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  • #31
    How many of the solar panel manufacturers will still be in business in 12 years let alone 25 years?

    I am working with a guy who is an electrician at a local solar installer. He convinced me to just put my panels on the roof of my garage instead of ground mount. He said when the roof needs replacement in ten years or so that solar panels will likely be improved enough that it might make sense to just replace them at that point.

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    • #32
      Hi @reader2580,

      I'm not sure you're friend is giving you the best advice. While panels have continued to improve in efficiency (perhaps ~5% in the last 10yrs) resulting in increased productivity per square foot, and competition has driven down panel prices, unless some fantastic new innovation comes our way in the next 10-15yrs I sincerely doubt that it would be cost effective to swap out your panels. Remember this will also likely trigger -- larger optimizers/microinverters, heavier gauge DC wiring, and a new inverter. Not to mention having to redo all of the mounts and racking when you replace the roof, and re-permitting.

      What is your anticipated break even time in years? Unless you live in CA, NJ, or MA -- where your break even may be as short as 5-7 years -- scrapping/redoing a lot of the system after 10yrs would largely negate any real return on investment.

      It seems like it would make more sense to:

      1) replace the roof first, than add solar on top
      or
      2) if you have plenty of ground, and don't mind the aesthetics of a ground mount system, this may be a better option -- though it could cost more (mounting, racking, trenching, fencing, etc.). The ground mount system is a) easier to service, b) runs at a lower temperature, c) may enable better orientation (180 degrees, latitude minus ~15 degrees), and with bifacial cells you might pickup some additional back illumination (though it may not be worth the added cost).

      It certainly is true that many, many solar (panel) companies will go out of business in the next 5, 10, 20+ years. As soon as the federal tax incentive in the US ends, the whole floor is going to fall out of the bottom of the US solar industry. Similarly, we've already seen a few states starting to turn away from net metering -- if this phenomenon continues it will kill residential solar outright. That said there's still a lot of global demand for panels, optimizers, and inverters. But with the race to the bottom, and heavy Chinese investment/subsidies panel prices are going to hit rock bottom and push many out of the game. If you have a large land area to install panels (Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.) there's no advantage to paying for higher efficiency when the lowest cost per watt will do save, perhaps, for a panel with better thermal efficiency.

      I just hope SREC values hold up in NJ for the next few years until I can break even

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      • #33
        Originally posted by reader2580 View Post
        How many of the solar panel manufacturers will still be in business in 12 years let alone 25 years?

        I am working with a guy who is an electrician at a local solar installer. He convinced me to just put my panels on the roof of my garage instead of ground mount. He said when the roof needs replacement in ten years or so that solar panels will likely be improved enough that it might make sense to just replace them at that point.
        If you have the avail. space, can deal with the aesthetics and code requirements, and make financial peace with what's probably a higher installation cost/Watt, ground mounting has advantages as JSchnee21 notes.

        As for roof life vs. PV effectiveness and long term survivability: If a roof looks like it's in need of service and/or past 10yrs. on it's life, get it inspected (not by the solar folks) and serviced if a conservative approach is to be taken. Consider it cheap insurance. Increase your odds against what's always a future with some uncertainty in it.

        The way things are looking at this time, panel improvements are probably on the flatter portion of the learning curve for now. Also, chances are arrays put on a roof today will still be fit for purpose when you move/sell. Smart money gets the roof serviced before solar if a ground mount is not in the cards.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by reader2580 View Post
          He convinced me to just put my panels on the roof of my garage instead of ground mount.
          Roof mounts are best for some. When possible, I have a list of 37 advantages of using a ground mount. Click my bcroe,
          ABOUT/BIOGRAPHY. Bruce Roe

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          • #35
            Originally posted by bcroe View Post

            Roof mounts are best for some. When possible, I have a list of 37 advantages of using a ground mount. Click my bcroe,
            ABOUT/BIOGRAPHY. Bruce Roe
            Once I get settled on my new property I will be in touch concerning a ground mount plan.

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