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SolarCity solar installation

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by napabill, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    Anyone out there have a solar system from SolarCity? Like to hear how you like it. Is there a forum elsewhere where SolarCity users hang out?
     
  2. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    I asked this question in the Arizona (Phx/Tuc_) thread a month or so ago - you can see some of the answers there.
     
  3. rcc

    rcc Model S 85KW, VIN #2236

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    We got one installed in May. Loving it. Everything went very smoothly.
     
  4. derekt75

    derekt75 Member

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    Yes.

    I got one 5 kW system (facing SW) two years ago.
    I liked it so much that I got a 2nd 6.24 kW system (facing NE) a few months ago.

    You can see the power that the panels have generated here:
    SolarGuard


    For both systems, I have "prepaid leases". I pay no monthly rent, but the system is technically theirs for 20 years. That means they're responsible for fixing anything that breaks, and they're required to pay me cash if the system doesn't produce the promised amount of electricity.
    I expect the system will cover its expenses in 4 to 5 years.

    In July of last year, the system broke. It took me nearly a week before I noticed. I'm surprised that SolarCity didn't notice first, but anyway, they fixed it within a handful of days. It was a faulty combiner.

    My biggest complaint about SolarCity is that it can take them a while to get things installed. I signed the paperwork last December, did not delay them at all, and it took until May before the system was generating power. I have friends that have been happy with Verengo.

    I'd get a quote from several of the big players (SolarCity, Verengo, Sungevity, etc.), and see which one makes the most sense for you. Some of my friends thought the SolarCity salesman was too used-car-salesman, so they went with someone that didn't feel as smarmy.
     
  5. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    I've been dealing with a guy named Tom LaFargue who has been persistent, but not a pest. And very responsive to my various, and often dumb, questions.
     
  6. kevin99

    kevin99 Banned

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    #6 kevin99, Aug 2, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
    Residential solar (awaiting merge)

    Solar city installation today.
    u6u9usyz.jpg
    ge3a3uqa.jpg


    beva4a9e.jpg

    I did the solar mainly for research. I don't think I would save much, if any at all.

    I talked to them about the products they are using. It is trina solar. I am still new to the solar landscape so i don't quite understand how they select the vendor. But they say they are using other vendors like Panasonic, Sanyo, just a couple of names that I remembered. No spwr, no fslr though. Any comments?
     
  7. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    If it moves you to a lower tier, it could save you quite a bit. I've zero'd out my electrical bill through solar. My installation will pay for itself within 5 years.
     
    • Like x 1
  8. kevin99

    kevin99 Banned

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    I guess you have a different service contract. Did you pay for the installation? and with whom?

    SolarCity does the no-cost installation so I still pay monthly fee, even if I buy the whole system. It is just instead of paying PGE, now I pay SCTY, or at least majority of the monthly fee goes to SCTY.
     
  9. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I paid for my system outright, so no monthly bill from anyone. I decided not to use Solar City and went with a smaller, local firm - Coldwell Solar (think global, buy local). They've been active in the community for a long time, so it seemed like a good way to go.

    I thought you could buy your system with Solar City. Or do they still do only the 'lease' program, charging a monthly fee?
     
  10. kevin99

    kevin99 Banned

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    That is the part I don't quite understand. I have an option to buy it from Solar City, however I still need to pay like 4-5 cents per kw, since they will run the system, i.e. maintenance, and monitoring the power usage, software management etc.
     
  11. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    (We'll prob get moved to a solar thread, since we've gotten off-topic ... but hey! even I'm subject to mod rules :).)

    Kevin, I don't pay anything for anyone to run my system. It's set up, I monitor system and panel output online, my power supplier (PG&E) tied it into their grid and factor the power received into my bill (which results in money to me). If I have a problem, it's under warranty and I'll contact Coldwell to fix a panel or a microinverter, as necessary.

    -------

    Here's my online dashboard:

    Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 12.57.36 PM.png
     
  12. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    #12 NigelM, Aug 2, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
    Mod Note: feel free to continue discussion, this thread is awaiting merge into Residential-Solar-System-PV-to-EV
     
  13. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Thanks, Nigel. :) Apologies for causing you work. (i have no doubt you will find a way to get even.)
     
  14. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    I have Solar City arriving next week for a 15kW (yes...large...50+ panels) install to handle a large home with 2 AC systems, plus 1 and, in the future, 2 Model S. I went with their Power Purchase Agreement. Not a purchase or lease--I just buy my electricity from them at 50% discount from PG&E. They manage and maintain the whole thing. And, FWIW, as a tie in, their electricians did the installation of 2 NEMA 14-50 outlets at a major discount.
     
  15. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I've been outpowered :). I'm merely 50 panels for a 13.8 system.

    I just don't understand what Solar City is managing. My system runs. I can log on and look at it anytime. If I have a problem, I have a warranty with the company that installed it. As far as maintenance... does Solar City come out and clean the panels or?

    I'm sure there will be costs that I incur as time goes forward, but I expect that. In your case, a zero dollar outlay upfront with a guaranteed 50% reduction in cost of power generated is a good deal - but my system ROI is means that in about 5 years, my cash outlay has been refunded to me.
     
  16. GenIIIBuyer

    GenIIIBuyer Member

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    Learning the in's and out's of a Home Solar Installation has been on my to-do list for quite some time. My Electricity Bill being up from $40 to $150 (kinda like TSLA) last month due to the heat wave, is an extra reason to.
     
  17. kevin99

    kevin99 Banned

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    Residential solar (awaiting merge)

    Mine is dwarfed. :) I only have 12 panels, don't remember the exact output, that is why I suspect not much saving for me.

    I did pay a lot more in electric bill last month after adding model s. perhaps I wasn't careful making sure it is scheduled to charged at the lowest rate. Just called pge to switch to e9. Not sure how soon the solar city service will start.
     
  18. derekt75

    derekt75 Member

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    SolarCity has not cleaned my panels.

    =-=-=-=

    Last I checked, SolarCity offered a variety of different payment plans. I got the "prepaid lease" where I pay nothing each month but it's technically a lease. I think they also have partially paid leases and no money down leases. Someone else above implied that they also do power purchase agreements where you pay for the power generated.

    The weird thing for me with the lease is that it was way cheaper to do that than for me to outright buy the system. like $15k prepaid lease (SolarCity gets the federal credit) vs. $35k (I get the federal credit, so $23k or so out of my pocket) to buy.
    and with the lease, SolarCity has guaranteed that they will maintain the panels and will pay me cash if the panels don't produce the promised electricity in a year.
    Last July, the system broke, and SolarCity came out and fixed the broken combiner on their nickel. In a dozen years, an inverter is expected to fail, and SolarCity will have to replace that at their cost. So, my "warranty" is good for 20 years. I don't care that the panels are from a Chinese company I hadn't heard of, because it's someone else's job to maintain them.

    I don't understand why it's cheaper to do a prepaid lease than an outright payment, but when things go weird like that, I suspect government or tax incentives are the likely culprit.

    As for the monitoring, you can see the power that the panels have generated here:
    SolarGuard.
    The 5 kW system in green faces SW, while the [new] 6.2 kW system in orange faces NE.
    They monitor partly because the contract states that if they don't generate enough power, they owe me some money.

    The only issue with the lease was that when we refinanced, we needed some letter from SolarCity, which they promptly provided.
     
  19. johnnydop

    johnnydop Member

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    The prepaid lease amount is less than buying them outright because you don't own them. After the 20 year contract ends the panels are removed. Buying then outright is what it says. You own them forever.

    I think in going to pre pay my lease because:

    1. It'll save me additional money. Laying out 6800 for the prepay will save me about 15k. That's the equivalent of getting a 4% compounded return on 6800. Ill take that, especially in this rate environment.

    2. Since I've pre paid, my bill to SolarCity will be zero. Ill only have to pay my utility for the 15% of power that my panels aren't generating. I feel that having them prepaid is a better selling point if I ever wanted to sell my house. I could easily see some buyers being discouraged if I had to explain that they'd get a bill from the utility and one from Solarcity, but combined they'd be saving money. Lots of ignorant folks would not want to hear that.

    My system is spec'ed to be 5.88kw with 24 panels on a south facing roof. In actually suprised that the 24 panels aren't enough to cover 100% of my usage. Oh well, 85% savings ain't to shabby.
     
  20. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    Bonnie--as you see from the posts, lots of ways to play the PV game. I did not want a lease or to tie up $$. In the end (over 20 years) I will not 'make as much money' as I could purchasing/financing the system myself. As far as maintenance, my system needs 4 inverters, a bunch of load centers and disconnects, etc. in addition to the many Trina panels. Inverters are sort of like incandescent light bulbs and will burn out. Panels do fail. I have a neighbor across the street who bought a system from a local installer and in year 7 has had several panel failures. The installer is now out of business, and she is out of pocket. Of course any installer (even SC) can go out of business. I am happy to have SC guarantee the system for 20 years, and, yes, they guarantee the output/production, so if they need to come out and clean the panels, it's their nickel. I just buy the power at 50% of PG&E's 'list price' and am a happy camper.
     

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