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gchiu

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#192344 7-Mar-2016 15:16
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Has anyone done an analysis of the SolarCity SolarZero+ offering?

 

This is when they install panels on your roof, and provide a battery for night time use of the stored solar power.

 

It seems you're stuck with a 20 year contract which you have to pass on to the next owner of the house, but you don't pay any installation costs.  You only pay a fixed fee based on an analysis of your usage.  But it's not clear if that's a rate or fixed monthly cost.


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Dynamic
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  #1507544 7-Mar-2016 15:41
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I've set a 'watch' on this thread to see the thoughts that others have on the offer.  My first thought is that this is a flaming long time to be stuck with one technology. For me, the payback periods are still too long.





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rphenix
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  #1507550 7-Mar-2016 15:50
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20 years and only one change of batteries included sounds a bit worrying to me.


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  #1507557 7-Mar-2016 16:01
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rphenix: 20 years and only one change of batteries included sounds a bit worrying to me.

 

It's my understanding that Lithium Ion batteries are good for 10 years or more if they are looked after.  I can't find any data to back that up at short notice.  The battery management system is key to this.  Most laptop batteries die after a few years because they have been slowly cooked due to constant charging.





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richms
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  #1507574 7-Mar-2016 16:15
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One thing that I couldnt work out with the other solar zero system is how they determine how much of the power from their panels is used by you, and how much has gone back to the grid.

 

I just went for buying the panels outright since if they are offering things on finance like that, it is to make them money so buying outright will be cheaper.





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gchiu

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  #1507965 8-Mar-2016 10:38
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 Since you've had some interaction with them, can you say whether they calculate a fixed fix per month or whether it's a fixed rate.

 

Presumably they can calculate how much power the panels are producing, and how much you're using.  Though since some of your power is going to be stored in their battery, the storage won't be 100% efficient so I wonder how they work that out.Also if there is a power failure, are you better off with the battery?  Or does it all shut down?And are their rates the same as the local power company, or more expensive?  ( that is they're counting on the price of power rising )


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  #1507968 8-Mar-2016 10:44
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I've just submitted an inquiry and will advise of progress.  It would have to be a very strong case for me to sign up.





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gchiu

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  #1507984 8-Mar-2016 11:10
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 Although 20 years is a long time to be stuck with one technology, the same is if you purchase outright.

 

I presume battery technology will improve in 10 years time so your next battery will be better ...




trig42
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  #1507987 8-Mar-2016 11:12
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My Parents have panels on their house installed by SolarCity. No Battery.

 

The business model is that SolarCity becomes your retailer for Solar Power, and your existing retailer remains for the rest (that's how I have understood it from Dad explaining it to me).

 

Depending on how much you paid for the panels, the rate at which you buy the solar generated from the panels on your home changes. My parents paid the full whack (the most they could, not sure if it is the full installation costs), so they pay a very low rate per kWh for the power generated (in fact, it might be that they pay nothing) that they use from the panels. As a result, they turn off their HWC before sunset, and turn it back on in the morning, they run dishwasher and washing machines during the day etc etc. They have only had it running since about Christmas, so haven't really got a full accounting with proper meter readings but they think it is saving them about $80-90 on what was a monthly power bill of $140ish.

 

If you get the panels installed for free, the rate you buy that power for is a little bit less/about the same as what you'd get it from your retailer for. It is fixed, however, for the term (so if your retailer puts prices up - and lets be honest, they won't go down - you'll end up better off). The payoff does come a lot later in this scenario, but it is there.

 

My parents did it because they were in a position to afford the full install, and liked the idea of 'doing their bit', and paying Mercury/whoever less per month. They are happy with it. The install was tidy, and Dad logs into the unit from a web browser/phone and it tells him how much power is coming off the roof and has pretty graphs and history etc. (he likes that sort of stuff!)


gchiu

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  #1507994 8-Mar-2016 11:23
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 So, what happens if you get the panels installed for free, and don't use the power eg. go on holiday. Sure, you pay your usual electricity company line charges.  But what do SolarCity charge in that scenario?

 

 

 

And I guess if they want you to consume as much solar power as possible, they will oversize the panels so that more can be stored for night time use.


trig42
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  #1507999 8-Mar-2016 11:24
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Nothing I think. You only pay for what you use I believe.


richms
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  #1508000 8-Mar-2016 11:28
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gchiu:

 

 Since you've had some interaction with them, can you say whether they calculate a fixed fix per month or whether it's a fixed rate.

 

Presumably they can calculate how much power the panels are producing, and how much you're using.  Though since some of your power is going to be stored in their battery, the storage won't be 100% efficient so I wonder how they work that out.Also if there is a power failure, are you better off with the battery?  Or does it all shut down?And are their rates the same as the local power company, or more expensive?  ( that is they're counting on the price of power rising )

 

 

I didn't get very far with that line since I figured at lousy bank savings rates less the tax on it vs solar, I was paid up in 7 years to just buy the things assuming I could use 80% of the power they make. In the 2 weeks I have had them on and running I have only sold back 6 kWh so am well above that, but the slope of the roof means I am down on production at the moment, will be better when the sun gets a little lower.

 

They did mention that because I was putting them on an outbuilding that they would have to take a feed back to the main panel, which didnt happen when I went for just buying outright so perhaps they have some other way of metering things on solar zero.





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gchiu

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  #1508002 8-Mar-2016 11:30
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So, you only pay for the power that you use that is produced by the panels, at a rate that will likely be always cheaper then your current electricity provider.

 

What's the catch?


richms
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  #1508012 8-Mar-2016 11:34
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No idea what happens with the power it produces that I do not use, no guarentee that it will always be cheaper than grid, if the changes to grid pricing happen as many expect then it could lead to drastic variance between on and off peak powers, and a large shift to paying a daily charge based on peak usage at peak times. This would quite possibly make grid power cheaper than the solar rates.

 

It's a lot to commit to for a long time.





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gchiu

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  #1508015 8-Mar-2016 11:36
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 I wonder if there's a way to purchase the panels outright if grid power becomes cheaper then the fixed rate you're locked into?


gchiu

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  #1508323 8-Mar-2016 17:19
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I did some more reading on their site.

 

They say it can be used for emergency power.  So, there must be a way to do a grid disconnect if the grid goes down.

 

They also use the power from your electricity supplier to top up the battery at the cheapest rate.


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