Why streets?Posted: August 23, 2011
Right now you can take great strides towards energy independence, while also making a decent return on your money, by installing a few photovoltaic panels on your roof. There’s info on our links page so you can find a certified installer in your area if you’re keen enough to just go for it!
But hang on…
Would you like to know how to get a cheaper installation, and so make a bigger return on your investment?
While at the same time saving more carbon, and finding a better way to finance your system.
How? Well it all starts with volume…
Solar panels have become much cheaper over the years, dropping 60% over just the last five years*. They used to be the expensive part of the installation, however these days the hardware often costs less than half of what you pay!
So how can we make this expensive work cheaper?
We need to stop doing this technical engineering project one house at a time.
Here’s an example of what you could save if you get just a few of your neighbors involved
What do you actually pay for when you contract with someone to put solar on the roof of a single home?
Out of £12,000 for a typical 3kW roof, you could expect to be paying for:
Around £XXX if your house has a regular design.
How much of this you could save depends entirely on the street you live on. Are your neighbours houses similar in design to your house? If so, the planning process will mostly just consist of duplicating the calculations from the house next door – so you’ll pay a small fraction, perhaps down to £XX.
If all the houses on your street are unique, there’ll still be a small saving because it’s a single job location and minor details like shade modeling may be simplified. So maybe assume a saving here of at least 25%.
Of course these are the biggest cost of the project, you could expect your installer to be paying around £2000 per kW for the hardware, depending on manufacturer.
Your installer probably already buys in bulk from a supplier, but ordering enough of the same panel for 20 houses at a time? They could still expect to save another 5-10% on top. So that could be another £500 per house.
Not something everybody expect to be a big cost of the installation, but it is! Typically £500.
Should be below £200 per house when you’re simply moving the scaffolding down the street a house at a time.
Expect the specialist roofers to be paid about £XXXX
We don’t think installers should be paid a lot less for the hours they work, you want a highly qualified professional to be the one messing with the part of your home that keeps the rain out! A few companies we know are even making commendable efforts to reach out to unemployed and at risk populations, providing on the job training so they can make a good living in this new industry. Asking them to bring down their hourly rates is hard on the low paid jobbers, or dangerous if you’re not getting a properly qualified professional signing off their work.
Once again, the real savings are to be found in efficiency rather than just more work for less wages. So, less time tooling up and heading out to find the job site. Less time waiting for someone to come and sign off their work. And no 3/4 days where you finish one job and can’t start another… just nice solid eight hour workdays until the street’s done. These efficiency savings alone should knock a third off the total labour cost.
Similarly to the roofers, these guys are well qualified professionals who shouldn’t be paid a less than they currently are for a good days work. However, as their job can be done a little quicker than the roofing anyway, they could spend significantly less of their hours traveling or on downtime. So we’d hope to save about half their cost with a nice 20 house contract.
Back Office / Overheads:
Using these estimates we’re saving around £XXXX by doing one big job instead of lots of little ones!! This matches well with the estimates we’ve been given by installers, that we’ll save 20% by doing a whole street in one go.
Does this look like a better way to do things to you?
Yup, we think so too!
Now, why not head to the Resources page, and print out a letter to see if you can drum up some support from your neighbors?
Or head on to Financing to work out how to fund a big project like this.