Leasing solar panels vs. buying
We leased our solar panels through solar city (now owned by Tesla). They guaranteed that the panels would generate a minimum of 10,901 kWh per year. If it does not produce that amount, Tesla refunded the difference. Our system saved us an average of $25 a month and we received a reimbursement check of $75 at the end of the year.
Here's a snapshot of our panel's performance the last 5 months we were in the house (we recently sold the house and moved).
So- the savings didn't turn out to be the 30-40% that the salesperson promised, it was more like 6%. So make the decision to lease your solar panels knowing that your money savings aren't going to be huge. Obviously, your savings could be higher or lower, depending on the number of panels, your usage, or the direction of the panels relative to the sun, etc.
We were a bit disappointed in the low cost savings of course, but our primary motivation was to lower our carbon footprint by replacing utility power with clean electricity from solar panels!
Now, there's one more "CON" to leasing solar panels that we didn't take seriously enough when signing the contract. It was a 20 year contract at a variable kWh rate. It made selling our home much trickier. Tesla doesn't service solar builds in our new city, so we couldn't take the panels with us. To get out of the contract, whoever bought our house had to assume the remaining 17 years on our solar panel lease:
In summary, buying your solar panels is the only way I'd go solar again. You get to pocket all the savings from the kWh your panels generate and you can take them down/bring them with you wherever you go, or if you leave them behind- they're an asset and viewed as a bonus to potential buyers.
The day has come!! The Solar City truck showed up bright and early and the guys were ready to get started. We reviewed the plans and they unloaded the 41 panels!! A new electrical box needed to be installed for the panels and a new inverter placed on the exterior wall. These are some hard workin dudes!
Apparently 41 panels is a pretty big system and the guys told me it would take two days to finish up. They were busy placing conduit, running wires, installing equipment when a freakishly loud thunder clap rang out! It sounded like lightning struck right on our roof! It scared a couple of the guys, but with that, the work was delayed for the day.
The next morning the installers showed up first thing again and got straight to work. Finally all the flashy panels would be hoisted to the roof and secured. Everything went smooth and they were all very friendly and professional. I noticed that the conduit running between the panels that would protect the electrical wiring was silver, which made it stand out against our black shingled roof. I asked if there was anyway that I could get the conduit painted black. The installers quickly said, sure, we’ll paint that for you! (Are you kidding!!!) How great is Solar City!! I was seriously planning on doing it myself or doing it while it was on the ground, but they said they’d do it no problem! Customer service is finally making a comeback!
So day 2 of the installation was progressing smoothly when the installer brings in the icing on the cake………a new Nest thermostat!! This little gadget is so cool! It learns your habits and adjusts the temperature automatically when you leave the house. I mean, this thing is gonna help us save even more money!
To say I was impressed with Solar City is an understatement! This company has been great from the first meeting until final install. The sales rep Jace has been in touch every step of the process and had even filmed the install for our own documentation. I can’t wait to see our first electric bill and see how much we saved with our new solar system!!
Follow the link to find out if Solar City can help you go solar with no upfront money out of pocket! Share Solar City
One Saturday, during the hottest part of the Texas summer, a guy knocked on our door. This guy was a salesman from Solar City. He promptly began to inform me that I could save a lot of money if I were to install solar panels on my house. His timing was pretty much perfect. I had just received a letter from my current electric provider telling me that my contract was about to expire and the rate that I had gotten a year ago was about to go up. Shopping for an electrical provider is not my idea of a good time or even time I want to be spending comparing these companies. As most of my fellow Texans know, when a electric provider gives you a quote for electricity they will tell you give you the price per kWh. When you first see this rate, you think, wow, $0.08 per kWh is pretty good!! So you sign your year contract and forget about it for a month. Then you get your first bill…. Look down at the fees, taxes, and charges that add up and soon you’re paying $0.14 per kWh!!! OH the trickery!!!
So when Solar City showed up, I was in the right mood to hear the man out. He showed me some examples on how this company has different ways you can get panels without having to pay the $20,000-30,000 price tag (we don’t exactly have that much laying around to throw down on some solar panels). They offer a few options such as renting the panels for 20 years, paying Solar City a set price for 20 years, or just buying the panels outright. I’m sure there are other options that I’m not remembering, but we decided we were going to rent the panels for the next 20 years. With the design that Solar City came up with, we would be able to offset 40% of our electricity usage with Solar!! That’s pretty awesome!!!
Now, Solar City gives you a design that will put the most panels they can fit on your roof. You have the option to reduce that number as you see fit. It seems that people are concerned with how the panels will look from the street. What if the panels are ugly? What if the panels are so ugly no one wants to buy my house if I decide to move? To be completely honest, those were questions we had at first. It wasn’t until actually sitting down and doing some research that I realized the concern about how they'd look was insignificant compared to the positive impact they'd have on the environment.
I am a big proponent of personal responsibility. I take responsibility for my actions, for my life, and for my family. Having said that, I believe that I am personally responsible for the energy that my family consumes and for any amount of carbon we are emitting. Once I began reading about all the benefits of using solar energy it hit me like a mac truck! How could I even consider if the panel would be too ugly for me to put on my house! Seriously!! Our system has the potential of saving 3-4 tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. This is like plating 100 trees a year!! I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can plant 100 trees every year. The electric grid in Texas can have some serious demands placed on it during the summer months and every bit of relief we can provide just goes to helping our fellow Texans!
When it comes down to it, we can have a significant impact on our energy consumption by utilizing solar panels. My wife and I developed our own family mission statement and one of the tenets that we live by is to be mindful of our use of the earth's natural resources and our impact on the environment. We do this in hopes to hand down a planet to our children that is better than we found it. Just our house going solar isn’t going to change any weather patterns, but it’s a step in the right direction. My only hope is that more people can come to the same realization that we have.
When we signed up to Solar City they gave us a friends/family referral code that gives them their first month's electricity for free- if you're interested use the following link: Share SolarCity.
More to come when installation begins!
Cooking & home projects galore! My secret inner-designer revealed.