Solar power is just amazing to me.
We live in a place that gets a ton of sunshine each year, all year round. So it only makes sense to harness that power into electricity for our home.
Our first home build 7 years ago had a 20% solar package with a solar hot water system.We were still grid tied, but it cut down on our electricity costs.
After that home burned down (not related to the solar package), we decided to increase the size of the home and not have solar.
But after a couple of years in this house, we realized that solar really is the way to go. Even though we still wanted to be grid tied, we wanted to take advantage of the great amount of sun we get all year long.
So last spring, we started looking for companies that installed solar panels in our area. There aren’t a ton because we live in a small town in the country.
But we found one that we could afford and they installed our system in July of last year.
So now that it has been a year since we started the process, I wanted to share with you our experience and what we have learned so far.
Our Solar Power Experience
What to consider before getting solar:
When investing in something like solar, you should do your research. Here are some questions to ask:
- How much can you spend on panels?
- Do you want to DIY or pay someone to install panels?
- How much sunlight does your home get yearly?
- How many panels do you want (50%, 75%, etc)?
- How much does your electric company charge to be grid tied?
- How does your electric company pay you for excess?
- How do you want to monitor the panels?
- How much do batteries cost to be off grid?
- How long until your panels break even on cost?
- Can you add more panels later if desired?
What kind of solar package did we get?
Our solar system includes:
- 24 x Q-Cell 305 Watt Solar panels
- 24 x DC Optimizers
- 1 x SolarEdge 6000H-US Watt Inverter
- Monitoring via SolarEdge
- iPhone app to see how much we are producing
Why we didn’t DIY it:
There is lots of information online about DIY solar and how to make and install your own solar panels.
Since we have had our house burn down, we are just a little more sensitive to electrical problems and what can go wrong.
If you have the know how and ability to make your own solar panels and install them yourself, I say more power to you. But we just weren’t comfortable with it.
But if you want to DIY your solar project, click here for more info and some great project ideas —> 10 Solar Power DIY Projects To Save You Money.
Why don’t we want to live off-grid?
- We like the convenience and ease of being grid tied. I know that might not go along with the thinking of many homesteaders, but we have never wanted to be off grid.
- The purpose of the solar panels is to save money and use an alternative source of energy.
- The batteries you need to have to be off grid are very expensive and not in the budget at this time.
- We have a strong electric company. Our power rarely goes out.
What was our experience over the year?
Once we had the solar panels installed and working, we haven’t really thought about them much. We can check the app every once in a while to make sure they are working, but we don’t think about it most days.
About once a month, we get our electric bill. This is when we realize how much we are saving, and that the extra cost will pay for itself in a few years.
Besides that, we have had no problems with the equipment or function of the solar panels. They run like they are supposed to without us thinking about them at all.
How much did it save us over the year?
Now to the nitty gritty. The money.
We paid $24,156 total for the solar panels and their installation.
We pay $32 a month to be grid tied to the electric company.
Our electric company will send us a check once a year for the surplus we produced. This will be different depending on your electric company, so find out ahead of time how they deal with this.
Our normal electric bill would be any where between $100 to $300, depending on the time of the year, if we are running our air conditioner or using our wood stove. This is for a 3000 square foot house in Colorado.
So if you figure we are saving about $200 a month, times 12 months; we are saving $2400 a year in utility costs. So in 10 years the price would break even.
But since our loan is only for 4 years, we will have the total paid off by then. After that, we are only paying $32 a month for electricity, no matter what time of year it is. And we get a check each year for the surplus. Not a bad deal!
Do we think solar is worth it, so far?
Absolutely. We love having solar for these reasons:
- We like using an alternative source of electricity.
- We enjoy a small electric bill each month.
- We feel like we are using our natural resource (the sun) to produce energy wisely.
- After we pay off the panels, we will be able to pay virtually nothing (monthly fee – excess electricity produced) to power our home and lifestyle.
If you have been considering solar for your home, I highly recommend you do the research for yourself and find what works best for your family.
As for our family, we are happy we jumped back on the solar power bandwagon. We hope you join us too!
What is your experience with solar power? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!