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  • Looking in Solar

    Hi, I live in San Marcos, Ca (San Diego County) and am looking into Solar. I have received 3 quotes from Solar Companies that were referred to me. Our current usage is on the lower range @ 6k/KWh/year. We are mainly looking at solar because 1) I want to run my AC more, 2) I am now home more, 3) We will most likely live in our current house for 20+ more years. We have been quoted both SunPower with SMA inverters and LG with Enphase Micro inverters. The last company thought the LG/enphase combination was superior to the SP/SMA combo because 1) enphase 25 yr warranty vs. SMA's 10 yr, 2) the entire system won't go down if one panel is faulty because of the micro versus string technology 3) the enphase technology has a long enough track record 4) costs have decreased. With that said, do you agree that the LG/enhpase is superior to SP/SMA? We do not have shading issues or roof issues.

    Of course, i didn't do my research before obtaining quotes, so they are not consistent but here they are:

    1) Company A
    Total System Size: 3.72 kW DC
    Panels: 12 LG 310
    Inverter: 12 Enphase M250 - 25 year warranty ( so no inverter cost after 10-15 yrs)
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $16,400
    Price per watt DC: $4.4

    This system is close to my current usage. I asked him to price a large system and to increase to 14 panels, the cost was $19,000

    2) Company B
    Total System Size: 5.175kW DC
    Panels: 15 Sunpower 345
    Inverter: SMA (240V) 10 year warranty
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $23,200
    Price per watt DC: $4.5

    Total System Size: 5.67 kW DC
    Panels: 18 LG 315
    Inverter: SE5000A
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $22,000
    Price per watt DC: $3.8

    3) Company C
    Total System Size: 4.14 kW DC
    Panels: 12 Sunpower 345
    Inverter: Sunny Boy 5000TL-US22-240V
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $17,802
    Price per watt DC: $4.3


    I am reading a lot of your posts and I have to be honest that a lot of it is too technical/confusing for me. So any insight you can provide is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Originally posted by MKI View Post
    Hi, I live in San Marcos, Ca (San Diego County) and am looking into Solar. I have received 3 quotes from Solar Companies that were referred to me. Our current usage is on the lower range @ 6k/KWh/year. We are mainly looking at solar because 1) I want to run my AC more, 2) I am now home more, 3) We will most likely live in our current house for 20+ more years. We have been quoted both SunPower with SMA inverters and LG with Enphase Micro inverters. The last company thought the LG/enphase combination was superior to the SP/SMA combo because 1) enphase 25 yr warranty vs. SMA's 10 yr, 2) the entire system won't go down if one panel is faulty because of the micro versus string technology 3) the enphase technology has a long enough track record 4) costs have decreased. With that said, do you agree that the LG/enhpase is superior to SP/SMA? We do not have shading issues or roof issues.

    Of course, i didn't do my research before obtaining quotes, so they are not consistent but here they are:

    1) Company A
    Total System Size: 3.72 kW DC
    Panels: 12 LG 310
    Inverter: 12 Enphase M250 - 25 year warranty ( so no inverter cost after 10-15 yrs)
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $16,400
    Price per watt DC: $4.4

    This system is close to my current usage. I asked him to price a large system and to increase to 14 panels, the cost was $19,000

    2) Company B
    Total System Size: 5.175kW DC
    Panels: 15 Sunpower 345
    Inverter: SMA (240V) 10 year warranty
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $23,200
    Price per watt DC: $4.5

    Total System Size: 5.67 kW DC
    Panels: 18 LG 315
    Inverter: SE5000A
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $22,000
    Price per watt DC: $3.8

    3) Company C
    Total System Size: 4.14 kW DC
    Panels: 12 Sunpower 345
    Inverter: Sunny Boy 5000TL-US22-240V
    Total Cost PreTax Credit: $17,802
    Price per watt DC: $4.3


    I am reading a lot of your posts and I have to be honest that a lot of it is too technical/confusing for me. So any insight you can provide is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!
    Hello MKI and welcome to Solar Panel Talk. Those prices seem a bit high, you will need to pay a premium if you want to go with Sunpower. Its seems lots of folks around here end up getting good non SP systems for closer to $3.50 BUT you may have a weird roof or some other thing that is adding to the cost of the install. I would recommend getting more quotes you can try www.solarreviews.com and or www.solar-estimate.org cheers

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    • #3
      Thank you! I'm wondering if prices are going up in California because the rush to get solar before net metering goes away. All 3 vendors were close in price, but they do appear high after reading through more posts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MKI View Post
        Thank you! I'm wondering if prices are going up in California because the rush to get solar before net metering goes away. All 3 vendors were close in price, but they do appear high after reading through more posts.
        Straight, non technical talk:

        1.) At 6,000 kWh/yr. on tiered rates your annual bill is currently about $1,225 - $1,250/yr. About 5,200 of those kWh are at tier 1 & 2 for which you pay about $0.18/kWh. At your current usage and current new rates, you are not real likely to get a properly sized system that's cost effective. Your usage is too low.

        2.) I don't know your current A/C use, but if you run it twice as much as you do now, being where you are, I'd SWAG that you'll wind up using 1,000 -1,500 more kWh/yr. (BTW, get your A/C inspected/tuned up).

        3.) If your only large expected load increase is from A/C, stay on tiered rates for now. If the A/C load does go up by, say 1,500 kWh/yr., and because it's going to be all in the summer, your annual bill will be ~ $ 600/yr. more due to the A/C. That will make you annual bill using current tiered rates ~ $1,825/yr.

        4.) Unless something is unusual about your situation: New roof, new electrical panel, house wiring updates, etc. you ought to be able to find a reputable electrical contractor and get a 5 kW string inverter system for about $3.50 - $4.00/Watt. If it was larger, you might negotiate your way into the $3.50/Watt range, but the smaller size makes that a tough nut to crack.

        ($4.00/Watt)*(5,000 Watts)*(.70) = $14,000 after fed. ITC.

        5.) A 5 kW system with a string inverter and a reasonably decent orientation (mostly south facing at something like a 20+ or so degree tilt) ought to yield an annual output of something like 8,000 kWh of electricity, leaving a bit of room above that 7,500 kWh annual load as SWAGed above. That's more than you need and probably more than is cost effective for you, but will save about $1,700/yr. (once you increase your A/C load), for about a $14K+ investment AFTER tax credit.

        I'd avoid Sunpower as similar to buying a Mercedes to pick up groceries. Great product, overpriced and overfit for purpose, but comes with bragging rights and more profit for the installer. Pay your money, take your choice, but you'll pay a lot less for the same end result with other equipment. LG is probably as good as any.

        I'd avoid micro inverters. those will put multiple failure points on your roof which is a tough environment for electronics. Micro equipped systems are no more reliable than string inverter systems and often cost a bit more.

        Bottom line for me: Reputable, established electrical contractors for quotes, no Sunpower, no micros. Try this: a 4-5 kW LG system with an SMA inverter. No more than $4.00/Watt tops or less depending on tough but fair negotiations. Get a contract clause IN WRITING that the vendor pick up your electric bill if the miss the agreed upon install date.

        Last thing: Buy a book: "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies" , or, Download a free but slightly dated version on line. Knowledge is power. Read the book and get some of both. You'll learn a lot, get a better system and pay less for it.

        Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you for the advice!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MKI View Post
            Thank you for the advice!
            You're welcome.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MKI View Post
              Thank you for the advice!
              You sent me a PM, I need to get to 10 posts before I can reply...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kaisersoze View Post
                You sent me a PM, I need to get to 10 posts before I can reply...
                Sorry, almost at 10

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kaisersoze View Post
                  Sorry, almost at 10
                  Made it, check your PM

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