What does a solar PV system cost?
Definitely the most common question and the true answer is, it depends on your consumption and your site… As a baseline however, let’s assume that you have a medium size home with a roof that has good, but not perfect southern exposure, your annual consumption is a bit over 6,000 kWh per year, and your electric bill averages around $120 per month. You would need a 6 kilowatt system installed on your roof to fully offset your annual consumption and eliminate your entire electric bill year round (with the exception of the monthly meter charge from your utility company, which is usually around $13/month). The gross installed cost of the system baring complications would be around $15,000, but after the 30% Federal Tax Credit is applied your final net cost is only $10,500. If you divide that net cost by what you are currently paying in utility bills, your payback period is just about 6 years. From that point forward your power will be coming to you entirely FREE!
How long will a solar PV system last?
All of the solar panels used by V.H. Energy are warrantied for 25 years. You should expect your system to last 35-40 years. Installation labor is warrantied for 5 years by V.H. Energy.
The inverters that convert the DC power coming from the solar panels to the AC current you use in your home carry a 12 year warranty. It would probably be fair to assume that you may need to replace an inverter during the life of your system.
How much maintenance will my solar system require? How do I get snow off of it?
Solar panels seldom require snow removal. They are dark in color, smooth and mounted at a fairly steep angle facing the sun. The snow will slide right off as soon as the sun hits them (similar to snow shedding off of a metal roof). In the spring, summer and fall months, the rain we get does a good job of washing off any pollen or dust.
Could a solar system cause my roof to leak?
Well yes it could, but it is extremely unlikely and something we at V.H. Energy have never had happen. First of all, the roof must be in good shape before a solar system can be installed. If your roof is shingled and over ten years old, you may have to re-shingle before installing a solar system. There are two bonuses to this however; the new roofing installed would likely be subject to the 30% Federal Tax Credit since the work was done in order to make the roof adequate for solar, and once the solar panels are installed over the new roof, the shingles will be shaded/protected from the drying effects of the sun and won’t age.
The price of solar has dropped drastically. Why would I install now rather than wait for the prices to drop even lower?
It is true that the price of solar PV systems has plummeted over the last decade, but in the last few years the drop of the curve has pretty much flattened out. There will still be further price reductions as new technologies are developed, but the price drop will be in much smaller increments. The main reason to install now is to take advantage of the government incentives and net metering program currently in place.
I may sell my house and move in 4 or 5 years. Why would I invest in a PV solar system?
The Solar system will add value to your home roughly equal to the gross cost you will pay for it. It will also definitely add marketability. But the main reason to add a solar system now to a home that you plan on leaving in a few years is to receive the incentives.
My home is now an empty nest and I plan to retire in a few years. Why would I want to invest in a solar PV system?
This one is a no-brainer… You’re still working and can currently take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit. But even more convincingly, in 6-8 years the system will have justified its cost in utility savings, and from that point forward your electricity is going to be truly free.
If I have a solar system and the utility power goes out during a storm, will I still have electricity?
The simple answer is no. If the electric grid shuts down, any solar systems connected to it must instantly shut down as well. It is done to ensure the safety of the utility company workers as they attempt to restore power, and it is the law.
Why purchase and not lease my solar system?
All of the systems V.H. Energy installs are purchased by our clients, not leased. With all of the current incentives and low interest solar financing options, it only makes sense to own your system. We do not recommend leasing your system for the following reasons:
- Since you don’t own your panels at the time of installation, the solar leasing company will receive all of the incentives for your system: the 30% Federal Tax Credit, as well as any RECs your system generates.
- You will be required to sign a contract with the solar leasing company. This contract is typically between 20-25 years!
- The price per kilowatt may be fixed, but the leasing company often builds in an annual price escalator. If the price of electricity goes down, you could actually end up paying more per kilowatt hour.
- Selling your home with a solar lease can be very problematic. Your lease contract requires the new owner to take over the existing lease and terms, which may not be attractive to potential buyers who would prefer to own their own equipment. Additionally, a leased system does not add any value to the selling price of your home since you don’t own the equipment. By purchasing your system you have not only pocketed the incentives, but you have increased the value (roughly equal to the gross cost of your system) of your home.