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Vivint Solar


jsabia85's Avatar
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11-08-14, 05:36 PM   #1  
Vivint Solar

I have been thinking about converting my home to solar. It just so happened that Vivint Solar stopped by my house today while I was doing to fall cleanup.

I ended up "signing up" but I am able to cancel at any time up until the date of installation. it will take about 4-5 months to get all of the permits and then we can schedule and install date.

The solar system has 0 upfront costs and I would be paying Vivint .15 per Kwh where I pay PSEG anywhere from .22-35 Kwh.

Has anybody had a "free" solar system installed? is it worth it or is it a gimmick? I am trying to do some research and see if it is really worth it.

 
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chandler's Avatar
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11-08-14, 06:16 PM   #2  
TANSTAFL. Do you have the facilities for them to install battery arrays and inverters to handle the DC to AC? Separate building, possibly? Who will build it or remodel your existing space? Who pays for the permits? Who does the engineer drawings for the permit department?

Basically, There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

 
Ron53's Avatar
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11-08-14, 06:47 PM   #3  
Well if they are giving away free systems how in the world are they making money to stay in business? Ultimately YOU will be paying for that free system. Nothing in life is free!

And I might mention that there is usually a 3 day cancel window on most of those type of contracts and after that your stuck. I would cancel asap and research them and their system offer(s) thoroughly, you can always call them back after you have done your homework and sign up for the system or not.

 
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11-09-14, 05:22 AM   #4  
Technically you are right, its not free. The way they make money is that they become your new utility company. I pay them for the energy my solar panels produced. Whatever energy I dont use gets sent back to my actual electric company. So vivnt owns the system and I pay them for electricity at a reduced rate.

 
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11-09-14, 06:06 AM   #5  
.... but do they have a minimum charge? remember it only produces electricity on sunny days. who pays for maintenance/repairs?


retired painter/contractor avid DIYer

 
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11-09-14, 06:20 AM   #6  
...and who provides you power on those cloudy days??? You will still be paying your POCO for power, and as Marksr indicates most have a minimum charge. You will need a monstrous battery bank to run your house at night as well. I'm just glad I didn't use their business model for my company. I'd be broke in a week with all that infrastructure

 
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11-10-14, 01:03 AM   #7  
I can't speak for Vivint specifically but in general what these companies do is to install a grid-tied solar array on your house and then add several meters to keep track of how much solar electricity is generated and how much is sent back to the utility. Since the utility must pay something close to "total avoided cost" for that electricity it CAN be a money maker for the solar company. There is no battery bank and (obviously) no solar electricity generated during dark hours. During the dark hours the homeowner is using electricity direct from his/her electric utility and is being billed for it.

As an example, during the day the solar array is generating 10 kW/hour while the house is consuming 3 kW/hour. That means that nothing is drawn from the utility AND the utility is gaining 7kW per hour. The homeowner will be billed by the solar company for that 3 kW/hour while also being paid for the 7 kW/hour by the utility. The price being charged to the homeowner by the solar company is less than the standard rate from the utility thereby saving the homeowner money.

The solar company absorbs all the up-front costs and is re-paid over the life of the contract by getting a fairly large chunk of money from the electric utility and by the charge the make to the homeowner for the electricity generated by the solar array that is NOT sold to the utility. It CAN be a win-win situation IF the contract terms are not skewed too much in favor of the solar company.

 
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11-10-14, 03:22 AM   #8  
A doctor friend of mine has a monster array on top of a barn which is tied to the grid. The way his works is he pays regular price for his consumed electricity, but the POCO (TVA) pays him far and above the consumed price in recompense for the energy he produces. He produces much more than he uses. His payback time was 5 years. Simpler plan, IMO.

 
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11-10-14, 05:31 AM   #9  
Also look into the power company pricing trends in your area. Because the power company must still maintain the lines and generating capacity to provide power when your system is not producing there is a growing trend in the industry to charge a service fee or higher rate to those with supplemental solar. They can't cover their costs by selling you electricity so they are starting to recoup their costs in other ways.

 
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