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  • Seeking input on Solar purchas quotes - Arizona

    I am in the process of purchasing solar panels for our home. Looked into the leasing route but ultimately decided on purchasing over leasing. Some specs about our home: 2 story house, tile roof and located in sunny Peoria, AZ. Our annual energy usage is 18,605kWh and I'd like to try and offset my energy with 100% solar, if possible. I have a limited roofline so the quotes presented have panels on both the souteast facing roof and northwest facing roof. I've spoken with multiple companies and received multiple quotes, all which cover 100% off my energy needs and narrowed it down to the 3 quotes below:

    Option 1 (Company A):
    (40) Sunpower SPR-E20-327-WHT panels = 13.08KW
    Inverters: SB7700TL-US-22 and SB3800TL-US-22
    20 panels will go on south facing roof and 20 on north facing roof
    Price: $44,472 before 30% federal, $1,000 state and $1,500 Sunpower rebate through work
    Price/Watt is $3.40/W before rebates/credits and $2.19/W after rebates/credits.

    Option 2 (Company B):
    (36) Sunpower SPR-E20-327-WHT-AC panels = 11.772KW
    Inverters: Doesn't list them in the quote but they are SunPower micro-inverters
    26 panels will go on south facing roof and 10 on north facing roof
    Price: $37,083 before 30% federal, $1,000 state and $,1500 Sunpower rebate through work
    Price/Watt is $3.15/W before rebates/credit and $1.99/W after rebates/credit.

    Option 3 (Company A):
    (40) LG NEON LG320N1C-G4 panels = 12.8KW
    Inverters: SE11400A-US-S and optimizers (does not specify in quote but they are made by SolarEdge)
    23 panels will go on south facing roof and 17 on north facing roof
    Price: $32,640 before 30% federal and $1,000 state
    Price/Watt is $2.55 before rebates and $1.70/W after rebates.

    LG warranty is 12 years on panels, not sure about the warranty on SolarEdge optimizers or Inverters and SunPower is 25 years for their panels and inverters. My wife is leaning towards SunPower panels because of the warranty and I'm leading towards LG quote because of the price. If we do decide on SunPower, any reason to choose DC panels with the inverters over the AC panels with the micro-inverters? That's quite a bit of difference between prices for those two systems. I will add that Company A that did quote me the SunPower DC panels also quoted me on 36 AC panels but that came in at $42,xxx. I have a good relationship with Company A but Company B's quote for SunPower AC panels made me do a double-take. I don't have much input for Company B as I received their quote just this past week while I have been working with Company A for the past month or so.

    Do I stick with the cheapest panel in this case? Or should I see if Company A is willing to come down on the AC panels in line with Company B's pricing? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
    Last edited by gr8scottaz; 08-29-2016, 05:38 PM. Reason: Edited to correct optimizers in Option 3.

  • #2
    LG warranty is 12 years but 25 year production warranty.

    SolarEdge optimizer warranty is 25 year.
    solaredge inverter warranty is 12 year default but can be extended to 20 or 25 years.

    Option3 is optimizers not micro inverters as you stated.



    OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post
      LG warranty is 12 years but 25 year production warranty.

      SolarEdge optimizer warranty is 25 year.
      solaredge inverter warranty is 12 year default but can be extended to 20 or 25 years.

      Option3 is optimizers not micro inverters as you stated.



      Thanks for the feedback and correction.

      Comment


      • #4
        That's pretty cheap for PV, including S.P. stuff. Maybe what's going on in AZ shows what can happen to PV prices when net meter gets gutted ?

        Ian: Am I confused on POCO rates in Peoria ?

        OP: In any case, looks like S.P. is still overpriced compared to other stuff. Spend your money as you please, but walk in with your eyes and mind open and know that S.P. stuff, while good, is no better than other quality equipment, probably all of which, S.P. or not, will last on your roof as long or longer than you will own it. The S.P. warranty and "most efficient" stuff is marketing hype and B.S. It seems that quality panels from decent mfgs. aren't dropping like flies as the fear mongering hype meant to separate fools from their assets would suggest. Failures, when they do occur are infrequent and usually at or soon after install.

        BTW: if the S.P. stuff is so good, why is such an apparently expensive warranty needed in the first place ? As for the Sunpower "most efficient" stuff - that's an AREA efficiency. The reality is most every equal (electrical) size system will, regardless of the panel used, in that same location, orientation and service, produce about equal annual output - Sunpower and everyone else's. S.P. just does it with a smaller footprint and charges 20 +% more upfront.

        You need S.P. because of cramped space ? First, figure out how much annual output in kWh a non S.P. array in the same space will produce. Then, do the same for a (electrically) larger S.P. array. Then, take the diff. in price for the two systems and divide that dif. into the difference in your annual electric bill the two systems output will make - that's how much you'll be paying for the extra output of the S.P. system on a per kWh basis. If result is more than your Perhaps lowest POCO rate, depending on your tariff, paying extra for S.P. is not cost effective as using other equipment. and it probably won't be under any other reasonable scheme either.

        Opinions differ on micros vs. string inverters. With no shade and a torrid roof, I'd avoid putting electronic equipment in such an unfavorable environment exposed to a lot of heat, dust, critters, you name it. It's an uncontrolled environment. Not the best for sensitive equipment if it can be avoided. Too many failure points as well - one per panel, rather than usually one or so per array. Also, maybe/probably 2 trips to the roof for each for each micro failure and a bunch of labor to get at a micro on a panel away from the edge of an array.

        In any and all cases, unless you have a scheme to tilt the panels south on a north facing roof, I'd not put panels in any north facing direction. Get familiar w/PVWatts and after reading the help/info screens (2 times), see what facing an array north, or any orientation for that matter does to annual production.

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        • #5
          Both LG panels and SunPower panels are some of the most expensive there are. Do you have limited roof space justifying this? The LG $2.55/watt price is quite alright but you could do better if you have room for standard panels (that do take up more roof space) I believe there is very little difference in quality/durability between any major brand of PV panel. Any differences in warranty are just marketing ploys. Now I still say that putting electronics (microinverters, optimizers) on a hot Arizona roof is asking for trouble. Does Peoria have the rapid shutdown rule requiring rootop electronics? I don't believe so (ask your sales person) so stick with reliable and serviceable SunnyBoy inverters (like quote #1).
          BSEE, R11, NABCEP, >1200kW installed

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          • #6
            Thanks again for the feedback. I will do some research over at PVWatts and familiarize myself with north-facing arrays. As for the quotes using micros, it was more due to the fact I have limited area on the south-facing roof due to city setback requirements and there are 2 areas where they could fit 3 panels which would work for with micros but not for string inverters (I guess string inverters require a minimum of 4 panels in an area?). As for the panels being tilted, all panels will sit flat against the roof (my wife definitely does not want any tilted panels on the roof). As for why we are even looking at SunPower panels, I have a few friends (and neighbors) that have SunPower panels and they all recommended them, no complaints/issues with them. We also originally were only going to put panels on the front of the house (south facing) which, due to the limited roof area, wanted the most efficiency we could put in that space. Once we realized we were going to have to put panels on the north-facing (back) roof, we looked at other options for panels. The other quotes I received to cover 100% of our electrical usage fell in near or above LG's price for 40 panels. For example, I got a quote for 39 Hyundai 260W panels that produce 88% of our energy usage for $28,501, which worked out to $2.81/W before credit/rebate.

            I'll do a little more research with PVWatts.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
              That's pretty cheap for PV, including S.P. stuff. Maybe what's going on in AZ shows what can happen to PV prices when net meter gets gutted ?

              Ian: Am I confused on POCO rates in Peoria ?
              I have to assume that the O.P. has APS as their POCO. Under APS, net metering is not yet gutted but pretty much will be if the Corporation Commission approves APS' submission. As long as the O.P. gets his installation prior to the CC decision/implementation, he will get the existing "net metering" which is not true net metering because you can only carry credits forward, you can't carry them back. This almost invariably results in overproduction in the fall months that winds up being paid off with a bill credit at true-up in December at the minuscule rate of $0.029/kWh. Still it's far better than what the future is likely to hold. This is why I always cringe a bit when folks seek a system whose production fully offsets their usage. Technically, yes, if your annual usage is 15,000 kWh and your annual production is 15,000 kWh you have "full offset" but the way the POCO has designed it, you will pay for some retail usage (expensive summer pricing) and be reimbursed for that same usage @ $0.029/kWh.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by gr8scottaz View Post
                Thanks again for the feedback. I will do some research over at PVWatts and familiarize myself with north-facing arrays. As for the quotes using micros, it was more due to the fact I have limited area on the south-facing roof due to city setback requirements and there are 2 areas where they could fit 3 panels which would work for with micros but not for string inverters (I guess string inverters require a minimum of 4 panels in an area?). As for the panels being tilted, all panels will sit flat against the roof (my wife definitely does not want any tilted panels on the roof). As for why we are even looking at SunPower panels, I have a few friends (and neighbors) that have SunPower panels and they all recommended them, no complaints/issues with them. We also originally were only going to put panels on the front of the house (south facing) which, due to the limited roof area, wanted the most efficiency we could put in that space. Once we realized we were going to have to put panels on the north-facing (back) roof, we looked at other options for panels. The other quotes I received to cover 100% of our electrical usage fell in near or above LG's price for 40 panels. For example, I got a quote for 39 Hyundai 260W panels that produce 88% of our energy usage for $28,501, which worked out to $2.81/W before credit/rebate.

                I'll do a little more research with PVWatts.
                You're welcome. Understood. Thank you for the reply.

                I too have a lot of friends and neighbors (22 of the neighbors as of this writing) who either own, or worse, lease Sunpower (S.P.) systems. The equipment quality is good. Due to the high upfront cost, the cost effectiveness is terrible. FWIW, I also own a Sunpower system, paid for via S.P. stock appreciation - the stock purchased at least partially because of a belief that fools and their money are soon parted, and after noticing that S.P. seems to excel in making sure their advertising is done with that axiom in mind. My choice and purchase however, and as explained in a prior post to a prior thread, had nothing to do with cost, and I was completely aware of the financial implications of that choice and its cost ineffectiveness.

                I can also say, after trying to talking to most of those 22 neighbors, some before, and all during and after system installation, that they are solar ignorant people who left a lot of money on the table, and bought the S.P. hype, and BTW, listened to the endorsements of other friends and neighbors who were, and remain, as solar ignorant as they are. Part of that may be the ignorance is bliss thing.They all seem to be happy, more or less. But, I wonder if they'd be as happy if they truly understood they paid about 25 % more to reduce their annual electric bills by the same amount and got little if anything additional in the bargain than they would have received by using other equally fit for purpose and equally reliable equipment for a lot less upfront $$. When I bring that up, they almost universally and invariably take some umbrage, ignorantly and hollowly repeating the S.P. mantra/hype/B.S. they've been force fed by S.P. ads, or from other equally solar ignorant S.P. users about most efficient/more energy over time/superior warranty, and the like. I smile at seeing and hearing another confirmation that my faith in human gullibility was not misplaced.

                PVWatts is a decent estimating model - still a model - I respectfully stress reading the help/info screens for limitations. If Sunpower is such an outstanding performer, I wonder why the good folks at NREL didn't have a special tab for Sunpower modules to reflect the "most efficient" part of the S.P. advertising. There are "standard" and a "premium" tabs on the PVWatts model. Looking at the descriptions, I believe that designation was developed with Sunpower in mind. Over the last few years however, module efficiencies and temp. characteristics for the industry have improved such that most decent modules probably fit somewhere between standard and premium designators, at least IMO, W/Sunpower being perhaps a very slight bit above the "premium" criteria, again, IMO only.

                2 PVWatts runs, 1 "standard", 1 "premium" @ my location shows about a 2 % or so difference in estimates of long term average annual system output.system For a lot of reasons I'd call that small difference close to model noise, particularly given the variation due to varying weather yr./yr., and in any case, not worth 20-25% increase in upfront cost.

                More serious life cycle cost analyses I've done (including for my array if only to see/guess how cost ineffective my system is) makes me believe, as I've continually stated, that S.P. stuff, while good quality, is simply not cost effective for most applications, and is the least cost effective choice of PV equipment - with PV itself being the least cost effective way to lower an electric bill, and thus least economical - if at all - making (if cost effectiveness is one of the goals ) most any PV the last bill reduction measure taken, if at all.

                I'd spend some time learning/understanding the time value of money and something about process economics as those things can be applied to the value and cost effectiveness of residential PV. Time well spent to save several thousands of $$'s or perhaps make a better choice, or at least walk in with your eyes and mind open and informed.

                A suggestion: Download an older version for free or buy a newer version of "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies". Knowledge is power.

                Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gr8scottaz View Post
                  I'll do a little more research with PVWatts.
                  I think some working on various scenarios with PVWatts would be a good idea. Yours is a rather complex situation where all watts are not "equal" e.g. wattage on the southern oriented roof will have a higher annual production than the same wattage on the northwest facing roof. If you have the monthly usage records for the home, you could use PVWatts monthly numbers for each scenario to get a feel for how APS' existing modified net metering would work out for you. I suspect you'd be best to stick with the standard as opposed to TOU rate plan as your southeast orientation is at a disadvantage for on-peak production. Also, the fixed monthly cost for the standard plan is less than for the TOU plan.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                    You're welcome. Understood. Thank you for the reply.

                    I too have a lot of friends and neighbors (22 of the neighbors as of this writing) who either own, or worse, lease Sunpower (S.P.) systems. The equipment quality is good. Due to the high upfront cost, the cost effectiveness is terrible.
                    I would generally agree although in this case, with the $1500 SunPower-specific rebate and the ability to shift more wattage to the more productive southeast orientation using S.P., the SunPower quotes look more competitive than usual.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I basically had your "option #3" system installed in July, except I have 39 panels instead of 40 (Looks to be the same panels, inverter and 320 optimizers and our target was 18,500 kWh annually) Two arrays. 18 panels on my South Roof and 21 on my West roof (we are slightly skewed to the NorthWest so not truly South and West). I should add that this is a very popular combination in S Cal - several contractors bid using this equipment

                      I was in a similar situation. My contractor, who was SunPower's "Residential National Top Producer" in 2015, presented me with bids for a SunPower system and the LG/SE system which was about 11k cheaper. (I think solar panels are getting to be a commodity - like when you buy ram for your computer). It's hard to argue against LG and my install also included the warranty extension on the string inverter from 12 to 25 years. So panels are covered or 12 years and the optimizers and inverter for 25

                      I tried to 'price out' my system at Renvu. That $10k Upgrade to SunPower Equipment would just about pay for all new panels 10 years from now... What are you actually getting for that money?

                      PV Watts using the default 14% system loss indicated I should be averaging around 65 kWh in August. In reality the average per day for me is around 75 kWh


                      Last edited by Git; 08-30-2016, 01:28 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OP, did you ever purchase a system?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          gr8scottaz,

                          I too live in Peoria. I have an SP system (leased w/o a month payment) with the same 327 watt panels you have in options 1&2, but with a Fronious Inverter. The SMA inverters in the first SP quote, do not derate until inverter internal temp reaches 140 degrees F, which is nice during our hot summers.

                          Yes, I paid a premium for SP equip, but with roof space limited it was worth every penny. In the 53rd month of production, my accumulated APS savings totaled more than the lease payoff. My system was grid connected in June 2012, which grandfather's me against paying the REAC-1 DG charge, currently $3.41/mo, or the LFCR-DG charge, currently $.70/mo for each kW of system size.

                          My system has 28 panels facing 195 degrees, and 7 panels facing 105 degrees, all with a tilt of 18 degrees which I believe you have also. My system is rated at 11.45 kW, and in 2016 produced 20,567 kWhs, which covered 97% of my home's needs. I am on the 9-9 TOU plan and, prepping for the coming cutoff date for selecting which plan I will be grandfathered on, I just finished a tool that provides me accurate dollar figures for the 9-9, 12-7, and Standard rate plans based solely on the APS meter hourly data, and the dates that meter was read. At 97% coverage of home requirement, the 9-9 plan was the less costly, followed by the Standard, with the 12-7 plan billing the most. The total annual $$$ difference between being on the 9-9 plan vs 12-7 plan was only $22 (< $2/mo). If my solar system falls off and provides only 80% of my home's kWh needs, the Standard rate plan becomes several hundreds of dollars more expensive than the 9-9.

                          If I were to install solar today, knowing what I now know, I would do as you and "purchase" the system. True it will cost a little more, but having rights to the RECs the system generates, has the potential to be a financial windfall.

                          I have used PVWatts and found it to seriously understate the power my system actually produces. Perhaps in another few years it may be close but at 4.5 years it is way off.

                          Can you provide the azimuth of the roof's where the panels will be located, and the number of 1st year kWhs your system is expected to produce. There isn't a mention of a system monitor in your quotes... kind of a nice thing to have, particularly if you want to keep an eye out on system production. Do not know what SP will charge for that, and probably comes with a monthly subscription.

                          Whoever you choose as installer, you have adequate time to get into the APS reservation system. This will lock in your grandfathering status, but the system "must" be up a running by a yet to be determined date.

                          Becoming a solar customer today will put you into the 3rd tier of grandfathering, which means you will pay the LFCR-DG charge, and this guy might become an issue. Today for the 13 kW SP system you'll pay $9.10/mo, but that charge could soon be $3/kW... something to consider.

                          Presuming you pull the trigger now, you will not see the full benefit of solar until year end 2018. This is due to the EPR-6 recon credit and it's effect on the following years billings.

                          One last thing. As an APS Net Metering customer on a 9-9 or 12-7 Time of Use plan, your On and Off Peak system generated excess kWhs will be credited back to you at full retail rate, $.09, or $.03. Depending on whether it receives Generation credit, or Adjuster and EPR-6 credit, or EPR-6 credit only. "ALL" excess kWhs can be a candidate for Adjuster credit!

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