Over a year ago we installed a 10.4 kW grid tie solar system. You can read about the shakedown period here. This post will cover all of 2019, the first full year the solar system was operational. [Technically, it covers the period between Dec 12th 2018 through Dec 11th 2019, as Duke Energy bills us mid-month.]
In this 12 month period, we consumed 16,695 kWh of power at our house (a 3 bed 2 bath ranch with all electric utilities + two electric vehicles). [We used 16,796 kWh the prior 12 months, so our usage did not appreciably change due to installing the solar system.]
Of this total electrical usage, our solar system produced 15,252 kWh or 91.4% of our total electrical usage, while we purchased 1,443 kWh from Duke Energy and the electrical grid. [There are no economic benefits to producing more than we use, so the ideal system would hit 99.9% of actual usage. We were aiming for 90% when we designed our system.]
Over the year, we paid Duke Energy $314.49 ($130.80 for required connection charges, and $183.69 for the electricity we imported from the grid, averaging 12.7 cents per kWh.) This compares to our previous yearly cost for power of $2,211.13, giving a yearly cost savings of $1,896.64. After the EIC tax credit, our solar system cost us $17,439.20, which gives a payback period of 9.19 years. (I’m deliberately ignoring the interest we could have earned by investing the money we paid for the solar system in the stock market, which counteracts the fact that I’m also ignoring the fact that Duke energy raises their rates every so often.)
As the solar system is expected to have a working lifespan of 15-25 years, any energy it produces after the payoff period will be pure profit. So yes, a solar system does make economic sense, in addition to the environmental, social and political benefits.