Chan – Cincinnati, OH

By Solar United Neighbors on May 7, 2024

We’ve effectively prepaid our entire electricity bills for at least the next 25 years which will extend into our retirement, and raised the resale value of our home significantly.

Chan – Cincinnati, OH

Why did you decide to go solar?

We’d been contemplating solar for several years as a more direct way of “going green” than the not exactly transparent and verifiable method of choosing a clean energy supply through our utility service. We have gas furnace and water heater, though, so our overall electricity consumption is relatively low, making solar hard to justify financially. A combination of events recently changed that calculation–tree damage to our roof required significant replacement, purchase of an EV with home charger raised our consumption about 25%, and federal tax credits reduced the effective cost by about 30%. It was still a significant up front investment–we chose to purchase rather than lease or finance–but we’ve effectively prepaid our entire electricity bills for at least the next 25 years which will extend into our retirement, and raised the resale value of our home significantly.

What was the process like for you? Did anything surprise you, or were there challenges you had to overcome?

I’ve been following the solar panel industry for 20+ years and am impressed by the progress made to simplify and standardize the design and installation process. There are still annoying differences in local building codes to overcome, but the complexity of planning and installing is basically a thing of the past. We worked with a local independent business that has been exclusively focused on solar installations for 15 years, and are delighted with what has essentially been a hassle-free turnkey process. The initial quote/estimate was done remotely from property tax records and overhead map/photos and a brief video call. They right-sized the solution to cover cost or all of our expected consumption, covered all permits and inspections, even replaced the 30+ year old main power panel inside our home that clearly was not up to the task of supporting loads like our EV charger and a solar system. The complete installation took HALF A DAY! There were a couple minor software/connectivity issues related to updated inverters and software that they had just begun using, easily resolved over a few days, and our installer is now able to remotely monitor our system health and performance.

Have any of your habits changed since going solar?

The first couple months were quite fun–we have an app that monitors generation and consumption in real time, calculates our carbon footprint reduction and financial value of watts generated, and have enjoyed watching the “battle” between the solar panels output versus our consumption. Even on cloudy days, the panels are almost always winning. We have a net metering arrangement with the power company and therefore do not need to worry about timing our consumption or battery/storage of buffer capacity, but have shifted some of our heavier loads like laundry and car charging to daytime just to boost our “grid (in)dependence” score in the app. We do eventually plan to replace the gas furnace with a heat pump near the end of its life, though having just installed it 4 years ago that is hopefully a long way off. The gas water heater is more likely to need replacement, at which point we’ll surely go with an electric demand heater rather than a large storage tank.

Have you seen electricity savings since going solar? If so, what have you been able to do with that savings?

We’ve only been using solar for 3 months and not yet hit peak demand during AC season, but so far the panels have outproduced consumption, resulting in a net credit that’s offsetting our natural gas cost. Overall, our effective financial benefit produced via the solar panels is slightly more than we would have had to pay if we’d financed the project. We’re redirecting the funds that would have gone to the utility company back into our savings account that was drained quite a bit for the investment in solar.

What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?

It’s easier than you may think, costs have come down quite a bit, but it is still a significant investment that takes usually takes at least 10 years before paying for itself. There are lots of lease/finance options that avoid the up front cost, generally designed to “replace” your current electricity bill with a monthly solar payment, but it’s still a significant investment in the cost and value of the home.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We’ve generally tried to live more of a green lifestyle over the past 10-15 years, though recognize that most personal actions have very little impact. Converting to solar power has clearly been the biggest impact we as individuals can make to reduce our contribution to climate change and improving the air quality in our region.