For the past few months, I've been thinking about installing a solar panel electrical system on our roof. My wife was against it because we had just a new roof install. What she doesn't understand is that is the best time to do it.
Why would you want to install brand new solar panels on an old roof? Imagine going through the hassle of having to take the system down, ripping off the old roof, putting the new one on and then having the solar panels installed again. That makes no sense.
We put on a new roof last year. Marcy's concern is that the installation will "ruin" the new roof. Here's where I shake my head in disbelief.
The solar company is 100% responsible for the installation and any damage that may occur. They also carry a $2 million insurance policy in case of any damage to the roof from the system or even weather related incidents.
This past Friday I spent most of the day in front of the computer. I was checking the various web sites of the major solar installation companies. Not much information is available on these sites. I had to call and speak to a representative.
I had a customer, at work, whose daughter works for a company with an office in California. She was my first call. What a pleasant young woman she is and a pleasure to talk to, as well.
This woman is knowledgeable about not only her product, but two of her major competitors, as well. She never used the word "Awesome," hesitated with any answers or said she didn't know something.
One of her competitors used "Awesome" in every sentence and couldn't answer half my questions; thankfully, I knew the answers already. He said that the sales representative would be able to answer them all for me. We'll see what happens when he shows up.
I have two companies coming to measure the roof and prepare a plan for the panels and one for an in-home sales presentation. I already have an idea of which company I'll choice. No matter what, it will take until next spring to install the system.
The main reason for wanting to install this system is that our local utility, PSEG Long Island, in conjunction with the Long Island Power Authority, (LIPA) is planning on raising out rates by 3-3.5% every year for at least the next three years! That's about $20-23 per household every year, which is insane.
With the solar companies, I’m have two options. The first is an annual 2.9% increase. The first year starts at $105 and in the twentieth years, it tops out at $185. The second plan is no annual price increase and the price for the entire twenty-year lease term is $135.
Since I dislike annual increases, I'm going for the fixed annual amount. The only other charge is a daily connection charge to PSEG with a new NetMeter. That's .36 cents a day; add another $10 or so to the monthly bill.
The best part though is hopefully our home will now generate enough electricity that enough credits will build throughout the year that PSEG will owe me money on the anniversary of the system being turned on. So far, the estimate is that they system will generate between 90-105% of the power used in the past.
If you have an all-electric house with no natural gas service, the monthly and yearly savings won't be worth it since the house needs so much electricity. I have gas heat, hot water, stove and dryer; it makes sense for us to convert. The savings over the twenty years should be around $10,000, which certainly isn't chump change.
My advice is you're thinking about installing a solar panel system on your home is simple. Make at least three phone calls and get estimates; go with the person or company that makes you feel most comfortable. There isn't a lot of difference between and among rates, warranties and service; go with your gut feeling and on line reviews to make the final decision.
This is a long-term commitment. Make the right choice. Don't live to regret it. It's a twenty year contract that we live with, like it or not.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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