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  • Writer's pictureRobert Hebert

Why Solar?

Why Solar? We think it’s a pretty smart way to prepare for uncertain times. In this article we will share the tools, data, and a reputable installer, then you can decide for yourself. Read through to the end for a discount opportunity!

Backstory: Both our residence, and our business, are powered by Solar Panels that were installed last summer, on our new roof! August 28th of 2019 they went online. To date we calculate that we have saved $1,120.00 on our Electric Bill.

Of course it wasn’t that simple.. It was no less than a whole can of worms! Because our roof was 15 years old, and our chimney needed re-pointing, and re-capping. Who in their right mind would put 25 year Solar Panels on a 15 year old roof, near a chimney that needed major work? Since work on the chimney did not require material selection, just a contractor, it could begin. But so did the agonizing over a shingle design and color. You thought these things would be easy for us? Precisely the opposite.

Ultimately, we chose a shingle that was a suitable match for the 25 year solar panel warranty. Choosing the color was the hard part. We had to solicit opinions on our Facebook Page and consider all 28 of the comments. Luckily Rob and I were in agreement, this time, so the shingle choice was made. In Late June the re-roof work began. After the roof and chimney were complete, we were ready for our Solar Panels!

Our initial investment for the system was $23,169. We are hopeful that it will pay for itself in savings in less than three years. Then we will continue to receive the pay-back for 22 additional years (to the end of the panel warranty and perhaps well beyond). fyi: A solar panel warranty assures you a minimum production percentage (say 80%-90%) in year 25. So our 350 watt panels will still be producing about 300 watts in 2,044.

Want to see the ComEd bill?

The amount shown is as low as the bill will get. There are taxes and fees, and delivery charges that will never go away. But – we’ll take it! Air conditioning season is in full swing and I can’t complain much about a $16.27 ComEd bill.

There are two components to the financial incentive for Solar Energy Systems. In other words, two different resources for significant rebates after installation of your Solar system.

The first component is the Federal Solar Tax Credit. Also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), in 2020 allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. You can also include some additional work that enables you to install panels in the total cost, like tree removal, pruning, and some other necessary items. Of course there are gray areas in the tax code related to other costs. Aren’t there always?

2020 Tax Credit 26%

2021 Tax Credit 22%

2022 Tax Credit 10%

The second financial incentive component is SREC. The acronym stands for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. SRECs are an incentive that allows homeowners to sell certificates for energy to their utility. A homeowner earns one SREC for every 1000 kilowatt hours (kWhs) produced by their solar panel system. After your solar power system is put online and supplies proof of it’s capability to the utility, the SREC is available to you. Illinois is one of ONLY 10 States with an active SREC market!

But again, there is a catch.

You can take quarterly payments over time, for your energy credits, or get them sooner, rather than later, by using the services of a “buyer” that will charge you a rate of about 10%. If you choose to receive them over time, you MAY get more money, because YOU will receive any excess production. If you go with a broker/buyer, they keep any excess production. We chose to sell ours up front based on the estimated (somewhat proven rate of production) for a 90% return. The broker/buyer keeps 10% of the production for advancing you the money. The buyer holds back an additional 5%, for 15 years, and if the estimated production pans out we will get the remaining 5% in year 15.

Meanwhile – to date, including SREC and Tax Credits, we have been reimbursed for all but $4,149.00 of the cost of our system. We have also saved $1,120.00 on our bill. You can easily see how the system could pay for itself very quickly, as we are already at the 27% mark!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I know if my home is suitable for solar production? – You can visit Google Project Sunroof, a website where you can enter your address to check your roof for “hot spots”. You can see all of your neighbors roofs as well! It is interesting to see how the rotation of your home on the site, effects your Solar production potential.

Who was your installation contractor?ICONIC Energy installed our system. We are fairly particular and very satisfied with the work. We also like their creative marketing and sense of humor!

Do you have battery storage? – NO. Our “Inverter” feeds power directly to the grid, sort of like running our meter backward. The inverter can be jumped over to feed the panel instead, if a future circumstance requires it.

Is there “solar equipment” inside your home? – YES. The Inverter is in our basement. It converts direct current (DC) power gathered by the panels to alternating current (AC) power that is usable in homes and businesses. Our inverter feeds directly into the power grid. It is in our basement very near the main panel box. It makes a constant humming noise when running that we call “the sound of money”.

How do you know if your system is producing? – Tracking software to monitor the production of our panels is connected via wifi. Rob really enjoys checking it every day to see how much money we made. Here is a screenshot of July 4th, 2020!

The purple line is the total generation of KWHs. The Blue line is the panels on the rear slope of our home, and the green line is the panels on the front slope of our home. As you might guess there are MORE panels on the rear slope.

Is there any risk of damage to my roof? The type of fasteners that are used to attach the solar panels to a residential roof are intended for a shingle style roof. They are specifically designed to NOT damage your roof. Be mindful that the age of your roof is capable of extending well into the life of your new panels though.

Do Solar Panels wear out? – Eventually, YES. What happens is the amount of power they are able to produce wanes. Our panels are warranted to produce 83% of their original capacity at the 25 year mark of use. If they are paid for in three years, we have 22 more years of 80% – 90% plus production!

What else can wear out, or cost us money? – Our inverter. The inverter is a significant material cost. About 25% of material costs. Our Fronius Primo Inverter has a “bumper to bumper” two year warranty. HOWEVER, we were able to get a five year extension, for a total of SEVEN full years by simply registering our unit, and allowing Fronius Wi-Fi access to our collection/production data. Our biggest potential outlay MIGHT be repair or replacement of the inverter. Since these systems and equipment are very new, everyone is estimating their lifespan. Here is a Website with more info!

What kind of warranty do panels have? One reason we used Iconic Energy was for the “Hanwha Q” Cell panel. It has one of the more robust warranties. Some manufacturers have a fixed percent production at milestone years. Some have a percent per year reduction/degradation. Be careful, you can buy a less expensive panel that may have a 70% warranted production at year 20! The Q Cell has a first year rating of 97% with a six tenths of one percent reduction in subsequent years. For a maximum year 25 production of 83%. Here is a third party review with evidence of that.

Design wise – our home just happens to be particularly well suited to the appearance of Solar Panels on the roof. Even from the front, it looks appropriate, don’t you think?

You’ve been waiting for it – Here it is – the DISCOUNT OPPORTUNITY!

Through the end of July 2020, Iconic Energy is offering a $1,000.00 per party incentive for referrals. You get $1,000.00, if you tell them we sent you. We get $1000.00 too, so be sure to tell us!

Meanwhile – for a better understanding, give Architect Rob a call. He can answer any of your questions, and even help you with the planning!


~ Next up – Stay tuned for details.. Lynn got her Real Estate Broker’s License! Now she can offer you the right guidance in your next Real Estate decision! More about this in our next post! ~

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