I am always fascinated by solar power. Its seems crazy that the sun could just sit there and shine on my Texas home, and give me all my electrical needs or more. On average I use very little electricity to begin with. I rarely turn on my heat in the winter, and I keep the house at a cool 80 degrees in the summer. I unplug and vanquish my vampire electricity suckers, and I have ample natural light in my home design. I also have my home foam insulated and as air tight as possible. My electricity bills range between $50 and $150 a month, with a yearly average just under $100 a month. So, I spend about $1,200 a year on electricity and it’s less then 2% of our family income. We buy from Green Mountain Energy, and use their wind power to help the environment, but I love the idea of being my own little solar powered off grid power plant. So lets not make the decision emotionally and look at the numbers logically.
$1,200 a year for electricity
2,100 square feet of house
I average 800 kwh a month
So according to my residential solar calculator with my amount of sun in my area I would need a 6.5 kwh system on my roof to cover 100% of my energy needs. I looked up some local solar installers, and prices of the panels, and after the rebates from the government (which the installers would walk me through the process) I am looking at a total coat of $20,000 to $22,ooo depending on supplies, quality, time and weather delays. This would not include batteries to store all my beautiful solar kilowatt babies. So, once I look at batteries, which are more expensive then the solar panels, that would be another $20,000 according to my local installers. (I think they are high on their estimates)
Now I love to hack prices a little so I took out the cost of labor, and cut out the middle man in buying the panels, and the price is cut in half. The same with the batteries, so I could in fact, with more knowledge on how to install this system, do it my self and get the entire off grid system for half price after rebates. However, the numbers don’t add up just yet to pull the trigger on a full solar system, after all, 20 years to pay for themselves is not worth the price.
But never fear, because there is still hope for me in the future, as more solar panels are being created for cheaper prices everyday all across the world. There is a huge giga plant up and running in the Nevada desert making batteries cheaper, and more giga factories planned to be built around the world continuing to lower the prices on batteries. There are more tax credits available, and hopefully more to come in the future to bring down prices. Also, I hear that the payback time on average, in some countries who are moving this direction, is 7.5 years in 2016 due to government subsidies, and synergy which is allowing these systems to grow.
I hate bills and I do everything in my power to keep my money from running away, but at the end of the day with solar, I can’t justify spending so much up front just yet. Sometimes you do have to spend a little to save a little, and right now is not the time for off grid solar savings. Hopefully, Elon Musk and Solar City work out and bring this exciting idea to billions around the world. I would love to be able to afford it now and have it on my house for the next 50 years, but as technology continues to advance, and the price keeps getting lower, I will continue to be patient for the right time to buy and go off grid.