Rat wrote:I don't have solar at my house. As an EV owner I'm all for it in theory and appreciate its clean contribution to the grid, but I don't think it makes financial sense for me. Recently we reroofed and several of our friends (who have solar) urged us to put in solar at that time. We didn't. I had several reasons, but my friends didn't seem to buy them. I don't know much about solar so maybe people on this thread can tell me if my reasons were legit or just rationalizing.
I will say that installing solar after reroofing is a good time to do it.
Rat wrote:Reason 1: our electric bill is already low. Even with 100% of my Leaf charging done at home it's only about $60/mo in the summer and maybe $80-90 in the winter. I've read that solar doesn't make financial sense unless you're paying at least $100/mo or more for electricity. I do expect to continue living in the house for 20 years or more (if I've inherited my father's longevity genes). Also, construction costs here are more expensive than most places and I am not willing or capable of doing any of the work myself.
The key item here is that you plan to live in your house for 20 years or more. Given that, your system should pay itself back. To me, it is an investment which sits on your roof and makes electricity rather than one that sits in the ether and provides (or takes) money.
I suppose the idea that a small power bill does not justify solar must be based on the assumption that electricity rates are tiered. That is not a valid assumption everywhere but probably is where you live. In any case, I doubt the cost of electricity is so low in your lowest tier that it will not pay itself back.
Rat wrote:Reason 2: Our house is situated with N-S the long way. The southern end is hipped, but not very big. Most of the roof area faces either due east or due west, getting most direct sunlight when the sun is low. To get maximum coverage a large percent of the panels would have to face the street.
As others have said, the loss from putting panels on a non-south-facing roof is not as bad as most people think. Please have a look at this tool
which will make it clear how much impact putting the panels on the back of your roof will have.
Rat wrote:Reason 3: I think solar panels are ugly. I don't want them on the front of the house (see reason 2).
I agree! I would have preferred to have put the panels on the back of our house, but it faces north. East was another option, but at the cost of panels three years ago, the 15% hit was more than I wanted to take. I decided to put them on the south side facing the road. You can see them in the photos in the link in my signature. They're not terrible.
Rat wrote:Reason 4: We have a lot of trees around our house. This one may be a copout. We do have large elms in front and back and our next door neighbor has a very tall pine in his back yard, but these are all situated far enough from the house so they don't cast shadows on the roof except in the early morning sand at sunset. We used to have a very big liquid ambar overhanging the southern exposure of the roof, but we had to take it out because it was dropping limbs dangerously and roots and fruits were both problems, too.
I don't see this as a cop-out, at all! If you have enough shading, then your production can drop to a point at which your system will NOT pay itself back over time. This is even more true if you choose to install on the east- or west-facing roof, since you depend more on generation in the mornings and evenings with that type of installation.
Rat wrote:Anyway, the real reason for us is #1, which I consider dispositive of the question, but my friends seem more receptive to #4, despite its dubious underpinnings. So what's the consensus here about the financial breakeven point - does $100/mo sound right? What about the house's orientation? Does that make a difference?
At the end of the day, I suspect your situation is marginal in terms of payback. If you have cash that you can apply to solar, it will likely be just as well spent on your roof as in the investments where it currently resides. Only you can decide whether you would rather it sit on your roof producing electricity or in an investment somewhere.
Good luck with whatever you decide!