease a system from various companies around the USA. The lease would typically be a long term one (about 25 years). The company will guarantee a $/kWh price for the entire term of the lease agreement. And the lease company will install for zero out of pocket expense to you. The company will usually maintain the system.
But, there are a few catches to this:
1) The lease is difficult to get out of;
2) It's a long term lease;
3) You need to look at any escalation rates they may use to jack up the price for electricity you pay down the road in a few years. (It was mentioned above the lease will guarantee a $/kWh, but there can be a few catches here...so be careful);
4) Your lease will be based on current pricing of equipment. This means in a year or two as technologies improve and their costs come down, you'll end up overpaying for the system for many years and not be able to take advantage of cheaper/better equipment;
5) If you sell the house, the lease goes to the new owners. This may be a sticking point for any potential buyers who may NOT want that obligation.
6) You'll need to read all the fine print in the lease agreement and do all the economic analysis to make sure you are getting what you're paying for. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a worthless boat anchor attached to your home.
7) The leasing company will get all the renewable energy credits the system generates. They can sell these credits and make a nice profit off of them as well...leaving you completely out of the equation.
It’s up to you to decide what you want to accomplish out of all of this. The cost of solar energy makes it an expensive proposition regardless.
Use the solar calculator available in the NREL’sweb site to determine how much a system will cost and the cash flow. If you live in the US you should use version 2, otherwise use version 1. We’ll talk more about those calculators on another article.
PV solar systems, depending on your price for electricity from the utility and cost/size of the system will determine the breakeven point of the system. Using $7.25/watt installed, your breakeven point will be about 10 years down the road. If you are able to install a system at $5.00/watt, that breakeven point will happen in about 7 years. It would safer to put on the higher pricing to the system since the norm is still about $7-$8 watt installed from what has been seen lately.
Here I made a list with more details that you have to consider before starting the process of building a solar panel. See you there.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Felipe K. Jose is an electrical engineer passionate about green and renewable energy. He is the co-founder of HomeAndGreenEnergy.com.
On the website there is a video with pros and cons that you have to consider before acquiring a solar panel. See you there.