8/18: Home Solar Panels Q&A with Aaron Heth and Kyle Frazier

Texas Energy Lab
Saturday, August 18th
Texas Energy Lab for August 18. Austin homeowner Aaron Heth is considering solar panels for his home and has a lot of questions. Solar industry expert Kyle Frazier of Freedom Solar Power has answers. Hosts McKay Proctor and Sherren Harter moderate a Q&A discussion about home solar panels with Aaron and Kyle on this week's Texas Energy Lab.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Hi there. Well from the Texas energy level is your source for thoughtful conversation about life innovation sustainability in the lone star state. Obviously if you found this on the radio you know that we can be heard every. Saturday at 6 PM on talk thirteen seventy. And if you're looking for more digital experience he can find every episode of Texas energy lab at TX energy labs dot com. As always we'd like to thank our title sponsors freedom solar for making the magic happen. Ladies and gentlemen I'm here to introduce the half of this radio program that actually worth the price admission. Sharon harder Sharon I'm excited about today's show this is all different. Thank you McKay yes it's going to be a fine line we are gonna mix things up a little bit and and and senate having. I'm missing a guest who just talks about bared their story and experience we're gonna talk a little bit more specifically about solar. The today in the studio we have Aaron Katz who is a homeowner in Austin who's been thinking about solar and and we're gonna is gonna. Tell us what his questions are like what the big. What the big pressing questions about why he may or may not wanna go solar. And then we got to answer those questions how Frazier who has almost a decade of experience working in the solar industry. As solar on his home and so as is our local resident expert as well self proclaimed expert from. But all things solar. Your many many solar arrays and that's right even working and so. As a kick things off and the Israelis and she's acumen may you'll kind of an address each question that errant passes as a region and so. Let's start with the Puerto action before it gets out of the question can you tell us and the little bit about. You know who you are and you know what type of like what your home it's like where it's Mattson and holing that big bestseller. Dancer so the first of all thank you so much for having me in and help them with these questions I've been and a on back and forth on wall trying to make this decision. So I've got a homeowner in Austin and one thing and you have a lot of trees on property I'm always and wondering. If that how that affects solar but I've been thinking about doing solar power for the last couple years on and and it just. Have these questions that I'd like and had this opportunity here to come and ask these questions on the Aron. Questions are likely keep you up tonight yeah yeah absolutely quiet places in your mind striking the boys and girls it wrong you know when have you know yeah. We'll call let's have some of those questions I'm ready ready when you are okay so the first question that I have is. Because I hear a lot of different stories from different people and giving their opinion that I won enough from the experts so what direction. Is desperate the panels to face on the on the. That's a good question and it's one that we get as you can imagine all the time you're not the only person thinking about the stuff. In the late hours of the night. So Ted to answer that question I'll take it first of all in it depends on where you are in the world because. We live in the Northern Hemisphere here in Texas and so. The sun moves across the southern horizon and so we wanna we wanna orient panels. In the south is is ideal. And there's nuances to this that matter so if you have time reviews terrorists with utility company where. Power is more expensive in the late afternoon you might decide to orient your panels west as you want the setting sun. Because even though it may produce fewer kilowatt hours in a day it's producing more valuable kill ourselves. It's a difficult question to answer across the board but I can tell you in Texas south facing is is the ideal optimal direction. With east and west being a close second. The the the second piece to suggest the the direction as the tilt so what degree do you wanna latest stuff flat you want to be straight up and down. That's a function of your latitude and so in Austin where 32 degrees latitude so if you were to design. The most productive system it would be a 180 degrees south. With a 32 degree tilt. And there's very few situations that we come across the valid and that perfectly. And you wouldn't want he wouldn't wanna sacrifice some of the things he won a lower pitch on your truth and it's more architecturally pleasing it's easier to work on it's cheaper to replace because you're not having people on there that are using scaffolding and and all the other safety requirements on a steep pitch. And the incremental changes in production are pretty nominal and so we work with the riffs that are there that are existing and and and so that. If you can do blank canvas. In two degrees still outpacing how many degrees awesome. I don't follow up question that's a does that mean you should never put solar and northeast is no that's that's a good question so. We typically view any thing. Less than five degrees tilted north to be more or less flat so it's just pointing straight up at the at this guy. Was still has of has a kid given the amount of sunlight that we have the amount of radiance that we haven't Texas just by virtue of where we are. It's still it still gives jig could production it's it it's not optimum but it still is is more than sufficient many cases to offset what you needed. And to our sizable audience in Australia take all this advice in reverse it that's for. So it sounds like. Really need someone to come out and helped me kind of walk around in the book war. Build a new house that's ideal for seller I. Now you know we've. We've actually there's been some some pretty cool technological advances and in what's called lite. The amount of light that hits the surface of your roof and so. In the old days instilled a certain extent today there's a lot of shooting recent somebody out there initiating analysis because it may be but that on. Parts of your relief that that gets a sufficient suns' window our solar access. It still might make sense to do it. But our first pass to be a look at align our assessment if you followed through region that has already been mapped. Aunt and look at what the solar access says if there's some questions we'll go out there and do an actual shape study using a pathfinder which believe it or not was invented by farmers when they're looking at where to plant their crops and and getting a right amount of sunlight that's been around for hundreds of years. We use that same technology on the relative to measure. At any given day in any given season what does the shade look like as it strikes across route. And so we call attache in analysis and we do that and determine if sometimes trimming limbs back will will help open up that access and other times. Look you know so solar still does not work in the shade. And so we have a motto on our office no shady solar and so if it's if it's not gonna produce what we think it should than we than we just advise you to. Look at other sustainable energy efficiency improvements that you might that you might consider for your home. So. What about on the front in my house that does the solar have to go on the front. This kind of gets back to the first question you asked about orientation what's ideal and so in some cases you had this it it does on the front of the home. And luckily today we've got some. There's been a lot of emphasis on the aesthetics of this and and I imitated the stuff looks sexy as hell and you know everybody should put on a fire house spent my neighbor might have a completely different opinion about that. And so comes down to opinions and I'm and so what I will say though is that. Typically within an installation especially in a homeowner's association where they they they care about the aesthetics of everybody cares about this thanks in their home. They've got all black panels that look they look a lot like a flat screen television they blend in really well with the reduced their dark. Not they don't look like the traditional panels that you that you maybe have grown up being accustomed to seeing and so. Are there are situations where it goes on the front but we do good job of really laying it out to make it look. Ethically pleasing. Okay I'm and looking around town. Any of the house you've seen that are sort of modern and their orientation like really slick in and it. Square the panel's blend right in there they look like in other instructions are as. You mentioned HO way. Is what a joy can have a problem with this serve. Have you ever come across that I don't like dealing with them. And it's a great question and we and that that's that used it in Kyle's a couple of minutes longer to answer and we enter into a break now firm and for our sponsors so we'll take a quick break and we'll come back and talk about. Whether it's in ways we'll have an issue. With the system and heighten get around that so we'll be right back Texas energy lab on top fifteen sanity. Thirteen seventy. Welcome back to Texas energy lab here on top. He's 7 AM. The magic of radio has brought us into the living room mr. Aron has been he's got a couple questions about solar than a seasoned industry that cal Frazier. Has been answering forum Aaron before I went to break you were asking about issuing approval for Seoul where do you wanna pick up where you left off. Yeah so I was just asking Kyle. I don't like dealing with my age away but. Typically what they. And they respond that's yet to question and as you can imagine in Texas there's a lot of these ancient ways that we do you deal live in fact I live in his neighborhood that is governed by a very large homeowners association. It really depends on the HO IA but in general the answer your question is that process is managed by your your installer so they put together the application and the paperwork that design which is what the PH who wants to see is where these panels in ago. They visible to your neighbors to the street if they are. There is a state. Law that prohibits homeowners associations from blocking solar for homeowners that wanted. Now they do put some stipulations around it you can just go put it on the front of your home if the back of your Thomas More productive. And so typically that that number is is I believe it's 10% might be 20% but there is a percentage in which. If you can revert if you're installer to improve the production is ten to 20% better on the front on the back. Was a as a conscious homeowners you want your system to produce optimal and so the HOA can't restrict you from from wanting to do that. And so now H always can make it more difficult on you as a as a member of that nature away but they can't outright. Block you from doing it. I'm and they can call you out for not mowing your grass quite as a authority forget to put your trash can and continue to do that they give you phone call. That'll day examines Hans Backe for seller. Let those H arrays are pretty pretty located right I think it's as his beak as has been growing and you know people are seeing a more often. Yeah and often times when they're not they're default is if your neighbors or call that recorder that's and so it's it's occasionally it's rare occasion there's a process to just have your neighbors I'll say yeah we don't really care that's. Here's the woman my wife wanted me to make sure that I asked. One about tale. What about hill as an outbreak the panel's. You know. Did the panels are made out of tempered glass and so it's a very in in fact there's a product that they're called Gorilla Glass that's that's designed specifically for product that's wanted for 25 years and so it's a very durable glass. It's tempered. It's it is designed to withstand per the requirements. The national electric had. And the icy to be able to withstand a certain amount of of an impact that impact is roughly half inch ball buys at 53 miles per hour fired perpendicular late. Perpendicular Lee at ten different points in the module. And so they're they're rated and they're tested to do that I've seen pictures where they have two tons of bricks stacked on top of the panel on the panels Boeing. And they go to class is not cracked and shattered. Having said all that it's Texas and we get some pretty awesome thunderstorms and so it is possible for hail. Damaged a panel. And so if that happens what's like I said is extremely rare in fact is as long as I've been doing this I've only seen it. Once and it was in San Antonio during 500 year quote you know storm event. Then you replace the panels that have been broken now. Oftentimes they'll still perform because the the underlying technology the silicon wafers is still productive it's just the glass. That protects that is what has shattered. It's so you can get water penetration advertisements you definitely get those things replaced. Who pays for right that's the next question right solar is a fixture tear on its attached to your house so it's covered by your homeowner's insurance company whether it's. If farmer all Stater whoever you USA. It just becomes another fixture on her home and so. If the solar panels have been broken by hail. I can assure you that there will be a claim filed under zone because your reef has been destroyed. I mentioned earlier your refinance if you have them your exterior HVAC units. The panel's my experience has been that there the last thing together and OK so then how will that affect my homeowner's insurance. So this is a question that did. Again as answer with a depends it doesn't hear insurance company is so I can tell you about my own experience I called my state farm agent and said I just that solar on the rift is so what's the replacement cost us that it's roughly you know whatever it was to replace the panels on the reef because it's not a you are placing the entire system unless the house burns down they wanted to know. That is well bad. And in the event of a storm what would it cost replace the panels in in my situation is said he got plenty of coverage refine. We have had individuals I've I've heard of other homeowners that have that have talked to their same insurance agent I don't know if there with a different agency wide. And it's been as much as ten or fifteen dollars a year attack had the coverage necessary to make that happen now let's at the U wanna check with your years here injured. 510 or fifteen dollars a year. Anecdotally is what I've heard from that individuals. That you mentioned too that it becomes a fixture of the house so Steve are you penetrating the roof with these things that he. Yeah is there that's a good question so. So many good questions and he clearly been damn Smart guys who blog here. The there are in most cases we have to penetrate the root cause what we're looking to attached to is the rafters that are holding up the roof decking. And so the old days of solar you know you eat the the jurisdiction and you know that the authority having jurisdiction as we would call it would say as long as he put some brief call in today is penetrations or did ago. The problem is with the use the impact on that ten or fifteen years down the road that stuff is gonna break down and so early on. Installer started adopting a of a metal flashing that fits up underneath the optional. And so it it essentially creates a weatherproof seal. Flashing which is which is an expensive part of installing that and believe it or not because there's a lot of those flashing that she needs is attached a right to the root. And have never had a a roof leak around a flashing yet you knock on wood but that that's a very effective way to. Attached to a house standing seam metal roots don't require any penetrations and so you attached to the medal same. And that's that is comply with the building Keds. But every other application besides a flat roof where you can just literally laid on the reef inside the ballast right require some penetration and other tech. You mentioned. Compositions shingle roofs metal route while groups of what is the best roofing material and ideally the best material is standing seam metal it's that's the lowest profile since the closest to the root and doesn't require penetrations but majority of what we do is probably come shingle. We do Spanish tile and cement shingles with all different types. That's. And it seems that's. White House played tile is tricky right that's is that the trickiest one it is yeah it it just. It's experience like anything out if you're in Arizona that's pretty much all you do and so you just learn the nuances of working on on a roof that if you step their own place or breaks itself. It has stepped in there it's an experience. It's tough when it comes down to experience. So. Did the solar panels to they come with batteries. Do we get that question a lot is. And it kind of ties and this on the grid goes down what happens to my sore right well the short answer is no they they don't come at any storage today we think that story just coming. Very quickly. Energy will go way of cellphones where I feel is not have a landline phone in fifteen years. And so energy will become distributed in that way there won't he won't eat telephone poles to carry conversations around the country it'll just happened through the air. Energy will incorporate storage aunt or storage rather will come in in a company solar at the time in which that economics makes sense. And you'll have that storage that allows you to independently operate. Independent grid grid provides a lot of value still today and so. The majority assistants or great tied. The grid goes down your system goes down as well and the reason for that is because when the great goes down as a problem. That needs to be solvent citizen alignment out there and utility company to exit. The Lyman is assuming that the that the power lines are dead and if they're solar back feeding on about it can pick it injure kill one moment so that's a safety function and if you cannot island juror array from the grid it defaults to shut them. People do ask a lot of questions about going totally off the grand at it for I think for the most part that does not make sense for most people are you lose a lot of benefits if you. If you miss and I yourself from the current and it's expensive to cut earlier and electricity and agree on an accident back as a battery itself right now. And a great so that was and a lot of great questions thank you and we're gonna cut to one more break and hear from our sponsors so we will be back in just a couple of minutes. 57. All right welcome back. We're hearing from a season solar vet Kyle Frazier talking to you a just a normal John Q taxpayer. About as questions about solar. Amid throw back to them so that we can get to us some of aaron's final question Darren what do you want now. I. Anything just anything just put an apple so Sharon mentioned something that. And Allen and asked about it she said getting totally off stickers that expensive proposition but. Just tell me so so how much does going solar costs. That's assets such a hard question answer because of course you know it depends right that's what it. That nobody wants to hear that but it depends on the size of the Ruth in the eyes of the system in the type of that equipment hey account. Watching as the man's question how much is because she's okay all right here's how I answer that. Because you're right every dollar just wants to get the bottom line because. There're there are things that matter outside of the cause spent the cost is what is typically the barrier between whether or not somebody can do this yet. So here's how I answer that because the truth is it does depend I think that the metrics that help people. The most understand cost there are in a couple of different ways one I'll talk about. With with some individual some homers this concept of the the rate of return. Most people have a little bit of money tucked away and it's they're saving that money for a rainy day or for retirement or whatever it is. I look at solar personally as an individual much the same way as I do a mutual fund and Simon and say they expected rate of return that I need to make on that investment and noted diversify our divest out of a mutual fund and put in something else. Attendees solar is it's the industry that I men but it's an investment vehicle at the end of the day ticket rental property. Well look at that based on what's the return that I can make on an investment. That return is roughly depends on what. Market share and because our prices very incentives and vary but it's anywhere from seven to 11%. Conservatively rate of return on my investment. I look at what the alternatives are initially nothing else out there I can put my money and that's it's got the little to no volatility it's gonna return sevenths 11% return. And so. I would say if you're listening in seven to 11% return your money is acceptable then that's that's one metric that I would look at the other is. Let's say your elicited does not have. Ten or fifteen grand in the bank that she can divest to put into something like solar. But you want it and you and you want to finance it. Then I would tell you that the other way to think about the cost of this. Is it's producing energy which is paying you money monthly a call that basically it's the annuity that this investment pays out. If you have a loan payment in your financing a 100% of the cost of the system. The difference between that annuity payment and that loan payment is call at twenty dollars to fifty dollars depending on what type of equipment eco ahead. And so in that case I would tell you it's it's roughly a dollar a day maybe a little bit more maybe a little bit less to go solar so if you don't have the cash to invest in this. It's about a dollar a day. The difference in the beginning as power prices go up in your loan payments fixed. Eventually becomes Ashland neutral and then all of a sudden you're making money in and you on this equipment that's that's guaranteed for 25 years. So what does it cost well it's a seven to 11% return on whatever that number is. And it's or it's roughly a dollar today to finance the stuff plus or minus. But what you hear is you talked at the long term and actually I I've talked to somebody else right before we came into the studio who is thinking about solar and and had one moment going to be in my house for six years write about securities and we're gonna sell sell and he was concerned about the returns so now yes yes. And whether or not you know eighty which you kept corporate whether or not incorporated like the recent rise a little bit you know uncertain but. If you're gonna sell on an it could be to between five years does that still makes. Yeah that's. And and we actually because -- question is so critical to the to the due diligence on making that decision we had mark on the show and in a previous episode he should listen to that episode he's a real estate broker and used to be an appraiser at tank and with that Austin green building program had a lot of great insight to offer. It comes down to feed you hire ten market and sell your home and so we we recommend a couple of brokers and talent understand the value that that are. Brokers Jeff solar on their own house and so they get it as a homeowner as well. But absolutely it helps the resell value of the home death. On on a very conservative level to about 151000 dollars and that equity improvement to your home. Now you could have a system that cost 8000 dollars on the cost 60000 dollars and so you're saying well they all worth fifteen grand short answer is no bit but that's a very. That's a very fact checked number just in terms of looking in MLS data on average just so I'm with solar cells for 151000 more than one without. It's just to get metric to kind of at least fall back on those conservative. And so before we close out I just wanna say anyone for whom an 11% return is not acceptable I would like you'd introduced meet your investment advisor. We came once in I don't know about San Jose is. A dual air and how did how did Kyle Tim like do you feel like you got your question answered and. Yeah it's great I mean. We question we call your utility company to Wilmington is Phillips and you're a slightly. Yes and actor and my insurance company. It's hooked up today we get going excellent and able thank you for being on the show and a very antiterrorist coming out asking these questions on the air so thank you for doing and thank you to Kyle Barrick. And joining you for telling us all of the answers and take you to McKay are co host aura and it lightening the mood you're lesser half keeping us kind south. That was it for today on Texas energy lab on the great discussion about is the most common questions about solar and going solar so thank you for joining us. We continue next week Saturday at 6 PM on talk thirteen seventy. Or online at TX an anti black dot com banks have a good weekend.