5 year anniversary of my Solarcity/Tesla panel installation

PatrickM

Active Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
159
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#1
So approximately 5 years ago this week, Solarcity installed a 6.5kW photovoltaic array on the roof of our house. It's in 2 strings of 13 panels that are 250W each. The system has survived one massive hailstorm mostly without damage and all the rest of the weather that we get in Colorado. Although about half the panels have at least one cell inside that is cracked from getting hit by 2.5"/6.4cm hailstones but this damage that was deemed insufficient for a warranty replacement (output was not sufficiently affected). But even with a bunch of cracks in cells, the whole thing has been flawless for 5 years. The output of the array more or less matches our usage in our house depending on the season, although my new Model 3 has tipped us over into having to pay electric bills again.

I did a solar pre-paid lease - which was $8200 - for a 20 year lease of the panels. Leases seems to have a big negative reaction on the internet - over on Reddit's /r/solar just mentioning the "L word" will cause the Reddit horde to declare that your intelligence level is lower than a crustaceon - but I've been very happy with the lease. I paid $8200 in one payment back in 2013, and I get everything the panels produce for 20 years and if anything goes wrong with the system, they are supposed to fix it for free over the 20 year period and pay me for the lost output. If I'd have had to scrape together $30k to install the system and then wait to get reimbursed for state, local and federal credits for a system, I'd still be waiting to install solar so I thought the lease was a great deal.

As of right now, my monitor says that I have produced over 47MW over the life of the system which is more than halfway to paying off the array - I have about 3.5 more years to go.

Solarcity has been fabulous to deal with throughout the whole process and every since. They did a great job with the installation, they were great at convincing my HOA to approve it (which was a HUGE help to me), and they were flexible about how the panels were placed to make the array look a bit better and when I had to have all the panels removed to re-roof the house after the storm they charged a one-time flat $500 for the removal and reinstallation which I thought was more than reasonable.

But at the end of the day, it boggles my mind that I have a system on my house that creates enough electricity to cook our food, wash our clothes, power our TV and our computer and keep the lights on.... and almost enough to power my car. It's sort of amazing when you think about it - you install a bunch of large black tiles on your roof and it makes electricity which makes all sort of things happen.

And now, with our utility moving to time-of-use billing for electricity this autumn, I may install a Powerwall on it.

If there is any curiousity about the cracks from the hailstorm, here's some photos. I have lots (and lots) more but they all sort of look the same:
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
17
Location
CA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#2
That is quite impressive and a lease would be especially beneficial to someone that does not plan to live at the location long term.
 

Brokedoc

Kick-Gas Contributor
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
1,715
Location
New York
Tesla Owner
Model X
Country
Country
#3
Did you get the ability to view your Solarcity panel status thru the Tesla Model 3 app on your phone?
 

Bokonon

Self-identified Teslaholic
Moderator
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2017
Messages
3,089
Location
Boston
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#6
Did you get the ability to view your Solarcity panel status thru the Tesla Model 3 app on your phone?
No... does that exist yet? I didn't think they'd released it yet.
I know for sure that you can see powerwall stats on the app but I'm not sure if solar-only customers also have that feature.
View attachment 9419
Strange, the Tesla Solar sales rep I spoke to a few weeks ago emphasized that I would be able to monitor my hypothetical solar array in the same Tesla that I used for my car, and his proposal for my house did not include a Powerwall. Maybe there's still some systems integration work left to be done, at least for legacy installations...?
 

GRiMm-V-

Active Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2018
Messages
85
Location
Portland OR
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#7
So I have both solar and a model 3. The panels were installed by Tesla but the contract was signed when it was still Solarcity. So initially I had to monitor using my solarcity app.

However sometime this March, I got an email from Tesla announcing that I could use the Tesla app to monitor the system. I have been using that for a while now. Later once I got the Model 3, it just showed up in the app as well. No Powerwall needed.
 

CoastalCruiser

Active Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2017
Messages
112
Location
San Francisco
Tesla Owner
Reservation
Country
Country
#8
"I did a solar pre-paid lease - which was $8200 - for a 20 year lease of the panels"

20 years? It almost sounds like a [nice] "lease to own" deal. Are they talking about actually picking up the equipment at lease end? ;>
 

PatrickM

Active Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
159
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#9
20 years? It almost sounds like a [nice] "lease to own" deal. Are they talking about actually picking up the equipment at lease end?
Its not a lease to own. There will be a fair bit of residual if I want to buy it. I'd have to pull up my contact to see how much though. And, yeah, the plan is that they will remove it and take everything away. And then I'll swap out my 250W panels for the 500W panels that we will have then. Or maybe Mr.Fusion or whatever else they will have invented.
 
Joined
Oct 26, 2018
Messages
17
Location
Fullerton, CA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#10
You’re situation is very similar to mine, we had our Sola City system installed about 4 years ago, we did a prepaid lease also (primary difference is that my Model 3 is still 6 days away from delivery!) Our system will pay for itself in about 2 more years (cost of prepaid lease vs electric savings). We did a lease in large part because Solar City has responsibility for maintenance on system, sort of like having a 20 year warranty. Like you, I figure when the lease ends , they’ll be willing to sell the system at some very low price or I’ll have them remove it and replaced with much better tech. I’ve been very happy with this decision.
 

Bigriver

Top-Contributor
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
557
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Tesla Owner
Model X
Country
Country
#11
But at the end of the day, it boggles my mind that I have a system on my house that creates enough electricity to cook our food, wash our clothes, power our TV and our computer and keep the lights on.... and almost enough to power my car. It's sort of amazing when you think about it - you install a bunch of large black tiles on your roof and it makes electricity which makes all sort of things happen.
Same here! It’s like the sun raining down free energy, and I’m putting out my buckets to catch it. 🌞
 

gary in NY

Active Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2018
Messages
176
Location
Woodstock, NY
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#12
It's fascinating to see the system produce energy. Well, it's not like you can see the electrons moving, but you can monitor the energy output. Now with the sun higher in the sky, the system is heading back into the plus side (net metered - I used up my credit a month or so ago). My system was spec'd out be for I had the car, so I'm not quite "net zero".

There are even fewer moving parts than the car has (none really), there is nothing you have to do, and it should work for the next 25+ years. They should be on every roof. Now, to get a few power walls.
 

Bigriver

Top-Contributor
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
557
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Tesla Owner
Model X
Country
Country
#13
It's fascinating to see the system produce energy. Well, it's not like you can see the electrons moving, but you can monitor the energy output. Now with the sun higher in the sky, the system is heading back into the plus side (net metered - I used up my credit a month or so ago). My system was spec'd out be for I had the car, so I'm not quite "net zero".

There are even fewer moving parts than the car has (none really), there is nothing you have to do, and it should work for the next 25+ years. They should be on every roof. Now, to get a few power walls.
We are at the time of year that our roof is at the ideal pitch relative to the angle of the sun. Today was our highest solar production day since we activated the system 8 months ago. This wasn’t intuitive to me, that a cold day in March (high of 48 F here) can produce more than a long, hot summer day. We haven’t had it producing for the summer solstice yet, so maybe there are still higher production days ahead. Regardless, it’s exciting to watch the kWh rack up and the electric meter spin backwards.
 
Last edited: