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Friendly, detailed, and expedient, Sungevity offers a compelling and painless argument for private solar installation.  (Source: Sungevity)
New solar sales site is part internet maps, part environmental advocate, and part business planner

While big solar plants and high tech solar cells using high-efficiency or exotic materials steal all the spotlight, it is shameful to overlook the very real financial and ecological benefits of private consumer solar cell adoption.  Private adoption lets users cut their power costs drastically, and cut down on the burning of fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gases, sulfates, nitrates, and toxic phenyl compounds.

It seems hard to argue the logic of such benefits, but there are the inevitable detractions.  First, even with government rebates which are available in most states, the process needs an upfront investment of anywhere from $7,000 to as much as $40,000 for very large homes.  Further, some areas get less sunlight then others, so not all of these investments are created equal.  Worse still, the planning process can involve weeks of quotes and uncertainty.

This is where Sungevity, a new company founded by enterprising entrepreneur Danny Kennedy, comes in.  Sungevity looks to take the pain out of purchasing private solar power.  Users simply log onto the site, submit their address and electrical bill information and within 24 hours they have a detailed individualized analysis that beats many private quotes taking 10 times as long to receive or more.

The quote starts with the basic price of installation after local rebates.  It continues with the prospective savings over 25 years (most cells have a life of around 25-30 years or more) and how much the system will increase the value of their home (green is considered a selling point, even in today's troubled economy).  The analysis even includes images of how your house would look with solar panels.  Traditional analysis would require physical examination of the roof and days of inspection, processing, and numbers crunching.

His new system takes a complicated system and makes it simple says Kennedy.  He states, "We do all that (the calculations for preparing the estimate) in about 10 to 15 minutes."

Pleased customers can put down a deposit after their quote and schedule an installation appointment.  It's hard to get much more pain free than that.  While the system currently only operates out of its home state, California, it plans to soon expand to additional states.

A CNET writer, Michael Kanellos, did an analysis on his grandmother's house as a test of the new system.  He found that the system would provide 25 percent of the home's power on average and cost $7,511 after government rebates.  The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360.  The quote easily beat the 24-hour guarantee, coming back in a mere 2 hours.  A deposit could be placed conveniently using Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, the writer noted.

The new Sungevity system not only helps the customer, but saves money for the seller as well.  The software eliminates the need to pay an inspector to come out and visit the house to develop an estimate.  According to Kennedy, only 10 percent of such visits end in the sale.  The result is the installation cost, typically half the cost of the panels themselves, is unnecessarily high.

The system cuts installation costs by around 10 percent, and reduces estimating costs by as much as 80 percent.  The system also includes software that coordinates installation and delivery, helping to further cut down on labor costs.

The "magic smoke" driving the whole engine is a complex amalgamation of the Internet's most advanced resources.  Sungevity uses Microsoft Virtual Earth's satellite data to derive its information on the house.  The company gave Microsoft a one up over rival Google, as Microsoft offers views from different angles, where as Google only offers a top-down view. 

From the satellite information Sungevity calculates the pitch of the roof (its angle), the azimuth (what compass direction it faces), and the amount of free space for the system.  The system also takes into account the user's electrical use and geographically based average levels of solar radiation.

The company will be showcasing its hard work, mailing free fliers to addresses in Albany, Calif., with free analysis, showcasing its prowess.  While the estimates need a bit of fine-tuning based on the owner's power bills, the fliers should contain reasonable estimates and help to show the customer what their home would look like in images that combine actual pictures of their house with computer generated images.

To cut costs, Sungevity offers 5 different size systems, rather than going for custom sizes.  These mass produced systems range from 1.4 kilowatts to 5.6 kilowatts and typically cost $7,500 to $38,500 after rebates.

Sungevity is currently working to secure solar installers as subcontractors in other states or to offer its estimating services to solar contractors in other states.



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Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 11:19:12 AM , Rating: 4
I am all for solar technology, I think it will eventually be the solution to our energy problems; however it isn't really economical yet.

quote:
cost $7,511 after government rebates. The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360


On the other hand, if you were to take that $7500 and put it into a long term CD (which with that amount as the opening balance and the length that you are willing to leave it) you can make up to 5% a year on it. Which after 25 years comes out to be $24000; which, yes is $3000 less.

On the other hand, you could always access that money with a small penalty and you don't have to worry about a storm destroying your investement. Of course, investing in stocks is higher risk on average will see returns of about 8%, after 25 years you would have... $47000.

In 5 years, sign me up. In the mean time I'll just keep putting money into my 401k.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know that there are other issues that I don't address here (taxes, government incentives, feeling "green") this is only meant to be a quick and dirty economic analysis.




RE: Cost and Savings
By bighairycamel on 4/24/2008 11:32:32 AM , Rating: 5
From my own personal situation, an investment of ~7k like this could surely recapture some of my lost equity due to the housing slump.

Right now my homes value is sitting about $20k less than it was even 5 years ago. Since energy savings is a bug selling point practically everywhere, I could probably capture at least $10k back of that lost equity. So right there the system has paid for itself and then some.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:07:35 PM , Rating: 2
That is true to a certain extent, however there are a few caveats:

One, increased equity really doesn't get you anything unless you plan on selling your home. In fact, if the solar panels increase the value of your home you could end up paying more property taxes.

Two, not all areas have a large population of people who "think green" enough to pay an extra $10k for a house with solar panels.

Three, and I think most importantly, the value of this equity will decrease over time. Both because new techology will be developed and because solar panels wear out.

Basically, if you live in an eco-concious area and are looking to sell your home in a few years the equity argument works. I'm not sure how valid it is if you intend to live in your house for a long time.


RE: Cost and Savings
By JustTom on 4/24/2008 12:16:16 PM , Rating: 3
Good points, although many taxing authorities specifically exclude solar panels in calculating property taxes. And increased equity has other benefits, such as refinancing and home equity loans.



RE: Cost and Savings
By Netscorer on 4/24/2008 6:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
Where is it proven that Solar Panels do increase home selling price? I would like to see some statistical figures vs that marketing talk that we all know is only good for nothing.

What I do know is that for car sales 'hybrid' badge so far did not inrease resale values.

And solar panel sellers never would tell you the negative sides of owning it. Maintenance costs, susceptibility to storm damages, degrading output over the years, huge loss of output in winter months, etc, etc. And do not even get me started on that 'green' badge. Solar panels production is anything but green. Even with years of usage, solar panels are worse for environment then nuclear plant's generated electricity.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Diesel Donkey on 4/24/2008 9:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
What is so bad for the environment about nuclear power? Yeah, you get some radioactive waste and some water usage for cooler, but am I missing something?


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/24/2008 11:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And do not even get me started on that 'green' badge. Solar panels production is anything but green. Even with years of usage, solar panels are worse for environment then nuclear plant's generated electricity.


http://www.ecn.nl/publicaties/default.aspx?nr=ECN-...

Carbon emissions equal to about nuclear. (added benefit of using no water)

What other impacts? The factory? I don't see how the factory is worse than coal (assuming waste is properly disposed).


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 12:13:38 AM , Rating: 2
From your own link:

> Greenhouse gas emissions [from solar PV cells] are now in the range of 25-32 g/kWh "

Last estimate I saw put nuclear emissions at under 17 g/kHh (this comes almost entirely from mining operations) and even that figure would drop to essentially zero if fast breeder reactors were instead used.

But of course, this is all moot...the real problem with solar power isn't emissions, its a) exorbitant cost and b) its inability to operate as anything but a supplemental power source. Unless we experience a quantum leap in energy storage technology, solar will never fill our needs at night, in excessively cloudy/rainy weather, or in high-latitude areas where sunlight is very weak.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Jedi2155 on 4/25/2008 12:59:55 AM , Rating: 2
Where's Mr. Quantum when you need him......


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/25/2008 9:14:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But of course, this is all moot...the real problem with solar power isn't emissions, its a) exorbitant cost and b) its inability to operate as anything but a supplemental power source. Unless we experience a quantum leap in energy storage technology, solar will never fill our needs at night, in excessively cloudy/rainy weather, or in high-latitude areas where sunlight is very weak.


You're beating a dead bush, that's old news. Anyways, what's wrong with letting the people who want to buy it buy it?


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 11:13:06 AM , Rating: 1
> "Anyways, what's wrong with letting the people who want to buy it buy it? "

Nothing of course (and in fact, I'm one of those people...but only a passive system for my pool, not my house)

The problem comes in misleading people that they'll save bushels of money by buying such a system.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/25/2008 8:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
It's called sales and marketing...

It's what makes your job possible. Be thankful that it exists.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MicahK on 4/28/2008 2:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
umm... I live in Canada, we have a solar panel at our cabin. It can run a week without any sunlight... So I wouldn't go so far to say that it can't meet our needs... Granted, in a real house you would be running a lot more electricity, but still, use LED's or CFL's for light, thats like a few watts compared to 60 watts per bulb...

And another bonus, when there's a power outage, you're the only one on the street who still has power... With oil supplies running out, I would expect to see rolling blackouts to conserve energy... even if you only use is as supplemental power, its benefits are huge!


RE: Cost and Savings
By ebakke on 4/24/2008 12:20:44 PM , Rating: 3
Thank you!! I hear people complain every day that their homes have lost value, and it's nice to hear someone else who realizes that it doesn't matter in the slightest unless you plan on selling.


RE: Cost and Savings
By dschneider on 4/24/2008 9:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
Your math seems a little fuzzy to me.

If your had $7000 invested in a CD you would still be paying full price for your electricity. The money you are saving per month should you invest in solar, could also be put into a savings plan and therefore you would be starting at zero but adding, lets say for argument, $150 per month plus intrest, every month for the same time period.

I'm no math major but I think it would make a substantial difference in the bottom line if you add that intrest back in to your figures. Maybe they already did this But I doubt it.


RE: Cost and Savings
By dschneider on 4/24/2008 11:52:02 PM , Rating: 3
To back up my math.
If we assume the savings to be 27,360 over 25 years thats a monthly saving of $91.20. If that were invested in a similar mutual fund with a meager 5% return rate you would compound to the following rate of return.
Year Balance
1 1119.83
5 6202.15
10 14161.74
15 24376.75
20 37486.27
25 54310.49
Final Savings Balance:$ 54310.49

That would likely make up for all the "maintenance" everyone below is talking about. ;)


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 12:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
Good point. However, remember that the money spent on maintenance could have also been invested as well, meaning its true cost is considerably higher.

More importantly, the savings calculation assumes a rise in energy costs equal to inflation...meaning the first half of those 25 years, you save a lot less per month...and that reduces the total interest earned dramatically, even if the total savings is unchanged.

Also, remember that savings calculation is extremely optimistic. The mere assumption of electricity costs keeping pace with inflation is a hard sell...for the entire 130-year history of commercial electric power, in only one of those 13 decades have costs not risen significantly slower than inflation. Look at the price history since 1965 for instance. Housing prices are up by more than a factor of 10X. Oil by about the same amount...natural gas by more than 20X. But electricity prices have only risen by about 4X over that same period.


RE: Cost and Savings
By dschneider on 4/25/2008 2:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
Your absolutely right. But the costs and adjustments you are talking about are minimal. Where as his math did not compare apples to apples.

I was more pointing to the fact that savings and net return are two totally different things. You can't add interest to one and not the other.

For example, not investing the 7000 dollars in solar leaves you a net savings over 25 years of 7000 dollars no more no less. Apples to apples is 7k to 20k (27k - 7k initial investment). Of course minus maintence and the other things you brought up.

Investing the 7000 or the monthly return with compounding intrest is another thing entirely.

And honestly this is only a 25% system with a $90 a month savings. I would bet the net return goes up the more you supplement your energy with solar.


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 4:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
Err, no, ROI on the PV portion of the system (which is the lion's share of costs) should scale almost perfectly linear. There might be a small amount of superlinearity in regards to the installation and inverter costs, but this would be a very minor factor overall.


RE: Cost and Savings
By dschneider on 4/25/2008 1:36:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'm certainly not saying the numbers from this article are accurate or reflect true savings or ROI.

I was merely pointing out that according to the numbers provided by the article, the previous posters argument that a CD would provide the same ROI is not accurate because he included no profit from the intrest off of the savings.

Whether or not solar is a good investment is more complicated. However if these numbers were correct, I believe the math works out in solar's favor over investing strictly in a mutal fund, etc.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 1:23:47 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think a 1.4k system would supply 25% power, generally. It really depends on your energy usage and your location. According to findsolar.com, and given my present energy usage, I could do 25% with a 1.4k system but come late spring to late fall, no way that will be enough and that's with a "Great" rating meaning 6 kWh/sq-m/day.


RE: Cost and Savings
By dschneider on 4/25/2008 1:44:59 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Those numbers are highly subjective and difficult to prove.

I live in phoenix and don't have solar. Not that I wouldn't like to try I just haven't been convinced by the numbers yet. But if the above numbers were accurate I believe it is certainly getting to be more promising.


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/24/2008 3:59:34 PM , Rating: 1
> "Since energy savings is a bug selling point practically everywhere, I could probably capture at least $10k back of that lost equity..."

That consists of finding a buyer stupid enough to pay $10K for a used solar system that he could purchase for only $7K new.


RE: Cost and Savings
By bighairycamel on 4/24/2008 4:31:42 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
That consists of finding a buyer stupid enough to pay $10K for a used solar system that he could purchase for only $7K new.


Easily done. Go ask 100 random people on the street how much a new solar panel cost for a typical medium income house? My guess is that damn near 100 of them won't have a clue, nor do they care. What they care about is the fact that the system is there (not how much it cost to get there) and that it would benefit them with long term energy savings.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Cost and Savings
By bighairycamel on 4/24/2008 5:18:48 PM , Rating: 3
No I was talking strictly about selling a house with a pre-installed solar panel and it affecting the resale value. I am only making an assumption with no hard evidence, but most people probably wouldn't care how much it cost the owner to have it installed.

quote:
Cost does matter and that's why you don't see them hardly anywhere.


No you don't see them hardly anywhere because most people don't even know the systems are available for residential use (have you ever seen any sort of marketing for these things?), or they think the prices are going to be astronomical. $7k really isn't very much at all when it comes to a home upgrade. I know a few people I work with paid for a geothermal heat pump system and it cost well over that...


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 12:35:02 AM , Rating: 2
$7500 is for the 1.4kw system. You could probably do your hot water heater and your lights off of that. Not exactly a huge savings with that. The 5.6kw system is what you want. You might get 50% if your house is under 2700 sq ft. A friend has a 3700 sq ft house and has a 7.5kw system and it runs 70-75% of his house. He paid $50k for his.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Chernobyl68 on 4/25/2008 12:24:17 PM , Rating: 2
most solar water heater's I've seen aren't electric, they circulate water though the panel.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 1:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't talking about a solar water heater.


RE: Cost and Savings
By JustTom on 4/24/2008 11:36:48 AM , Rating: 4
You make good and valid points, why you got rated down is beyond reason.

Other things to consider: How did they calculate the savings? What was the rate of increase on electric prices? How much of the cost of your investment would be offset by the increased value of your house?

This is a sales tool; most likely it uses assumptions that put installation of a solar system in the best light. While it certainly has utility as with any sales pitch it must be taken with a grain or two of salt.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 11:43:55 AM , Rating: 2
The reason why I was voted down is very simple, "I disagree with your opinion, therefore you are not worth reading". It would be nice if things were moderated based on their merit, not the moderators opinions.


RE: Cost and Savings
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 4/24/2008 11:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
By commenting in the same article your vote gets rescinded.


RE: Cost and Savings
By therealnickdanger on 4/24/2008 12:04:05 PM , Rating: 2
The other option would be a sort of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" tallie system. I wouldn't worry about it either way... it's a opinion-based rating on your opinion. I'm reminded of some saying about opinions and buttholes...


RE: Cost and Savings
By ninjit on 4/24/2008 12:26:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The other option would be a sort of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" tallie system


Hmmm, that's EXACTLY how it is now, except instead of being labeled "Thumbs up" and "Thumbs down" like you'd prefer, the buttons are "Worth Reading", "Not worth reading".


RE: Cost and Savings
By therealnickdanger on 4/24/2008 2:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
Not quite, there is a cap (-1 or +5). Some other sites will show +34 and -13.


RE: Cost and Savings
By ninjit on 4/24/2008 12:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone gets to vote on your comment, not just DT moderators - so it's supposed to be democratic and representative of what % of readers agree with you vs. the % that don't.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:44:52 PM , Rating: 2
No it shouldn't be a ratio of who agrees with me to who doesn't, that doesn't lead to discussion it leads to lecturing from the popular side of the isle.

The idea of a discussion system should be to highlight comments that are worth reading , hence the text that you click to rate something up or down. In other words comments that bring up interesting points, ideas, or insights; whether you agree with them or not.


RE: Cost and Savings
By weskurtz0081 on 4/24/2008 11:45:59 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, good points, I also don't know what idiot in here rated you down for making valid points.... care to speak up?

Anyway, I rated you back up, along with the other guy.

Once again, good points, and something anyone should look at before making an investment.... what would this money return if I invested elsewhere? Next best alternative....


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 11:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
Appreciated, but I thought I should let you know that your rating disapears after you comment. It is a system meant to prevent abuse but it is often confusing for people.


RE: Cost and Savings
By weskurtz0081 on 4/24/2008 11:51:19 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I saw that..... kind of sucks really. Anyway, it did go up, then right back to 1. Oh well..... not as if rating really matters anyway.


RE: Cost and Savings
By JustTom on 4/24/2008 11:57:09 AM , Rating: 2
This is why I look at the low rated comments first. It is not unusual for them to be the most informative.


RE: Cost and Savings
By GhandiInstinct on 4/24/2008 11:58:33 AM , Rating: 2
After you guys rated him up some other idiots rated him down so I rated him back to 2 even.

I swear this rating system is so pointless when it's done by opinion and then you have those who just rate down for the fun of it. We call those "downsyndrome voters."


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:00:52 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, after they rated me up they commented which nullifies thir rating. :-)


RE: Cost and Savings
By Schrag4 on 4/24/2008 5:02:28 PM , Rating: 2
I would have rated you up but since I'm posting this comment, it wouldn't make sense. ;-)

In all seriousness, though, I'm glad you look at the economics from other angles. While feeling green may give you warm fuzzies, you can't feed your family on warm fuzzies alone. In other words, there are plenty of people that would LOVE to go green, but if it costs more and they can't afford it, then, well, they can't afford it. It doesn't make them evil, it just means that they don't have the luxury of spending extra to consume less. I fall into the category of someone who can't just drop between 7 and 10 grand for a solar power system that probably will pay for itself in the next decade or so.


RE: Cost and Savings
By myocardia on 4/24/2008 7:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I fall into the category of someone who can't just drop between 7 and 10 grand for a solar power system that probably will pay for itself in the next decade or so.


It's called financing, you don't have to have 100% of it up front. Your argument is especially invalid when you consider the fact that most American households get a ~$3,000 income tax return every year. Use yours this year, and you'll be able to pay off your loan next year, so you won't have that HUGE $60-70/month payment anymore.;)


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 12:49:46 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe he doesn't want to finance it. Maybe his debit to income ratio isn't the greatest or his credit sucks. Or maybe he would rather finance something higher up on the priority scale (maybe renovate the kitchen or the bathrooms, add an addition to the house).


RE: Cost and Savings
By Schrag4 on 4/25/2008 1:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, yeah, so I'll 'save money' by financing one of these babies. Now instead of earning interest on what little I could invest, I'm paying interest on a loan. Great idea!

Again, for those of you who can just drop 7 or 10 grand out of pocket without thinking about whether that'll break the bank, this is perfect. I'm not in that economic situation.

Again, my point is that I'm not me anti-earth if I don't rush out and get one of these. I'm just pro-'feed my children first'. Besides, even if I don't get one of these, my carbon footprint is probably still 1/100th of what Al Gore's is. Of course he's rich so he can afford to 'pollute the earth' and then pay somebody else to clean up after him (that is if you really think carbon credits do reduce carbon somehow, a whole other discussion).


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 1:27:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Again, my point is that I'm not me anti-earth if I don't rush out and get one of these. I'm just pro-'feed my children first'.
The crackpots would tell you that the earth is first and that you have too many children and you are contributing to overpopulation.


RE: Cost and Savings
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 12:25:40 PM , Rating: 2
Not that I would have rated him down, but I can see why. Who cares if you can invest the same amount of money and make 5% over 25 years. The point is you can install a solar system, and have it pay for itself. Its only half about the investment here, most people are not going to do this just because it saves them money on their energy bill, it is also in part because they want to do what they can to help the environment.

If I was merely trying to save money on my energy bill, I would personally look past solar panels and get new windows and make sure my house was energy efficient as possible. That would save you money in the short and long term, it will make your house look nicer, and it could possibly increase the value of your home. ( my parents got new windows before their sold our old house because they were not getting large enough offers and it got them around 2x in return.)


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:41:01 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you completely (check my other comments in this article if you don't believe me) there are plenty of things that can't be given monetary value that are important to many people, myself included.

However, that being said, the article itself was very much focused on the financial aspects which is what I chose to address in my comment; under the circumstances I felt it was appropriate. Look at the title of the article, "New System Shows Customers Solar Savings".

The real point of my post that the article came off as a sales pitch and used misleading statements.
quote:
The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360

Not really that incredible if a no risk investment can match it.


RE: Cost and Savings
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 1:48:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The real point of my post that the article came off as a sales pitch and used misleading statements.
Very true, it does come off as a salespitch.But.. I find it is just a way to justify the means for doing your part to help save the environment. Where in the past doing so would cost you more than its worth, this arcticle is merely stating that it is not going to set you back, and infact you will get a return from your investment. Sure a no risk investment, will give you a higher return, but that is not what it is all about, 10 years ago solar panel prices just did not justify the means because it was too much money, and it took far too long to get any kind of return. At least this way there is an incentive, you get to help out the environment, without losing money in the long run. If there w


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/24/2008 5:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
So a 25 year return is not too long? What was it before? 250 years? Considering the average person spends 9 years in a house before moving on, 25 is NOT a good ROI. It would take three families before the cost was made up.


RE: Cost and Savings
By steven975 on 4/24/2008 11:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
that investment income is subject to taxes, though...and in the case of stocks is no guarantee.

the power savings are after-tax dollars and are virtually guaranteed.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
You forget that I was taking numbers that are essentially from a sales pitch by the solar power company. The income saved by the panels isn't actually gauranteed for several reasons.

They make no mention of average maintanence costs over those 25 years. What if there's a tornado, earthquake, hail, or even stray baseball (not sure if solar panels are covered by homeowner's insurance but even if they are, increase claims will raise your rates and certainly won't cover wear and tear). Also, as many people have pointed out, solar panels increase the value of your home which local governments will be sure to take note of and tax accordingly.

The investment income is subject to taxes... unless you put it into a tax free fund such as a Roth IRA or education fund for your children (can't remember what the name is at the moment, maybe 529 or something).

Not that your points aren't valid, every investment has risk and for some poeple this will a good move, especially if you value things that don't have monetary values such as independence (power outage? no problem) and eco friendly-ness.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Ratinator on 4/24/2008 12:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
That's is provided everything works fine for 25 years and doesn't have to be fixed or replaced. I can't imagine the deep cycle batteries having that long of a life span.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Chernobyl68 on 4/24/2008 1:20:43 PM , Rating: 2
Uhhh what batteries? if you're generating more power than you're using the rest goes onto the general grid.


RE: Cost and Savings
By AlphaVirus on 4/24/2008 1:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
You can have a backup battery istalled to store X amount of KWatts. Of course it would depend on how much $ you are willing to shell out.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 1:03:39 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you have a 7kw system, live in a 1500 sq ft house AND live in one of the sunshine states, you more than likely will still be drawing from the grid.


RE: Cost and Savings
By AlphaVirus on 4/25/2008 1:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
No, I was not arguing the use of power from the grid, I was simply stating that you can have a battery connected to your system.
The previous poster stated
quote:
Uhhh what batteries?


If I had a solar powered house, I would buy a backup battery just in case the grid fails or some other natural disaster. The solar panels would cover the daytime hours and the backup would cover night.


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 1:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have any idea of the cost of a battery backup system large enough to run your entire house for a significant portion of a night? It would cost much more than the solar system itself...if one's local code would even allow it to be installed due to safety issues.

Even a battery large enough to run a single light bulb for most of the night would be several hundred dollars.


RE: Cost and Savings
By myocardia on 4/24/2008 7:12:01 PM , Rating: 2
People don't use batteries for solar systems anymore, unless they live somewhere that electricity isn't available (called being off the grid). With the newer way to do it, you use what you need during the day, and sell back what you aren't using to the electric company. After the sun goes down, 100% of your electricity comes from the grid, just like your next door neighbor, who, coincidentally, is one of the people who is buying your extra power from you during the daytime hours.


RE: Cost and Savings
By rikulus on 4/24/2008 12:17:23 PM , Rating: 2
I would LOVE to see a long term CD that can be invested in today with a 5% APY and $7500 deposit. If you actually know if a bank with such an offering, please let us know. The best I could find for a 60 month CD is 3.6%, up to a whopping 3.7% with a 50k investment. Now instead of making $17,500 in 25 years, you're making $10,500. And as someone else pointed out, you'll have to pay income tax on the CD income... which will take a nice little bite out every year.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
https://www.nationalcity.com/main/promotions/pages...

Not quite what I had quoted but it's close. 4.75% yeild with a $10k minimum balance and 48 month term. Do a google search for "CD rates", there are a lot of good sites out there.

Really though, you should invest in stocks if you want long term growth. If you are diversified and a long term investor the risk is negligable (even with a major recesion in a few years it will be back on track) and the payout is much higher on average.


RE: Cost and Savings
By blaster5k on 4/24/2008 1:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
With the current state of the economy, the return on CDs after taxes is less than inflation. Historically, the returns are a bit higher. At least marginally better than inflation even after taxes.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/24/2008 11:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
But your savings go up with inflation...

(increased electricity prices...)


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 11:15:12 AM , Rating: 2
Inflation has already been calculated into these savings figures...overcalculated, in fact.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/25/2008 8:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
Over calculated by your opinion...

Under calculated by my opinion...

Only the future will tell who's right.


RE: Cost and Savings
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2008 12:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly when I buy a home, if I live in an area that gets adequate sunlight most of the year, I plan to eventually get a solar array on my house. Even if you only power your AC system with it, during the summer that can cut a ton off your electric bill. And with oil going ever higher and the US population not supporting nuclear power, power costs are only going to rise.

However I still think solar power plants are a worthless venture. For the land area they require, they produce like 1/10th the energy of a nuclear plant. Or even a traditional gas or coal fired plant. Just because its "green" doesn't mean its smart.


RE: Cost and Savings
By ninjit on 4/24/2008 12:32:14 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, Solar "Farms" are stupid.

There's already all this available exposed surface area on top of existing buildings, we don't need to gobble up even more land just for solar panels (even if it is in the middle of the desert).

Plus, it saves on infrastructure too, as you won't need so many power lines if the panels are on site.
That reduces security risk, in addition to cost - infrastructure is generally considered a prime target for vandalism and/or attack.


RE: Cost and Savings
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2008 2:21:48 PM , Rating: 2
You will still need power lines to every home as most people cannot afford a system (or even fit one) for their home that will completely power their home. Also, on a cloudy day, you need the power lines or you're in the dark.

However one advantage of solar cells on a home is that if the power does go out, you're not necessarily in the dark. Especially if you have a battery system to store power for the evenings. I know I would if I had such a system installed. Enough to run a few things should the power go out at night. The frig and some fans at least.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/25/2008 1:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
My next home will have one for sure despite the costs. I'm interested mainly in the freedom. I can run my A/C freezing cold and my heater boiling hot if I want and it won't cost me my first born to do it. I'll probably get a 5.5kw with some battery backup for the fridge and stuff like FIT mentioned.


RE: Cost and Savings
By Chernobyl68 on 4/25/2008 12:33:41 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think they're stupid. Typically they're in the desert. arizona, new mexico, parts of texas, oklahoma, california, nevada. places with low population and low land value, with little water (needed for most other types of power generation - gas, coal, nuclear) which may not have reliable wind for wind power generation.
So if they're using the land for what it's best suited to, why not build the solar farms?

Now, granted, I think the world's energy needs are growing at too fast a pace for this type of plant to make a dent big enough to take some of the carbon-using plants offline, but for that we need big mainline power plants to be built. The best place for that currently is in new 4th generation nuclear or older breeder reactor technology. Until we are able to master Fusion power at least.


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 12:24:58 AM , Rating: 2
> "For the land area they require, they produce like 1/10th the energy of a nuclear plant"

More like 1/50 the power...and at four times the cost per Kw-h.


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/24/2008 3:58:19 PM , Rating: 3
> "The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360..."

As Mozee points out, this just barely outstrips what one would make in interest over the same period. (And doesn't even come close to your average return in stock investments). But it's worse than that-- such savings estimates are usually *extremely* optimistic (this is eseentially a sales tool, after all). If you notice, the site doesn't guarantee their cost savings figures are accurate. And the figures also don't take into account maintenance over that 25-year period.

Furthermore, these savings are entirely dependent on government rebates...which means if everyone engages in this, you wind up paying the full cost of the system (government money comes from us all in the end, after all).


RE: Cost and Savings
By myocardia on 4/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/24/2008 9:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
> "there's zero maintenance on any home solar system"

Flatly untrue. All systems need repairs and maintenance, especially over periods which span decades. I have a passive solar system for my swimming pool myself, and though the system is barely over five years old, I've already had one hefty repair bill....plus paying someone $100 once a year to go up on the roof and clean the panels.

> "what kind of moron would be complaining about something that helps lesson the damage you do to the planet "

That assumes that a) you're "doing damage" to the planet, and b) that these cells lessen it...two things you'll have a very hard time proving.

> "that makes slightly more than the most common type of no-risk investment"

Again, in practice, you'll find such systems rarely do as well as these overly optimistic estimates claim.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/24/2008 11:28:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That assumes that a) you're "doing damage" to the planet, and b) that these cells lessen it...two things you'll have a very hard time proving.


...Or disproving.


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 12:16:23 AM , Rating: 2
By basic logical reasoning, the burden of proof is on a person making a claim, not the person disputing it. This is for the simple reason that negative proofs don't exist.

I can't DIS prove that 600 cloned baby Hitlers aren't alive on the far side of the moon. All I can do is ask you to prove such an assertion.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/25/2008 9:18:58 AM , Rating: 2
Good thing you're not a scientist. You'd write a lot of bad papers.

Nothing is ever proven or disproven in science. There are hypothesis, theory, and law...


RE: Cost and Savings
By masher2 (blog) on 4/25/2008 1:50:15 PM , Rating: 2
You miss the point. Negative proofs don't exist. If you want to suggest something is true, you need to supply proof, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.


RE: Cost and Savings
By MadMaster on 4/25/2008 7:45:09 PM , Rating: 2
Neither exist! Especially in the context you are using.

It is VERY subjective...

But that's why you use that argument, you have to be right... but it show's your ignorance.

Hypothesize then back with evidence/data. That's the objective process.


RE: Cost and Savings
By AsymmetricGhillie on 4/27/2008 7:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
Way to hijack the thread. As pointed out by omnicronx, how are investment strategies relevant to this article? If this article where about maximizing investments, it would be on point, but what do 401k's, CD's, and stocks have anything to do with this article?

Yes, from a pure financial standpoint PV technology is not viable now. But hopefully the continued progress will facilitate an increase in R&D and advances in PV technology yielding better efficiency and lowering costs. Hopefully this will be one utility in meeting energy demand in the future. I've seen a huge improvement in efficiency and costs since doing a financial/energy analysis at my university during my undergrad for a project installing a PV system on campus.


You are making an illogical assumption.
By SilthDraeth on 4/24/2008 1:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
"cost $7,511 after government rebates. The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360"

You are making an illogical assumption that the total cost of ownership of the solar kit over a 25 year period would be $7,511. This is not the case, that is the initial install, set up etc. This does not take into account maintenance of the system, nor does it take into account the fact that the solar cells will not be operating at the same efficiency for 25 years.

I love solar, and it has it's place for energy independence from the power company. But the fact of the matter is, it costs more per kilowatt to run solar than it does to buy it.




RE: You are making an illogical assumption.
By myocardia on 4/24/2008 8:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are making an illogical assumption that the total cost of ownership of the solar kit over a 25 year period would be $7,511. This is not the case, that is the initial install, set up etc. This does not take into account maintenance of the system


Care to share with us what maintenance solar panels happen to require?


RE: You are making an illogical assumption.
By djc208 on 4/24/2008 10:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
They need to be kept clean as dirt, leaves, rain residue, bird droppings etc, will reduce their efficiency. The mounting system and roof will need inspection/preservation.

While the panels may prolong the life of your roof what happens if you need a new one 15 years from now. You'll have to remove the solar pannels to replace the shingles then reinstall the solar system.

The biggest issue is probably the inverters. The solar cells generate a DC voltage, which has to be changed to AC before you can use it so there are power inverters that are required, these probably won't last the entire life of the system.


RE: You are making an illogical assumption.
By myocardia on 4/27/2008 7:31:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They need to be kept clean as dirt, leaves, rain residue, bird droppings etc, will reduce their efficiency. The mounting system and roof will need inspection/preservation.


All of which is free, unless you can't afford a few gallons of water/year.

quote:
While the panels may prolong the life of your roof what happens if you need a new one 15 years from now. You'll have to remove the solar pannels to replace the shingles then reinstall the solar system


You don't seem to know the definition of maintenance. Here, I'll try to help: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/maintenance BTW, #2's the one that applies here. So, let me get this straight, it's the solar panels' fault, if you install them on top of a roof that's in need of replacement? Is it also the panels' fault if you total your car, or your wife divorces you?

quote:
The biggest issue is probably the inverters. The solar cells generate a DC voltage, which has to be changed to AC before you can use it so there are power inverters that are required, these probably won't last the entire life of the system.


Well, you were right about something. Inverters don't last forever, and need to be changed every 12-15 years on average. So, add $2,000 to the total cost of the system, to cover the new inverter, or $3,000-$3,500 for a large inverter.


By MadMaster on 4/27/2008 1:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well, you were right about something. Inverters don't last forever, and need to be changed every 12-15 years on average. So, add $2,000 to the total cost of the system, to cover the new inverter, or $3,000-$3,500 for a large inverter.


High quality electronics do last a long time... for example, your car computer. They generally outlast the car.


Is Kennedy a friend of yours?
By therealnickdanger on 4/24/2008 11:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
I'm only half-kidding, but "article" does sound like an infommercial.

Much better site, IMO, plus it has been available for years and to more than just California residents:

http://www.findsolar.com/




By Runiteshark on 4/24/2008 11:17:52 AM , Rating: 2
FLOATING IN MIDAIR!!!

GO YAFFA!


By Chernobyl68 on 4/24/2008 1:25:43 PM , Rating: 2
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














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