Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on January 8, 2012 By Draginol In Science & Tech

This past year my wife and I finally got the solar array we had planned in. The questions I usually get asked are how much it cost, how much does it produce and what level of subsidy is there for it.

First, here's what it looks like:

The idea was to have something that produced enough power to offset our family's daily energy use. So I'll walk through how this worked out:

  • The house consumes the Solar Array first. Anything left over goes back to DTE in which they pay $0.12 per KW/h.
  • The array is rated at 20.1KW which means it produces between 80 and 100 KWhs per day if it's sunny-ish.
  • The federal government currently has a tax rebate of 30% of the cost. They won't give you a check, they just reduce your income taxes but it's a very generous deal and the only way this is remotely feasible (I'll explain in a sec).
  • DTE also pays about $2,000 per KW as part of their subsidy for it. So they actually do write a check to help offset the cost.
  • The total cost was $180,000 for the panels / installation and $20,000 for prepping the land.
  • The total cost would be about $100k to me and $100k in various rebates/subsidies for a total cost to me of about $5 per KW.
  • We used the Sun Power SPR-240-WHT system which has around a 19.3% efficiency.
  • You can monitor the system in real time (here's a picture of my panel read out via Enphase:
  • It'll take about 25 years to pay back. So I don't recommend this kind of thing if you're trying to look at it from an investment perspective. I had my own, kooky reasons (lowering our energy foot print, dislike of high monthly bills, etc.)

You can see the progression of solar activity through the day here:

In terms of which parts of the country get the most sun here’s a map:

Take this map and then look at the average temperature (lower temps = higher efficiency) to get an idea of whether your area is suitable.


If anyone has any questions on the implementation of solar power, feel free to comment. It was a very educational experience.

Comments (Page 2)
on Jan 10, 2012

Lord Xia
This seems ridiculous. Don't you live in some frozen tundra of Near-Canadia?

Yebbut's not about's about light...

on Jan 10, 2012

We still have sunlight in the "tundra"


on Jan 10, 2012

We still have sunlight in the "tundra"


You just have to thaw it out first.

on Jan 10, 2012

I got my first bill from DTE since switching it over. The holiday stuff jacked up our power use a lot so this is atypical but this is what it netted:

Net usage: 1,920 KWH @ $0.13 per KWH 
Supply back to grid: 546 KWH @ $0.11 per KWH

Bill: $189.54

The Net usage means I actually used more than 1,920KWH (embarassingly enough). It's just that the solar panels during the day absorbed some of that and still had 546 left. During cloudy days and at night is when the 1920KWH came in.

Typically we run at about half that (before taking solar into account) so it'll be interesting to see what January brings.

on Jan 10, 2012

What's particularly noteworthy is my 2009-2010 Electricity charges amounted to around $1500 ... and in 2010-2011 were up to $2400.

Nothing really changed [usage] ...just the on-going price hikes in Energy provision that will see no reversal without adopting pro-active efforts such as Brad's...