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Old 04-04-2013, 10:46 AM
 
83 posts, read 662,562 times
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Hello, We live in southern New Jersey and have a monthly electric bill of approximately 250.00. We would like to install the solar panels on our cape cod style home to save some money on our current electric bill. I noticed you can buy the system or you can actually lease the panels for 15 years. Can you please give us some information on this topic? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you ! Bradshaw
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
3,748 posts, read 6,152,793 times
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I've never seen any lease of solar panels before. I'd want to know if leasing them involved replacement of damaged or non-functioning panels or other parts of the system. Also would there be a fee for that and what the lease cost is compared to buying outright.
Buying outright also allows you to start small and build up. Also, what are your main items of electrical use? Items that have a high draw are better kept on the grid if one is already on the grid.
There are other ways to reduce your electric bill without getting a big solar system.
They cost a bit more, but use less power and last for a long time are LED lights.
Currently the new Bay Bridge is full of LED lights as a artistic moving display and only costs $30 a day for all those lights and there are thousands and thousands of them.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:13 AM
 
83 posts, read 662,562 times
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Thank you very much for your advice. I really appreciate it OwlKaMyst. Bradshaw
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:54 PM
 
7,281 posts, read 8,878,707 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradshaw View Post
Hello, We live in southern New Jersey and have a monthly electric bill of approximately 250.00. We would like to install the solar panels on our cape cod style home to save some money on our current electric bill. I noticed you can buy the system or you can actually lease the panels for 15 years. Can you please give us some information on this topic? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you ! Bradshaw
What happens with a lease is that the lessor becomes the middle man between you and the utility company. Some business models have you paying not the leasing company instead of the utility company. They deduct the solar harvest and calculate your bill. There is usually some small service fee built in but you still can pay less. The trick is that on a large scale they make good money on the lease service fees. Not only that but you don't own anything so should you decide you don't want the panels, it gets very costly to remove them.

Additionally, if you need roof repairs, often you will need to pay some service fees for them to remove the panels so roof repairs can be effected.

Important: With a lease, you are not entitled to any tax credits, the leasing company gets them. Right now the federal tax credit is about 1/3 of the total cost, including installation. Here is another thing, new solar technologies will see much more efficient and lower cost panel modules. With a lease you are stuck in time with the technology you get now. If in 5 years time you want to replace the current panels with something better, no way with a lease.

With a purchase, you get that tax credit plus any credits or incentives from utility companies or local/state incentives directly to you. In some locations, that puts your effective cost at about 60% of the total, not bad. Then what happens is your return on the investment is calculated at the 60% of cost, not 100%. Suddenly the time it takes to really impact your ownership costs are reduced to something you'll live to see.

With a lease, if you are away and not using power, the leasing company is getting the reward for a grid tie system, not you. With ownership, a grid tie system can pay you for all excess power you generate. Maybe not a check but utility bill credits.

Remember this: With a leased solar panel system, you are basically selling part of your house (the roof) and leasing it back from someone. They own those panels and those panels are now part of the roof. Is that what you really want to do?

Also, with ownership, you can expand the reduce the system size when you want, without asking some leasing company. Most panels come with long operation warranties so with a good brand, it isn't like you need someone else to "service" the panels. Likewise, the other components, if bought with good names will also have very long warranties. Get your system included in your homeowners insurance policy and if they get damaged from hail, wind or anything else, you are covered. You can bet the leasing company will require you maintain insurance for them too.
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Old 04-10-2013, 02:05 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
22,706 posts, read 28,744,369 times
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I've seen some pretty good lease deals offered. So it depends upon what you are getting when you buy and what you are getting when you lease.

You also have to consider how long you will live in the house. I can see perhaps having problems selling if the house comes with big lease payments for the panels every month.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:45 AM
 
83 posts, read 662,562 times
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Thank you for the helpful information you provided, I appreciate it. Thank you
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Old 04-20-2013, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Earth
438 posts, read 560,601 times
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I have no interest in solar for electric until they can prove to me or guarantee the panels for 20, 25, 30 years.

I have had to replace my hot water solar panel within 10 years.
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Old 04-21-2013, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
3,748 posts, read 6,152,793 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laughing traveler View Post
I have no interest in solar for electric until they can prove to me or guarantee the panels for 20, 25, 30 years.

I have had to replace my hot water solar panel within 10 years.
Solar water heating systems are a totally different animal than photovoltaic systems.
California's PG&E has panels that were installed in the 70's that are still working. Most panels are guarenteed for 25 years.
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Old 04-21-2013, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
231 posts, read 477,618 times
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Default My experience with solar energy FWIW

I had 30 photovoltaic(PV) panels on my roof in Southern California. When people found out they always asked if I used them to heat my water. Many people do not realize the difference between photovoltaic(PV) solar panels and solar hot water panels.
The PV panels I had installed had a 25yr warranty and the installation company had examples of installations that were still working great after 30 years. The company started in New Jersey and had numerous installations that were 30yrs and older still in operation. They are guaranteed against damge from hail etc. and seemed very rugged.
I found that the PV panels helped to keep me out of the expensive tiered SCE rate system. Prior to installation I was in the third tier and higher, where the cost per KWH really gets bad. After the PV installation I was almost always in the first tier of electric rates even when running my efficient pool pump and A/C. When my system was installed the power companies were not required to compensate solar generators for anything beyong their own use. Now, I understand if you generate more than you use the power company must credit the solar generator for that extra generation. The company that did my installation based their installation on my average use so I would not generate more than my own use because of this rule. The company that installed the PV system estimated the ROI at 10 years. I suspect the ROI would have been accelerated based on the new rule. I sold my house and moved prior to realizing that ROI, but I do believe the PV system helped me get a better price for my house.
Now I live in Spokane, Wa and electricity here is so cheap I could never justify PV panels on a cost basis. If I wanted to be less dependent on the grid, maybe, but still too expensive for that, IMHO.
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