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Our solar installation experience
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Albinorhino
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23 Feb ’12 - 12:38 am
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Let me start this by saying all my problems were a result of poor research. Back in april of 2011, I was checking online about solar panels (PV). We ended up getting a local company to call us, I really just had a few questions. The lady on the phone could not answer any questions but wanted to send out a sales rep. In the mean time I had found some calcs online that estimated our job would be around 40k. Way out of my ballpark. I felt bad for this sales rep coming out on a sat. when I knew I wasn't going to buy. So I stopped him in the driveway and apologized for ruining his sat. We started chatting and I told him I didn't have 40k to spend. He kept insisting on going inside to sit and talk. He them mentioned that we could do our house for close to 20k. Now I wanted to talk. We spent the next four hours going over my power bills and pricing. We asked every question we could think of. I was completely played. He told us everything we wanted to hear. We ended up purchasing a 2.6 kw grid tied system. Consists of 12 175w westinghouse panels with built in micro inverters on each panel. Plug and play basically. We also got 5 years of monitoring from Enphase. A few pics of the final product.

 The questions we asked: Q. Will we have power if the power goes out? A. Yes these new panels will hold power for 5 days then only when the sun is shining. Reality: The panels have a safety feature because of the micro inverters. If they don't have power from my power company, my panels will not work. No batteries= no stored power! Q. How much power will they produce a month compared to my power bills A. After doing all the math on your utilities I would say about 95% of your load. Should get a credit back from the power company during spring and fall to offset summer and winter. Reality: In dead of summer with high sun and long days, we generate about 300+kw a month. Based on what my enphase monitor tells us. My power bills are lower, but we also replaced all of our windows and reinsulated our attic before summer. My july bill for 31 days was $134 usually $200. We ended up spending 21k. There is a solar credit, Fed and State. We will get back 30% Fed and 35% NC state. We did a 6 month no payment and dump into our equity until the Tax credits start to roll in over the next few years. Can't claim all in 1 year. So that being said our system costs us roughly 7k after all said and done, not counting interest on the equity. Other problems: They screwed up multiple shingles and marked up my new roof in the hot sun. Took 3 extra days to complete the job since it was to hot outside. (I work in attics in mid-summer...no pity here) Installer stopped by as I was leaving for work, for me to sign something office related. Turns out it was a order of completion, so they could get paid from the finance company! The job was not done yet!! Then it took 3 weeks after installation for Duke Energy to get my new fancy bi-directional meter put in, because of bad paper work on the installation company's end. I ended up finding out that the company Carolina Eco Smart is really a painting and cabinet company branching out in this new game. why? Because there is no state licensing involved with the process. They hired a licensed electrician to make the final tie in and install my disconnect. My power company ended up telling me how small our system was, before it was up and running. I contacted the owner of the CES. He said I got what I paid for. I told him all his salesman had told us. He said did you get any of the claims in writing? I just dropped my taxes off today. I will update how the credits worked out.

The following users say thank you to Albinorhino for this useful post:

Homesteader
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QcDdog03
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23 Feb ’12 - 7:18 am
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Thanks for this. I have been looking at the same thing and after doing the math saving $720 a year isnt worth the investment especially since I plan/hope to move somewhere a little more scenic within the next 5 or so years.

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K
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23 Feb ’12 - 7:32 am
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I'm sorry man, I wish you would have asked a question on the sg, 2 things bother me in just the first picture, one is the amount of shade that tree is putting onto that panel, you are losing valuable solar. Second is a roof mount and the angle of the mount, unless you live on the equator your angle is way to shallow and you are losing solar gain. look here for what your angle should be each season for maximum solar input.

http://solarelectric.....lator.html

I am shocked that someone said a grid tied system would still provide energy for 5 days, if you have that in writing, I would contact a lawyer.

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Albinorhino
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23 Feb ’12 - 8:15 am
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That first pic was taken at 8:10am. In the summer by 9:30 its is full sun. In summer the sun tracks right over my house. In winter we lose a ton, would almost have to stand them up to hit the sun.

I really like these panels and the fact that i can add more simply by plugging them up to each other. I can buy these directly from westinghouse but I think now they have 235w panels that will work with the microinverters.

What I want people to know, is you don't need to hire a company to do this. You can buy directly from the source at westinghouse. They sell all the kits. The only thing we had to have was a electrician to add a 15 amp breaker to our electric panel and a 3phase disconnect panel (only used for the 3 terminals, in and out)

Duke Energy needed county inspections in order to swap my meter.

I could have bought and installed this system myself for about 60-65% of what we paid.

We are taking them with us when we move to reinstall. I will not be putting them on the roof next time but hopefully on 2 solar tracking stands I hope to build.

Things like this where companies don't need regulation, its is BUYER BEWARE.

Get everything in writing, even ask to record the sales pitch.

The salesman simply knew what price we might sign at, and picked a package out of his little notebook of pricing. He just had to lie about about performance.

Its like getting the pitch for a decked out F350...signing....then a Ranger gets delivered.

After I do my taxes, we will start to inform the community about our story. So much is our fault, we just want to educate and hope they lose some business in the process.

A duke Energy rep told me that sadly they get a few cases a month of misguided customers. Thinking their systems would put out more.

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K
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23 Feb ’12 - 8:49 am
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I'd vote you up if I could, so I made this thread a sticky instead, thanks for sharing al

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SlightlyStoopid
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24 Feb ’12 - 12:17 pm
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Good to know. Thanks for sharing your experience. I will be looking into doing this in 1-2 years probably, and it's things like this that scare me away. DIY seems to be the way to go with most of this stuff.

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Albinorhino
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24 Feb ’12 - 9:20 pm
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Today we did our taxes with our solar credit. Of all the lies and deception dealing with the solar company, the tax credit info was correct!

I'll break down the math as best I can.

We paid $21000 for our system

There is a 30% federal tax credit.

(materials and installation was covered by using a company. If you DIY you can only claim the cost of materials.)

Our federal tax credit was for $6300.

(The amount you get each year can't be more than your tax liability)

Example: If you make $50,000 a year and the tax charts say you owe $5000 federal tax before deductions, You would have gotten back $5000 of the $6300. You would carry over $1300 to the following year. I believe you have 5 years to claim.

Our North Carolina State Tax Credit is 35%

(materials and installation was covered by using a company. If you DIY you can only claim the cost of materials.)

Our tax credit was for $7350

(The amount you get each year can't be more than HALF your tax liability)

Example: If you make $50,000 a year and the tax charts say you owe $3750 state tax before deductions, You would have gotten back $1875 of the $7350. You would carry over $5475 to the following year. I believe you have 5 years to claim.

Every state has different tax credits.

http://www.dsireusa.org From this site you can click on your state and see every tax credit.

So our system really only cost us $7350. .....Thats the light at the end of my rainbow

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easytapper
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28 Feb ’12 - 1:56 pm
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Thanks for sharing. Sucks for you though. With stuff like this, always good to get 2-3 estimates.

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