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Being one of the most popular loan packages in the solar market today, it’s remarkable that SolarCity’s MyPower option has not yet received a thorough industry review. The media generally touts it as being the savior to the industry – a true answer to the leasing model. It’s time to go beyond the hype and dive into what’s really being offered.
Since MyPower’s debut in October, 2014, there have been an estimated 17, 000 installations. The product allows homeowners to see immediate monthly savings, own the system, and sets itself apart with a 30-year warranty from SolarCity, one of the most recognizable brand names in the industry. Having reviewed dozens of their MyPower contracts myself, I have come to several conclusions.
Pricing is well above market
The cost-per-watt on SolarCity’s MyPower contract is always consistent, no matter what the size of the project. They price systems ranging from 2.5kW to 10kW or larger at the same $5.10 per watt (cash or financed). Having no discrepancy in price is an obvious red flag. Overhead, permitting, engineering, and transportation are generally consistent costs, no matter what the project size – which means more dollars are going to profit margins on larger projects. Pick My Solar bid data has found the average price for solar in California to be $3.60 per watt - 34% less than what SolarCity charges on every system they install (almost a $10, 000 difference for an average system).
Warranty’s fine print excludes important protections
MyPower no doubt has one of the best warranties in the solar market. It provides the full bumper-to-bumper 30-year system warranty, covering all equipment and labor. With most installers offering a 10-year workmanship warranty, and some offering 20 years, the MyPower warranty stands out. The warranty does however have one flaw. While most installers include a roof warranty matching their workmanship warranty, MyPower does not. In fact MyPower only warrants the roof for 1-year after installation, but does offer to match any existing roof warranties. This can be a potential problem in drought-plagued areas such as Southern California, where consistent rain has not been seen in years. By the time a homeowner finds out there’s a leak, the 1-year warranty may have expired. It’s also often misconstrued that the warranty covers washing the panels. The contract explicitly states that the owner is responsible for keeping the panels clean, and the production guarantees fall void if this is not met.
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