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dennis said:
How much does that produce for you?
The system is rated at 3.665KW. I've got 31x140W panels, then subtract the inefficiencies.

gnatster said:
I've always wondeed, whats the ROI on a system like that, how long and was help offered on the intial outlay?
OK...I bought the system two years ago. Initial cost was about $33k. State rebate brought out of pocket to ~$16K. Add to that the 15% (~$2500) state tax credit, and final realized cost is about $13.5K once I owe the state anything on my taxes :) At least the credit will be there until I need it. That's kind of nice.

As for help...we had the cash on hand. That's a long story :)

Also, the installer ate the rebate at first, so I didn't have to have $33k up front. We signed papers to have the rebate sent right to the installer. I've got to think this makes it easier for the buyer to come up with cash.

nikolay said:

Would you describe your solar panel system in rough details (batteries, hook-up, downsides if any)?

What paperwork/redtape is involved?

Anything else?

The basic set up is the solar panels generating DC voltage.

This runs down to the inverters:

The two inverters (each rated at 2500W), send AC current into the electrical distribution (Which has been upgraded to a 200AMP service panel since installation). The inverters use the grid electricity as the source for phase relationships (generators have to be "in phase" when brought in parallel or else there can be significant damage to one or both sides). Without a connection to the grid, no electricity can be produced. You'll notice each inverter has a nice big red handle. This will disconnect it from the grid. There are also the smaller grey disconnect boxes that do the same thing.

If I had spent the additional money for a battery system AND to be taken off the grid, I would have had to have a DC -> AC inverter as well. But in my case, there was no real reason to have batteries. I'm suburban, in an area that isn't on the rolling blackout list :p

All paperwork is filled out by the installers, up front. It was really a painless installation. Also part of the paperwork is a 5 yr warrantee on the inverters (About $3-5k each) and 25yr on the panels.

And I'll answer this one now... No. My electric company does not buy back electricity. If I generate equal to or more than I use, I get charged a minimum monthly fee. If I generate less than I use, I just get the regular electrical bill ($3-$20 depending on AC use and hot tub use). Your electric provider may buy it back. If mine ever changes, either voluntarily or by decree of the gubernator, I have room for up to 5kw of production with my inverters and obviously plenty of space for more panels...

Once the install was done, we went from monthly bills to net metering. This means an annual bill instead of monthly.

When planning for my system, I took my last 12 months of use (provided by provider in excel - made it easy to calculate things) and added in the hot tub estimates as the hot tub went in about 3 weeks before the solar power.

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