First off, it is important to note that both of us (Aaron & Justin) have installed solar power systems on our homes in South Carolina this year (see video of our solar power systems to the right), so we ARE speaking from real world personal experience. Our goal here is to give you the low down on exactly how solar power works in the south, including the following:
- What tax credits are available
- What energy or other credits are available
- How do you get the credits
- How are the credits applied and how do they effect your cash outlay
- How do financing options come into play
- What is the a practical estimate for return on your investment
- How you can take full advantage of every available solar program
- How NOT to get scammed
- Best ways to configure your solar power system
- How a solar power system will impact the environment
Aaron & Justin’s Solar from the Air
Now, if you already feel that you know what you need to know about solar and just want to get your quote and free solar phone charger, you can skip most of this article and call the solar guy that we personally know and trust, Chad Joyner, direct at (803) 291-2985 or click the button below, fill out the form,and we’ll have him contact you. (See Important Note Below)
IMPORTANT: The free solar charger comes from Aaron & Justin, so after you receive your quote from Chad, please remember to come back here to let us know and we will ship it out to you right away. You can let us know by clicking the button below, or you can always come back to AaronJustin’s FREE CHARGER page.
Now, let’s go ahead and jump into our experience with Solar in South Carolina and what we’ve learned
WHY WE WENT SOLAR
For us, the reasoning for looking into solar was a combination of 4 important factors
- The idea of producing your own power and being a little more self-sufficient
- The substantial financial savings off of the monthly electric bill
- Knowing that right now there are more incentives and credits available than there ever has been, and they will likely be going away fairly soon.
- Helping the environment by cutting down on the amount of fossil and other fuels necessary to produce electricity
If you’re looking into solar, you may have a different set of reasons and priorities, but for us these were huge motivators, and now that we’re up and running there is a lot of satisfaction that has come with achieving these goals. Now, let’s get into a little bit of the nitty gritty.
THE FINANCES OF SOLAR POWER
As mentioned above, we both live in South Carolina, more specifically Tega Cay, South Carolina which is on the northern part of the state, just below Charlotte, North Carolina. This is a key factor, because for this part of the state, the financial incentives really can’t get any better. Here’s how that works:
- The federal government will give us a credit equal to 30% of the total cost (including installation)
- The state of South Carolina will give us an additional credit equal to 25% of the total cost (including installation)
- Now this is the kicker…Duke Energy (our power company here) is giving an additional incentive based on the size of the system you installed. It is calculated at a rate of $1.00 per watt of electricity that your panels are rated at. This can’t be understated, because in our case, this equaled well over $7,000 each of basically free money!
The beauty of this is that after all of those credits, the return on investments is amazing…which means that if you choose to finance the initial purchase, your payments end up being less than the amount that you are saving on electricity, putting your money ahead every month!
And then, when the system is paid off, you’re left with essentially no electric bill (depending upon how you size your system…we cover that later) and no payments! That is the part that can sometimes be confusing, so let me illustrate exactly what that looks like in the case of Justin’s install.
- Justin had 28 panels, 260 watts each installed. (7,280 total watts)
- Note: This configuration produces about 105% of Justin’s normal yearly power consumption. We recommend sizing your system to equal as close as possible to 100% (a little more won’t hurt)of your average yearly power production. If you work with our solar guy, Chad, he will take care of all of that for you.
- Total Cost: $34,580 (don’t let this number scare you away…stay tuned)
- Note: This includes all panels, power inverters, materials, and labor.
- Instant cash (credit) from Duke Energy: $7,280 ($1.00 per watt)
- Federal Tax Credit: $10,374 (total cost x 30%)
- South Carolina Tax Credit: $8,645 (total cost x 25%)
- Net cost to Justin: $8,281
That is why this is so crazy amazing here in our part of the country.
Justin is getting a nearly $35,000 system installed for just over $8,000 after all of the credits.
Justin’s average electricity bills are about $2,100 per year, which means that if he had to pay outright for this system (after credits), it would have truly paid for itself in less than 4 years ($8,281 system cost / $2,100 per year savings). That is a truly amazing ROI, but in Justin’s case it gets even better than that.
SPREADING OUT THE COST, TO SEE A FINANCIAL BENEFIT RIGHT AWAY.
In Justin’s case, he went with our good friend Chad, (You can contact chad at (803) 291-2985 or click here to have chad contact you) who set him up with a very cool way to finance this system so that he can maximize his cash flow while waiting for all of the credits to come in.
Here’s how that works:
- The Duke Energy credit will be made payable directly to the solar company, and reduce his balance instantly
- The Federal tax credit can take up to a year to receive, depending on the timing of your installation an d when you file your tax return.
- The South Carolina credit maxes out at $3,500 per year (you will still get your entire credit, but it may be spread out over a few years), and the 1st year’s credit can also take up to a year to receive for the same reasons as the federal credit.
- Chad set Justin’s financing up so that he makes no payments at all on the system for one year, while he is awaiting both government tax credits
- Essentially, Justin has no payments and no net electric bill for the first year….definitely a bonus
- Justin will apply those tax credits towards his balance at the end of 12 months, and his ongoing payments will be calculated based upon the balance after the credits are applied.
- The net effect to Justin is then after 12 months, he will apply the federal credit ($10,374) and his first year’s South Carolina Credit ($3,500) to his financing, reducing his remaining balance to $13,426
- They will then finance this remaining balance over 20 years at a payment amount of $96 per month, which is almost HALF of what his electricity cost would have been for a year (and that gets even better over time, as his electricity cost from the utility company would have grown every few years)
BONUS: Justin still has the remaining tax credits from South Carolina in the amount of $5,145, which he will receive in year 2 and 3 respectively. He can choose to apply these credits towards his finance balance, or just keep those credits for his own use.
FINAL FINANCIAL OUTCOME.
- Justin will make no finance payments and have no net electricity bill for the 1st year
- At the end of the first year, Justin will apply his tax credits and finance the remaining balance for $96 per month for 20 years
- This is an initial savings of almost 50% monthly, but as utility rates continue to rise over this time frame, Justin’s savings will increase dramatically
- In year 2 and 3, Justin can take the remaining $5,000+ worth of South Carolina credits and spend them, or pay down his solar balance even further.
- Justin’s home is estimated to appreciate in value by calculating 1 year’s electricity savings and multiplying it by 20, which in Justin’s case equals about $42,000 Net Gain
- Monthly savings over 20 years (conservatively estimating utility cost increases): $28,440
- Home appreciation: $42,000
- Additional South Carolina Tax Credits: $5,145
- TOTAL GAIN: $75,585
Not too bad right? It’s really pretty hard to beat from a financial standpoint! We have more detailed information below showing how solar works, but if you just want to contact our “go to guy” on solar to get a quote, and get the free solar phone charger, feel free to give him a ring at 803-291-2985 or fill out the form below, and we will have him contact you.
For additional details about the solar power systems in the south, keep reading.
HOW SOLAR WORKS WITH YOUR HOME.
This section isn’t going to be a detailed scientific explanation of how solar panels convert sun into energy…but if those details are something you’re interested in, here is a good article explaining the specific scientific process. For this article, we’re going to explain in general what happens to your home electricity when the sun starts to hit your solar panels, and what happens when the sun goes down.
There are several ways to have a solar power system configured but the two most popular are:
- Route the solar power into a battery bank to store the power for evening use
- Sell your excess power production to the power company during sunny times, and pull power from the power company during times when the sun isn’t shining
I will explain both of these scenarios, however we both went with option #2 mostly because of the incentives to work with Duke Energy (the tax credits mentioned above). It is possible, however, to both get the tax credits and route power to your battery bank, and at least one of us will be doing this in the future and will report fully on exactly how we did it.
STORING POWER IN A BATTERY BANK.
Storing your solar power in a battery bank is fairly simple in principle, although it can be a little more complicated in reality. The basic concept is this:
- The sun hits your solar panels and begins producing electricity (This is DC power)
- The power is then delivered to a battery, or a bank of batteries which is a series of batteries connected to one another. This power charges the battery or battery bank
- The battery(s) are then connected to a power inverter. This inverter converts the power from DC power to AC power (the type of power used in your home)
- From the inverter, the power is then delivered into your home.
Now, that is the most basic form, but it’s definitely not the most practical or popular means of storing power for the typical family home or business. The reason is that this setup relies entirely on your battery bank for your home’s power, and doesn’t take into account a method of receiving additional power from the power company when/if needed. Here are a few derivations of this for consideration.
Hybrid battery/power company setup.
In this type of configuration, you are still doing everything above, except that you have an additional piece of equipment installed to “couple” your battery power along with power that can come in from the power company. I am not going to get into detail on that equipment in this post, other than to say that it will require an electrician to configure this properly to avoid problematic or potentially disastrous malfunctions. We will provide links to detailed resources for this configuration at the bottom of this post.
Independent Emergency Battery Backup setup.
I personally like this setup, because it’s much simpler and can tie well into the overall method of selling your excess power back to the power company. In this configuration, you are just going to use your existing power system along with your solar system to charge a battery or battery bank for emergency power.
All that you need in this setup is the following:
- Standard “trickle charge” 12V battery charger
- Power inverter rated to manage the size of your battery or battery bank
- 12V deep cell battery, or a 12V deep cell battery bank
You will then simply charge your battery or bank by plugging your trickle charger into a standard outlet in your home and connect it to your battery or bank. It’s worth noting that this emergency backup setup can be done with or without solar, but in the case of solar, you’re charging this emergency power with the sun, v.s. paying the utility company to charge it for you.
When/if you’re in a power outage situation, you can then use your battery backup to run any essential items in your home, such as your television or Wi-Fi router (haha). In all seriousness though, you will want to size your battery bank according to what you intend to use with it, and for how long you think you might need to use it in a power outage situation. If you have solar power on your home, this becomes a smaller requirement, because even during a multiple day outage, you should have some degree of power during the daylight hours to run your home and also re-charge your battery bank. We’ll also provide links at the bottom of this post with information about sizing your battery bank. As noted, we will be installing these in our homes in the future, and will post the details.
SELLING YOUR EXCESS POWER.
In our opinion, especially in our part of South Carolina, this is the way to go. Here is how this works:
- The sun hits your solar panels and they begin to produce electricity (DC Power)
- That electricity is then sent to a power inverter which converts it to AC power for your home.
- That electricity is then sent into your home based upon how much your home needs at that time
- Any excess power is then sent back up the power lines (through a meter) and sold back to your power company
- In times where your home is using more power than you are producing (low or no sunlight), you then pull the additional power required from the power company.
How this impacts your power bill (or lack of) will vary based upon your power company, but the general concept is always similar.
- Any excess power that you produce each month is credited against the power that you consumed from the power company.
- If you produced more excess than you consumed (from the power company), then that is held in your account as a credit for future use.
- If you consumed more than you produced, then any credits that you have from previous months would offset your current month’s usage.
- If your system is sized right (Chad will take care of that for you), you will end up with close to a net zero overall cost at the end of the year
- This means that the total amount that you sold back to the power company over a year should very closely equal the total amount that you consumed from the power company over a year, leaving you with zero net electricity cost for the year.
- This setup can also work seamlessly with the independent emergency battery backup system referenced above if that interests you
Note: In a typical southern setup, you will consume more than you produce during the hottest months of the year, such as June July and August, because your air conditioner runs so often. This will be offset by the remaining months of the year when your AC is running much less or not at all, yet the sun is still out and producing plenty of power for you.
HOW TO MANAGE AND MONITOR YOUR SYSTEM.
Monitoring your system is obviously extremely important in making sure it’s running properly and you’re getting a good return on your investment. On top of the importance, it’s actually a little fun just to occasionally take a peek and see how much power you are producing, and how much money you are saving!
The good news is that you don’t have to climb up on your roof and hook up any electrical equipment to see how your system is running if you get the right equipment with your install. As mentioned previously, both of our systems are using a Solar Edge power inverter, which in our opinion is bar-none, the best inverter in the world. Not only does it make sure that the solar power is efficiently getting into my home and the excess is being sold to the power company, but it makes monitoring your system ridiculously easy with their mobile app.
Here are a few screenshots of what the app looks like.
With this app, we can see (in real time)
- Overall power production
- Power production by time of day
- Monthly power production
- Power production for specific time period
- Overall system performance (is it running the way it should)
- Individual panel performance
We are big fans of this app, because it makes it so easy to see what’s going on, and identify any potential problems before they have a chance to significantly limit your cost savings.
Again, if you’re ready to have someone take a look at how this will work with your home situation, it’s free so don’t hesitate. Call our solar guy, Chad Joyner at 803-291-2985 or click here and we’ll have him call you.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.
The positive impact that a solar power system has on the environment is often not the primary motivation for the majority of people (the financial incentives tend to drive the market), but the impact is significant nonetheless and should absolutely be noted. Since we have been using Justin’s install for most of this article, we will illustrate the positive impact that his specific system is having on the environment.
Over the life of Justin’s system, his carbon footprint will be reduced by 390 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is equivalent to the following:
- Planting 9,087 trees.
- Driving reduced by 780,000 auto miles, or 39,780 gallons of gasoline.
- Recycling 1,232 tons of waste instead of sending it to landfill.
- 380,024 pounds (190.0 tons) of coal burned.
- and you will help avoid the use of up to 9,519,000 gallons of water by Thermoelectric Power plants.
If saving the environment is your thing, then a solar power system is definitely something that you can feel proud of.
Overall, both of us are extremely happy that we went solar, and would ABSOLUTELY do it again. Here are a few summary points as to why we are so happy with our systems:
- The financial incentives create an amazing return on investment right now
- The ability to create our own power gives us a sense of security should an emergency strike
- We believe that electricity rates will continue to increase over time, which will only add to our savings in the long run
- Very proud of the positive environmental impact we’re creating
- In general, it just seems like a “no-brainer” to capture all of that electricity out there, assuming the finances of it make sense, like they do right now.
We would HIGHLY encourage you to at least take a look at it, get a quote, and take us up on our offer to give you a FREE SOLAR PHONE CHARGER.
To do so, just call our solar guy, Chad, at 803-291-2985, or click here and we’ll have him call you. After you get your quote from Chad, come back to our site at https://www.aaronjustin.com/free-charger, and let us know so we can get your charger out to you right away.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave them in the comments below, ask them via our facebook page, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your time, and I hope we were able to shed some light (pun intended) on Solar in the South!