The TRUTH about solar energy [4k]


(snare drum beats) (upbeat jazz) – [Phil] So this may be
the coolest video I think that I’ve ever done. And I’ve been waiting for
a long time to do it now. It might even be cooler
than when I got to get behind the wheel of a Tesla
Model 3, and I love that one. So this spring, my wife and
I decided to do a little work up here on top of our house. Or okay actually, we paid
somebody else to do the work but you get the idea. We went solar-ish, I’ll
explain that in a minute. Here’s the thing though, okay? I know that this isn’t gonna
be doable for everyone, I totally get that. It’s gonna have a lot to
do with where you live, it’s gonna have a lot to
do with your house itself and the direction it faces, it’s gonna have a lot
to do with the things around your house. What you’re gonna get
here is my experience with the whole solar thing. We’re gonna start with the questions I had before I even had any idea
if this was feasible for us. Yeah, we’re gonna talk
about the money, okay? We’re gonna talk about how much this cost, I will absolutely tell you. And we’re gonna talk about
how much I might be saving. So you ready? Let me get down from
here, we’ll go do this. (upbeat music) So here’s how we’re gonna do this thing. I wanna start with the
questions that I had before a single solar panel
went up there on the roof. First, why should we do this? What is the purpose? Am I gonna save the planet? Of course not. Am I gonna save a little money, maybe. Is it gonna be a combination
of the two, yeah. And then the obvious question,
how much is it going to cost? Is this gonna be affordable for us at all? And then kind of the technical question, what can solar do? What can it do? Is it even gonna be
feasible here where I live? Obviously, it was. So we started with three
estimates from three companies. Take your time, absolutely
get more than one quote. Now the first thing
you’re gonna do for almost any of these though, is send
them a copy of your power bill. (mumbles) one in the last 12 months, that was simple enough to pull
off their website, real easy. That’ll give them an idea
of how much power we use month to month, so they’ll
know how big a system they need to design. And once they had that, they took our address and
they plugged it all into a little computer program
that takes a look with satellite pictures, and says all right, here’s where you live, here’s
how much sun you’ll get throughout the year, here all
the trees that are nearby, and here’s how big of a solar system we need to build for you. Other questions we had were
a little more technical, if overly simple, right? Like what happens at night,
or when clouds are over head? Do we lose power? Is there some weird, manual
switchover we have to do? Is there any maintenance involved, or what happens with
the excess electricity that hopefully we’ll be generating. And a big one for us here in Florida, if and when the next hurricane comes, are these solar panels just essentially gonna turn into a big wing, and
lift our roof off the house? So you can never ask
too many questions here. And here’s one more really
important thing to know and it’s really the reason
why I did this this year. Right now, there’s a 30
percent federal tax credit for renewable energy. So essentially, if we did this this year, we’d be able to lop off almost
a third of the cost of it. Now taxes can be a little more complicated than they need to be, I know but, here’s the real basic gist of it. Right now at first,
technically we’re only paying interest only on the loan. Although we’re actually paying ahead. Now in 2020, when we file our 2019 taxes, we’re gonna get a whole
trunk of money back right? More than $10,000. And you take that money and
you apply it back to the loan. And that’s where that savings comes in. Now the credit is 30 percent through 2019. Next year in 2020, it
drops down to 26 percent, and it’ll drop down to 22 percent in 2021. So that’s why we went ahead
and did all this this year. Now every good company’s gonna
walk you through this, okay? Take your time, ask a lot of questions, there are no dumb questions. And be sure, be sure, be sure,
to get multiple estimates. So two of the three local solar
companies that I talked to in this whole little
endeavor, do some sort of home mitigation in conjunction with the solar. So the idea is, if you take
care of some of the other stuff in the house that maybe
needs to be worked on, whether it’s fixing the
air conditioning ducts, or doing something with insulation, then you don’t need as many
solar panels on top of the house and that’ll actually
save you a little money. And then the company that we
ultimately decided to go with, what they offer is
something even different. They will come into your
attic, suck out all the old insulation that’s up here
and put down spray foam. Now if you’ve never
seen spray foam before, just look it up on YouTube, right? They’re a million videos, super awesome. They have a hose and they spray it up here on the, on the inside of the roof deck, and it expands and it seals all the gaps. So what it’s gonna do is
seal this entire attic including up here in the ridge vent, and just make this big envelope to keep all the heat in, to
keep all the cold air in, and I’m gonna oversimplify
it but what it really does is seal the entire house together,
you know to varying degrees. I’m in Florida, so we don’t
maybe worry about that the same way you would
worry about it way up north, but it’s gonna help for sure. And the idea is that it’s gonna save us about 20 percent of
our energy bill, right? The other 80 percent should be made up by the solar panels that
are gonna be up on the roof. But even before we got to that point, I had a couple people come
up and look at the roof, and try to give me a lifespan on it, because as you can guess,
when it’s time to re-shingle your roof, the solar stuff’s
all gonna have to come down and go back up, and
that’s an additional cost. But we decided, we have
enough life left in ours, we’re about halfway through,
so it was time to get going. Now the solar company should
take care of everything, right? They’re gonna do all the
designs, they’re gonna do the engineering, they’re
gonna pull all the permits, and then they’re gonna
do the installation. All I had to do was wait. So first the rack system went up, and the wiring all runs
through that, into the attic, and finally down into the electric box. Now our system uses micro-inverters with one under every single solar panel. And that changes the
direct current electricity created by the panels,
into alternating current that residential home uses. That all gets fed into this control box before finally being fed into the house, or back to the grid. Now everything you see here
may well vary a little bit, depending on where you live
and what regulations you have. The panels went up after that. I’ve got 36 in all, each
rated for 300 watts. I tell ya, they went up remarkably fast. Once the rails were up,
it’s really just a matter of plopping ’em down, clipping
in a couple of connections, bolt ’em into place, and they’re done. And after that, we waited. Inspections by the city, and then finally by the power company, they took a couple weeks. Nothing I could do in the meantime, I just had solar panels to look at. And they were pretty, they just
weren’t doing anything yet. But we passed inspections, then it’s time to start making electricity. So let’s talk about the
solar system itself. Again, it’s gonna vary
depending on what you get, where your house is, how
much you need to generate, here’s what I’ve got. So the 36 300 watt panels
and micro-inverters make up a 10.8 kilowatt hour system. Now, exactly how much energy
we make on a daily basis depends on all sorts of things. There’s no sun, there’s no solar energy. So some days are better than others. In what direction your home
is facing matters as well. I have more room on the eastern side, so that’s what we went
with, even though south is really where you wanna start. Now the time of year matters too right? May, June, July, August, we
were making a whole bunch of solar when the sun was out. I don’t know what the difference is yet. We’re gonna find out this winter and it’s gonna be really
interesting to see. So once the system’s up and running there’s really nothing for me to do except to sit back and let
the panels do their thing. There isn’t really any
maintenance except to just make sure that there aren’t
any leaves, or you know, a whole lot of pollen on top of them, which is definitely a
thing here in Florida. And of course, there’s
an app for all this. So I can see in relative real
time, exactly how much power is being made and I can
see stats for each day, month, year, and lifetime. It’s pretty cool. I can’t actually control
anything, ’cause there’s nothing to control there. What I can’t see is
any real-time stats for how much power my house is using. I know there’s third party stuff, you can plug in to your electric box, I just haven’t gotten there yet. Be really cool if my
power company had that, but it doesn’t. Anyway, when the sun’s
up, I’m making power and that’s what the home is using first. When sun’s down, or it’s
cloudy, or the house is just pulling more than I’m generating
from the solar panels, then I’m pulling
electricity from the grid. I’m absolutely still grid side. And that’s actually kind of important, because we don’t have any way
to store any of the energy we are creating. If we don’t use it, it’s
sent right back to the grid. And at night, obviously we gotta pull it from the power company. Now maybe we’ll look in the
batteries at some point. It’s an additional cost
and actually the company that did our install just
started doing Tesla Powerwall, so that could be a really cool option. But again, it’s a lot more money. Speaking of which, let’s get
down to the dirty details, the money and how much all of this costs. So first off, this 36 panel system, and the spray foam in the
attic cost about $37,600. So about as much as a
pretty nice, new car, right? Now we should get nearly
$11,000 back next year from that tax credit, which we’re then just gonna turn around and put right back into the loan. So call this whole
thing, you know, $26,000 with nothing paid out-of-pocket. If you got cash you wanna put up upfront, that’ll make the whole
thing even less expensive over the long run. And what we said was all right, we’re still gonna have to pay
the power companies something. There’s a minimum
connection fee every month, it’s about $25. So let’s figure we
gotta spend another 175, $200 a month paying off the solar, and keep things relatively
the same as what they were. We were paying the power
company $200 before, let’s try to keep what we’re paying for the solar about $200. So did our power bill shrink? Yeah, absolutely. I’ve got six months of
used underarm belts now, and here’s where we’re at. Since the solar system went live, I have not paid the power company anymore than $25 a month. That’s it, that’s the
minimum connection fee that we have to pay them
just to be hooked up. So in other words, we’ve
made more energy than we’ve used this summer. So, sort of, all right. The excess energy all goes
into this virtual bank at the end of the month. So you take what we’ve generated, subtract what we used from the grid, if anything left over, goes there, okay? Now if we have a month
where we used more energy from the grid than we created, say there just wasn’t so much sun, or it was super odd this summer, we use the air conditioning all the time. Then it will pull the
difference out of that bank. And in fact my bank’s right
about empty right now. It’s been a really hot summer, and we had a couple cloudy weeks. But I haven’t had to pay the power company anymore than that minimum
$25 connection fee. So, pretty much we’re braking even which is exactly what we
wanted when we went into this. So that was our experience
moving our house to solar. Okay, not 100 percent solar, mostly solar. We’re still tied to the
grid, we’re still gonna need their power at least a night right? But you get the idea okay? We’re trying to at least
offset what we’re using from the grid with renewable energy. Did I tell you it’s a little funny, because now that we
have all this up there, I’m tryna game the
system a little bit okay? I’m absolutely making sure
that we keep lights off more often and we’re not
using the air conditioning nearly as much. ‘Cause the idea is I
need to be able to pay for all these panels, right? And that’s where the money’s gonna go now. And maybe, just maybe,
I feel like we’re saving a tiny, little sliver of
the planet by doing this. I know it’s not really true but it makes me feel better, okay? Let me have that. So if you got any more
questions about going solar or the federal tax credit
or questions you should ask, hit me up in the comments,
go find me on the socials. That’s it, see you next time. (upbeat music)

10 Comments

  1. We got solar last year and it has been nothing but a headache. We still have a power bill it really hasn't dropped the power bill. The inverter has broken multiple times. Just blargh.

  2. Nice to see! Would love to hear small updates after a year or longer. What's the maintenance been like has there been any issues. I live in Florida as well and will look into this in the next house I purchase. Thanks for the insight.

  3. I also went solar in September. 35 panels. Now I'm looking at my app everyday hoping I can make around 40kwh. My system came out at 35k. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the video. Always been curious about solar and love the way you construct your videos. Will most likely be doing this to our fifth wheel when we move to a minimalist retirement.

  5. I Ilive in Florida too. I think there is a law that prevents you from being “off grid.” Even if you buy enough battery you still must maintain a physical connection to the grid. Thanks FPL and Duke for that!

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