Review for Native
Happy Homeowner with a 40-panel system
We started getting bids for a solar system in March, 2014. We went to Oncor first to see the list of installers they had already worked with to insure that we’d pick someone who wouldn’t endanger getting our Oncor rebate. Picked two local companies to start – to get educated about what would have to be done. Through them and other searches for information found two serious contenders to do the job: Native (out of Austin, but with a Dallas presence) and another Dallas company. Although the other company had slightly better pricing, their production estimates were not believable – perfect world figures. And, they only wanted to install 32 panels which would be an 8 Kva system – said you only needed to produce what you’re using now. Native’s production numbers seemed more realistic and they recommended a 10 Kva system (40 panels). Keep in mind that over the course of a 23 year life time, the panels may reduce their output by 20% (guaranteed to be no more than 1.25% per year). The 8 Kva system would have then only been producing 6.4 Kva – not enough to maintain a $0 cost of electricity for us. Native’s recommended 10 Kva system would then be down to 8 Kva and would still allow us to live without having to pay any electric bills.
We had many conversations between the two companies. The most sincere conversations (in our opinion) were with Carl Gayhart (Native – 512-763-6714). He had an excellent grasp of what we wanted to accomplish (eliminate all electric bills). He represented Native well and promised a reasonably quick installation. We signed the contract with Native the first week of May. There were a number of other paperwork items that had to occur before the actual installation started – Oncor and the City of Dallas (you have to permit the installation). Actual installation started the third week of June. We had a slight hiccup in that the panels that were first delivered weren’t the right color. Josh Koehn, the on-site project manager, took care of that within 2 days.
The electricians (Tommy and crew) had to upgrade our electric panel which added about a day to the project. So we were producing power within 3 days of the crew actually being to work.
As soon as the panels started working we started seeing the results from Smart Meter Texas – zero power having to come from Oncor. Josh worked with me to get the monitoring system for the units working – my electric lines in the house weren’t cooperating. It took about two weeks to get things working (communicating) properly (this didn’t affect the system’s electrical production). Now I can see each individual panel – what its status is and how much it’s producing on a minute by minute basis. It’s great information if you want to be at that level, but it’s not necessary – I just like monitoring things.
We’re now two months into things and we wouldn’t go back. We’re not producing so much (in the summer) that we’d be ahead of the game, but in the other 8 months of years we’ll be accumulating credits to cover everything next summer. So in a 12-month span we’re looking at zero cost – regardless of whatever the electric companies are charging for a kilowatt. (All my analysis has been based on our consumption figures for the past three years – that includes the hot 2011 summer.)
In terms of costs, we got about $10,000 from Oncor in the form of a rebate and then we’ll get a 30% federal tax credit next spring (Native has a partner that’ll finance this with a 12-month, zero interest, zero payment loan, so it’s not really out of your pocket). Based just on my current electric rates we’ll have this paid off in a little over 7 years. Then it’s at least 18 years of absolutely no electric costs.
BTW, our homeowner’s insurance cost didn’t increase at all. All we had to do was supply a copy of the project’s documentation and photos of the installation. Our local real estate friend said that this immediately added about $25,000 to the value of our house and gave it a big plus in any competition with a similar house without a solar grid.
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40-panels 10 Kva
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