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Earth Week: Solar Panels

Earth Week: Solar Panels


Back in 2014, we decided to take a leap of faith and get solar panels for our house. This was around the time that quite a few people had solar on their house, but it hadn’t taken off like it has now. Bryan did some research and found that Solar City (owned by Tesla) was the company to hire.


I remember there being some hoops that we had to jump through. The easiest was the assessment of our house. We have the perfect roof for solar panels. It faces south and has few impediments on that side. The one issue was our beautiful Sonoran Emerald tree. It would have to be trimmed back regularly to maximize production. The other hoops included permission from the HOA, APS (our electric company), and the city. Solar City did most of the work, because they want to make it as easy as possible. Almost everything was done through email and a slick user interface website.

Looking for the “Catch”

We kept looking for the “catch” in this entire process. Where were we being taken for a ride? We pored over the contract to make sure we knew what we were getting into. We were paying $176 per month on electricity. Solar City leased the panels to us at a rate of $130 per month for 20 years. We were presented with the possible options should we ever sell, but we didn’t intend to move, so that wasn’t terribly important. They also guarantee the performance of the panels, and will repair the panels and rebate any lost performance with a cash back check. It really seemed too good to be true.

Clean Power

Turns out there is no catch. While we don’t generally save over our original $176 per month in electricity between our solar lease payment of $130 and average electric bill of $50, we can rest assured that most of our energy comes from clean power we generate on our own roof from the bright and plentiful Arizona sun. Plus, I am sure the rates for electricity have gone up in the past four years, but we are mostly insulated from those price hikes. Our panels have kept 40 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. I sure am proud of that statistic!

Ongoing Customer Support

Solar City, which now goes by Tesla, closely monitors the performance of our panels and quickly makes repairs. They want us to succeed as much as we do since it is really their panels. Every two years, they will assess the performance and send us a check if their panels didn’t measure up to their promised production.

Looking to the Future

I’m looking forward to seeing what our panels can do this summer. Our beautiful Sonoran Emerald, Carlos, came down in a storm at the end of the summer last year. We mourn the loss of a beautifully shaded front yard, but I’m anxious to see if our panels can do even better without our beloved Carlos coming between the sun and the solar panels. We also had some down days, so we can expect to get some money back in rebates this year.


If you’d like to look into putting solar on your house, we would appreciate it if you used our referral to Tesla. You will receive an extended 5 year warranty on your panels, and we will receive a $400 rebate, or $750 toward a new Tesla electric car. This is our next dream. Also, if we refer five people, Tesla will give us a PowerWall battery, so that we can store excess power to use during the night! We will definitely need that to charge our new Tesla, right? To learn more, click here.

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