Solar panels on your house or property

When does this make sense? When not?

If you have a south-facing roof with a lot of space (not a lot of vents), and no shade, you may be a candidate.

 

Even with a lot of roof space, you may not be able to fit enough panels to offset your whole electricity usage.

 

If you have any large trees which shade your house during core sun hours (the 5 hours near mid-day), this may not be a good option for you.

 

If your roof is older, and may need to be replaced soon, it is probably not a good idea to install solar panels yet.

 

Different companies’ approach to financing this

 

Many companies want to sell you the panels + installation. This is a good idea if you have the available capital to be able to pay for the system. You will receive a few federal/state rebates, which can reduce the installation cost of the system by up to 50%.

 

Also, there are loans (known as Solar Loans) available which you can get, where you pay for the system, but then pay off a loan (sometimes the loan is from your bank, or from the solar installer). (note: this is not a PPA, because you (homeowner) are the owner of the solar installation).

 

There are also Solar Leases, where the solar company owns the panels, and you pay them a monthly fee to lease the panels.

 

There are also Bridge Loans, which are Solar Loans specifically scheduled so that you can take advantage of the federal + state rebates to pay for a lot of the loan amount.

 

Recommendations:

  • Do not Lease your system
    • It makes it more difficult to sell your house (because the new buyer has to take over the lease, or you have to remove the system from your house)
  • Purchase, or take a loan for your system.
    • In loan cases, your monthly payment for your loan will be less than your current monthly payment for your electricity usage, making this a money-saving scenario.

Community Solar

Change your electricity supplier from ComEd to a community solar company

ComEd not only delivers your electricity, but also generates your electricity. In Illinois, you are allowed to change your electricity generator while keeping your delivery still with ComEd.

 

This allows you to specify a renewable energy supplier to generate your electricity, and they will work with ComEd to provide “the grid” with the amount of electricity requested.

 

For example, you can elect to join a Community Solar program, in which you pay a company  for power from solar panels on a field in Illinois, in return, you get a lower monthly payment for your electricity.

 

Recommended companies

If you are considering Community Solar, I recommend the following companies.

 

I recommend NOT using the following companies

  • ClearChoiceEnergy (much more expensive than ComEd (17c vs 11c)

 

Pro/Con of Community Solar

 

Pro:

  • Low/no up-front cost
  • Immediate savings/green-energy (there may be a wait-list, but after that...)
  • No need to install panels on your house
    • If you don’t have best orientation of roof, or enough space...
    • Don’t need to deal with roof penetrations/etc
  • Most can increase the amount of electricity purchased without having to wait for further installation

 

Con:

  • Your prices will go up as ComEd prices go up
  • You will never own your own solar panels/electricity
  • Not a visible part of your house (if this is important to you)