Is solar PV for homes cost-effective?

Solar PV for small homes often offers no cost benefits. Even for bigger homes savings are can be illusory, unless the house is quite large. Then economies of scale kick in. Johnny at Granola Shotgun priced solar PV for a small rental property and found no benefit.

We live in Vegas and keep the thermostat at 78 during summer and use ceiling fans. Our peak bill in the summer is about $280 a month. Solar PV for the house would cost about 35K outright. A leasing payment would offset any electricity cost savings. So we passed on solar. Also, a lease gets iffy. It locks you in and what happens when you sell the house? Does the new owner have to accept the lease or does the seller have to pay it off first?

A solar-powered attic fan makes excellent sense and we’ll be getting one. We installed new dual pane windows after moving in. They make make a huge difference, especially on south and west facing windows. There are multiple ways to save on electricity costs without getting solar.

I’m not motivated by saving money because the power bill [on the rental property] is already really low. I’m not preoccupied with “saving the planet” because buying a lot of expensive complex technology with creative financing isn’t the most likely way to solve environmental problems. Instead, I want the property to be able to ride out difficulties – both financial and physical. I want a house and garden that can function pretty well even if all sorts of other things in life go wrong – from unemployment to lengthy power failures like what’s continuing to plague Puerto Rico seven months after a hurricane took down the entire power grid on the island.

Should we all finance our way into $30,000 solar arrays so we can charge our electric self driving cars? Or do we just get bicycles and live in places that don’t require incessant driving?