diy solar

diy solar

Does Solar Pay for Itself? Is it worth it?

As an EE, I'd wager good money that the total energy consumption is the same regardless of the type of starting capacitors deployed. If someone thinks their bill is dropping substantially, it's not the starting capacitors.
It employs a 4-part start ramp sequence that is self-optimizing, resulting in the lowest possible start-up current. EasyStart can deliver a start current reduction of up to 75% of a compressor's LRA (locked-rotor amperage). It's not just capacitors.
Makes my California rate of average $0.39/kWh look like a joke. Lol, I didn't know there were ANY places under $0.08-0.10/kWh anymore
How do the utilities charge the low rate per Kwh? It's quite simple, there are fees added on. My power company has a fuel adjustment charge, a regional transmission service charge, etc. The rate has not increased since 2020, but the fees have. One fee is annual adjustment, another is variable for each month.

The former local rural electric coop utility merged with another from Minnesota. They increased the rate from $0.10/Kwh to $0.115/Kwh but also increased the daily service fee by 60%. So a member who uses low Kwh per month actuall pays more per Kwh due to daily service fee being increased. One person told me for his usage it will come to $0.30/Kwh.
We are .08/kwh not counting tax/license and dealer prep. But idaho has large amounts of hydroelectric.
In the beginning I knew "nothing" and went to solar consultants to figure it all up. 3 different companies gave me quotes for grid tied systems. They ignored the fact I wanted a 6k system and instead offered a system from my utility usage bill, from 26k to 38k including permits. I took there quotes and researched, research and researched even more, learning all the way about solar. So much good info on the internet. That's when I decided to do my own thing. So so glad I'm in a no contract situation. Knowing I'm independent most of the time from the grid with no red-tape or control from some one else or company. You just don't know the future of the utility grid. No more generator starts in winter at night when the utility go's down or the thought of a cyber utility war coming at some point. So there is other things to consider than just the pay back alone. As long as you don't have to borrow the money to do it, I think it is money well spent. Again you don't know the money situation with banks closing the dollar declining. The things you have to be more self dependent at some point may be worth more than money it's self. I'd rather have my money sitting in the yard than in the stock market, but that's just me. from .4 cents to .09 cents with a plan to go up to .11 cents later in the yr should tell you some thing is coming.
Last edited:
My "out the door" cost per KWH in northern Illinois is $0.148 . All taxes, adjustments, surcharges, yada yada yada included.
Meter charge even if using zero KWHs is $13.89 flat price
Have you seen some of the cool info on Lots of good electricity rate comparison and generation mix data - can even be downloaded.


of course as pointed out we have added fees and taxes so I always divide my total bill by kWh used.
Have you seen some of the cool info on Lots of good electricity rate comparison and generation mix data - can even be downloaded.

View attachment 142260

of course as pointed out we have added fees and taxes so I always divide my total bill by kWh used.
Looks like the rates went up a bit in California since 2018.
I never understood how an easy start reduces energy consumption? It might reduce peak power draw, but it does it for much longer, effectively using the same amount of power?
It is usually very low energy savings, but it provides the vars for the motor directly rather than needing the line to do it, which maintains better flux in the motor windings. Loads that cycle often are good candidates. We did an analysis for a customer and we couldn't definitively say there was a savings (no such thing as a comparable baseline), but they were convinced they are saving 7-8%.
Meh... I'm in Hawaii and pay $300/year for ~14MWh consumption. That's like $0.02/kWh, right?
Ok, so the chart is wrong, it doesn't cost 32 cents a kwh?
It makes sense HI would be the most expensive as an island.
How is it generated? Fossil fuels, nuclear?
I know I'm not ever going to break even, but that isn't why I went solar.
My reasons are Energy autonomy & power when the grid is down & spending my crappy fiat dollars before they go to zero.
Got that right brother. Buy some hard assets while you can.
Ok, so the chart is wrong, it doesn't cost 32 cents a kwh?
It makes sense HI would be the most expensive as an island.
How is it generated? Fossil fuels, nuclear?
The chart is actually low for Hawaii, I think total cost is closer to $0.42/kWh. I was simply referring to the benefit of solar and net metering. Oahu and Big Island are primarily oil-fired, smaller islands are primarily diesel. We have a token amount of wind power and no interconnects between the islands. Waste-to-energy is heavily used, and there is some grid-scale solar.
I got curious today as to how much solar electricity our panels have actually produced, at what cost, compared to the production guarantees and projections on the Solar City lease. Not sure if this will be interesting to any one, it is little different than the typical cost benefit analysis as this is looking back vs. looking forward trying to predict future price trends and what the pay back period will be. Our Solar City 11 panel, 2.82kW DC string system was turned on in April of 2011. Then March through November 2016 I added a total of 11 more panels with Enphase M250 microinverters, approx 3kW. So 5.8kW total. Here are the numbers.

We are in the 12th year of a 20 year lease that has an escalating payment plan of approx. 3% per year. So far the system has produced(according to the Fronius Inverter) 55,334kWh with total payments of $9,298 made so far. This works out to 16.9 cents per kWh on average. However, because the lease payments started out lower and production was slightly higher, the first year our solar electricity cost was only 13.5 cents and has now increased to 19.5 cents. While during that same time SCE rates were approx. 16 cents per kWh in 2011 and now have increased to 28 cents. Electric utility rates are clearly increasing at a higher rate than previously projected making the cost of electricity from legacy solar systems even more attractive. As the lease payment continues higher each year for the next 8 years the total paid will be just over $19,000 and the guaranteed solar production totals up to 85,333kWh. This is about 22.2 cents per kWh but so far the system is ahead of the guaranteed minimum production by 2,500kWh. If this trend continues the realized solar production cost will actually end up at about 20 cents per kWh average over the 20 years. In retrospect, the escalating payment plan was nothing short of genius because it ensured that the customer would always be paying less than utility rates for their solar electricity. With no down payment, the system started saving money the first month and every month thereafter.
Bottom line: Installing solar in 2011 even when panel prices were much higher and considering the extra system cost of interest attached to the lease, it was absolutely worth it and has saved real dollars.

The Enphase System has produced 27,700kWh and was a DIY install paid for up front in cash, $5,213.23. Avg. cost per kWh as of today (4 years in operation) is 18.8 cents but will continue to decrease as the kWh add up but the investment is fixed. Rough estimate indicates that about 30% of the cost has been recovered already and as rates continue to go up I expect another 50% pay back over the next 4 year period. So I would have to say this was well worth it also.

Two other positive factors that I cannot put a dollar value on because the data is lacking: 1) Due to having the solar system supply a substantial portion of the electrical demand during summer air conditioning months, utility usage was kept well within the lower Tier 1 pricing structure. 2) Having the Calif. NEM 1.0 agreement in place has so far prevented the utility from forcing Time of Use metering at this location. ToU rates between 4 to 9 pm can be over 50 cents per kWh.

Lastly, In 2018 a DIY whole house back up inverter & batteries (AC Coupled) was installed at a cost of approx. $11,000. While it is capable of providing peak load shaving for ToU rates, this feature is not currently needed. As such this item can only be considered a convenience and there is no pay back to justify the expense. Not to mention I really wanted to do the DIY project. I believe this belongs in the same category as ordering your new truck with ALL the options when the standard model would have been fine.
BentleyJ - Thanks for your article.
So Far our system has cost US 0.48 cents per unit.
We have 42 panels ~300 Watts Each. 18 KW of Batteries
Also a Power Transfer Twitch & Inverter for UPS which runs lights, internet, computers, fridges, fans & TV's on power failure.
Our Total Cost USD 19,602
It will be fully paid back in 5 years at a cost of US 0.33 cents per unit. (70,00 KW)
5 years after that the cost will have come down to US 0.23 cents per unit. (99,000 KW)
I think BentlyJ's US ~20 cents is very realistic. (Including Batteries)
We are now producing at least 12000 KW per year.
I only ever say to people who inquire about putting in solar panels -
"If you have money in the bank, earning interest, you would be earning a hell of a lot more with savings on solar panels"

Solar Is It Worth It.JPG
Last edited:
it seems that electricity may become the next gasoline, or water or food or Rx, or ( whatever). It’s already happening in other countries and here in some places… he who controls the energy controls everything.
Electricity is a mighty tempting target to those in power to use for more control, power and money…( yea,I know….they would never do that).

Build your solar systems while you can…while they are cheap…forget the silly discussions about ROI, PROBABLE PAY BACK, NET SAVINGS….bla bla bla ...anything good and affordable never lasts…
Oversize them if you can, buy spare parts for key components if possible…learn all you can how to maintain them…buy the proper tools… don’t depend on others for what you should be able to do yourself ….
jus my opinion …J.
“don’t depend on others for what you should be able to do yourself”. Like that one; thank you for that piece of advice