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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 07:15 PM

Payback Time for A Solar Panel System


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Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Payback Time for A Solar Panel System (Original post)
Quixote1818 Nov 2012 OP
angstlessk Nov 2012 #1
cojoel Nov 2012 #3
ProgressiveProfessor Nov 2012 #2
toby jo Nov 2012 #4

Response to Quixote1818 (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:49 PM

1. Everyone talks about the payback...but what about AFTER the payback period is over?

How much does one save every month after that? Is it free electricity?

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Response to angstlessk (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 10:17 PM

3. It depends on how your procure your system

If you purchase the system outright, you own the system and all that it produces. So once you have recouped your "investment" everything thereafter is in the black. Well, there may be some maintenance costs down the road you would have to consider.

If you have lease system, then for a fixed time (mine is 20 years) you get all of the power that it produces. If it under produces, the lease terms specify how you will be compensated. However, it is based on aggregate production so you will only get compensation if there are long-term systemic issues. If it overproduces you get the extra power. Leased systems are usually grid-tied, so if you produce more than you use on average over the course of a year, you can get a check from the utility. Leases vary in that you can prepay the entire lease, prepay none of the lease and have fixed monthly payments, or prepay some and have payments for the rest. The leasing company pays the maintenance costs so your costs on that side are known. When the lease runs out you can have them remove it, buy it from them, or continue to use it for additional cost. It is really hard to predict what the state of art in solar PV will be in nearly 20 years, so I don't know what I'll do when the lease is up. With a leased system the leasing company gets all the government and utility incentives for the power produced, which is why the lease price is low. It is a financially better option to purchase the system but that requires a fair amount of money, which is why leasing is popular.

There is also something called a power purchase agreement that can be used to procure a system. They don't have those here and I don't know whether there is a cap on the amount you have to pay each month.

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Response to Quixote1818 (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 08:49 PM

2. Not entirely accurate

but the guy is a solar systems seller...

The biggest factor in ROI is government incentives. They take many forms, so anyone going this route needs to fully understand what the bottom line cost is. With no help, it would be on the order 20 year, basically the service life of the system. With what I have seen in CA, it could be 5-7 years.

It does indeed move left as power rates rise.

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Response to Quixote1818 (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:28 AM

4. Solar is great - roi is coming down, govt helps out, about 50% cost in Ohio

There is a group called 'mosaic', part of the 'clean coalition', who is trying to meet the goal of having 80% of all new electricity come from renewables by 2020. I think it's govt mandated, don't remember.

75% of people cannot use solar - high density housing, too shaded, etc. One of the goals of this group,
'joinmosaic.com', is to make solar available to everybody through some kind of co-oping.

I heard of a guy who put in a system, then got an electric car, so the sun powers his travel. Now there's a future we can all live with.

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