When we were shopping for solar systems, my wife and I contacted various providers with the following results:
- Freedom Solar Power offered a 15 kW system with an out-of-pocket cost of $37,044. The system was comprised of 42 360-watt panels.
- Victory Solar Systems offered an 18 kW system with an out-of-pocket cost of $35,910. The system was comprised of 60 300-watt panels.
- Though I spoke with Tesla three times, no one ever came out to our home to provide us with an offer.
We selected Freedom Solar Power as our provider because the quality of the SunPower panels was superior from what we could tell.
Our system has been installed and working for a little over a month. I recently met with Shannon Munden from Freedom Solar Power where we conducted a close-out meeting for my solar installation project. As a guy who knows his way around a spreadsheet, I shared some numbers with Shannon.
- Our system cost was $2,469.60 per kilowatt. The system offered by Victory Solar Systems would have cost only $1,995 per kilowatt. The Freedom Solar Power price would have had to have been $1,995 lower to match the same cost per kilowatt that Victory Solar Systems was offering.
- In March, our system produced more energy than we used for every day of the month except one — a very cloudy day. We saved $55 for March which was a very temperate month in terms of weather.
- For the first few days of April, our system also produced more energy than we used for every day but one. That day was really rainy. For that part of April, we had saved $26 so far.
- If a system is to pay for itself in 10.5 years, that's 126 months. Doing the math, our $35,044 out-of-pocket cost would have to be recouped at an average of $294 per month for 126 months to break even. With $55 in the first month and $26 so far in the second month, this seems impossible, but...
- Our system is an 18 kW system; however, that's under ideal conditions. My estimate is that in a best-case scenario, our system would produce 13 kW. On a long summer day, we might have about 10 hours of daylight. So our system could make 130 kWh in a day. For a month with 31 days, that would be 4030 kWh which is about $403 in savings for that month. The break-even point is 7.5 hours of sunlight per day to achieve the $294 savings we need.
Although the savings are modest now, so is the weather. It will be interesting to see if the production increases, and hence, the savings increase, as the summer months approach. Believe it or not, June 21 may not be our most productive day as the panels are slightly more efficient in cooler weather.
We purchased our solar system based on quality, not cost; however, it is still interesting to track the return on our investment. Independent of the money, our millennial nieces and nephews appreciate the gesture to keep the planet healthy for generations to come.
"Hey Uncle Scott and Aunt Sheryl, y'all are cool."
Autodesk has always been an automation company. Today, more than ever, that means helping our customers automate their design and make processes. We help them embrace the future of making, where they can do more (e.g., efficiency, performance, quality), with less (e.g., energy, raw materials, timeframes, waste of human potential), and realize the opportunity for better (e.g., innovation, user experience, return on investment). Solar energy provides the opportunity for better by producing more energy with less harm to the environment.
Energy cost analysis is alive in the lab.