Solar panels - lifetime productivity and maintenance costs
Posted: Wednesday, 9/27/16 @ 11am EST
Updated: Thursday, 7/20/17 @ 11am EST
As you may already know, a solar panel system is good for the environment, but it has always been thought of as prohibitively expensive to install and maintain. The reality is that the costs of installing and maintaining such a system are falling every day. Over the years it has become an increasingly affordable and easy to maintain alternative source of electricity.
The primary costs for solar electricity are those associated with products and installation. Converting a residential home to a solar residential home can run the owner an average of $35,000-$50,000 depending on what kind of system is purchased and how large their estimated energy needs are. Keep in mind, with a 30% federal tax credit, $1,000 state tax credit, Solar Renewable Energy Credits and net metering, payback is usually within 3-7 years.
To better compare solar electricity costs, it's important to compare it what people are paying for traditional electricity. Understandably, the price of electricity varies from state to state, but it is still helpful to think about nationwide averages. The average price per kWh is highest in Hawaii at ~$0.2867 per kilowatt hour (kWh), and the lowest in Louisana at $0.0834 kWh. The average U.S. household pays $0.109 kWh, for an average monthly electricity use of 911kWh, with a bill of $99.30 before taxes and fees. Keep in mind, in Massachusetts, the average price per kWh is $0.1969, making an average bill about $179.38, almost double that of the national average. (Updated 7/20/17; Source: https://www.electricchoice.com/electricity-prices-by-state/).
Solar energy can offset these costs tremendously. When Boston Solar evaluates homes, we take a look at the roof (pitch & azimuth) and your electricity bill and are seeking to offset your electricity costs as close to 100% as possible.
There are minimal to no maintenance costs. A properly installed solar system does not require much maintenance. Over the course of its 30 year average life, there are few ongoing costs associated with the system as a whole. Examples of these costs could be monitoring issues, wire maintanance (maybe a squirrel ate through a wire) or the inverter not communicating. A quick call to Boston Solar will help you evaluate whether or not this would require us to be on site.
Anyone who has considered going solar or who has gone solar consider the initial capital and subsequent negligible maintenance costs of a solar panel system to be worth the investment. Although there is an initial upfront investment (financing options are available), technology advancements and increasingly available equipment decrease these costs every day. As new systems are designed to be even more energy efficient and last longer than 30 years, the kWh cost will continue to decrease, and it will continue to be a practical way to enjoy consistent and reliable green energy.
On a final note, solar panels generally have a 1-2% degrading factor per year depending on climatic conditions and can suffer up to a 8% production discount from soiling effects (this is noted on all datasheets for solar panels and what the 25 year warranty will cover over this time period). The great thing is, solar panels are basically self cleaning.... 1 foot snow storm yesterday, don't worry, the sun shines and melts the snow, and your panels are back to producing. However, if you are concerned about maintenance, Boston Solar offers yearly maintenance plans to its customers that can also be packaged with a solar system purchase.
Director of Marketing at Boston Solar