While on the topic, I would love to hear about the feasibility and regulatory requirements for self-installed systems. The highest cost component these days appears to be labor and installation.
Most jurisdictions allow the home owner to do their own electrical work so there generally is no problem with that. If the jurisdiction doesn't finding a electrician who is willing to do the AC wiring in an Enphase micro inverter setup should be fairly easy and not too expensive. The vast majority of the manufacturers don't require a specific certification to install for the warranty to be valid. Designing a micro inverter system is very straightforward. Iron Ridge provides a good calculator for doing the engineering on roof load, etc. One of the more challenging pieces is finding the trusses and installing the mounts/flashing. I did both phases of my system DIY (with the help of family that are contractors) and am helping a handful of others do the same. The materials are right around $2 per watt. A few are LEAF owners from here and then most recently someone who lives in my city saw my permit and contacted me.
Anyway, it's very doable for someone with AC wiring skills, basic mechanical skills and who is comfortable working with roofing, flashing, finding trusses and has a friend or two to help lugging everything to the roof
That matches our experience exactly. The only real hitch we had was that our inspector would not improve the installation without the addition of an external lockable disconnect. He agreed with me that this is not an NEC requirement, but he said our electricity coop would not allow net metering without it. He described the electricity provider as "his customer" and that his hands were tied. The change ended up costing me about $250 in parts and about $700 in lost electricity production due to difficulties in getting the work done.
Only later did I learn that VA net metering laws forbid the power provider from adding any requirements to the installation beyond what is required by the NEC. Still, I think that in case of a house fire the external disconnect may give some firefiighters enough peace of mind to allow them to go ahead and fight the fire. Hopefully we never get to find out if that is true or not.
At today's prices, a self-installation should pay back in a period much shorter than the equipment warranty, even here where there are no TOU benefits and electricity is fairly inexpensive.
dgpcolorado wrote:My system is too small to have a worthwhile ROI. My view is that "other people buy less useful toys, do they not?" I consider the cost of the solar array part of the cost of my EV, except that it should last long enough to power the next EV as well.
Exactly. No one asks what the "payback time" is for leather seats or premium audio, do they? Especially if you enjoy learning about and "monkeying with" your solar setup (aside from the fact that it does at least partially pay for itself), it is worth it
Perhaps, but I will contend that most people will not be willing to spend many thousands of dollars to install and maintain a system which they may find to be aesthetically unpleasing, will eventually require maintenance and/or repair and provides no tangible benefits over the system which is currently in place. I will further contend that a short payback time is the ONLY reason most people would consider purchasing a PV system. in other words, it is a financial investment for them, pure and simple.
To me, this is a form of investment which has benefits and drawbacks versus making a similar-sized investment in other financial instruments. Both have the promise of returns on the investment as well as long-term risks, but for many the return on a grid-tied PV investment will very hard to beat with any other type financial investment. One problem with a PV investment is that you may not be able to recover tha cost if you sell the home, so you need to plan to stay in the home for long enough to make it pay off.
Like most things, YMMV.