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Is Solar City THE company to go with?

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by thedonald, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. thedonald

    thedonald Member

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    I'd like to finally get solar panels for our house and need to decide on who to go with. After a number of quotes I liked SunPower the most--mainly because of the quality of their panels. My conversations with Solar City did not wow me with confidence, but now that I'm about to go forward I wonder if I need to go with Solar City anyway because of their relationship with Tesla. I live in San Jose and don't need battery backup, but am intrigued by the idea of cutting my ties/lessening reliance on PG&E. Has anyone else looked Solar City as the only way to go because of their "special relationship" with Tesla and future battery possibilities?
     
  2. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    I would shop around, I used The Solar Company out of the East Bay and was very happy with them. I did have some issue with the first installation and they ask no questions and took care of them, had and additional 3 panels installed when I purchased my Model S and had a few things changed(just so you know I'm a bit OCD) but they took care of it. Many companies out there now so shop around.
     
  3. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    SolarCity is certainly not "the" PV company if by that you mean clearly the "best" or "lowest price" or whatever. There are many alternatives.

    Now that Tesla has announced their grid storage battery product I am waiting for details and then will decide which PV company to choose. Planning on installing PV in 2016. I also live in the SF Bay Area. Even with two EVs and driving over 16K miles/year (total) my monthly electric bill is under $200 so just need a modest system. I have a foam roof on top of 2"x6" decking supported by beams on 6 foot spacing and SolarCity says they won't install on my roof type. So considering alternatives, and there are many.
     
  4. eco5280

    eco5280 Member

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    There are plenty of installers, selling plenty of panels, in plenty of configurations, and plenty of styles (microinverters, one large inverter, etc) Honestly there are a billion combination of choices you can make.
     
  5. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    I went with Solar City. I like their gurantee and the fact that I get a $1,000 check from Tesla for being a Model S owner. Everyone I have dealt with there has been extremely professional. sC is very customer service oriented.
     
  6. vinnie97

    vinnie97 Member

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    Nope, there is no need to limit yourself to that company beyond the Tesla connection. I went with a grid-tied solution with SolarTek (now Auric Solar) in 2013 who provide free support for 10 years from the date of installation. I didn't like the financing with which I ultimately had to settle, but that was down to my financial situation more than anything else.
     
  7. Tdriver

    Tdriver Member

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    Myself and several buddies went with Solar City on lease plans. We are all around 70 so the 20 year lease fits us just fine. Their lease basically fixes your rate at current amount for 20 years with no out of pocket money up front. I choose the lease buyout because they offer about a 40% discount if you pay the lease up front. The lease also requires them to service it for the full term and to guarantee the output over the life of the lease. Could not see any downside to the deal. Waiting for the install at this time. They have been very professional.
     
  8. TTT

    TTT Member

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    Hey Gavin, do you have a link or contact regarding the $1000 from Tesla?
     
  9. wws

    wws Member

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    I had http://cinnamonsolar.com/ do ours. (Full disclosure: Barry is a friend of mine.)
     
  10. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    The install isn't complete yet. I'm not sure how or when I will get the check, but the sales rep assured me that I will. Ask your Solar City rep about it.
     
  11. tga

    tga Active Member

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    I don't see a compelling reason to go with Solar City (full disclosure - I purchased my system from a local installer, and my power company does not allow non-customer owned systems to be grid-tied). I think many people pick them as the default (every Tesla/Musk fan has heard of them) or because of some religious-like devotion to all things Elon, but they are often not the best deal.

    Compare purchasing to leasing to PPA's before signing anything. For many people (depending on state incentives, tax credits, renewable energy credits, etc), the economics of buying wins out every time.

    Many of Solar City's claimed "benefits" are actually not unique to their installation, but rather are part of any installation:

    • Locking in your electric rate long term - the underlying financing terms (lease/PPA/purchase) don't really change this. It's not Solar City's deal that accomplishes this, throwing a bunch of PV up on your roof does. If the system is undersized, you'll have to buy extra power from the utility at the then current market rate, regardless of who owns the PV system or how it is financed.
    • Service included - major red herring. Solar systems are pretty much maintenance free. Failures are rare. Every purchased system I know of includes free remote monitoring by the installer and warranty coverage of 20+ years. I really don't see any way you can wind up paying anything for repairs in the next 20 years, regardless of who installs.
    • Production guarantees - my installer gives me this on my owned system, as well. Nothing unique here.
    Of course, YMMV.
     
  12. thedonald

    thedonald Member

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    What I'm wondering about is the possibility of something cool down the line if I go with Solar City. Something which is only possible because of their relationship with Tesla. Otherwise, I'd like to go with SunPower.
     
  13. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    Solar City customers may get preferential treatment for the Tesla home battery. At least possibly in the beginning.
     
  14. Ampster

    Ampster Member

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    I did get a Solar City bid for purchase and they were competitive. Most companies offer a warranty for 10 or 20 years on a purchase and I wanted the tax credit for a purchase. In the end SC couldn't warranty an installation on a gravel flat roof so I went with an installer who could.
     
  15. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Do you mean a "tar and gravel" type roof coating?
     
  16. Ampster

    Ampster Member

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    #16 Ampster, Mar 8, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
    Yes, although the installaion of the PV Solar brackets and a skylight were done not using hot mopped tar, but heat fused modified bituthane. (Torched down)
    I am in an townhome with an HOA and needed a specfic warranty on the reef penetrations. Solar City would have done that but they would have required their roofer put on entire new roof. The exising roof had at least another 15 years of life on it according to the HOA roofer. Therefore I decided NOT to put on a new roof. Besides 80% of the roof is now shaded by the solar which should extend its useful life.
     
  17. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Failures are rare, but hail damage in my area isn't. Solar City does cover hail damage, so do other non-owned systems as far as I know. Owning your own is a risk--and I doubt very much whether homeowners insurance would cover it--although I've never checked as solar doesn't work for me right now. I suspect that if homeowners insurance did cover it, rate increases would more than make up for any savings.
     
  18. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    My homeowners insurance does cover hail damage to our panels and there was no premium change for this coverage. I do not know why for certain, but speculate that any hail storm that damages a solar panel would have also destroyed a composite shingle roof, yielding a similar cost insurance claim.
     
  19. NOLA_Mike

    NOLA_Mike Active Member

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    My experience has been the same. I called my insurance company/agent shortly after the install and inquired as to whether the solar panels were covered and they said they were covered under my existing policy.

    Also, my (and most I believe) panels are rated to withstand up to 1" hail at terminal velocity so like you said anything big enough to damage the panels will likely take the rest of the shingles out as well.

    Solar panel hail test on YouTube

    Mike
     
  20. NuclearPowered

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    Concur with this. Similar to my situation. We has hail late last year the size of marbles and suffered no damage.
     

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