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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #1 
So far I couldn't find a full detailed list about the benefits and drawbacks of solar systems for a house. There are many articles but they all talk about more or less the same thing without any hands-on experience.

A detailed guide to cover all this points would be very useful for many (like me).


Posts: 45
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Theresa,
In answer to your question I find that home solar systems are nice to have but do NOT make the grade as an investment opportunity.

I have researched a lot of solar projects before I built my own ZPDP collector to simply heat air for the house. I found that it was the only cost effective method of using small scale solar.  PV is not effective in any way for the small home producer at this time. Please see the link below.   Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "deep dive into the data". 

There is an excellent evaluation of the costs related to owning a PV system and the major problems you should expect to encounter.  The most telling factor (under lab conditions)  I saw was  a probable pay back of from 37 to 41 years for fixed collectors. Of the four US vendors evaluated, all are in some type of insolvency or bankruptcy within a couple of years of system  purchase.

Most all panels had some warranty problem within the first couple of year of purchase. These are closely monitored panels and the problems were quickly detected. A homeowner would most likely not detect most problems that soon and not have the ability to resolve them.  This would be especially true if the company is bankrupt in a few years.

Large scale utilities have major advantage but then they are not really generous with payback information. The government rebates will be decreasing to I think to zero in the year 2020.



I am really sorry to let you know that by any measure of the imagination this is not a good project. I love the conversion of solar energy in to a useful forms.  This blog is centered around the DIY builder. Commercial purchased air heating equipment  in my opinion may not even have a good payback because of the upfront costs. 

Good Luck!!     Jim from IL

Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #3 
I can't fault most of what was the in the article Jim linked to. But I would like to know how they are calculating their ROI. Approx 40 years is way longer than most any estimates I have heard. They may be in an area where the cost of electricity is not very high which would increate the ROI.


Posts: 564
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for posting that article Jim.  Lots of good, detailed info.  The ROI is covered in the detailed lab report:
The electric rate is 9.65 cents / kWh (they are in Arkansas).  They give the details of what was included in the costs and in the benefits.  They assumed electric rates continue to increase by 1% per year.  It also depends on how much you can get through net metering.  One thing wasn't clear.  For the tenKsolar installation they showed that after 25 years there was $1710 of cost that had not been recovered.  Then they say that at 7 cent net metering it takes 39 years to recover all costs.

For someone where heating costs are a significant I agree that solar hot air collectors are the way to go, especially for DIY.  Very quick payback.

Kevin H

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