How Does the cost of a Solaflect Tracker Compare with Installing a Rooftop or other Fixed Panel Array?

Same Sun, More Power

At Solafect Energy, we like to say, “Same Sun, More Power.”  That’s because our Solar Trackers follow the sun from dawn till dusk to maximize the production from solar panels all throughout the day.  Using our dual-axis system, the same solar panel can produce about 40 percent more power than if it’s screwed into your roof or mounted on a ground-based fixed array.

More power generation from our Tracker boosts the kilowatt-hours of electricity available to run your home electricity needs – and sell back into the grid.  You’ll also have more power available in the early morning and late afternoon, when your home electricity demand is usually at its peak.  This benefits your bottom line, and will shave even more off of your electric bill when your local utility adopts time-of-use pricing, as they have in California, for example.

To hold 16 panels together in one Tracker array, our patented design replaces about 1,200 pounds of big steel I-beam mounting brackets with just 28 pounds of stranded wire – much like a suspension bridge uses high-tension wire to hold a road surface in place.  Two small, highly efficient motors keep our Trackers constantly focused on the sun, using GPS coordinates that are specific to your location.  In short, less weight equals less cost.

When you put it all together, our Solaflect Trackers are almost always a less costly solution than installing a fixed panel array.  They produce lots more power per panel, at times when you need it most, with lightweight materials to save cost.   As the savings add up, you’ll see why “Same Sun, More Power” = Better Value!

A Real-life Example Comparing Solar Power System Costs

A Vermont resident recently asked us to price a proposal for a Solaflect Tracker against one from another installer for a fixed, roof-mounted array.  This homeowner has a great site for solar – with almost no shade from trees, buildings or ridgelines – whether the panels are placed on the roof or the ground.

As shown in the table below, the system cost of the Solaflect Tracker is significantly less than for the roof-mounted array.  The Solaflect Tracker in this example is mounted with 16 solar panels, each rated at 320 watts of generating capacity.  The rooftop system is 23 solar panels, also rated at 320 watts per panel.  On a traditional cost-per-watt basis, the Tracker costs about 12 percent more to install than the rooftop array. But cost-per-watt is an inaccurate way to compare an apple to an orange, so to speak.  On a cost-per-kilowatt-hour basis, the correct way to compare the actual energy production of these two installations on an apple to apple basis, the Solaflect Tracker is almost 20 percent less expensive.

Here are the numbers to compare in the two proposals.

 SolaflectAlternative installer
1. System cost (after tax credit)$21,400$27,085
2. System capacity5,120 watts (5.12 kW)7,360 watts (7.36 kW)
3. Cost-per-watt (traditional measure): Row 1 divided by Row 2.
The apples-to-oranges comparison
$4,18$3.68
4. Solaflect cost difference on capacity basis.
Why you can't compare rooftop solar to a Tracker on cost-per-watt
11.9% higher than the alternative
5. Expected energy delivered in 1st year7,200 kWhs7,290 kWhs
7. Cost-per-kWh (measure that really matters): Row 1 divided by Row 5

This is your apples-to-apples comparison.
$2.97$3.71
8. Solaflect cost advantage on energy basis19.9% less than the alternative

Here’s the bottom line:  The best way to compare the two proposals is to divide the installed system cost (line 1) by the projected number of kilowatt-hours to be produced in a year (line 5).  On that basis, the Solaflect Tracker’s capacity cost-per-kilowatt-hour is 19.9 percent less than the roof-mounted system. And the Tracker uses 7 fewer solar panels (16 vs 23) to get the job done.  Of course, this is just one example.  Your results will differ based on the particulars of your home site but the comparison between a Tracker and a rooftop or ground mounted fixed panel installation will be similar.

When you’re done comparing solar power system costs, make sure to take a look here to figure out what your options are for financing your solar tracker.

We love talking about all things related to solar, so please reach out to us or call us at (802) 649-3700 if we can answer questions and help you think about how solar can cover an ever-increasing share of your family’s power usage!

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