The Realities Of Having Solar Power
In 2020 we got solar for our house.
1. Solar is green!
When you power your house with solar, your dependence on fossil fuel for energy is reduced
2. Solar is NOT green!
There really is nothing green about how the equipment is produced. If that matters to you, then it would be worth really diving into the reality of this to make an informed decision.
3. Solar makes no economic sense (for us)
The context here is our monthly utility bill. It would take more than 1000 months for us to start coming out ahead. Our electric bill is less but it is not zero.
4. We can't disconnect from the grid
So we're told. During the day we sell back to the grid, keep our batteries topped off and power the house. From 4pm-8pm (I think those are the hours) are peak hours from the utility so we are relying exclusively on the batteries. Then at night we top off the batteries from the utility.
5. The batteries don't last that long
If the power goes out, we should be able to make it to the next morning when the sun comes back up and starts to charge batteries.
6. More not green
There is a cord called a pig tail coming off the inverter that we can plug into a gas powered portable generator that will top off the solar batteries in about two hours.
7. Ground mount, not the roof
When snow accumulates, it still gets some power but the efficiency is obviously far less. I clear the snow off as far as I can reach. We have nine panels in our array and I can reach seven and a half of them.
8. The economics
The gross cost was $28000. We got $7000 in federal tax credits and $1000 in state tax credits. Credits, not deductions, there's a big difference. So really, it cost us $20000.
9. Our rationale
The power can go out here for an extended time, more than a week several times. It makes sense to have some sort of backup. Most people have propane generators. The propane company can't always get here in the winter, if our road is icy, which is kind of often, they won't come. In the right circumstance we could be sort of low on propane, the power goes out for a week causing us to run out which would be bad.
A propane generator back then would have cost about $15000 all in. For an extra $5000 we have the piece of mind of not running out of propane.
10. We're mostly happy with it
The self sufficiency certainly is empowering but it is not perfect. I think the batteries should last longer than they do without using a generator, so that is a negative. I imagine it is all much more expensive now. I'm not a pound the table guy on this. If we lived down on the pavement of the main road then we probably would have gone with a propane generator. Running out is less of a problem versus our being up a steep, windy road.