Researching (Benefits of Solar Panels)

I’m giving serious consideration to obtaining Solar Panels. I’m open to hearing discussions about points of consideration, regarding this potential effort. Leveraging the Sense product is baseline and your comments are greatly appreciated!

My Sense Monitor has identified my top energy consumers and I wish to have their consumption covered by solar. Here is an actual monthly kWh usage, for your consideration (Hyperlink).

Specifications

  • Estimated System Size: 2.35kW
  • Estimated Payback Period: 5-6 years
  • Percentage Off-set of Power Bill: 50%
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We added solar in September of last year, PTO was given on 9/26. System is 11.7 kW, largest tier 1 for Duke Energy in. Florida. It should cover 90% or better of out usage. Payback is just under 7 years.

Sense identified our heavy users of power, HVAC (air conditioning), pool pump and Always On.

We replaced the single pool pump last March with a variable speed. Significant savings.

With the insight of Sense we tweaked our Ecobee t-stat to reduce the HVAC usage. The compressor is a two stage Trane and when we replace it we’ll go with a variable speed Trane using. Will also be adding additional insulation in the attic this winter.

Always On is an on going battle for me. I don’t trust the numbers Sense is showing. My Other usage is not being logged.

So far we are very pleased with our decision to go solar. The price was right, our production has been great, when the sun is actually out. And we wanted to do our part in helping the planet.

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I just installed solar and Sense at the same time. I wish I had Sense installed prior as you do. You have a much better handle on your actual usage. I’m curious how you came up with the system specifications - did you do this yourself or did an installer provide it?

As for going solar, it’s pretty much a no brainer as long as you do your homework and find a reputable installer.

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System specifications were derived by an online calculator. After digesting community comments, I’ll begin interviewing three Solar providers, determining the most appropriate for the effort. The actual specifications will be determined, based upon finalization of provider selection.

I have a variable speed Trane. Keep in mind if you go with Trane, you are locked into a specific thermostat because nothing is compatible with their “communicating system”. I really really hate this thermostat and wish I could switch to an Ecobee. I don’t know if other variable speed systems have this same limitation or not, but it’s something to be aware of because I was not before we purchased.

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Yeah, I know Ecobee, Nest and others are no go with Trane variable speeds. Other manufactures are as well. My brother is a Trane dealer, so that kind of helps with my decision. No rush to replace, so maybe in the future this won’t be an issue.

Thanks for the feedback. Did you notice much reduction in power usage after your installation?

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We replaced it the first summer after we bought the house. It was about 14 years old, 8 SEER unit that was sized to small so it ran practically 24/7 and didn’t even keep the house very cool during the Florida summer. The new unit is 18 SEER, variable, and can push more air.

I don’t have the data available since we didn’t own the house the previous summer, but I bet there was significant savings.

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Note that the US federal tax credit changed for installation of solar starting January 1. It was 30% through the end of 2019, but it’s now 26% (and drops further next January 1). That changes the payback math a bit: that 4% difference would have been about a 6-month difference for my setup.

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Some municipalities add a solar install to your property tax assessment. Worth investigating first so you can add to payoff calculation.

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I’ll definitely validate local property tax implications… Thanks for the “heads-up”!

I don’t want to overlook any long-term considerations… Anyone with information regarding sub-panel configurations, periodic maintenance, roof/shingle replacement, etc…

Summary: Excellent feedback, thus far - thanks everyone!

  • @ken2 - Despite ongoing “Always On” & “Other” issues, finds a positive Solar experience
  • @keef71 - Emphasized importance of knowing actual usage, prior to Solar installation
  • @qrnef - Identified potential impact to Property Tax charges

Our homeowners insurance went you a little when we added the panels to our policy.

If Florida there is a liability insurance requirement: not required for Tier 1 (≤10 kW), $1 million for Tier 2 (>10 kW and ≤100 kW) and $2 million for Tier 3 (>100 kW and ≤2 MW)

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Regarding Insurance, according to my MI Farm Bureau agent, ground mounted is covered via other structures coverage, and roof mounted by the house coverage. So you will have to increase one of those as appropriate. No additional solar rider required or offered. Also, some insurance companies will only rate other structures as a percentage of the main structure. Ran into this when trying to insure a large pole barn, and solar would be the same.

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If you can shift your load to run during good solar hours, you might be able to bypass some of the net metering restrictions in your area with a product like what Legion Solar offers. I don’t know anything about them other than what’s on their website (https://legionsolar.com/), but it looks like it’s a good idea: have CTs around your mains so you know what consumption is and make sure the panels only produce that much (or, alternatively, store the extra in batteries). Has anyone had any experience with them?

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