Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shopping for System? Here are Real Installation Figures!

Here's some useful information from Steve S., who's slowly supplanting me as the most knowledgeable and helpful solar guy on this blog.

I'm going to paste Steve's email in below. What he's found is a list of every solar installation that has gone through the rebate program. The list includes the name of the installer as well as the cost of the installation (and other information).

This is big! If you're looking around or negotiating a deal, these numbers are for you! Now you can get an idea of what people are paying and what they're getting for it. Although this is all New Jersey information, I would imagine it could apply roughly to other states except for the rebate part.

Great find, Steve! Thanks!

While searching the NJ Clean Energy Program website for information on how to register for the GATS website, I found some information that I thought might be useful to share with people who follow your Going Solar blog. Under their Renewable Energy tab, they have program status reports. The direct link is:
Now, for somebody who is shopping around and getting quotes for a solar system, here's the interesting thing. These excel spreadsheets, specifically the "REIP Paid Projects" and "SREC Registration Program Completed Projects" reports list every single installation in NJ that went through the state rebate process. They list what company did the installation job, what equipment was installed, how much of a rebate was received, and how much the owner paid for the system! I was shocked that all of this information was publicly release, but at the same time I wish I had found this when I was getting quotes...what negotiating power! Now when the guy from XYZ Solar tells you his price and explains that he's giving you the best price he can, you have away of checking that and seeing if he gave another customer a better deal. Or, before even getting a quote you have a some hard data on what price you should be getting, as well as which solar installers are providing the most value for the money.
Just thought I'd share this, as I know that I would have loved to have had this information when I was shopping around.


Jack Jennings said...

Perhaps you would be interested in some real installation figures from my installation. In 2009 I constructed a new hay barn on my farm in Sicklerville New Jersey and decided to install a 10kW photoelectric system on the roof. I used Uni-Solar panels that are self adhering to the standing seam metal roofing installed on the South facing side of the roof. Since the solar panels were installed on the roofing before it was put in place, the roof became part of the solar system and I claimed a federal tax credit on the difference in cost between the regular barn roofing and the Standing seam. I adapted a system designed by EnergyPeak just for metal roofing systems and did a self-install with the help of my Amish barn builder and my electrician. The total cost amounted to $75,377.26, which was higher than expected because all the wiring had to be explosion proof. (Example, a 200 amp electrical panel that could be picked up for $175 normally cost $850 in a dust tight version). For the first time in my life my timing was right on. The 30% Federal tax credit of $22,613 reduced the cost to $52,764.24 and the $1.75 per watt NJ rebate of $17,500 knocked it down to $35,264.26. Starting in July of 2010 I have sold 19 SRECs which has reduced the cost to $23,025 and will be selling an additional one this month for another $651. The system has reduced my power consumption by 22,291 kWh as of today which has saved me an additional $3500. I haven't projected the pay-off date yet, but as you can see, it's going in the right direction. It produced 14 SRECs between November 2009 and October 2010. If I can count on that number of SRECs each year and the price averages $500, that would bring in $7000 per year and the system would be paid off in less than four years, NOT COUNTING ELECTRICITY SAVINGS! I'm happy with the system. The Uni-Solar panels produce considerable power even at lower light intensities. It was cloudy today but the were still kicking out 4000 watts when I read the production stats off the inverters at 4 PM this afternoon. The only major problem I encountered with the installation was the unavailability of explosion proof combiner boxes, which I wanted to put inside, rather than have any unsightly stuff on the roof. I had to design and build them myself and have them certified by the electrical inspector before the state would approve my system. The photovoltaic panels, being glued down tightly to the roofing panels, are hardly noticeable. They look like dark blue paint. In addition all wires are hidden by the ridge vent cover. Its super clean and not a single perforation of the roof was necessary. Pictures are available if anyone is interested.

Jack Jennings , May 2011

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