Solar Maintenance With a Loan
In one of our previous blog, we talked about solar maintenance with a solar power system, but very specifically to a power purchase agreement. In this blog, I want to go over what it looks like for a loan or owning the system yourself.
There are two large chunks of financing where most people get placed. One is they choose to the mindset of, “No, I want to own this and use it as an investment.”
The other one is a power purchase agreement, which is, “I don’t care. I just want to know I’m getting a lower power bill.”
Today, we’re going to talk about the loan side.
If you’re getting a loan, you’re probably wondering, “Well, what is my responsibility with it?” Or if you just have the cash to invest and buy solar, you want to know that thing’s going to produce.
You want to see that it’s going to be maintained and monitored, so it’s delivering what’s promised. Because there are chances with any system, it doesn’t matter if it’s solar. It could be that thing on the side of your home. SDGE or PG&E is charging you to read that meter, but if the meter wasn’t working, how would you know? Well, they monitor it, and they maintain it. So, it’s the same thing. In your case, though, you own it now. You bought the system, and you put it on your home. Somebody came out, and you paid for that. It does come with some kind of warranty and insurance on that. And your home insurance will cover some of that. And how that works. That’s different per contract. I don’t want to promise anything here like that.
Still, I do want to advise you and help you understand how does maintenance and monitoring work when you own that system. The simple answer is you’ve got to find a way to maintain it and monitor it. How you do that is relatively straightforward. Let’s just talk about maintenance.
Maintenance means keeping it running. Something may break, get disconnected, or just seem off. Things happen. Now, I will say these things are made to last at least twenty-five years, probably upwards to even more like 30 to 35 years. I mean, over time, solar panels produce less and less with the same amount of sun hitting them. Over several decades, they’re going to start producing less.
People have solar panels on their roofs that are over 30 and 40 years old, and they’re still producing at least 60% of what they used to. They do deplete, but it’s not like they go to zero. It’s very unusual. So, know that one, maintaining them is crucial, and it’s not that expensive. Still, if you don’t want to worry about it, then a power purchase agreement is probably going to be your better option.
How Often Do You Have to Do Maintenance
But two, if you’re like, “No, I want to own it.” Well, then annually, I would say, and it depends on the company, they’ll advise you to do it twice a year but annually is a good rule of thumb. You’ll want to hire somebody unless you’re a handyman or woman that loves to do that sort of thing.
If not, you would just hire somebody to come and check it for you. There are maintenance programs you can purchase. Usually, when you buy it, there are maintenance and monitoring programs you can buy on top of that for a discounted program or discounted price. They’d work into your monthly fee if you got a loan or whatever.
But overall, if you own it, you don’t even have a monthly fee. You just own that system. That’s the solar maintenance. You just need to do it annually.
Hire An Expert
I would hire an expert that understands how to maintain it. They’ll be checking things like your connection, making sure there are no panels that are broken, cracked, or dangerous.
They will also check for anything that may cause any hazardous problems.
By the way, if you live in an area where there are high winds or a freak storm rolls through, you’ll for sure want to get it checked out. You don’t want the panels to get loose, or have the next wind storm that comes by might knock them loose and cause issues.
That covers the solar maintenance, but what about monitoring?
Monitoring Your System
The monitoring is not very hard either as long as you have the setup for that.
In today’s world, most systems, whether you own it or you have a power purchase agreement, the ownership of it is no different than a power purchase agreement.
Let’s say you got a loan and purchased your system through Sunnova; they’re going to give you the same app to monitor it. You’re responsible for monitoring your panels. They’re not doing it for you.
You’re just monitoring the wattage to make sure you’re getting what you need.
Make Sure Your System is Producing the Right Amount of Energy
Let’s say, per year, you’re producing 12,000 kilowatt-hours over a year. You want to make sure you are monitoring your system to see if it is providing that same power.
If it’s not, your utility company will be billing you for any credits that you overused. If you went over, say to 13,000 kilowatt-hours, you’re going to get charged for a thousand of those. Always keep track of how much energy it is producing.
It changes continuously, but after a year or so, you’ll start seeing the pattern.
When you own, you have to be smart enough to maintain and monitor it like that. You don’t want to suddenly get a surprise true-up bill from SDG&E saying, “Hey, by the way, your system produced this much. You used this much, and you owe us this much money.” That’s what I would watch out for.
On The Flip Side...
When you’re maintaining and monitoring it when you own it yourself, you want to make sure that you’re using the power that it’s producing. So if you have that same 12,000 kilowatt-hours that it’s providing for the year and you’re only using ten thousand kilowatt-hours, that’s great! However, it’s producing more, and you’re essentially just giving all that extra balance to SDG&E’s grid.
You could use it because you already own it. You might as well use it if you want to. So if you’re not heating your pool, go ahead and heat it a little more. If you’re not cranking your AC, crank it a little more. You’ve already paid for it.
I would advise when you’re monitoring it, just see how it’s going. And then over a year, you’ll see your patterns. Over the second year and third year, you’ll start understanding that pattern of how you use your power. And it helps out to understand that and know that you can maintain and monitor the system yourself.
If you’re overwhelmed and don’t want to worry about the maintenance or monitoring your system, and you just want cheaper power, then a power purchase agreement is the way to go.
If you want to own it and are OK with putting twenty-five grand into a system right now and seeing it come back later, then owning it is a great option. You can just pay somebody to maintain and monitor it for you.
Hopefully, this was helpful. And you understand how to maintain and monitor a system that you own.