You might be surprised that I went with the most expensive option I had – but the solution provided was also way more than I needed and works with a price point for me where I feel I will make out like a bandit over the next 25 years financially.
It came down to 2 choices:
- Trinity – total cost was like $71,000. This is the option where they throw extra bones in the price and give you 1.99% financing for like 20 years. This provided me 100% of my power and had an 18 kWh battery that was $30,000. The warranty on the panels and system was 25 years, but the battery was 10.
- Lumina – total cost was like $80,000. However, the solution provided me 16,000 kWh per year and had 2 Powerwall 2 batteries that gave me 27 kWh of reserve power. The batteries have a 25 year warranty. Yeah, you read that right. I had to go back and check with the guy. Yes, the financing is the same deal as above.
What I didn’t know going into this was how the solar financing world worked. Seems most companies work with a handful of lenders, and these guys have a way of doing business. Here are your options to buy solar:
- Cash price. This is if you want the system without financing through a bank.
- Unsecured – low interest. This takes a cash price, adds like $10,000 or so, and then gives you THIS number over 20 years at like 1.99 or .99 financing. The lower the rate, the more bones they are baking into your base price. The bank is getting paid any way you look at it.
- Unsecured – high interest. This takes the CASH price, then gives you an unsecured loan. I saw 4-7.49 on these offerings. My initial plan was to do the higher interest at cash price, then get my tax credit in 2022 and refi with a cash out refi option, pay it, and add my tax credit to this. Problem is – housing refi rates just now are starting to tick up and I won’t get my tax credit until 2023.
So I went with option 2.
One thing you need to know is that the tax credit is 26%, so I will get about $20,000 back from the government at tax time in 2023, which I then apply to my solar loan. They give me a payment until then at a number that is assuming I will give them that tax credit then. So the total cost is like $60,000 for 20 years.
What did I get?
I got 16,000 kWh estimated production with 2 powerwall batteries. I use about 38 kWh per day usage, so the 27 kWh with Tesla should have me running for quite some time – perhaps 18 hours or so, without power. Remember, I don’t generate power when the sun is down, and there may be rainy days I don’t generate a ton. Extra power I produce once my batteries are full goes back to my electric company. I heard every March, they cash you out with the credits. Maybe they just wipe them, I don’t know – but I like the idea of no power bill.
Given the inflationary environment, I have a stand up freezer and a chest freezer and like to have extra food. IF there’s a situation where we end up months or years down the road with rolling blackouts, I like the idea of keeping my food cooled. Additionally, I’m in the end stages of finishing my basement, and I’d like the sump pump to be powered during heavy rain storms or hurricanes where power might be out for a day. The two powerwalls provide plenty of power, but each one can handle a 21 amp surge, so this helps me ensure I can use the essentials. With young children here, I want food to not spoil and my finished basement to survive the weather.
With the extra power produced, I get credits for it, but I do like the idea where 2-10 years down the road when we are forced to buy electric cars that I already have the powerwalls and electric generating capacity that can help power those vehicles. This goes into the financial calculations as well. I’ll add it in there 5 years down the road.
What are the numbers?
You see the $80,000 sticker shock, but also see that with the tax credits, it comes to $60,000.
Overall, my total cost over FORTY years is $18,100. This is compared to if I did nothing at:
2% inflation: $108,723.57
4% inflation: $171,045.93
6% inflation: $278,571.54
8% inflation: $466,301
Meaning, AT ABSOLUTE LOWEST inflation possible over those 40 years, doing this solution saves me roughly $90,000 in energy costs. At the WORST inflation, 8%, it saves me about $448,000. Let’s assume we don’t have crazy times and we stick at 3% inflation. This has me about at $120,000 saved over those 40 years. And – they gave me some free batteries along the way!
Now, I did this over a 40 year span due to how long the lifespan of the solar panels could be. Maybe they only last 25 years? Maybe I have to replace the whole system in 25 years? Possible.
Here are the 40 year energy numbers….now if we have moments of high inflation or a decade of high inflation like the 70s, these numbers get skewed higher.
Here are my solar costs…
So big picture, my solar payment will be $263. But at the same time I’m getting my $80 or so PMI removed as my house (not related to solar, obviously, but part of my planning) appraises for about $150k more than the loan. I will generate 16 SRECs per year, and right now they are $42, then expected to go to $62. Maybe these things only last for a few more years?
Meaning – my total monthly output of costs that are different with solar in my life net to about $116 per month addition (with the PMI removed). My electric bill is currently $150, and I see that going nothing but up over the next 40 years. If no PMI was removed, I’m looking at $187 per month as opposed to a current $150 bill. You can clearly see in the chart above with higher inflation, it’s just a few years out until the $187 threshold is met for a monthly average bill, if not sooner.
What do YOU think your energy bill would look like in 25 years without solar? 2x today? 4x today? 10x? Under 4% inflation it looked like my bill went up 2.5x in 25 years. You guys do know oil and natural gas are getting harder to find and are more expensive every year, right?
The variables here –
- My PMI. maybe you do a refi at these low rates and drop your house payment?
- lifespan of the solar? They say 40-50 years for these
- How long will the batteries last? I have a 25 year warranty, so if they die in 9 years, I get new ones to replace them. IF Tesla is still around then. I don’t think they will be, honestly. However, a decade from now I see battery tech so far advanced and much cheaper, I may just buy a battery with twice the storage at $5,000 then.
- SRECS. No one knows how long these will go on for.
- Tax credits – here you see the 26% tax credit, but this is going lower and eventually disappearing. My thinking is energy bills will be much, much higher and even without the tax credits and long term loans, you are still making out like a bandit with solar.
- Cash/finance. If you have $40k-70k burning a hole in your pocket, you can spend that now and avoid the financing, but the numbers seem to me to be compelling to use someone else’s money on this.
- Break even – I feel my worst case scenario in this may be about break even with existing bill. However, using even 3% inflation rates over the next 25-40 years shows that you potentially have massive energy savings by trying to lock in today’s energy prices with solar.
The BIG picture
To me, it is clear that financially I’m saving a ton of money in avoiding higher energy bills from the provider over the next 25-40 years by going solar. Not only did the solution provided generate a lot more than I need, but it provided me 2 batteries which I feel may protect my food from rolling blackouts as well as my basement from a sump power failure. Overall, it looks as is this system pays for itself immediately with me and actually pays me thousands of dollars over 25 years to go this way.