Going Solar: Installing Solar Panels

Full Set of Panels

Have you been thinking about taking advantage of tax credits to install solar panels this year? If so, check out the thread Going solar to join the discussion of how to size for growth, bulk buys with other people, tax credits, and buy vs. lease programs.

Tax Incentives and Bulk Buys:

We have good local tax incentives plus the ability to save on installation via a bulk co-op purchase such that the economics look WAY better than I expected (breakeven estimated in 5-6 years). Anyone want to share your experiences with solar – pros, cons, pitfalls, surprises, benefits?

Planning for Growth:

When considering the number of panels to install, we thought a lot about growth.  We’re incredibly frugal with electricity now, but don’t have to be so stingy with lights and such once we’re using solar. Also, our kids will use more as they got older and we’ll probably replace our aging cars with plug-in hybrids eventually, so we’re getting more panels than we required to meet our current needs.  I think we added three panels above the installers recommendation for meeting current usage.

Excess Electricity:

I know a few people with panels who generate more than they use — and then sell the excess to the power companies. So they get a monthly check. Now *that* sounds awesome.

We have a system which puts any surplus electricity being generated but not used into heating our hot water, so I hope to see our electricity and our natural gas bills both come down.  One recommendation I would make is to get a monitoring system, ours feeds to a secure web page, which means I can see figures on what we are generating, what we are using, what we are importing and/or exporting from anywhere with an internet connection.  This has made all the difference to how we use electricity, including setting timers on the dishwasher and washing machine to use ‘free’ power, and also being aware of which appliances are energy hogs

Need a New Roof?

…we just got some of our initial paperwork and it indicates that if you replace your roof as part of the solar installation process (not sure how intertwined these need to be – if you have to use the same contractor or what), the roof replacement costs are also eligible for the 30% federal tax credit.

Do you have advice or questions about going solar? Add it in the comments below, or join the conversation on the forum: Going solar.

Image credit: Full Set of Panels by joncallas, CC attribution license

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