Notes on King Solar presentation, 4/13/2013

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 19:13

Update!  King Solar has offered us the following group purchasing offer: if we order kits containing 8 or more solar panel modules in one shipment, we will get them for just $695 per panel module, a discount of more than 6% from the regular price.  (Each module includes the panel, a micro-inverter, mounting hardware, and cable.)  Please let me know if you are interested in going in together on this deal.  Read on for details.

For those of you who missed Mark Horst's presentation yesterday about solar options available for home and business, here are my notes:

  • Until recently, most of King Solar's business was solar thermal (hot water) rather than photovoltaic (electricity).
  • Part of the recent price drop in photovoltaics may prove to be temporary, as large Chinese manufacturers are making prices artificially low to force smaller manufacturers out of business.  For this reason, King Solar tries to buy only from reputable manufacturers that are diversified enough to stay in business to honor their warranties, and all modules they sell are designed to be interchangeable with other brands.
  • The photovoltaic market is moving to interchangeable modules, each with its own micro-inverter, for reasons of safety and convenience.
  • Different utilities do net metering differently; Westar settles up annually, which means you get credit for any power you produce during a year, and you have that year to spend your credit on their grid power -- any credit that you haven't used at the end of the year, you lose.  This is a better deal than monthly net metering offered by some utilities.
  • Mark demonstrated how he does a shading analysis with a Solar Pathfinder.
  • For a full photovoltaic installation with warranty, expect to pay $3 to $5 per Watt.  
  • Businesses will see a quicker payback on their investment because they can depreciate the cost of the system -- this puts the payback at about 10 years, vs. about 14 years for residential installations.
  • Mark spoke about the install-it-yourself kit systems offered by King Solar.  The 2-panel starter kit is just $1650 but does not include a monitoring system, and the payback is likely to be closer to 19 years due to proportionally higher fixed costs for shipping, local permits, utility connections etc.  The 8-panel kit is $6450 including a monitoring system, and a 20-panel kit (not listed on the Web site) is around $13,500.
  • All these modules have a 25-year warranty and are rated up to 1" hail.  Hail large enough to damage them will also damage the surrounding roof, so homeowner's insurance kicks in.  Mark said he has never heard of insurance rates increasing when people install solar panels, as they extend the life of the roof below them.

For more information, visit King Solar or call Mark at 316-265-8568.