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Bay Area Solar Installation Recommendations?

Discussion in 'California' started by GeekGirls, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. GeekGirls

    GeekGirls Kid in Candy Store

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    Location:
    Santa Cruz
    We just moved back to Santa Cruz last fall and are starting to think seriously about solar. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone about their experiences with various vendors, recommendations for dealing with PG&E, etc. What should I know before proceeding? SolarCity has offered to do a site visit. Any thoughts on the quality of their work and pricing structure?
     
  2. Zzzz...

    Zzzz... Member

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    Location:
    East Asia/Canada
    You might find interesting statistics on top installers in California, first half of 2012:
    cw.jpg

    If you compare buying versus leasing, keep in mind, in case of purchase you most likely would need to replace inverter 10-12 years down the road and pay for insurance of your installation on your own (hail etc).

    I got impression that with SolarCity 20 year prepaid lease provides the best value for money. Something like this.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And I forgot to mention, with non prepaid lease option you might will have problems with selling you house down the road. Some buyers on the market would not want to take over monthly lease payments, and such cases were reported around.
     
  3. smd

    smd Member

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    Location:
    Lafayette, CA
    My system was installed by REC Solar (Costco's only solar affiliate), but leased for 20 years through SunRun with a fully prepaid lease. It just made sense to have SunRun take the potential headaches of ownership and the overall costs were significantly less than owning. Be sure to ask about a panel management system like Tigo Energy. That really helps to get max production from the system.
     
  4. towatana

    towatana Member

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    Dec 31, 2012
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    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I went with Sungevity back in 2010 for 3.2kw system with purchasing. Process was really easy, helpful staff including referral for roofing companies (had to reroof due to material's age). Since I originally had mechanical meter, it was fun to see it go backward during the day :) now it's replaced with not so fun smart meter.
     
  5. rcc

    rcc Model S 85KW, VIN #2236

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    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I'm wondering what rate increases are built into SunRun and Sungevity?

    We looked at Sunrun a few years back but they wouldn't do a prepaid lease option where the cost of power stayed flat or was zero.

    We just went with SolarCity for a 9.3KW install: prepaid lease, no monthly payments, cost of power is at most 9.9 cents per KWH generated. Cost is lower if the panels produce higher than the guaranteed amount.
     
  6. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    Location:
    Napa, California, United States
    I'm getting ready to sign-up for the SolarCity prepaid plan on a 6.125 kW system. You still happy with your decision? Anything I should know about the contract?
     
  7. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

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    Location:
    Northern California
    I have a lease for a Solar City 4.9kW system - been really happy with them up to this point. The whole planning, design, installation process was quick and painless and the system has been operating as expected. Pleased with the choice and would use them again.

    Omar
     
  8. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    Thanks for the response. Glad to hear it's worked out.
     
  9. astrotoy

    astrotoy Member

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    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    I did a straight purchase with Solar City back in 2009. I have planned to do the lease, but that was when the finance markets caved and Solar City put out some very good incentives if you had the money to buy the system. I did and everything has worked out well. They replaced one of the inverters that had been recalled after about a year, but otherwise the system has functioned as promised. In 4+ years, the system has generated close to 50K kwh.
     
  10. rcc

    rcc Model S 85KW, VIN #2236

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    Location:
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    No buyer's remorse yet :). I don't recall anything memorable about the contract. I still think the fully prepaid lease is the way to go. What'll be interesting is the total production of the system given their guarantee. I'm sure they oversize the system just a bit but it'll take more time to get a handle on how much.

    As a side note, we lost solar production for an afternoon on the hottest day of the year (July 4th). I suspect the inverter overheated and had to shut down - it's in a place where it's shaded in the afternoon but there's concrete all around it (driveway, etc.) so it can get pretty hot.
     
  11. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    Really appreciate the comments and endorsement. Very close to signing on the dotted line.:scared:
     
  12. Andrew Wolfe

    Andrew Wolfe Roadster 472 - S 440

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    Los Gatos, CA
    I had a very good experience with Sunwize.
     
  13. darthvdr

    darthvdr Member

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    I plan to go with Solar City's PPA plan. Convenient and they cover just about everything with the exception of negligence and intentional damage. Paying Solar City for the power would save me approximately 50% in electricity every month without any upfront costs. This is a very good value proposition for me.
     
  14. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    darthvdr--I did the analysis and am doing exactly what you are thinking. This Wednesday (and Thu & Fri) SC is installing a 15kW (...yes, huge) system on our home under the PPA. I will pay 50% of what I pay PG&E now for my electricity. SC handles everything else. No $$ down, no leasing, no hassle.
     
  15. gene

    gene Active Member

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    +Solar City. I went with a 4.4KW system with full prepayment of the lease. Within 4 1/2 years I will have broken even, 15 1/2 years free electricity.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, the city inspector after singing off on the system told me that Solar City always does a great job the first time around. He never needs to require them to return and do things right. He did not name other companies in particular but stated that some of them have to return a few times before they have things to code.
     
  16. cschock

    cschock Member

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    California
    We went with a local wine country company (Synergy Solar) that used Suniva panels and Enphase Microinverters for the 34 panel 7.53 kWh system. So far it has well exceeded our expectations.
     
  17. shady

    shady Member

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    Location:
    Morgan Hill, California
    Did everyone investigate the life expectancy of their roof before installing these panels?
    We only moved into our house in September, but we've had a solar city quote, and it's probably something we will do soon, but someone asked me, what am I going to do if my roof needs replacing in the next 20 years
     
  18. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    FWIW, SolarCity actually evaluated/inspected my roof (which is pretty new). I assume/trust given my Power Purchase Agreement they have a vested interest in ensuring that the roof they install a system on has a lifespan similar to the contract terms (20 years).
     
  19. rage_777

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    US
    The solar company I went with asked about my roof, but nobody else did. Luckily I just put in 40 year shingles on the roof about two years before I installed my system.

    I recommend the Enphase inverters. You don't have the problem of one down, all go down, and you get a cool website to monitor your system.
     
  20. cschock

    cschock Member

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    Location:
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    Yes, the solar company I used inspected the roof, asked about it's age (only 8 years in our case) and so on before giving us a quote for the work. It's definitely something to consider.
     

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