Solar panels are good for the planet and for my pocketbook. In 2015, we installed twelve solar panels on our garage roof. They cost me $13,947 after rebates, and the panels reduced our Eversource metered electricity usage by two-thirds, giving us a 7.5% yield on our investment.
Installation: A Breeze
Installation was easy. I phoned Pure Point Energy in Norwalk, and while I was on the phone, they looked at a Google map and told me I had a place for panels — a south-facing roof with no trees shading. Pure Point came, inspected my garage, and notified the Town of New Canaan, who subsequently inspected it for structural strength. All permitting, installation and inspections were handled by Pure Point Energy.
We had two payment choices. We could have chosen to ‘lease’ our rooftop to an investor, and gotten a monthly rental payment or a reduction in our price for electricity per kilowatt hour. Or, the option that we selected: make the investment. The 12 SunPower 327-watt panels, the most efficient panels available at the time, the wiring and inverter (DC to AC) cost $9,962. Installing the panels cost $12,796, making the total cost $22,758. The CEFIA rebate was $2,441 (CT Residential Solar PV Rebate Program); the Federal tax credit was $5,977, and the net cost to me was $13,947.
What You Should Look for Today
For those considering buying solar panels today, there’s still a Connecticut rebate program, along with a Federal 26% tax credit for investment in solar panels. The best SunPower panels today produce 350 watts (called “400-watt” panels), up from the 329 watts I was able to purchase in 2015. Of course it is important to research the available rebate, tax credits and solar companies today.
Maintenance: Also a Breeze
There’s virtually no maintenance. I rake snow off the panels usually, though it melts quickly, and slides off. The panels produce ALL our electricity for our 3,300 square foot house in May, June, and July, when the sun is highest, and days are longest. (See photo above). Sometimes we put watts back onto the grid, for which we get a credit. The panels produce just 20% of our electricity in December when sun is lowest, and days are shortest. The solar panels’ seasonality is good for Eversource, for their largest demand for electricity is for summer air conditioning. Our solar panels are not visible from the street or by neighbors, not that I think the panels would bother anyone — I’m always pleased to see solar panels on a house.
We can look at the meter in the basement (see above) or online anytime and see what the panels are generating. We are reducing the consumption of fossil fuels to produce electricity, and we have a sound personal investment.