Sunday, May 24, 2015



"... anyone know anything about VIVINT.SOLAR?"

: The deal with Vivant is, in our case, is they will sell us energy collected from "their panels" for 10.5 cents per kwh. Pur current cost is around 36 cents. If we use less than what is generated, the excess is sold back to BG&E and credited to us. There are ZERO costs involved for the installation; there are no battery devices involved. This all sounds pretty sweet. However, even while the sales guy was pitching us I Googled them. While there were just a few entries on the consumer page, all were negative. Yesterday the surveyor was here a 8AM and did a full roof sun collection survey on our roof and told us when he was finished that he's sure we will qualify and get panels. On the upside is the promise of reducing energy costs, and but also the positive effect it ought have when we sell. I sent the contract to our son who now living in Utah (Vivant's home). While going through the packet I noticed that the salesman did not leave his workup sheets. I feel uneasy which is why these queries.  - April 28th

Had many requests for updates on Vivint's offer of free solar panels .  Here's a brief summary of how this made sense for us after some due diligence.

The People's State of MD (some other states are also on board with this) are fining BGE about one million dollars a day until they show proper progress toward promoting renewable energy.  That right there is the incentive.  BGE not only pay agents like Solar City, Vivint, et. al., to find good candidates (lots of sun), they supply the panels.  They allow the agent (Vivint) to sell generated electricity to the homeowner at, in our case, 10.5¢ kWh (we currently pay about 35¢).  In effect then, Vivint is renting our roof for 20 years.  Vivint will also collect all federal and state rebates.  There are no batteries; nothing is saved locally. 

Our initial concerns were an abundance of bad Googled reviews from people who'd dealt with Vivint.  Most were about not getting response back about what was going on; probably people who failed the test (a guy comes out and surveys your sun footprint), and the sales person was not considerate enough to tell them.  One claimed that after a few months they were actually paying more for electricity than before.  That's only possible if the owner started using considerably more power, like buying room air conditioners for every room when they had none before.  Another claimed the installer damaged his roof.

Vivint is a Utah company with a good history, but  new to the solar game. Fortunately we have a son who's a big shot corporate lawyer, and who just bought a home in Utah.  Sent him the contract to check it out.  They passed muster. We said okay.

We were scheduled to have our install on June 30, but our salesman called Friday and said they had a crew available to install this Saturday.  Since you can opt out of the deal up to the point where they're climbing the ladder, I'm guessing someone did just that.  We said OK.  They showed up around noon, and less than three hours later had installed 34 panelsworth $44,000 according to the state permit and were gone.  Now we await BGE's installation of the collection meter. 

FWIW, the installer said his mom had the panels installed.  Her first month's bill was 6¢.  We'll see.  The pitch of our roof is such that we can't see the panels unless we go across the street, which is the view you see.


Anonymous said...

Anything to do with "renewable energy", i.e., wind and solar, is 90% horse doovers, 10% tomatos.

It ain't working now, and it won't, ever, until there is a better photovoltaic device.


Anonymous said...

Took me a minute before I noticed the full moon.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that collection meter in the upper right window is sure a keeper!

Anonymous said...

BiL - who is an obsessive researcher - chose to buy the things and now his morning, with-coffee activity [and afternoon with ceegar n beer] is to wander round to the meter and watch it run backward. [He does live in a windy, hothothot semi-desert...][and grows the best oranges and tomatoes!]

He grins quietly like a shark at a minnow convention.

Hope it all works as well for you. We're looking to put them *somewhere* round here. *somewhere* they don't reflect brightly toward anywhere *I* am. I hate glare.

PG&E did some craptastic 'deal' with our local county .gov wherein a new bureaucracy was created to deliver ONLY "Clean" power to one's home. Thru the same lines. They say it will cost less than regular PG&E. [hahahahahaha]

Turns out, they add a $9.95 charge -- on top of whatever you bought -- for the 'cheaper' "Clean" power. Which comes thru the same lines as the rest of the power on the grid -- like that coal plant in Idaho.

How do the little electrons know which house to go to? Maybe the $9 charge is for tiny little address labels and electron training?

[What happens when they're covered with snow?]

Anonymous said...

Homeowners that did it are up in arms here in CO.

1. Technology is only going to improve, you'd be installing what will be considered relics, 5 years from now.
2. Beware liens (they call them "fixture filings") filed against the house.
3. Who pays for de-installation and re-installation if you have to replace your shingles?
4. Who is responsible for cleaning the panels?
5. What do local real estate agents say about panels affecting the sales process and value?
6. What happens if the panels do not deliver on the hype?

All these question have answers that are disadvantageous to owners, here in Colorado.... could differ elsewhere.

Cuzzin Rick

Jess said...

I'm a little suspicious of the transaction. When people are so energy conscience, they install a solar array, the time when the energy can be sold back to the grid is when the least amount of energy is used in a household. Otherwise, the profit for the endeavor may be much more than the savings for energy use.

You get what you pay for, and sometimes, that's not a bargain.

Anonymous said...

My son is in the mortgage business, and says a lot of lenders won't touch a loan where the home has leased solar equipment (re-fi, or sale). Owned is a different story, but he stopped dealing with those kinds of mortgages, because so many have fallen through. Regrets I did not see this before you installed, wishing you well !

Chuck said...

OK, so you're running off the panels during daylight; is there a way to add storage (batteries)? Any idea why they chose 36 panels as the magic number? Was that as many as would fit? Any idea what the total output of the panels is?

We need the details, Rodger.

MAX Redline said...

I looked into the offer from Elon Musk's Solar City. Not impressed: they collect your energy credits, and you still pay a bit to them for the solar panels that they mount on your roof.

The really cool thing is that after 20 years, you own them free and clear! Oh. The efficiency decreases year after year, and at 20-25 years, they've reached the end of their lifespan.

So who gets to pay for removal of the useless panels and disposal of them as hazardous waste? Why, that would be the lucky owner. What a deal!

Thanks, but no.

Rodger the Real King of France said...

Piffles ...

We entertained all of those eventualities (save the PG&E deal) and here's where we stand.

1. The technology will improve, always does. I can and do still watch old VCR tapes. What matters, bottom line,is at what point will we end up paying more per kwh than my neighbor? Answer="Never."

2. Our investment is, quite literally, $0.

3. Since Vivint is contractually responsible for maintaining and replacing the panels, the question becomes what happens if they don't?

Well, their only incentive will be to keep collecting from us the monthly 10.5 cents/kwh (which can increase at mil rates over 20 years). And what if they don't? At worst, we will find ourselves paying BGE the full price our neighbor pays. Which begs the question ..

4. Are the panels an eyesore? You be the judge, but if I didn't know they were installed, it might be months before I even noticed. So no problem. Plus, I think they protect our shingles.

5. We have the right to buy out Vivint at any point over the 20 years at a depreciating rate. Worst case is if the panels become useless. What value do they have at all? I won't know because I'll be dead, or drooling in a cup at some nursing home. Vivint will have no incentive to battle in court if it came to that anyway.

6. What happens if there's snow on the roof? Easy. There is no power generated; winter bills go up since there's fewer sun hours anyway.

7. Will it for some reason make our house harder to sell? I can't see why, but then that's something our kids and heirs will have to work out.

We have nothing to lose, and something to gain. It's nice being 90 years old.

Anonymous said...

When it's hot and sunny out, and your panels are pumping out tons of juice, and your house starts on fire, how does the fire dept. turn off the power?

Bad Anon

Rodger the Real King of France said...

I know you're (must be) joking; there are no storage batteries, ergo everything goes directly to BG&E. What electricity we generate that is not used by us is sold to the guy next door.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Rodger is taking flak for something on his house that you can barely see and he didn't have to pay for. Worst case scenario is that these things don't work and he had 44k worth of free shingle covers installed. The best case is pretty awesome. If it's somewhere in the middle, the bare facts are that it was free, and it was not intrusive to his household.

I think they look kind of cool on the roof, actually, but would not of noticed if you hadn't mentioned it. Upside is huge, downside seems very minimal. Keep us updated, as it will be interesting reading no matter what.


Ole Phat Stu said...

If you have a fire, the fire dept. can't/won't fight it because of the dangerous voltages/currents on the roof. Their water can't get between the solar panels and the roof proper to extinguish it.
So you end up losing all of it.

Rodger the Real King of France said...

These are wonderful! America, what a country! (Josh wins)

Jess said...

Much of our traffic control equipment uses solar panels to charge batteries, and to provide power during the day.

After decades of working on the critters, I've found the panels survive longer than what they power. Some equipment is over ten years old, and the panels still work as originally designed.

The only problem I'd have with your setup is the long term maintenance, and the cost of roof repairs, if necessary. I'm thinking the panels could be removed in as short of time as that required to install, and coordination would be the biggest drawback. When removed, the roof project would be no different than any roof project.

Rodger the Real King of France said...

In our case Jess, we had a new 40 year roof installed 2 years ago. But, yeah, anybody who buys a house ought expect shit to happen.

DougM said...

I see that you've installed a vent for your methane generator in the upper window.

Rodger the Real King of France said...

Whoa! Where did that specter come from?

Anonymous said...

I elected to buy my PV system. As with real estate, location is everything, and I live in Hawaii. We have sufficient sun, and the highest energy prices in the nation. HECO charges a connection fee, but that makes my bill $18 per month. With a previous bill averaging north of $500 monthly, my ROI is approximately 2.5 years, or...oh, right about now. The lease deals didn't make sense here, but again...location, location, location.

Fred Jameson

Anonymous said...

Was your salesman a lean mid-50s man named Baker?


Rodger the Real King of France said...

No, he was Weston Marlowe (UPDATED

Anonymous said...

My acquaintance Baker probably trained him.

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