My family and I moved to Lafayette, Louisiana a little over a year ago. We were pleasantly surprised to find out Louisiana has some of the best solar incentives in the country, and were eager to install a solar panel system on our home. The process started out similar to just about any other large purchase – we did our research, and got estimates from several solar installation companies. We asked the installers about their competition and why they were the best for the job – just like any other contractor or car dealer. However, we decided to hold off for a year, in good part because it appeared that the solar photovoltaics industry was in price free-fall in 2011; and, if we just waited, we could get more solar energy for the same price. After that year, I just contacted our former installers again and they all gave me updated quotes within a week.
I received the updated quotes the second week of October 2012. A week later, we had a contract signed. By the first week in November, our house had some funny looking rack system installed. Three workers came to our house and banged away on the roof for about 6 hours and conducted the electrical work. Our panels hadn’t arrived yet, but I was assured it’d only take a few hours to set all 23 panels in place. And by the second week in November, our house had solar panels installed.
Solar prices have definitely dropped. We’re able to get 110% of what we would have gotten last year, for the same price – instead of a 5 kilowatt system, we will be getting a 5.5 kW system for the same $25,000. Roughly, that means the payback is about 10% quicker. We were able to purchase some very high quality Sharp solar panels, which were manufactured in nearby Memphis, Tennessee.
In addition to a 30% federal tax credit (which reduces our system cost by $7,500), Louisiana has its own tax credit for an additional 50% (or $12,500). Our out-of-pocket expense, after all is said and done, will only be about $5,000.
Solar panels are estimated to last about 25 years (and likely, much longer than that). But based on our estimates, our new solar panels will pay for themselves in about 8 years. Over the life of the panels, our investment will generate in a 7%-11% annual rate of return for 20-25 years. Compare that rate of return to your 401k, certificates of deposit or even your savings account and you’ll see why solar is a smart choice, particularly in Louisiana!
If you’re interested in seeing how much electricity our solar panels are generating today (or any other day), feel free to visit our public profile on Enphase here.