Is the Big Price Difference Worth It?

My house is in Los Angeles, CA
~ 3000 sq foot
Our 1 year usage ~ 15,819 kWh
But, we just bought 1 EV car and plan on buying another by Jan 2022.

Zenernet (Overland Park, KS)
Quote:
Panels 31 x REC Solar REC400AA Pure Black
1 Year Production = 18,252 kWh
Inverters 31 x Enphase Energy IQ7-60-2-US [240V]
System Nameplate 12.400 kW
Annual Production Degradation 0.25%
Option 1:
Total System Cost = $54,306
26% ITC Incentive = $14,186
Net system cost = $40,186
Option 2 (With All Cash Payment Discount)
Total System Cost = $40,687
26% ITC Incentive = $10,579
Net system Cost = $30,108

SunPower by Green Convergence (Valencia, CA)
Quote:
SunPower Equinox® System
A Series 420
Panels 42 x A Series 420
1 Year Production = 19,281 kWh
Only Option 1 (No All Cash Discount):
Total system cost = $70,210
26% ITC Incentive = $18,254
Net system cost = $51,956

Should we go with Zenernet, we can do the all cash purchase and receive the lower overall system cost, so this choice was very appealing initially.

Then, I spoke with the SunPower representative and she mentioned some important points to consider.

  1. The yearly production is no realistic as we will require more panels/power, especially once we have the 2 EV vehicles.
  2. The SunPower panels are more expensive, yes, but they are far more superior than the REC panels. “The next tier down from SunPower would be more LG and Panasonic panels.”
  3. Zenernet is only a 3 year old company. There’s so many such companies popping up: here today gone tomorrow. This led up to point 4 which is important to me.
  4. Warranty. REC has the following limited 20 year warranty:
    “Please note that this Limited Warranty does not cover, nor will the Warrantor reimburse, any on-site labor or other costs incurred in connection with the de-installation or removal of defective Products, transport or the re-installation of replaced or repaired Products or any components.”
    I’m not sure it this applies to any on-site labor (including the initial installation) or the limited aspects of removal and re-installation?
    Zenernet boasts a 25 year system, parts, roof, and labor warranty. I’ve requested a copy of the warranty to read the fine print. There good reviews on this company online, but I had never heard of them. After some research, it seems they are only a 3 year old company. Thus, I’m concerned they may not be around 10 years down the road when a problem arises. And depending on how you read REC’s warranty they may deny coverage of the issue.
    Conversely, the SunPower dealer has stellar reviews, is local, and has been in business over 30 years.
  5. Out of state companies, such as Zenernet, may face issues with the local power companies. The SunPower rep. mentioned horror stories of out of state companies misfiling or incorrectly filing the necessary paperwork with the power company such as Edison, and when it comes time to running the power through the system after installation there are heavy delays.
  6. Metal roof. Our roof is a metal roof and needs professionals with experience to handle the installation otherwise damaging it is commonplace. The SunPower rep. mentioned they have extensive experience and the installers are actual employees of Green Convergence. But, the Zenernet broker deals with contractors and I’m not certain of their experience.

As you can see, besides the price there are other areas of concern. I’m wondering whether it is worth it to pay the much more costly price and go with the local SunPower representative, or based on your experience the other factors won’t really be an issue with Zenernet and REC and it’s not worthwhile to pay the extra premium?

Any feed back is immensely appreciated.

Thank you,

I disagree. I don’t think the difference is significant at all. You may get slightly higher efficiency with the SunPower panels, but this is not even relevant if you have enough roof space.

However, this comparison is not right. Here is what you’re comparing:

  1. REC 12.4kW (~18,100kWh / yr) $30108 = $2428/kW installed
  2. SunPower 17.6kW (~25,700kWh / yr) $51956 = $2952/kW installed

This however is a very valid concern. I would be scrutinising their reviews closely.

The panel warranty does not cover the workmanship of the installation, this is covered under the separate warranty you mentioned.


Overall, I agree it’s not clear cut. I do not think the extra price comes close to justifying the difference in panels, I don’t think the difference is significant. However, it depends on your risk appetite as to whether you are comfortable with a company that has been around a shorter time. It comes across from what you are saying that SunPower sales rep is putting the hard sale on you. Can you trust them? Does Green Convergence use contractors?

Good luck.

Marty

Thank you for your response Marty!

Green Convergence boasts the fact that they use no contractors. They only use employees and that’s how they can guarantee the workmanship for 25 years, labor, equipment, and roof penetration – all 25 years.

I joined Energysage as it was recommended here and recently received 2 quotes. The quotes are much cheaper at $20,000 and $18,000. But, the number of panels in the quotes is considerably lower - one is at 19 and the other at 17. When I asked one of them why such a smaller system, he said that I only need roughly 11,000 kwh. Now I’m thoroughly confused, based on our bills our total yearly usage is 15,819 kwh and we plan on having 2 EV vehicles; I told him these 2 points But, he still insists what he quoted below is all we need. Is what he’s saying true or he’s miscalculating something? Plus, they quoted battery storage. I’m not sure if I need this. Although, we do have frequent outages where I live, but only lasts 1-2 hours.

Future Energy (Offices in CA and TX) https://futureenergytoday.com/
Says they only use employees, no contractors

System Design

Number of panels: 19
Watts per panel: 400
Number of inverters: 19
System size: 7.60 kW
Year 1 Production Estimate: 11,400 kWh

Monitoring System: Enphase Energy

Solar Panels

Panel manufacturer: Solaria
Panel model: PowerXT-400R-PM PowerXT

Inverter manufacturer: Enphase Energy
Inverter model: IQ7A-72-2-US-240

Battery System Design

Number of battery units
1
Usable capacity per unit
10.08 kWh
Total usable capacit
10.1 kWh
Power continuous
3.84 kW

Gross system cost ~ $20,000
Gross battery cost ~$14,000

LA Solar Group

System Design

Number of panels: 17
Watts per panel: 450
Number of inverters: 5
System size: 7.65 kW
Year 1 Production Estimate: 11,164 kWh

Solar Panels

Panel manufacturer: LA SOLAR GROUP, NEVADA S…
Panel model: LS450HC(166) LS430-450HC…

Inverter manufacturer: Hoymiles Converter Techn…

Inverter model: MI-1500NT Arrow pointing up and to the right

Battery System Design

Number of battery units
1
Usable capacity per unit
13.3 kWh
Total usable capacit
13.3 kWh
Power continuous
5.00 kW

Gross system cost ~ $18,000
Gross battery cost ~$13,500

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

I just noticed that when I uploaded a year’s worth of electricity bills to the Energysage website it did not accurately calculate my monthly electricity usage. I just corrected it and told the reps. 1 rep got back to me, Future Energy, and said based on the new usage it would be 27 panels. That brings the gross price to around $30,000 still much lower than Zenernet or Sunpower. Would this Future Energy system be a worthy one compared to the other 2?

Marty, how did you calculate this? Can you provide breakdown so I can calculate other quotes like this. In particular, how did you get the 12.4 and 17.6; and where did you get ~ 25,700 kWh/yr?

Sorry to bombard with added quotes and questions. But, just got this newest quote that I really like, and from a reputable local company offering 25 years warranty on labor, equipment, and roof.

Solar Optimum

Glendale, CA

System Design

Number of panels: 31
Watts per panel: 370
Number of inverters: 31
System size: 11.5 kW
Year 1 Production Estimate: 16,058 kWh

Solar Panels

Panel manufacturer: Panasonic

Panel model: EVPV370 EverVolt WBS

Electric Inverter

Inverter manufacturer: Enphase Energy
Inverter model: IQ7PLUS-72-x-US-240 Arrow pointing up and to the right

Battery System Design

Number of battery units: 1
Usable capacity per unit: 10.08 kWh
Total usable capacity: 10.1 kWh
Power continuous: 3.84 kW

Gross system cost ~ $30,000
Gross battery cost ~$14,500

What are your thoughts?

Sunpower are great panels but in my view - far too expensive. I would think paying the the extra would be a bit like thinking you need a Rolls Royce to go the the shops once a week.

Hi @Baldrick

I’m calculating number of panels x wattage per panel. This is the figure that matters, because different companies can calculate how much you will generate per kW differently (just to make their system look better). Then I calculate the system size by 4 then 365, because a kW installed where you live will produce about 4kWh a day (very rough, but the point is to use the same calculation so you’re comparing apples with apples).

Ok, so we’re talking about $21k net right? Using Solaria panels? That’s less than $2k per kW installed (much cheaper), and Solaria is a reputable manufacturer. Yeah, sounds like you are on to a better deal here.

It usually pays to get further quotes, well done for shopping around.

Cheers
Marty

Yeah. I don’t really see how you could justify the value of storage if the blackouts don’t really bother you.