OT: solar on roof

meanmiJ01

Well-Known Member
Jan 2, 2003
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I have about 2-5 years left in the shingles on my roof. My inquiry is on putting solar panels on the new roof.

I am in the Williamsport area.
No obstructions with the main roof that faces south.
Typical PPL bill is about $220 a month since getting a hot tub.

The internet search just blew my phone up with installers. I am ok with them wanting to give me a quotes, but it lacks the ability for sound recon on info that doesn’t seem like propaganda.

Anyone have experience with solar instillation recently? Pointed questions to ask each installer? Company to use or not use? Does excess energy credits still benefit big in PA?

TIA
 
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tlbakernc

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Sep 10, 2019
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Had a friend that recently bought solar panels in NC. The salesman lied to him on how much money he’d earn off the panels. NC laws recently changed how they pay customers with solar panels. Guess my biggest advice is to double check everything they tell you. These guys are no better than shady used car salesman.
 

NewEra 2014

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Jan 3, 2014
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I would be really careful about it, primarily regarding: 1) the ability of the roof and home structure to withstand a constant load due to the solar panels, plus snow weight; 2) how well the solar system design minimizes any potential leakage points on the roof; 3) how the home's utility systems deal with variable energy generation from the solar panels; 4) the ongoing reliability of the solar equipment; 5) periodic maintenance requirements of the equipment; and 6) the useful life of the solar components.

If you are satisfied with those answers, then it becomes more of an economic question for you regarding energy savings vs. payback time.
 
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The Spin Meister

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Nov 27, 2012
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An altered state
Maybe check with an accountant or your tax preparer to see what tax incentives there may be. Don’t rely on a solar company for that.

New era had good points about structural integrity, leakage, and more.

How old is home? Any obstructions like trees or tall buildings throwing any shade? High wind area? Noise from wind blowing over them?

Will they guarantee savings? Or at least total wattage produced?

With a hot tub, how much of the demand would be during peak solar production or would it be at night when sun is gone? Heating up tub during day would help but still need it to run in evening when in use. Especially an issue if you use it late night.

You may want to look into just a solar hot water heater. They seem to be helpful from what I have heard.
 

meanmiJ01

Well-Known Member
Jan 2, 2003
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Maybe check with an accountant or your tax preparer to see what tax incentives there may be. Don’t rely on a solar company for that.

New era had good points about structural integrity, leakage, and more.

How old is home? Any obstructions like trees or tall buildings throwing any shade? High wind area? Noise from wind blowing over them?

Will they guarantee savings? Or at least total wattage produced?

With a hot tub, how much of the demand would be during peak solar production or would it be at night when sun is gone? Heating up tub during day would help but still need it to run in evening when in use. Especially an issue if you use it late night.

You may want to look into just a solar hot water heater. They seem to be helpful from what I have heard.
Didn’t even know a solar hot tub heater existed so that is very helpful. That might be enough for me not to concern myself further.

no obstruction anywhere with the roof so I’m not too concerned about that. Everything I have seen in the house is an overbuilt ranch built in 1969. J
 

ForesterGump

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Jul 21, 2012
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I built my own solar heater. My hot tub isn't all that big, and I put it in a shed I have on my property. Simply run 1/2" tubing in a box on the roof and enclosed with some older storm windows. Circulates with a submersible pump on a timer. It will get to high temps in the summer, but is marginal in early spring or late fall.
 

HartfordLlion

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Sep 28, 2001
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Make sure if those panel are leased you get it written in the contract if the roof needs to be repaired or replaced, the company who owns the panels is responsible for taking them off and putting them back on. It cost my mother in law $5K to have that done. If they don't want to do that move on to another company.
 

Cletus11

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Aug 8, 2003
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I would ask if they have a battery component to it. Net metering out to the grid when you cannot use the power probably isn't going to happen very easy. But if you can get a battery pack that stores the energy and then can be metered out over the 24 hours of the day seems to be the most economical. I would also look as to how much power will be produced and then how much you use and does that match up reasonably or do you need to look at moving to more of an electric hot water heater or electric heating.
 

The Spin Meister

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Nov 27, 2012
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An altered state
Didn’t even know a solar hot tub heater existed so that is very helpful. That might be enough for me not to concern myself further.

no obstruction anywhere with the roof so I’m not too concerned about that. Everything I have seen in the house is an overbuilt ranch built in 1969. J
Here’s a company that makes solar heaters for swimming pools. And if you are handy you can most likely find online plans to make your own and probably YouTube videos on building them.
 

creamery freak

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Jul 26, 2014
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I have about 2-5 years left in the shingles on my roof. My inquiry is on putting solar panels on the new roof.

I am in the Williamsport area.
No obstructions with the main roof that faces south.
Typical PPL bill is about $220 a month since getting a hot tub.

The internet search just blew my phone up with installers. I am ok with them wanting to give me a quotes, but it lacks the ability for sound recon on info that doesn’t seem like propaganda.

Anyone have experience with solar instillation recently? Pointed questions to ask each installer? Company to use or not use? Does excess energy credits still benefit big in PA?

TIA
The other thing to consider is what is the typical payback on the panels, versus how long you intend to keep your home? Do you heat primarily with electric or is Natural gas available? If Natural gas is available to heat your hot tub, that would be a better way to go. Just some other things to consider.
 

Steve G

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May 29, 2001
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I would ask if they have a battery component to it. Net metering out to the grid when you cannot use the power probably isn't going to happen very easy. But if you can get a battery pack that stores the energy and then can be metered out over the 24 hours of the day seems to be the most economical. I would also look as to how much power will be produced and then how much you use and does that match up reasonably or do you need to look at moving to more of an electric hot water heater or electric heating.
where I live the set ups are all net meter set ups, with 2 meters, one in and one out and do not have storage systems. Friend just had one installed a couple months ago
 

Cletus11

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Aug 8, 2003
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where I live the set ups are all net meter set ups, with 2 meters, one in and one out and do not have storage systems. Friend just had one installed a couple months ago
so when that person sends out to the grid, what do they get paid? I have seen many times that you buy electric at let's say 14 cents per KW but when you put stuff out on the grid you get maybe 5 cents per kw. i have not seen much true net metering where what you pay and what you get back are the same. if they are the same, then obviously no need for battery.
 
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NorCalcLion

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Jan 25, 2005
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My wife and I live in Northern Cal. We went solar in 2020 Tesla was the supplier and installer. The prime reason was for the power shutdowns experienced in CA. Though not relevant to your questions , it was a much better option for several reasons over a generator, portable or permanent.


Tesla has an extremely detailed program for installation of roof top solar. Once your site is reviewed from satellite photos and an installation plan is drafted, a const analyst will make a site visit to survey the structure and firm up the installation plans.

I didn't go solar to sell KWs back to the utility. I did it for the back up, should the power grid be shut down
I wouldn't go solar without battery packs. Keep in mind that I live in a mediterranean climate with many sunny days.
My house operates off the electrical grid 10 months out of the year. Monthly payment cost of the system is less than what was being paid to the utility. CA KWHR costs run $ 0.25 to $ 0.30, depending on usage during peak hrs.

Hopefully this provides some insight
 

The Spin Meister

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
23,614
26,935
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An altered state
My wife and I live in Northern Cal. We went solar in 2020 Tesla was the supplier and installer. The prime reason was for the power shutdowns experienced in CA. Though not relevant to your questions , it was a much better option for several reasons over a generator, portable or permanent.


Tesla has an extremely detailed program for installation of roof top solar. Once your site is reviewed from satellite photos and an installation plan is drafted, a const analyst will make a site visit to survey the structure and firm up the installation plans.

I didn't go solar to sell KWs back to the utility. I did it for the back up, should the power grid be shut down
I wouldn't go solar without battery packs. Keep in mind that I live in a mediterranean climate with many sunny days.
My house operates off the electrical grid 10 months out of the year. Monthly payment cost of the system is less than what was being paid to the utility. CA KWHR costs run $ 0.25 to $ 0.30, depending on usage during peak hrs.

Hopefully this provides some insight
Curious, do you sell any excess power? If so, what is the price paid to compared to price charged by utility? What’s the longest the grid has been down and did the batteries hold up? And when grid is down, do you shut down noncritical uses of power?
 

NorCalcLion

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Jan 25, 2005
2,316
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Curious, do you sell any excess power? If so, what is the price paid to compared to price charged by utility? What’s the longest the grid has been down and did the batteries hold up? And when grid is down, do you shut down noncritical uses of power?

Curious, do you sell any excess power? If so, what is the price paid to compared to price charged by utility? What’s the longest the grid has been down and did the batteries hold up? And when grid is down, do you shut down noncritical uses of power

There has not been a major shut down since the panels have been installed. There have been some outages for a few hours but not several days. As planned, the batteries get recharged every day PG&E trades KWs sent to the grid for KWs taken from the grid on a one to one basis. Any excess gets reimbursed at 5 cents per KW rate
g
 
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KCLion

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Jun 8, 2001
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so when that person sends out to the grid, what do they get paid? I have seen many times that you buy electric at let's say 14 cents per KW but when you put stuff out on the grid you get maybe 5 cents per kw. i have not seen much true net metering where what you pay and what you get back are the same. if they are the same, then obviously no need for battery.
And the other drawback that I’ve seen is that they won’t let you go negative. In other words, if you produce a lot of extra power they will only buy it to the point that you have zeroed your bill for the consumed electricity and no further. Won’t even let you offset the base cost just to be connected to the grid.
 
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RLCookie

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2014
473
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Dallastown PA
I’ve had solar on my home for 10 years. I can’t speak about return on investment as the program I’m in is no longer an option. What I can speak about are the reliability and how it works. You don’t install batteries. When your system is generating during the day your home uses whatever power it needs. Any surplus is sent back onto the grid and your meter essentially runs backwards. (You get credit for any extra you feed back to the grid). At night when you need power you pull the surplus back from the grid. At the end of the month when I get a bill, if I have a surplus, which I do 9 - 10 months out of the year, I pay $10. The surplus continues to build throughout the year. Then in December, January, February when consumption outweighs production I eventually use up my surplus and I end up paying a little more. (Usually around $100 to $150). By April I’m back to $10 bills.

In terms of reliability, the system just works. I have enphase microinverters on each panel. They were a new product when I first installed my panels. Early on I had some failures. About three years ago enphase offered me a deal to upgrade to their latest inverts essentially at their cost. Since that time my system just runs. I’ve had zero issues. The paneks themselves have a 25 year warranty and have never been an issue.

In terms of installation and penetrating the roof they’ve come a long way in the last 10 years and they have some great products that essentially eliminate any concerns in terms of leaks.

My best advice is focus on cost and return on investment. How long is it going to take to get back the money you’ve invested. My best guess is your looking 7-10 years but I could be way off.

Hope this information is helpful.
 

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