Going solar in Mérida
It had always been my intention to install solar panels on the house in Mérida. It was a matter of when, not if.
I had already done my homework on solar, I knew what I wanted. I ultimately want an Enphase system with micro-inverters and battery backup. I'm not sure the battery backup is something we need right now, but I like the way that Enphase integrates everything together.
You could probably invest in a much cheaper system and still get decent results, but I demand things be over-engineered and beautiful!
My other big keys for this install was communication and a quality installation. If there are problems in the future I want to know I can contact people and hopefully have them respond and fix it, asap. A proper installation is just as important. It doesn't matter how good the system is if the first tropical storm that blows through knocks the thing off your roof and into the pool.
As the house rises from the former trash heap and takes shape, I figured I'd start shopping around for solar, just to see how financially viable it might be. I assumed the solar panel install (not including battery backup) would cost between $10-15k.
I made an inquiry with one popular company (let's call them "Solar Option A" for reference and to not reveal their name) in the area and they reached out to me about a week later, asking me some questions about the system that I would like. I tried answering them as thoroughly as I could, which if you ask Angie is probably too thorough, and they said they'd work up a quote and send it to me.
They were very friendly in their communication and I was excited to hear more from them.
Over a month later and I still don't have a quote from them. I understand people are busy, but I don't chase people that I am going to invest money into. If you want my money, show me.
While I was waiting for Solar Option A to respond, I inquired with another solar company ("Solar Option B").
Within a day they had responded, gone back and forth with me over what I was looking for and set up a Zoom call with me.
In the Zoome call I met various people that would be working with me on the potential install and people that would be my local contact person for any future issues. I was shown a demo of how the system worked and given a rough cost of what everything might add up to.
I also was shown pictures of their installs and was very happy to see that they take the installs very seriously and use the proper hardware and conduit for the job.
I set them up with our contractor to visit the house site so they could measure the roof and look for any obstructions or other issues that might hinder install.
A week later I had an estimate from Solar Option B with varying options.
Still crickets from Solar Option A.
One of the options was a ten panel system, with Enphase micro-inverters but no batteries. That would cost about $7k for the total install. A small battery system would be another $9k. So, really, I could have solar and battery for $16k which was pretty darn close to what I thought just the solar might cost.
Now, to be completely transparent, ten panels probably isn't enough for the house in the long run. We would probably be better served with 20-25 panels. And the battery system would have been small, probably just enough to limp the fridge and water pump through a long night.
To truly get to dreamland, the solar probably would cost $15k alone and to get some serious backup would probably involve a beefier battery that would be $15k on it's own. But we can limp by on ten panels and no battery, for now.
The Enphase system makes it pretty easy to keep adding panels or batteries in the future as your needs grow.
With all of that said, it seemed like a pretty easy choice to go with Solar Option B and the 10 panels to start. They did suggest if I was going to nix the battery for now, to maybe add some more panels, but they didn't try to hard sell me, which was nice.
I said $7k was a nice spot for me, right now. I'm not sure what other costs will come up, how much furniture, appliances, landscaping, etc. will cost. I'm not willing to blow things up right now for solar, but I can still sleep comfortable at night having spent $7k and not stressing about things.
We could either do the 10 panel system now or wait until the house is complete. We may be able to do more at that point, or we may still only be doing 10 panels. The benefit of starting now is the ability for them to work with the electrician and builder on the house and make sure everything is happy and well connected. That's my thoughts, anyways.
That's what we did, still no word from Solar Option A and it doesn't really matter, at this point.
Now, in defense of A they may be super busy. They also may not particularly care to sell and install the system I would like, which might make them feel like I am a complete waste of their time.
I don't like to declare a business the "best" or "worst" based on a single interaction I've had with them. Loyalty needs to be earned, but so does my disdain. Therefore, whilst the communication was lacking for me with Solar Option A, they may well be a very good company and a wonderful solution for someone else. It's possible I could run into problems with Solar Option B and regret my choice, only time will tell.
In the meantime I've downloaded the Enphase app onto my phone and I am ready to start monitoring my non-existent system.
I don't have a house, much less electricity, but I am ready!