Installation planning continues for new homes in our emerging NC park. We’re now looking at options to offer renewable energy solutions with each home to add value, reduce/eliminate monthly power bills, and provide environmental benefits.
Double-wide homes offer plenty of space for rooftop solar panels, their costs continue to drop, and some federal/local tax credits till apply. Once concern we’ve discovered so far is this - apparently not many manufacturers are willing to install the roof rail hardware and a spare conduit at the factory, making it easy to complete the solar installation during the home setup/trim process.
Wondering if anyone here can share any experiences or suggestions in this regard. So far we’ve found one solar integrator working to help MH factories get this done, still looking for other options.
We’ve enjoyed good experiences with both solar generators and solar microgrids on residential homes, looking to bring similar benefits to other affordable housing residents.
I have installed solar at One of my parks.
If I had to do it over again I would not install Solar.
Specifically, when I refinanced with Fannie Mae, I had to pay about $10,000 in extra closing costs. We had to hire an attorney to provide review all the installation documents and confirm that the system was within the Fannie Mae guidelines. We also had to hire a Solar Consultant to review the system etc. This will have to be done each time I refinance with Fannie Mae. So over the next 20 years that will cost me $20,000.00 in added closing costs.
We had to increase our replacement reserve amount as the system’s cash flow was underwritten into my Parks NOI (via reduced power bill).
We also had to bump up our insurance to cover the Solar Array.
My solar array only covers the power for the Clubhouse, Pool, and the pressure pumps for our water system (we are on well).
The extra insurance costs, extra replacement reserves, and maintenance have just about washed away all my savings.
I spent about $90,000 to offset about $600/month. We have a 50 panel Array for the pressure pumps which offset about $400/month. We also have a 40 panel Array for the Clubhouse and Pool area. We self-installed the system.
Insurance is $150/month and replacement reserves increased by $150/month (estimates). So my net is only $300/month in savings. It would have been way easier to just raise the rent by an extra $5.00 a month.
I did get a 30% tax credit.
I know this does not directly answer your question but I wanted to share my experience.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Never would have expected that kind of financing hassle for the park owner.
Any solar powered homes in your park?
So far none.
We have dug into that as well and have fun it to be not worth it.
Most of my parks have a 50 amp pedestal. So the max PV arrary would be a 10 amp system or less than 10 panels. Between the required permitting and Balance of system components the solar for MH doesn’t make sense.
Here’s the problem.
- Permit and Engineering required by CA HCD $200-400
- Permit for MH park $200-400
- Extra installation costs due to submetering $500. (signs and disconnects etc)
- Possible Main panel upgrades for Park ($20-40K must be paid by resident).
Being I am in CA we have a 2 part permitting process for MH. One local and one state.
Just paying to have the permit processed will cost $1500-2000. It doesn’t make sense when we can only install a 10 panel system (max) on a MH.
I last did this analysis a few years ago. Maybe the price of the Panels has come down enough to make it more reasonable now (2021).
I’m curious if you think this could possibly, possibly be advantageous… Insofar as let’s say you can get an additional $100 in rent for lots in your park with the promise of “100%” of your electric bill is solar green and we’ll supply you “free” electricity **terms and conditions etc.
At $1200 per year capped at 6% the value added is $20k.
It probably costs close to $?? $15k to make this offer?
Interesting - thanks for the additional data points. The CA location would explain part of the high permit/tax costs found during your last exercise.
Current prices for typical residential solar generators (panels + inverters only) have definitely improved over the past few years, in most US markets they are now running between $2-3 per watt (fully installed) before tax credits and other incentives. Cost effective energy storage is still a challenge, with Tesla Powerwalls currently offering the best value (about $670 per kWh) but supply is hyper-limited. Competitive systems can run 2X that price or more.
Part of the reason we’re looking at options is the increasing demand for residential home energy. Many of today’s double-wide manufactured homes come from the factory with 200A main breaker panels. Adding a single EV charging outlet to the exterior meter base requires an additional 50A of service capacity alone. Our new homes will be 3/2s in the 1,500 SF size range with plenty of available rooftop area for the panels needed to support 5-8 kW generators.
Lots of other factors are involved of course (location, roof size and orientation, trees and obstructions, etc.) so like most things “it depends” applies for sure. The benefits offered by home solar generators, residential microgrids, and having backup power during grid failures are now well-established, so it seems appropriate to consider extending those benefits to affordable housing residents as well.
A key enabler would be convincing manufacturers to preinstall the rooftop panel mounts/rails and an empty wiring conduit to the breaker panel at the factory. Relatively low cost, but big benefits from quick field installations during the home setup/trim process.
Will be working on this during Q1 and will share the outcome of our evaluation with the group.
Brandon - as mentioned in a previous post the benefits offered by home solar generators, residential microgrids, and having backup power during grid failures are now well-established and would also apply to residents of manufactured homes.
FWIW my frame of reference is great success using our own systems over the past 5-6 years, with a generator-only solution in FL, a full self-powered microgrid in NC, and two Tesla EVs.
Generally speaking, the long-term value creation results from a) reducing or eliminating lifetime expense payments for electric utility service, b) investing that lost cash instead to build more home equity, and c) in the case of microgrids, having backup power available during grid failures.
This whole idea is not really about trying to drive increased lot rents as the land value does not change. Most of the benefits accrue to the homeowner as stated above, but with good results and good brand marketing of a “renewable energy park” one could imagine a positive impact to exit cap rates…
Still doing our evaluation - we’ll see what happens. Thanks for the feedback.