I wrote lightly about the process of bids, but this post will have a bit more detail, and some numbers. Hopefully that will help some of you understand how we looked at the process.

Contacting Companies

When I got the first bid from the company that came out, it didn’t look bad. As we started to get more serious, we decided to get more bids. From NextDoor, we had a few names, and I worked with these companies:

  • Sunder Energy (first bid from an ad)
  • Namaste - Recommended by a friend who used them in two homes.
  • Sunpower - Highly rated on NextDoor and nationally. One (or maybe the) largest solar company in the US
  • ION Solar - Recommended by a neighbor from NextDoor

I also went to EnergySage and submitted a request for quotes. I ended up getting 3-4 in there, but they weren’t better than those above, and the companies didn’t seem as well rated by consumers as any of those above.

Getting Quotes

For all of these companies, I had to submit our address and give them energy costs for the last year from our electrical utility. I grabbed a bill and used these values for submissions:

  • Jan: 1711
  • Feb: 1259
  • Mar: 1259
  • Apr: 1033
  • May: 1149
  • Jun: 865
  • Jul: 1279
  • Aug: 1448
  • Sep: 1456
  • Oct: 1034
  • Nov: 1100
  • Dec: 1256

The outlier is June, which I think was low as we were gone a lot of the month on a few vacation trips.

This gave them all an idea of what we had been using. There is a 10kW limit for residential, though there is a little leeway if you use a lot of power. We were hoping that we’d use less power over time, as kids will likely leave the house. The Tesla purchase might offset some of that, but hopefully not too much.

Two of the companies wanted to come see the property, two worked from Google maps. The whole process of people visiting reminded me of window salesman, who come out and try to work a sale. One company did everything over Zoom, one over email or phone. All in all, there was a variety of presenting information and answering questions and pushy sales tactics.

Ultimately, I liked Sunpower for many reasons, but they were the most pushy, sales-wise, so that turned me off.

The cost of financing was higher with Namaste, but I have a couple friends that have had good experiences, they had the lowest system cost, and ultimately we decided to go with them for that reason. We were more concerned about long term service, and they are (for now) a Colorado company.

A comparison

Company System Size Annual Production system Cost Est Monthly Payment
Sunder Energy 9.45kW 14,701kWh $40,472 $122
Namaste 10.36kW 16,064kWh $31,811 $172
Sunpower 8.7kW 15,424kWh $43,813 $166
ION 9.62kW 15,352kWh $47,257 $150

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of variation, but there is some. As we look to long term cost stability and adding an electric car, we decided that a bigger system was worth a higher cost of financing from Namaste.

We decided to go with them in late October, when the Tesla was still new and we weren’t sure of the impact to our power bill. We picked a financh charge with a bit higher interest rate, but a longer term and ended up with a monthly payment of $136 for the larger system. 20 years, but we were comfortable with that.

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