Sunday, June 28, 2015

Going Solar

Toys and Stuff is going solar. Yup, we took the plunge to have solar panels installed on the roof. I had been tracking the progress of solar energy development for years now and especially the last few years. While the cost of solar panels has come down significantly they're still pricey for the average do-it-yourselfer. But there's another way.

A couple of years ago I began noticing more and more articles about a company called 'Solar City' and their essentially cost-free offer to customers. They pay for the panels, installation, and maintenance over the life of the product and you end up paying them for the power generated at a lower rate than the local utility company. I had read somewhere that about 80% of houses don't qualify for solar.   There are catches.  Solar is a  rather hard sell for the northern tier states and especially the sun-starved Pacific northwest. Another catch is that not all houses are optimally oriented. While east-west orientation is preferred it's not a show-stopper. Another catch is the design of the roof. A flat expanse of roof is better to install the panels on. An interrupted roof with gables, dormers or whatever makes it more difficult or even not possible. Their aim is not to generate 100% of the power you require, but shoot for about 95%, the residual power still being supplied by the local utility.The last is your credit rating. Here in Vegas they required at least 650 FICO score.

On the plus side is that over the life of the contract you'll be saving a great deal over the local utility company's rates, and having lived here since 1991 I can attest to the non-stop, ever increasing rates pushed on us by NV Energy! That being said we have tried desperately to decrease our energy usage. We started to have energy efficient windows installed. We got the front and side windows done as those received the greatest heat, the rear windows being shaded by the patio cover (the week we had those installed was the same week I got laid off from work during the height of the Recession and we never got the rear windows done) BUT since then we've gotten all Energy Star appliances, including a new HVAC unit four years ago and have swapped out nearly every incandescent light bulb in the house with LED's or CFL's so our bills have thankfully not sky-rocketed through the roof.

I finally took the plunge after talking with a Solar City rep at the Home Depot and scheduled the first meeting with the salesman. I was already sold before he walked in the house so his spiel was basically a matter of going over the finer points. He went through all the details of the contract, went over our KWH usage for the past year, did a basic panel design/layout on his laptop, and ran the credit check. We were in like Flynn!

This whole thing is a process and it'll be a while before the panels actually get installed and the switch-over from the local utility takes place.

Oh, and BTW, all you space fans and those folks following the exploits of SpaceEx (not Triang SpacEx toys but Space Exploration Technologies), Solar City is another of Elon Musk's companies, along with Tesla.

Well keep you posted. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina


  1. Congrats Ed on going solar! Must be a great feeling. Its something we've thought about and may just look into again. Did they have to go into your loft space to install the cells?

    1. Woodsy, they haven't installed anything yet. Tomorrow they come out and do a site survey, which of course I'll be blogging :-) I do believe they'll have to get up in the crawl space (we don't have a proper attic/loft) to do something but we'll keep every one posted.