Solar power is finally within reach, but not for long

Only 1.9 million US homes are powered by their own solar panels. That’s because they’re expensive, right? A huge federal tax credit and lower material costs may finally make solar the right choice in 2019. Verge editor Sean Hollister explains why he took the plunge.

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*Correction: At 1:04 there is a typo. ‘Conneticut’ should be ‘Connecticut’. We apologize to all Connecticuters. Thank you Gabriel Sanchez for the catch.

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  1. David Min on June 5, 2020 at 9:57 am

    The tax credit is going partly because the industry itself is maturing with cost dropping

  2. Aleksandr Vysockij on June 5, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I disagree about not installing the battery. I have a 4.5 KWh battery. On a real sunny day it charges really fast. But if there’s shade in the middle of the day and you put on a high use appliance, you’re not pulling from the grid. But instead from the battery and the solar panels. Same goes for charging my car on a cloudy day, once the battery is charged I can pull say 400 watts from the battery and 1KW from the solar to maintain the minimum amount of power required to charge the car. So for me solar without a storage battery makes no sense. Especially if you work 5 days a week and nobody is at home during the sunniest time of the day.

  3. Bugler55 on June 5, 2020 at 9:59 am

    What kind of fuzzy math is this??? You say panel setup cost 12740, and your old electric bill was 200, then divide to find payoff, that implies zero electricity cost going forward – but then later you state you still need to buy electricity at night, and the net metering doesnt cover full amount -so what are you actually still "Net paying" to the utility? Furthermore, the 100–>200 elec cost is nowhere near realistic if you were paying over 100 in gas – gas is way cheaper than electricity on a btu/$ basis.

  4. sudanid on June 5, 2020 at 10:00 am

    200 a month on electricity ? oh boy…..are you using bulbs that meant for sports stadium?

  5. The Verge on June 5, 2020 at 10:00 am

    What else should the world do to make renewable energy spread further and faster?

  6. Archer V. on June 5, 2020 at 10:01 am

    termal solar (sanitary) is more rentable.

  7. Michael Lowe on June 5, 2020 at 10:03 am

    If it requires a tax credit to be cost effective, then it never was. Its called freeloading. Of course its wealthy people freeloading so we call it responsible investment.

  8. Paul Paterson on June 5, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Man that is expensive there. I installed a 6.4kw system here in Australia for $5100 AUD. Looking at doubling my capacity now as we run a home business.

  9. Jasonoid on June 5, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Utah averages $26000 for 5kw of solar…. Still way overpriced! That price is from two separate quotes I got last year…. Doubt it changed much this year.

  10. David Gagnon on June 5, 2020 at 10:06 am

    We need cheaper and better storage technology. The real benefit is to completely get off grid. You must also learn how to reduce usage or educate yourself to the new technologies available.

  11. Military Industrial Museum on June 5, 2020 at 10:08 am

    I bought 7kw of used solar panels for way less from Santan Solar and learned how to make a yard mounted microgrid for pennies on the dollar.

  12. Denis Lara on June 5, 2020 at 10:09 am

    WAIT did you confused tax credit with tax refund? Tax credit means you wont pay taxes on that amount, it does not mean you get that amount erased… am I wrong?

  13. ALLGames&Tech on June 5, 2020 at 10:09 am

    My house ain’t covered in solar? Hows it within reach bro till you can buy a panel at walmart it ain’t within reach.

  14. Felipe Carvalho on June 5, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Can’t recommend The Verge as a proper youtube channel when the people behind it are so petty

  15. MOHD KAIF on June 5, 2020 at 10:15 am

    solar is future

  16. Jakob Guldager on June 5, 2020 at 10:15 am

    That’s the government you’ve elected for yourselves. Removing benefits of taking active steps towards sustainability. Well done.

  17. zero15388 on June 5, 2020 at 10:16 am

    go solar

  18. chwaca on June 5, 2020 at 10:16 am

    First of all, I need my own home… 😉

  19. grunchi de trap on June 5, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Nuclear power is the only way to safe the planet

  20. never mind on June 5, 2020 at 10:20 am

    SPOILER ALERT: If you are not from USA, this video has nothing to do with you.

  21. Black turbine on June 5, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Other countries:
    I see that you are putting solar panel’s on your house and we are going to help you cover some cost

  22. Brasspineapple Productions on June 5, 2020 at 10:20 am

    A 5K system is nothing…

  23. jorge pearl on June 5, 2020 at 10:21 am

    the last question, how climate change is going to change all that? some places will be unhabitable because of heatwaves others because sea rising, maybe the whole planet will be unhabitable

  24. hey hey on June 5, 2020 at 10:24 am

    I work for solar and I can tell you it is not good for the environment lol. Your solar panels will stop producing as effectively after 25 years making you need to buy new ones! Also none of the parts of the solar panel are recyclable!

  25. Chavezoid on June 5, 2020 at 10:26 am

    2:50 …thanks for answering my questions on getting batteries. The technology/pricing is not there yet. I’m not rich. I guess I’ll have to depend on my fuel-run generator for a few more years. And I live in Venezuela, where electricity is basically free, but it goes out for hours every single day. Yay socialism!

  26. Dylan Stenzinger on June 5, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Don’t forget depreciation of money and
    Solar polar

  27. Zach Khan on June 5, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Tesla battery is also subsidiesed by the government. It comes out pretty cheap after incentives.

  28. William Crawford on June 5, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Hey guys I’m a solar salesman who works with Sunrun and Vivint, if you are looking to go renewable but don’t have the money to invest in panels, look up a PPA! You can switch to solar power for $0. Simply buy purchasing the power itself from the panels instead of purchasing power from coal plants. And it’s cheaper so you save money immediately!

  29. chiggedycheckyoself on June 5, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I don’t get the title of the video. Why isn’t it in reach for long? Even with lower tax credits in the future, overall cost per kWh decreases over time. So long term it will become more affordable for even more people, not fewer people.

  30. Sarp Kurkcu on June 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

    This title needs "in the USA" at the back. Sorry but, half of your viewers are international.

    Oh well…

  31. Grant Briggs on June 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

    At least one area of the sustainable future we are ahead on here in Australia. If only we can drop the coal fired power stations and start incentives for EVs.

  32. w23857980 on June 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

    But what if I want to sell my house in 5 years?

  33. Patrick Sullivan on June 5, 2020 at 10:31 am

    @The Verge – I suggest adding the time value of money to your financial considerations. Muy importante.

  34. techguy651 on June 5, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Solar and EV tax credits are welfare for rich people. Furthers wealth inequality in our country. You should feel ashamed.

  35. Lee Turnbull on June 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Batteries are worth it. You’re obviously looking at premium house batteries and you don’t need high performance batteries for house power walls as the C rates are so low.

  36. Yuri Yanu on June 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Good. The "incentives" are just stolen money anyway. If solar is a good idea, let it stand on it’s own -without subsidies.

  37. Tom Hahnl on June 5, 2020 at 10:39 am

    It will (hopefully) take of after the 2020 election!

  38. PhilfreezeCH on June 5, 2020 at 10:40 am

    „Good for the planet“

    Has an electric boiler, one of the most inefficient systems you can get (which is just straight up forbidden in Switzerland for new installations for that reason).

  39. CharveL88 on June 5, 2020 at 10:40 am

    Or you could give up on the modern religious tenets of "climate change" and look at the actual data which shows we are in CO2 deficit if anything. Then we could start pooling resources to actual environmental issues that are real.

  40. JaiUneGuruDeja on June 5, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Let’s all quibble about the cushions in the lifeboats of the Titanic. Everything isn’t measured in dollars and cents. We are cooking ourselves with fossil fuels.

  41. Evan Byrnes on June 5, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Now is the perfect time to instal solar, you can’t beat the tax credits.

  42. Hamilton Cannagar on June 5, 2020 at 10:42 am

    You literally doubled your expenses before doing the 5.31 year calc…. not very honest “cause I bought an electric AC” … even a very powerful 15000 btu AC running 12 hours a day (for 3-5 months mind you) is a mere $1 per day at $0.10 / KwH.

    So instead of a $30 increase you assumed a 2x of $150 wtf

  43. Vincent Robinette on June 5, 2020 at 10:43 am

    I’m going with batteries. My calculations show, that the levelized cost per kWh of stored electrical energy is about $.10 per kWh, if every bit of energy was coming from batteries. But, the batteries only have to supply about 14 hours of power during summer, and as high as 18 hours during winter. Thus, since the batteries are not supplying the power during the day,(when the AC is on and you’re doing laundry), a battery with a capacity equivalent to a full 24 hours with no other supply, is about the right size, to get the lowest cost per kWh. That calculation seems to work with everything from cheap golf cart batteries, all the way up to the super expensive, but super long lasting Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. The fact that the batteries DON’T supply the house during daylight hours, reduces that to about $.08 per kWh. That’s on par with our lowest tier billing, and well below our secondary rate,($.114 per kWh), and our tertiary rate.($.144 per kWh) The extra capacity is good for those cloudy days, where I may need to dip a little deeper into my battery capacity. Even though it seems unnecessary to have that much capacity, bear in mind, that batteries will last longer if you can consistently keep them in the upper half of their state of charge. Reserve capacity is always nice, as well. If you install much more than that, particularly with Lead Acid, you can easily reach the point of diminishing returns, because of calendar life. Lead Acid is best sized, for your highest 24 hour day of draw.
    I don’t intend to go off grid, the grid will connect to the system in the form of a large harmonic power factor corrected battery charger. It will by a tertiary source, after my panels,(primary source)and battery bank.(secondary source) As a bonus, should I ever need it, I have a selection of portable generators which can also be used for battery charging, in case there’s a snow storm, that knocks out grid power, and completely covers my panels. Those generators will come in handy,(if grid power isn’t available) because I will have a "defrost" feature, that will back feed the panels, and melt the snow off by heating them up electrically. I’ve tested the concept, and it works extremely well, but, it uses an enormous amount of energy.(about half what the panels can produce on an overcast day)If I do it early in the morning, the panels will generate back the power I used by the end of the day, and then some. The big benefit would be the panels being fully exposed the following day, where they can bring the batteries back up to full charge again.

  44. Nicholas A. on June 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

    yay. 60% of the roofs here in MN

  45. Mafura on June 5, 2020 at 10:49 am

    But did you make sure to use Allen wrenches and antistatic wristbands?

  46. Michael Petty on June 5, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Should be the first and easiest push to combat climate change. Make solar affordable and offer incentives. Just have to have politicians who are not backed by oil and coal companies.

  47. Nixon Rexzile on June 5, 2020 at 10:53 am

    How much does it recoup that cost. This is one way of media bashing Solar Panel by using how long does it take to pay back, instead you could pay the government for rest of your life for cheap, how does that sound? Rest of your life is better than freedom.

  48. uncle8jack uncle on June 5, 2020 at 10:54 am

    For the cost: you should also estimate the repair cost, it may be more expensive than the power you use in few months if you face any bad weather than damages the panel…

  49. Gabriel Sanchez on June 5, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Conneticut? Typo?

  50. Senura Rajapathirana on June 5, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Title is really misleading.

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