Do the math...

by Matt Lesak

I've been researching the cost/benefit of investing in a few solar panels to offset my electrical consumption.  What I'm discovering is how efficient the power company is at making electricity.

I pay around $.07/kWh, but add in all of the other fees, taxes, etc., it comes out to be around $.09/kWh.  With that in mind, I looked at purchasing two, 300W monocrystalline solar panels, and a 1000W grid tie inverter.  On a perfect day, I would be able to produce about 600W/h for about 4 hours (this is factoring in cloudy days, winters, etc.)

600W/h X 4 hours = 2.4kW/day X 30 days = 72kW/month.

72kW/month * $.09 = $6.48 per month in savings.

The equipment costs:

Two 300W solar panels ($250/each) + Grid Tie Inverter ($280) + wiring ($30) = $810

Take $810/$6.48 = 125 months = ~10.4 years to break even on my investment.  Read that again, over 10 years!  I'm always amazed when you actually take the time, "do the math" and the data you're seeking is presented.  Now, will this stop me from "playing" around with the idea, nope, but it's good to know what to expect, and more importantly, what not to expect.