Short answer: Texas has some of the best noonday sun which is how you base whether solar is a good fit for your location. Texas far exceeds countries like Germany that don’t have as good of conditions for achieving peak sunlight yet Germany is full of solar panel installations. Our cloud cover is moderate compared to the other states which also helps a great deal.
Let’s start out with the pitfalls of solar.
- A bad roof installation from inexperienced installers
- Bad quality solar panels, yes they exist, news stories come out all the time about this issue.
- Bad loan agreements on your solar installation
- Remove and replace cost of solar panels
A bad roof installation from inexperienced installers
There are hooks that are load bearing and go through the rafters of your roof. Your rafters are some type of “2 by” perhaps a 2 x 10 or a 2 x 12. Some roofs only have 2 x 4 rafter “beams”. You want the installer to pre-drill the bolt holes around 3/4 the size of the actual bolt to prevent cracks.
The bolt screws into the rafter and these hook bolts will hold the metal brackets that your solar panels will screw into. Silicon caulk must be placed around any hole that is drilled into the roof or a type of black tar that is used on roofs will work too.
Some holes are big enough that flashing will need to be used. The solar installer sends a conduit through the roof where your electric wires from the solar panel will be passed through and this will need metal flashing and some silicon or black tar caulk.
If the 2 by rafter beams are not pre-drilled properly or the the bolt is not dead center in the middle of the beam the solar install could be damaging several load bearing beams.
Your average solar job is about 500 pounds of weight on your roof. If your beams are damaged bad enough this can sink in your roof as well as form cracks on your drywall in the walls of your house.
Water leaks can happen from entering unsealed holes in the roof that were initially created to install the solar panels. It is important the installer does a thorough inspection that he/she has caulked/sealed all installation holes.
We have a recommendation for a Texas solar installation company. They are a good outfit and have a lot of happy customers: Go check it out.
Bad quality solar panels, yes they exist, news stories come out all the time about this issue.
Normal performance loss is from .25 to .70 % per year. So in 10 years you could see a 7 % degradation if everything else stays in working order.
There is also what is called induced degradation. This is where things that were not supposed to happen end up happening like water finding a path into the solar cell. Other defects like hail destroying the panel or manufacturer defects.
There can be long term damage from voltage leakage so it is important that the “isolator switch” is installed properly between the solar array and the electric utility. The isolator switch switches off DC current between the solar panels and the solar inverter.
Unfortunately this “isolator switch” is the most common cause for rooftop solar system fires. It’s a safety mechanism that is also the cause for the most unsafe aspect to the solar system, kind of ironic.
Among some of the manufacturer defects can be broken glass, microcracks, dust build up, cracked cells, poor string connection. A poor “string connection” can reduce your solar cell production by 1/3rd. Your cells are connected together via “strings” in other words soldered wires that can lose their solder if not all working properly and installed properly. You can also run into a solar array failure if you have a bad junction box. One of the last things I will mention when it comes to a solar array failure are “snail trails”. These occur often after two years of service as the metallization of the silver paste in the solar panel begins to make trails in a defective panel.
I would ask your solar installer about the panels they install and why they use that manufacturer and if these problems have occurred with their installations. Ask the installation company what they do to prevent and rectify faulty installations and defects like these when they occur with their customers.
Bad loan agreements on your solar installation
Here is an example of a customer who now feels like they got a lemon and desperately needs out. Make sure you have it in writing what the benefits will be to you and not just go on the sales persons word.
Q: How to break a horribly bad solar contract?
As my grandfather would say we got into a total ripoff of a solar contract in 2020, we were a busy family juggling lots of kids and many long work hours. The sales guy in a very nice looking gray shirt and charming as can be said 100% of our energy costs would be handled by the rooftop solar array system but in reality it only covered 62% on a good day. We pay as much on the loan payments for these panels as we did for paying the traditional electric utility. The cost for this solar array was way above the market costs some of my neighbors paid for their systems. A Uniform Commercial Code filing was placed on our property by the finance company when we stopped making our payments which allows them to seize our entire property. I explained to the finance company that we were ripped off in a scam by this company but they don’t seem to care. I am trying to figure out a way to remove the UCC filing and the panels from the roof, any ideas? How do I break a contract like this, didn’t they break it with their false promises? I have gathered all the evidence and documentation that might be relevant.
A: It’s not a simple process to remove a UCC filing statement by you the homeowner. You can come to a mutual agreement with the finance company or it has to be done by court order after you have gone through the legal process of engaging in a lawsuit. Look in the contract for what your rights are in regards to getting out of this agreement. Depending on how your contract is worded there are laws in place in Texas that may help. I would contact the Texas Attorney general and file a complaint to see what Texas can do to help remedy your situation. The attorney general has helped alleviate many a situation. An attorney can likely advise you based on Texas law what remedies you may have and it might only cost you a couple hundred dollars for this advice. After an initial consultation with an attorney a demand letter may be all that is needed but if they don’t respond to this you may have to file a lawsuit.
Texas Electric Providers Don’t Allow You to Rollover Excess Energy to Next Bill
Remove and replace cost of solar panels
Removing solar panels typically costs around $500 and to put them back on the roof another $500. If your roof needs repaired or replaced you will need to add an additional $1,000 to get this done. Insurance should be able to pay for this additional cost. If you remove them permanently there are some tiny holes that will need to be tarred and if if not done professionally could look a little bad.
If you have your panels installed at ground level you could move them with you to your next house if you decide to sell your home or you could leave them on the property for the next home owner as it raises your home value by about 4 % to comparable values.
Here are the benefits of solar:
- Off-grid living
- Reduces emissions (If your into that)
- Low maintenance costs
- Offers a return on investment unlike paying an electric utility
- Often increases your homes value by about 4 %
Donny has been writing about the deregulated energy markets since early 2007. His knowledge has helped consumers lower their electricity cost.