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  • #16
    Frankly, I would be more inclined to ask if they can put NOTHING on your roof. I bought a brand new home about 8 years ago out here in Southern California. I was amazed how many BS features they included (things like pre-wired alarm systems, pre-wired sound systems) which were really all created so that you'd subsequently purchase products and services from an over-priced vendor. Take my pre-wired sound system. I called the vendor and they wanted to charge a 200% markup on the in-ceiling speakers... or $60 per location to "tone and mark" the speaker wire termination. I blew a gasket. I bought a tone-generator for $40 and spent a day doing it all myself. When I was done, I had everything installed myself for over $1000 less! And it sounds great - especially when watching the new Star Wars movies. It was the same way with the alarm system. I kept getting referred to some local provider that had pre-wired everything and wanted to charge $40 a month for monitoring! Needless to say, I did it myself and pay about $12/month for monitoring. All of these "included" benefits are really just ways to help you part with your own $$$.

    I'd talk to a 3rd party solar provider and ask just how difficult it might be to unscramble any "included" system and then install a truly fitting system for your electric usage. Between overpaying in a new home purchase, improperly sizing the system to your particular electric needs, dumping old stock (250w modules) at inflated prices.... I would find myself pretty annoyed... but I like to decide things when I am paying the bill. It may not feel like it, but you are doing them a favor buying the house. They are not doing you a favor by selling you the house.

    And I think the tax credit is based on what you actually pay... but I am not an accountant or tax advisor. Anyway, good luck and congrats. But seriously think about consulting with a 3rd party solar contractor to get a better perspective on your options and costs... and the value of the choices you have.

    And here is an additional point that I do not know the answer to: how is utility permission granted? Is it one time per house? Is it one system per house? Is it complicated to get permission if you "add-on" later? Do you need permission to "uninstall" the basic system in order to build a system that might be more fitting to your electric needs? But certainly all worth knowing so you can evaluate your options.... (will the builder allow you to opt-out of having any solar system "pre-installed?" If not, why not?)
    Last edited by entgegnen; 09-04-2016, 12:25 PM. Reason: Had another point to add

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    • #17
      Originally posted by entgegnen View Post
      Frankly, I would be more inclined to ask if they can put NOTHING on your roof. I bought a brand new home about 8 years ago out here in Southern California. I was amazed how many BS features they included (things like pre-wired alarm systems, pre-wired sound systems) which were really all created so that you'd subsequently purchase products and services from an over-priced vendor. Take my pre-wired sound system. I called the vendor and they wanted to charge a 200% markup on the in-ceiling speakers... or $60 per location to "tone and mark" the speaker wire termination. I blew a gasket. I bought a tone-generator for $40 and spent a day doing it all myself. When I was done, I had everything installed myself for over $1000 less! And it sounds great - especially when watching the new Star Wars movies. It was the same way with the alarm system. I kept getting referred to some local provider that had pre-wired everything and wanted to charge $40 a month for monitoring! Needless to say, I did it myself and pay about $12/month for monitoring. All of these "included" benefits are really just ways to help you part with your own $$$.

      I'd talk to a 3rd party solar provider and ask just how difficult it might be to unscramble any "included" system and then install a truly fitting system for your electric usage. Between overpaying in a new home purchase, improperly sizing the system to your particular electric needs, dumping old stock (250w modules) at inflated prices.... I would find myself pretty annoyed... but I like to decide things when I am paying the bill. It may not feel like it, but you are doing them a favor buying the house. They are not doing you a favor by selling you the house.

      And I think the tax credit is based on what you actually pay... but I am not an accountant or tax advisor. Anyway, good luck and congrats. But seriously think about consulting with a 3rd party solar contractor to get a better perspective on your options and costs... and the value of the choices you have.

      And here is an additional point that I do not know the answer to: how is utility permission granted? Is it one time per house? Is it one system per house? Is it complicated to get permission if you "add-on" later? Do you need permission to "uninstall" the basic system in order to build a system that might be more fitting to your electric needs? But certainly all worth knowing so you can evaluate your options.... (will the builder allow you to opt-out of having any solar system "pre-installed?" If not, why not?)
      The above is about the best summation of why not to go with the builder's B.S. IMO, and it's a strong one, the OP will be able to do better on quality, for less outlay if (s)he gets a credit from the builder for not using their solar option. Move in, wait a year with some use history and spend the time to get educated about the best ways to do PV - if at all.

      Comment


      • #18
        Responses in red.

        Originally posted by entgegnen View Post
        Frankly, I would be more inclined to ask if they can put NOTHING on your roof. I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask but I suspect the answer is yes but don't expect much in the way of credit for that option. It won't likely be anything like the retail value of the 1.5 kW solar system that comes standard.I bought a brand new home about 8 years ago out here in Southern California. I was amazed how many BS features they included (things like pre-wired alarm systems, pre-wired sound systems) which were really all created so that you'd subsequently purchase products and services from an over-priced vendor. Take my pre-wired sound system. I called the vendor and they wanted to charge a 200% markup on the in-ceiling speakers... or $60 per location to "tone and mark" the speaker wire termination. I blew a gasket. I bought a tone-generator for $40 and spent a day doing it all myself. When I was done, I had everything installed myself for over $1000 less! And it sounds great - especially when watching the new Star Wars movies. It was the same way with the alarm system. I kept getting referred to some local provider that had pre-wired everything and wanted to charge $40 a month for monitoring! Needless to say, I did it myself and pay about $12/month for monitoring. All of these "included" benefits are really just ways to help you part with your own $$$. I'm not sure this is an apples to apples comparison. Ignoring for the moment whether the tax credit is on the incremental or "total" cost of each system, the pricing indicated for a real SunPower system including panels, warranty and inverter(s) is more than competitive with what you'd pay for an after-construction system. It doesn't really matter if the panels are new old stock or not. They will perform fine.

        I'd talk to a 3rd party solar provider and ask just how difficult it might be to unscramble any "included" system and then install a truly fitting system for your electric usage. IMHO, that would be a colossal waste of money. Better to move on to a house where builtin solar is not an option Between overpaying in a new home purchase, improperly sizing the system to your particular electric needs, dumping old stock (250w modules) at inflated prices.... I would find myself pretty annoyed... but I like to decide things when I am paying the bill. It may not feel like it, but you are doing them a favor buying the house. They are not doing you a favor by selling you the house. It depends on the market. If it's hot, it may be take it or leave it as there may be another buyer in line right after you.

        And I think the tax credit is based on what you actually pay... but I am not an accountant or tax advisor. Anyway, good luck and congrats. But seriously think about consulting with a 3rd party solar contractor to get a better perspective on your options and costs... and the value of the choices you have. I'm not a tax expert either but as this deal appears to be in writing, the builder is leaving themselves open to a pretty expensive class action lawsuit if they make a claim and provide a receipt to the homeowner that runs afoul of the IRS. I'd probably run it by an attorney myself but even if you only claim the lower amount for the tax credit, the pricing remains a good deal.

        And here is an additional point that I do not know the answer to: how is utility permission granted? Is it one time per house? Is it one system per house? Is it complicated to get permission if you "add-on" later? Do you need permission to "uninstall" the basic system in order to build a system that might be more fitting to your electric needs? But certainly all worth knowing so you can evaluate your options.... (will the builder allow you to opt-out of having any solar system "pre-installed?" If not, why not?) Not sure how it works in Cali but add-ons may be problematic: here in AZ where we have grandfathering of rate structures, my understanding is that add-on changes to the system will likely void the grandfathering. I agree that one should plan a system based on projected needs but hopefully you'd have some way of estimating what you'll use even in a new home. Waiting for a year or more to establish usage in a new home may find the homeowner in a predicament: e.g. any new homeowner here in Arizona's APS territory contemplating solar would be ill-advised to just wait for a year until they had the necessary usage data. By that time, they'd almost certainly be subject to a new disadvantageous rate structure.

        Comment


        • #19
          Hi Ian S -

          1. The point I was attempting to convey about my experience with such "new home features" as "pre-wired" alarms systems and sounds systems is the reason they are there! They are sold by the builder as these wonderful features that make the house so terrific - but they are only there because a subcontractor bid to install them in the first place (so the subcontractor could essentially over-charge you for their services to make any of them work). My point is that they are not a good value. All of these added features are ways for them to make money - not for you to save money. I suspect that the included solar is the same business model.

          2. It would not be a waste of money (actually just a matter of time to make a phone call and to meet in person at the property site) to ASK a 3rd party solar installer about the options and costs of either removing or upgrading any installed system (or even about the value of the system they are including!). Now if they said it would not be cost efficient or impractical from a building perspective to remove or upgrade, then sure. But there is not reason not to call a good quality 3rd party solar installer and ask. They might even have inside info on whether you are overpaying... why builders look to pre-install these systems, etc. More knowledge means a chance to make a better choice.

          3. The market is always "hot." There is a nearly endless supply of foreign buyers in Southern CA so yes, there may be someone who will quickly replace any buyer who wants out. But this is no reason to be emotional about what is often the largest purchase any of us will ever make. If you go into such a purchase feeling as if you cannot walk away... then sure, you deserve to part with your money.

          4. Sometimes folks too easily evaluate the risk of any class action. Sure it is possible. But more likely is the fine print. Having purchased a brand new home.... I've seen the fine print. It was something like 150 pages of stuff. Read through it all. Get a copy of all of it weeks before escrow is suppose to close - not on the day you sign. Otherwise you will never see the exceptions. What the sales representative says is no different than what a car salesman says... it is all BS until you sit down with the reason decision maker - the finance person.

          Now if you are already past the point of no return on the home purchase... don't ask questions. You are more likely to hear cautionary advice than confirmation you are doing the right thing. You will just upset yourself. But if you are not past the point of no return - then keep asking away!! Your wallet will thank you.

          Comment


          • Ian S
            Ian S commented
            Editing a comment
            The thing is we know pretty much what a SunPower system would cost to install after the fact. It's going to be at minimum $3.50 per watt, more likely over $4. That's before tax credits. I'm assuming the O.P. likes the house and the solar system is simply icing on the cake and he's wondering if it's a decent deal. If the only reason he's considering the house is that it comes with solar, then he needs to re-evaluate as he might be able to get a comparable house elsewhere without solar and that other house should in theory be substantially cheaper. Obviously the home buyer needs to do their due diligence beforehand. In order to truly know if this is a good deal, we'd need to know the detailed specs of the system they're installing. But on the face of it, it appears to be attractive and if it were me, I'd consider it seriously.

        • #20
          And yes, Sun Power has some really good technology. I even reached out to them for a bid when I did solar just a few months ago. They were well over $4. (before the tax credit) In fact, when I asked my guy to bottom line if he could do less than $4/watt, he never even responded. It was good for a laugh, but not very professional failing to respond. I ended up with a system that cost in the $3.35ish range (again, before the tax credit). If you are saying that $3.5-$4 AFTER the tax credit is a good deal... let me come over and install a couple more systems on your house! Just kidding.

          But there are comparable systems from LG320s/Panasonic330s with a e.g a Solar Edge 7600 that may offer better value... that might be more truly tailored to a new home buyer's needs. A new home buyer wouldn't need to wait 12 months in the new home to "add" a system (although seeing his annual usage would be a good idea - seeing that summer is slowly passing by and the $400 A/C bill will soon disappear).

          I'd seriously ask the builder to see what sort of credit a home buyer can receive/negotiate if he completely passed on the "included" solar package (which is of course, created to "up-sell the more expansive system). I am sure a new home buyer will get all sorts of haranguing from the sales associates at the development that having a 3rd party come in might even void out parts of his home warranty... again, they are their to make themselves (and the builder they work for) money. The sales associates are not save you (the home buyer) money - their client in the builder. It is not clear to me that they have a "fiduciary" responsibility to the home buyer. Confront them and see what your options really are. Nothing stops you from finding out, and still agreeing to all of their terms. And if a 3rd party installer came and gave an on-site evaluation saying it was a good deal - that would be good in my book. Since no 3rd party installer would want to lose out on a chance for business... (and knowing that, you can weigh their self-interested comments agains the self-interested comments of the home builder sales associates).

          Or, at the very leas, I would get the exact specifics and post them here so all you install experts can weigh in. (Post the paperwork! It isn't like there is a "confidentially" clause that you signed... I hope! If there is, maybe that is a bad sign.)

          In any event, I am just offering moral support as a once upon a time new home buyer... who looks back at the things I did right, and the things I wish I had done a little differently. "Wanting" the new home quickly ends up with emotion over-taking shrewd/objective business decisions. Be mindful of the emotions which are involved and whether they are skewing your objectivity. I realize that an add-on solar system is only a small part of the home purchase... but the buyer is on this forum looking at that small part of the purchase.

          Off topic:

          1. Perhaps there are other aspects of the purchase that give him pause? How about the financing? (Get your own financing or at least a quote/GFE. Builder's lenders will likely not be competitive unless they are fronting you a credit to "buy down" any loan rate. Also keep in mind, a credit union mortgage may be well worth considering. My original mortgage was through a credit union that got into an argument with the builder about the true "cost" of installed wood flooring. My credit unions tenacity resulted in reducing the cost of the "upgraded wood floor" from 25K to 15K. (Because the credit union was so outraged by the markup!) Having someone in "my" corner saved me 10K!

          2. Also (of at all possible) be there photographing after they pour the foundation, when they frame the house, when they pre-install the various wiring things... when they run the PEX to the water faucets... when they drywall, so on and so forth. If you are a do-it-yourselfer like me, you will be so grateful to have several hundred photos of the framing and wiring so you can figure out how to add/change/remove things... without destroying your house. Yes, it is a new house. But trust me, you will likely find all sorts of things you want to do over the next 5 years. You can never go back and take the photos. And if there are construction defects, (improperly framed windows, slap-shot drywalling, improper hot moping of showers, etc.) it gets really easy to prove it with the photos of the construction as it proceeds. You might not notice the problem, but when that leak happens and you show the repair man the photos... they will know what caused the problem.
          Last edited by entgegnen; 09-07-2016, 12:28 PM. Reason: Because I am a sloppy typer...

          Comment


          • #21
            Originally posted by Ian S View Post
            The thing is we know pretty much what a SunPower system would cost to install after the fact. It's going to be at minimum $3.50 per watt, more likely over $4. That's before tax credits. I'm assuming the O.P. likes the house and the solar system is simply icing on the cake and he's wondering if it's a decent deal. If the only reason he's considering the house is that it comes with solar, then he needs to re-evaluate as he might be able to get a comparable house elsewhere without solar and that other house should in theory be substantially cheaper. Obviously the home buyer needs to do their due diligence beforehand. In order to truly know if this is a good deal, we'd need to know the detailed specs of the system they're installing. But on the face of it, it appears to be attractive and if it were me, I'd consider it seriously.
            Ian: Turnkey Sunpower systems in So. CA run @ ~ $4.50 +/Watt, maybe a bit less for larger systems. LG/etc. run ~ $3.25 - $3.50/Watt with some sharp negotiating. Of course you can always pay more.

            Comment


            • #22
              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

              Ian: Turnkey Sunpower systems in So. CA run @ ~ $4.50 +/Watt, maybe a bit less for larger systems. LG/etc. run ~ $3.25 - $3.50/Watt with some sharp negotiating. Of course you can always pay more.
              Well, that makes this deal even more attractive assuming a true SunPower system with full SunPower warranty. I'd certainly be scouring the details/fine print of it. Maybe the 250W panels were a steal who knows? As long as they're brand new, it wouldn't matter to me if they weren't the latest and greatest. Heck, my ancient 230W SunPower panels are doing just fine.

              Comment


              • cebury
                cebury commented
                Editing a comment
                Not sure if I'd say that, but I think you hit it earlier... The home already comes with the 1.5 kW included in the price, at an extremely unbelievably high cost, and the upgrades are "cheap". Isn't that the only way those numbers workout as shown in Their literature? I'd be curious is any discount is given for not having it installed.

            • #23
              Originally posted by Ian S View Post
              Heck, my ancient 230W SunPower panels are doing just fine.
              And so are most every other panel from a quality mfg.

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              • #24
                Originally posted by Ian S View Post
                Some things to ask in writing perhaps: what is the exact equipment used including panels and inverter(s)? What is the warranty? I'd assume it's the full Sunpower warranty but who knows for sure?
                pics of inverter i got from two different homes in the tract built at different times. i don't know the size of those particular systems.


                i was advised that the system has been updated to be 5kW at 16 panels not 20, so i guess they are the newer 300w panels.







                Last edited by dethman; 09-09-2016, 01:06 AM.

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                • #25
                  Well, I have a question for the experts on this forum - Why does the inverter say "Sun Power" on the front and "SMA Sunny Box" on the side?
                  Is Sun Power just rebranding an SMA product? Or is there something really technologically different?

                  I did not understand these companies to be one and the same.... I thought I could pretty much go straight to SMA and buy an inverter?

                  And wondering how that shows up in pricing...

                  Comment


                  • #26
                    Originally posted by entgegnen View Post
                    Well, I have a question for the experts on this forum - Why does the inverter say "Sun Power" on the front and "SMA Sunny Box" on the side?
                    Is Sun Power just rebranding an SMA product? Or is there something really technologically different?

                    I did not understand these companies to be one and the same.... I thought I could pretty much go straight to SMA and buy an inverter?

                    And wondering how that shows up in pricing...
                    Rebranded. My inverter says Sunpower on the front but it's a Power one.

                    Comment

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