From $600 a month to zero, these homeowners are happy

Gift article from the Washington Post:


“The developer spent $88,000 on solar panels and efficiency upgrades for each house. Homeowners can claim 35 percent in federal tax credits — roughly $30,000 — when they file their taxes the first year after moving in.”

Just doing the math, $58k (after tax credit) divided by $600 former electric bill (probably worst case scenario) would take a little over 96 months or 8 years to recoup the cost. Over 12 years if no credit. So probably about the lifespan of the solar panels. Wish they just said what the solar panels and battery cost get a much better idea if solar offsets the cost. If you constantly get you money back at the time you have to replace everything, not as good as it sounds. But do like the idea of essentially being off the grid.

When we built our house, didn’t do solar, but did do the foam insulation, double paned windows, efficient appliances, etc., and our electric bills is much lower than what it used to be in a much more humid and hot city.


The (few) panels I have at my house are rated for 25 year life. My brother chose to cover his house and he has the same expectation. He did it six years ago and says it will have paid for itself by the end of the year, so 6 1/2 years, roughly. He does not have the battery backup, he sells excess power to his company but not for cash. He can get a credit for future costs, or he can give the credit in some amount to others. Weird things, I guess.

Anyway, Massachusetts. Electric costs are high, I gather, and they encourage solar with a mixture of rebates, incentives, time of day pricing, etc. Here in Tennessee not so much. TVA wants to keep control, their solar plan involves them managing huge solar farms, and not individual homeowners so much. (There’s still some, but it’s not compelling.)


Our HOA in Hawaii is thinking about getting solar panels. For some reason, we don’t get the tax credit if we buy them ourselves, so they’ve been looking at leases, which are based on how much power the system produces. Thus far the bids have all been for 20 year periods. The installers anyway seem to think they are good for that long.

In this case, it seems to be a good deal because it would lock in a power rate that is currently lower (but not a ton lower) than the local utility, and the inflator is fixed and probably less than inflation.

The risk is the local utility rates drop in the future. Which is possible but not terribly likely in my view.

Most PV systems are young—approximately 70% of solar energy systems in existence have been installed since 2017. The estimated operational lifespan of a PV module is about 30-35 years, although some may produce power much longer. While few systems are entering the waste stream right now, more systems will come to the end of their useful life in the next few decades.