Still To Be Determined

Matt and Sean are joined by Paul Braren, from, to talk about Tesla Solar Roof vs. regular solar panels. Why go with one over the other and is it even worth it?

Special thanks to Paul Braren for joining us. And be sure to check out his article about our Tesla Solar Roof vs. Solar Panels collaboration:

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, Tesla Solar Roof vs Solar Panels: Which is Worth It?

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Creators & Guests

Matt Ferrell
Host of Undecided with Matt Ferrell, Still TBD, and Trek in Time podcasts
Sean Ferrell
Co-host of Still TBD and Trek in Time Podcasts

What is Still To Be Determined?

Join Matt Ferrell from the YouTube Channel, Undecided, and his brother Sean Ferrell as they discuss electric vehicles, renewable energy, smart technologies, and how they impact our lives. Still TBD continues the conversation from the Undecided YouTube channel.

Hey everybody, on today's episode of Still to be Determined, we're going to be talking about how the sun doesn't shine the same on everyone. Now that's not me being philosophical. It's about solar roofs, Tesla in the mix, and my brother trying to sort it all out. Unfortunately, we don't have a panel for this panel show.

Hold on. We do. Paul Braren of TinkerTry. com has joined us this week to talk about all the solar choices he's made versus the solar choices my brother has made. This will make a lot of sense to people who've watched Undecided with Matt Ferrell's last video. Which was Tesla's solar roof versus solar panel, which is worth it.

In that video, Matt and Paul compare their experiences. And today, on Still to be Determined, we're going to be diving deeper into that conversation and responding to some of your comments. And the astute of you may have noticed, if you're watching this on video, Yes, we have a third head. It took us long enough, but we finally got one.

Here he is, Paul Braren. Paul, nice to meet you. Do you want to introduce yourself real quick to the audience? Yeah, sure. It

is great to be here as a guest. Uh, it's interesting. Think about the brotherly dynamic and the jokes you guys make and the puns. So it's a little daunting. I'll admit I've joined podcasts here and there.

I mostly blogged for the last 12 years, just kind of my private hobby. And then I'm in the IT profession for about 30 years. So it's just really fun to meet you guys. Like this, and especially Sean, first time I met you, and then Matt, a follow up to our recent meeting. This is just fun for me and an honor.

Thank you. for being here. And as usual, I'm Sean Ferrell. I'm a writer and I write some sci fi, I write some stuff for kids. And of course with me, as always, is my brother, Matt of Undecided with Matt Ferrell. Matt, how are you today?

I'm doing great. It's been a good week. Good weekend. Uh, just trying to get in the swing of things again.

You say It's been a good weekend here in the city. It's been nonstop rain for about 36 hours. The entry, the entry to spring. My, my son is home on spring break and he spent basically the first 36 hours here just in his room. We barely saw him. We heard like Sasquatch. We heard footsteps on the floor, going into the kitchen and then back into his room.

But now that the sky seems to be clearing up a bit, maybe I'll be able to entice him outside with a trail of, um, snacks, some Doritos perhaps. So let's get into the, the point of the show. We're going to talk about solar panel choices. We're going to talk about the various options that the industry is got a new behemoth in the room in the form of Tesla.

Tesla walking in and saying, we're going to do a one stop shop. And on the other side. is the myriad of choices that you, different producers, different installers. Matt went the latter route and Paul, you went the former. So let's start off with just kind of a big picture bird's eye view about the reason you went the direction you did.

What were the choice, what were the reasons for your choices? And Matt, let's start with you. What were you thinking when you said, I want to go solar? First of all, why did you want to go solar? And why did you want to go the solar route you went with a shopping around for different panel manufacturers, different installers and going, going that path?

Well, for me, it was, um, I'm of course concerned about climate change. My house is all electric. And so when you go all electric and you have EVs, your energy usage goes up. And I wanted to be able to offset that myself as best I could. So I wanted to get solar. Uh, the reason I went with solar panels and a metal roof over like the Tesla solar roof was mainly because I like the modularity of it.

Um, it's a well known technology. Solar panels are solar panels are solar panels. So it's like if in five years a tree falls and hits one of my panels, but that panel is not made anymore, I can replace it with a the newer model and rearrange the panels a little bit and no harm, no foul. Um, it's no big deal.

Um, I was a little concerned about the solar roof where it's such a new product in five years they may have evolved the product and it's like, how long are they going to support older tiles or older shingles? And this isn't just Tesla. It's like everybody like GAF has their own solar shingles. There's, this is a new thing.

So it's kind of like, give the market a little time to kind of mature. And then I might've considered it, but it was so early days. I wanted to go the more modular path so that I can evolve it over time if it needs to evolve. Um, so I kind of like that plug and play nature of it. But even within that, I did go with kind of a full stack kind of a thing.

So it's like, I went all Enphase where Paul went all Tesla. I went all Enphase. So I have Enphase microinverters, I'm getting Enphase batteries. And I did that because of the ecosystem. of Enphase, there's benefits when you go within a single family like that. So the batteries can work in conjunction with the panels and can control the power input and output in a way that you, it's harder to do, not impossible to do, but harder to do if you're doing random pieces, like charging off a solar, like Enphase has their own Uh, uh, EV charger that seamlessly does that, um, bi directional charging if you have a car that supports that, um, so it's like, there's reasons why there's a benefit to go with like one, uh, big unit, uh, from a manufacturer, but for me, it was about the modularity of why I went the direction I


So it's similar to the kind of seamlessness of if you have an iPhone and an iPad and a Mac in your home and those things just kind of naturally talk to each other. And that's what they work

for. They work better together, but at the same time, it's like the individual pieces are easy to swap out if anything happens.

And it doesn't matter if it's a newer version of that thing or not. Um, it doesn't mean that modularity of it was something that was very appealing to me.

And is there a cost benefit as well if you're getting all one manufacturer for the products you're looking at? Do you get a package sort of like top to bottom will give you all of this and it's a lower price as a result?


I would actually argue it's kind of the opposite. I think if you go completely piecemeal, like if you're a DIY kind of person, you probably you will most likely get cheaper costs of things. Um, there is a little bit of a premium you're paying. It's kind of like you just brought up Apple. There's a little bit of a premium you pay to have iPhone, iPad, Mac.

You're paying a little bit of a premium for that all encompassing experience. Um, but it is not dramatically higher from what I did versus kind of DIY.

And Paul, you went the, you went the Tesla route and same question to you. What were your motivators for going solar in the first place? And what was it about Tesla that said, yeah, this is the one for me.

Sure. So

the journey for my wife and I to go to another home to downsize was about three years ago. Looking to build versus buy and finding new land in the middle of pandemic and then finding construction crews, some challenges there. So it became, well, if we want to live in the town that does not allow ground mount solar, uh, near where I grew up and all of that and your family, well, then our choices became a little more limited, but you know, someone listening to this.

I'm not judging your decision. If you live in the woods or cosmetics don't matter, or if you're allowed ground mount, there's so many different solutions. And I think it's great that Matt, you know, captured that in the video. And actually there's interest in gaff like another solution, right? Of a roof that's kind of between our two kind of looks like solar panels, but it has some ridges that look a little like a metal roof.

I love that we're just touching the tip of the iceberg, but for our own motivations, that was your question. It became, okay, we found a house. We're closing on it in four months. Is there a turnkey solution? One company I can call, and the cosmetics that fit the wife acceptance factor and kind of fitting into the neighborhood, and, you know, we have our houses pretty close together in a dense neighborhood.

Our decision was, I wish there were more choices. There weren't a whole lot of choices. Um, with the stress of moving, and dealing with a, you know, full time job, it became, yeah, a turnkey solution became pretty appealing, where I could actually be. With reasonable certainty, I promised my wife this might happen.

That's the stressful part. Even though Tesla, the chosen company, not known for excellent customer service, especially after you pay for the roof. So I had my worries, but I disclosed all that to my wife. Like, there's some risk this will never get approved. We could buy a house that needs a new roof, and we might not.

Pull off. We may have to come up with a plan B, but at the moment, I don't really have one. We're going all in and hoping our Tesla advisor, who I put the deposit, 250 deposit, and talked about the project with, and let me do that before I actually moved in the house. But I'd already gotten the offer and locked down the deal.

I'm super thankful. They got a little creative. It might be luck. I live right near Rocky Hill, Connecticut. I'm in Weathersfield, Connecticut. Rocky Hill used to be Solar City. A lot of those employees are nearby. I think I had an edge where I happened to be in an area where they're a little better staffed.

To pull off a big project like this. So, there's so many factors, but I'm telling you that long winded answer because these factors all played into this big decision like, how do I talk to my wife about this biggest project in our Entire marriage, by far. Follows cars before every 12 or 15 years. This was wild for us.

And frankly, daunting and scary.

And not to put any kind of comment about your relationship with your wife, but there's nothing really sexy about a roof. There's nothing, there's nothing about a roof that's like, I want to take you to Hawaii. There's nothing about a roof that is like, we'll be actively using this for years.

This is like, yeah, the, the thing you never think about, let's get a new one and it's going to cost a lot of money. So how did that go? Was that a, uh, I guess my question is the environment that you're in, you mentioned there was no place for ground mounted solar. Is that something you were typically accustomed to?

Is that something there's a lot of in the environment? And is that something that your wife was aware of as well and wanted to also buy into the, yeah, let's help the environment by getting solar. Let's have sustainable energy production in our home. So she was already leaning that direction and open to it.

What was the kind of The feeling in the air, I guess, is what I'm asking around you.

Sure. Um, well, roof leaks historically from the same builder in the same neighborhood. So that had us with a bit of a trauma, uh, like two days before Christmas, uh, we've had some leak problems. So knowing what that feels like, waiting to get your roof repaired when you have a problem, not a good feeling.

So you could say that kind of got her ready for the doozy of a conversation. But the real thing was, Heat pumps. We went, uh, hot water heat pumps for our home, our previous home, like a good four years ago. And Matt knows this. And, um, you got, uh, Sean, I have you to thank for ruining my mental image of a heat pump.

When you made a little pun on a recent, um, you determined, you tried to get Matt to laugh. He just didn't even respond. He just wanted me to move on quickly. It just made me laugh. It was great. But anyhow, heat pump, water heaters. It got my wife and I thinking, Oh, this succeeded. This, this worked. It dehumidified our basement.

We were no longer paying, um, like upwards 130 each summer season just to dehumidify the basement running that thing for four months of the year. And now we have hot water. So that's one less natural gas appliance. So when you're buying a 30, then 32 year old house, a used house, our first time doing that, we'd moved in the other house 27 years ago.

It was brand new. This was new for us and we knew we could be buying some problems, but it had an old original furnace. It made us cringe to dream of investing in a new gas furnace. So that's where the conversation started. Hope that made it easier for her to see, like Matt said, we're going to burn more electricity if we're getting rid of the gas bill here.

And that means Eversource having just doubled electric rates. Well, they didn't do that yet when I had the conversation with her, but That strengthened our resolve. Once we had the conversation and we placed the pre order and it then took quite a while for it to actually get approved and installed, it strengthened our resolve because in the middle of that wait, Eversource doubled the electric bill.

So, um, you could shop around for electricity, bring it down again, but it was pretty obvious that in New England they're going up and Massachusetts is even higher, right? So, we had some very similar motives. This is just for our little neck of the woods of this giant world. That's what's been fun about seeing the YouTube comments, right?

Totally different in other countries and even states.

Yeah, that's something that I want to build on that is, uh, my electric bill. When I was talking to Sue, my wife, about our previous house getting solar and then this house being all electric, it was like, okay, so, uh, we're going to have electric bill, probably 350 to 400 a month.

Or we could get solar and maybe have zero dollars or whatever the minimum payment is, like 20 bucks a month. It's like, it was like a very easy conversation to have at that point. Once you start crunching the numbers and seeing how long those panels will take to kind of pay themselves off. And it's like, Oh, it's only seven years.

And after that, it's like a gravy train after that. Cause it's like, it's just all, Positive. So it's like, it was a pretty easy conversation on my side to have, uh, to kind of convince Sue to kind of jump on


Yeah. The same one here, a very similar conversation about 400, 450 a month. If we averaged out electric and gas bills, summer higher for AC, uh, winter, much more gas, but you evened it out four to 500.

So we do the math. Okay. In 15 years, do you want to pay The gas company and electric company about a hundred thousand dollars, or do we take on something different? I kind of, that's around the rough ballpark. Now the prices were changing, they were going up. So I locked in the price paying the deposit. It's gotten a little worse.

Uh, and a few months ago, and then now it got a little better. It's all over the place of pricing, supply and demand, install crew, so many variables, but the conversation was simple. It's like Matt just said, do we really want to just blow that money? Kind of like when you're paying a landlord, you just feel like that money's gone to the electric company, the gas company for the next 15 years of going to our forever home that we plan to live in hopefully much longer than that.

Or not. And we decided, let's not do that. Let's invest in a technology that gives us a little more control over our destiny as we get closer to retirement. I think that's, uh, yeah, that was our common thinking there. And Matt, you get the really thick walls, the wonderful windows. Mine's, it's all compromised.

There's only so much budget you can do. We have only two by four exterior wall construction here in my part of New England. Not ideal. So we need to deal with insulation and putting new insulation on the outside and getting new siding. And you can see that in the before and after video. It doesn't get into that, but there was more to this project to going all electric for sure.

Yeah. Not just the roof, but the roof is the, getting a roof over our heads was the fundamental first step in this conversation.

It's you, you are already highlighting something. I think we're gonna be talking about quite a bit in the video. Context is key. Yeah. And the two of you are in neighboring states.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, there's, we're not talking about different sides of the country, different parts of the world. We're talking about neighboring states and the construction, Paul, that you were describing, you were limited to one type of construction, whereas Matt had a different option. So that plays a key in everything we're going to be talking about.

With that, let's jump into the comments now. Before I read the first comment that we wanted to share, uh, Matt, I was hoping you could help with the definition of a term. There's an acronym in here, S R E C. Do you want to define that really quickly for the audience so that we all know what we're talking about?

That stands for Solar Renewable Energy Credit. And it's a system like a, it's kind of a free market, not free market, but it's a market of renewable energy credits. So for every kind of kilowatt you're putting into the system, you're earning credits. And then those credits can then be sold because companies are being required to like, if they're trying to Reduce their carbon footprint.

They can go in there and they can buy those credits to get, you know, credit for having that renewable energy on the grid. So there's, that's kind of what the market is. That's what the SREC program is. And what's interesting is there's fewer states doing SRECs now than in the past. It's kind of getting phased out and changed.

Um, like in here, Massachusetts, I couldn't participate in SRECs anymore. They've changed the program to something called SMART. Which I could go on a rant about, but the smart program, it does something similar for every kilowatt you're putting in. They're taking into account how much you're using, how much you're adding to the grid, and they kind of calculate it out to make sure you're not double dipping, but they, then you can sell those credits you've earned on this open market to make a little money back.

It's an extra way, an extra incentive for a solar owner to make a little extra money.

Yeah. If I could come in over the top on that. Absolutely. That was part of our gamble here in Connecticut. Tesla does have a new thing called Virtual Power Plant, where you're basically selling back to the grid at a better rate during peak hours, so they can Avoid things like updating the grid or building peaker plants, diesel peaker plants, or approving more plants in the future to handle those.

4 to 8pm when everyone's in the summer coming home from work, turning on air conditioning and cooking, I would love for them to pay me way more than I pay for kilowatt hour. Right now they basically just pay me about what I pay for kilowatt hour when I'm exporting the grid. Alright, I don't pay that. They credit the account.

And, um, got this all installed last summer. We had some 0 months last fall, and then they do a true up bill in the spring. But all those programs, they change every year. Um, my, I have a family member who got solar from Tesla, regular traditional panels on the roof. The cheapest prices in Connecticut at that time were from Tesla.

He's very happy because he snuck his way to get grandfathered into a much better deal than me because he got it in 2022. So again, your results will vary depending upon which state you're living in. And it's hard to follow all this, but it's a huge gamble. If I get in the virtual power plant. Offering from Tesla, I no longer have to wait until 2027 when some new incentives might make it to Connecticut, but my application is still pending.

It's at their discretion if they ever approve it. I don't know what's going to happen, but financially that would be a whole lot better for my wife and I if we actually get that. It's an automated thing, which We have to give up our batteries from eight, a hundred percent all the way down to 20 or 30. We can opt out of power events and say, no, I don't want to sell back to you.

A local utility company ever sourced this event. I want to have backup reserve because I don't know it's high winds. It might have an outage. I don't really want the house to have only 20 percent reserve battery. So you can opt out. Um, and I already do that for my cars. I get 200 for each car for opting in the last two summers.

We're smooth sailing, uh, two electric vehicles. We've got 200 bucks for each car, each season. It's kind of like doing that for your house. But again, I don't know if I'll get into it. But that was part of the shopping.

All of what you're describing seems like there's, makes me think of two different paths.

One is, it really does feel like there are multiple tiers at which you can operate from, I want to have solar just to uh, Provide some energy during the day and like chop away a little bit off of my electric bill. Then there's I want solar and storage capacity to be able to mitigate my needs in the evening and night.

Then there's the whole interfacing with the outside world and what you're doing in that regard. So it really seems like your calculations have to be your daily immediate needs, your long term personal needs, and then how you want to engage with the larger network of energy needs in the, in the public.

Were all three of those separate thought processes for the two of you, or were they all, were they all kind of like knotted together? I'm curious about how you approached it, because as you're describing it, I find myself thinking, Paul, you've mentioned like, oh, this changed and then that changed and this changed and then that changed.

I'm like, I would get a migraine thinking like, Oh God, what am I going to do about society? What am I going to do about my neighbor? I like the world outside my door. So I'm curious as to what step. Were you buying in? Were you buying in immediately from the, this is what me and my family need, regardless of what the experience with the power companies is?

Or was it all the way to the power company step that you were like, okay, I'm still undecided, still undecided. Now I've made my choice. I'll throw that to you Matt first.

Uh, for me, it's a little bit knotted together. Where I always start with this kind of stuff is what are my personal goals? What is what my wife and I want to get out of this?

That's where you start. And so it's like, I wanted to be able to get enough energy over the course of a year. I want my house to be net zero energy, meaning I need to produce as much energy as I use over the course of a year. There's going to be months where I'm going to be pulling from the grid. There's going to be months where I'm going to be producing way more than I use putting it back into the grid.

So I just wanted it kind of net out because I'd like to get as close to a Zero dollar electric bills I can get, but it, it's not like if I don't hit it, it's like, I'm not going to cry. It's, it's fine. Um, so starting there and then building on that. Okay. So how much is going to cost to do that? And that's where this stuff gets knotted together.

It's like, Oh, well with net metering, that means it's going to kind of work out like this. And then there's this smart program, which means we'll be getting X dollars back a month. And then there's the virtual power plant system. Cause I'm going to be able to do the same thing Paul was talking about doing with my Enphase batteries and Eversource.

I'll be getting a check once a year for some maybe a thousand bucks or more from them for use of my batteries. It's like when you start to calculate that all in, that helps you understand, okay, it's going to cost me this up much up front. Here's how much I'll get back from the tax credit. Here's how much I'll get back from VPP.

Here's how much I'll get this. And then you can see that final number and go, yes, that amount of money is something I'm willing to justify to hit those original goals. So, they're kind of knotted together, but you, I, for me at least, it starts from what are we as a family trying to achieve and can we do that, um, in a way that's not going to break the bank.

So, you do have to factor in how you're going to interface with the utility and what kind of programs you're going to enroll in because those are necessary to be able to afford some of this

stuff. How about you, Paul?

Yeah, it was very similar. They're all tied together. I mentioned heap once earlier. I actually started earlier that with electric cars.

So 2018, uh, the very end of 2018, I got a 2018 Tesla Model 3. Early 2019, just got with a new job. I was driving about 20, 000 business miles a year that year. It became very clear this was a win for the family, uh, to get from point A to point B cheaply and safely compared to almost 30 years ahead of civic ownership.

So that was an early win right before the heat pumps that kind of moved us in the direction of what's the decision? How do we go with, uh, are we going all in with an electric roof? Are we going all in with, you know, solar to try to run an electric house? I already mentioned some of the motivators for that, but I could not promise my wife that we're going to make some sort of windfall from the utility and that winter is going to be tough.

I never claimed we could be like off grid in winter. You cannot afford that many batteries, at least at this moment in time. Winter is brutal in every way. But we had some things in our favor. This house had no trees around it, which is not desirable for many folks who want some shade trees in the summer.

But I knew Having a roof that actually had some angles that faced south, which my previous house did not, and it was, we needed to downsize anyway, it made no sense to put solar in that house and try to live there. Um, it made a lot more sense to make this house more energy efficient, more airtight, uh, to get humidity, uh, dehumidification, humidification, Um, MIRV 13 air filtration year round, all those objectives, looks like we're going to meet those.

The HVAC part was much harder, but it was definitely a complicated decision process. And I wish, Sean, it was easier, but here's the thing. Videos like Matt and his, this channel, Undecided, and the seeing years of that, and then meeting Matt and talking about heat pumps and seeing Hotel Marcel, world's first passive, um, house certified hotel in New Haven, Connecticut.

Those all kind of primed the pump, got me thinking about all this. And then finally seeing a Tesla solar roof I could walk right up to right in Connecticut in Chester, in a place called Little House Brewing and actually writing an article for Clean Technical about that. That all got me thinking that reducing risk, right?

The computer world, the IT world that I live in in my day job, it's all about risk reduction. Being able to see the product, knowing that Tesla engineers are going to mail me a 30 page PDF of the exact detailed design to help me be comfortable with what I'm going to be paying for once it's installed and working.

It all reduced the anxiety a bit in the always difficult process of moving for your first time in 27 years and raising kids and all of that. It was a major undertaking. Um, so yeah, uh, each of us are a little different, but there's definitely some commonality there.

Yeah. Oh yeah. Each of us are different.

I, one of the markers for me in that regard is you saying that a 30 page PDF made you feel comfortable. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Mail me a 30 page PDF and watch me take a nap. That's . Yeah, I know. Very. There's a reason why Matt is the one who went solar and I'm still a renter. So

lemme take a different stab at it then, real quick.

Yeah. These videos existing. Including the video you just made with me, Matt. That's what I was wishing I had when I was shopping for a house two, three years ago. I had no idea if this was going to work. I couldn't find, like, Google search, Connecticut, heat pump, solar, you know, no gas. Can you even do this?

Is it a dumb idea? Can you survive winter without your pipes freezing? Um, yeah, it was daunting. So hopefully this video helps people not delay further because as Matt alluded to, it's getting a little worse each year with the way the local states like California and Florida are treating solar customers, you might not want to delay too many more years, hopefully our video motivates you that.

Yes, I read the PDF. Most people won't. Tesla actually did a pretty good job dealing with all the permitting. I had nothing to do other than e document and sign stuff once in a while. They did all of

that. I'm curious. You, you touch on an interesting topic again. This has come up in the conversation a few minutes ago as well.

And I'm curious, Matt, you've talked about the concept of disruption before on the channel. You've talked about it in your, in your main channel. We've talked about it here. And. We've now, I forget how long we've even been doing this, this program. It's now, we're now into, uh, several years and it feels like the needle has moved.

Uh, a noticeable amount regarding, it feels like the power industry is suffering from birth pains right now. Yeah. As it's moving from the old model of the, the old guard being, we're a company, we own the means of production and we sell you this energy. To this new hybrid model that we're currently, I don't feel like we're there, but we're entering and that disruption, I keep thinking of like a Mandelbrot image, the little swirls within the swirls within the swirls.

It feels like you both have experienced moving out into waters that have unseen currents and that the industry as a whole is really trying to figure out what does the new model look like and how do we manage it? Because power companies, I mean, you can think what you want to think about corporations and power companies and how greedy or not greedy they may be, but under all of the layers of.

Rhetoric and dislike or, or distrust we may have in them at base, their entire model is built upon we only make money if we sell somebody something that they want. That's, that's what they want to find. They want to get to that point where they are still making money, giving people what they want, whatever that might be.

And I'm curious, the number of years we've been doing this show, the number of years we've been talking about this as a subject and where you've, And this is, of course, directed at Matt, but Paul, please feel free to jump in because you've been talking, uh, very informed about, um, the wider net of regulations and policies.

I'm curious, how deep into this Evolution, do you think we are and how far do you think it goes into the future? And I know I'm asking for a prognostication that's impossible for you to make, but I'm going to do it

anyway. But

ultimately what I think what I'm asking is like the model that we've lived under, like that you, that we all grew up in is, uh, is clearly gone.

And Yet we're not at a stage where we can say, oh, this is the model that will remain. It feels like both of you are looking at experiences which say, oh yeah, this is what I'm doing this year, but who knows what next year might look like. Do you see that as a foreseeable future? Like, yeah, I expect for the next decade they're going to be changing the rules and regulations every year.

Or do you think that there are some places that you are aware of where there seems to be a more stability places may be moving toward? Do we have a horizon that's closer than we think it is? Or is the horizon still decades away? I think it

depends on where you live. This is something I wanted to bring up.

Like, context is key here. You look at some parts of the world, like Australia, their solar prices are way cheaper. They have, they, they have policies and permitting that have helped to spur the solar industry there and adoption there. in profound ways. And they were motivated to do that because they had electricity generation problems down there.

So they were trying to solve that problem. And so they kind of doubled down and they've, they're well ahead of us on that curve. So I look at them and go, okay, there's definitely a light at the end of the tunnel for how you transition. towards that goal. And then here in the US, it's like, I feel like, you know, if you have the, the hockey stick curve of adoption that you're going to have, it still feels like we're like in that very beginning.

It's growing, but it still hasn't hit that bend up yet, uh, because policies are all over the map. Uh, the way utilities are handling it is all over the map because as you pointed out, utilities have basically had a monopoly. It's like we've never been able to generate our own electricity in our homes.

We've been reliant. We had to be reliant on somebody else because yeah, you could get a generator and run a diesel generator at your home. That is not cost effective. It's much more cost effective to have a centralized power plant than it's feeding out that electricity everywhere. Now we can actually put electricity generators on our roof or on a rack in the backyard and produce our own electricity.

So it's like, that is incredibly disruptive. So you can understand why some utilities are being resistant. to the adoption of this because it threatens their way they can make money. Uh, but the flip side that there's utilities that are like leaning into it and are showing that there is a path forward where they can act as the, uh, manager of the power.

They can still be giving you the distribution because like if you're producing too much electricity, it's like that's getting shared everywhere else. So as these micro grids are tied together, utilities can change their model, still make money and help manage this patchwork of micro grids. There are utilities that are just fighting it tooth and nail because they want to hold on to the old model because that's where they made all their money.

Um, so for me, in our neck of the woods, I think we're still in that early, early stage, but then you can look other places in the world and see where it can go and that it is possible to get there and that we most likely will get there. And there's going to be changes every year for the next decade, I have no doubt.

And not to get into a history lesson, but it's like, if you look at Hawaii. And even Germany, there's areas of the world that went into solar adoption really crazy fast, and they went too fast, and because of that, it created problems, and they had to be reactive in how they changed their net metering rules, how the utilities managed things, and so that scared a lot of people to be like, oh, we don't want to go down that path because look at all the bad stuff that happened.

Well, it wasn't. Solar was bad. It was the way it was implemented and rolled out and integrated was not handled well. So you can take learning lessons from the early adopters and then, but on the flip side, you have areas of the world that are being stubborn and fighting tooth and nail to not give up any ground.

Um, so we're definitely at the early, early stages. Paul, anything you wanted to add to


You know, I feel the same. I was at a conference recently talking to people from Sweden, an IT conference, and we ended up talking about solar and houses and insulation and EVs and how ridiculously far ahead of us they are, but it's always good to get a worldly perspective and reading the comments under Matt's video recently.

Reminded me of that. Like you said, some places it's, they think we're absolutely bonkers paying the prices we're paying. Well, that's what it costs living here in New England and buying a house here. And this is what they charge and you can get away with in this very early part of the hockey stick. I wish that weren't the case, but, um, You know, hopefully it starts somewhere.

A quick story is just the seasoned Eversource person who came and did the final inspection, I think it was September, where they finally got permission to operate and you could operate with all your inverters at full 100%. He comes to the house. It's like, okay, here we go. The meter, he checks everything out.

He goes, it's time. I go, what, what? He goes, it's approved. You're all set. You can turn it on. I said, so do you want to turn it on? He said, no, I can't touch that red knob, but you can slide it up. He was excited for me. Like he could see two electric cars in the garage. He wasn't freaked out. Like he knew where the utility companies need to go.

He wasn't pointing the fingers like other technicians had been at the house. Like, Oh, you're part of the problem. You're going to cause brownouts or you can't possibly charge in the evening. I'm like, no, I've been charging both cars for three years. Just fine. You guys actually. Incentivize me to back off a little certain times of day.

That's how you fix it. There's, there's easy fixes for some of the stuff. And then they were skeptical, but this guy, he got it. He was excited for me to flip that big red handle up on this massive project that I waited over a year in my head on to flip that switch and see it work. It's a cool moment. And he got it.

And I appreciate that. And the same with the engineers. They're all very proud of the work and they're excited for me too, um, and telling the neighbors what they're doing and what this roof is and all. To me, that's the people I was investing in. I know there's risk in putting your, your, uh, project behind one company name.

There's a lot of risk there. Well aware. There's this discomfort in IT in that world right now too. Um, hitching your, Wagon to one train, I guess the expression is. There's risk in all of this, but I still encourage people. It is possible. That's the point of the video. We're, it seems like we're pretty successful, man.

And winter's tough. So I got to bank that money I earned in the summer to survive winter. But it looks like we're coming probably pretty close to net zero. Um, partly because we have a large roof and no trees around. Again, a big asterisk, right?

You just brought up something important when you said, we live in New England.

This is what they can charge in our area. There were a ton of comments saying, implying that you and I got ripped off or I can't believe you've paid. And the one thing I want to keep reminding people of is context is key. Um, cost of living, it, it, where you are in your, in the world is going to vary wildly.

Like, um, I put out a video on my water furnace geothermal system. Water Furnace, the company, after I put out the video actually sent me a spreadsheet showing me what my system, like the equivalent of my system, average cost. Based on region in the United States. So what I paid like 80, 000 almost for, for my system with the drilling and all that kind of stuff, in Iowa, it would have been half that.

And they were showing me state by state. So I saw the spreadsheet of what the costs would have looked like. And it's all because of, Cost of living, local labor costs, all of that stuff factors into it. And so when you have somebody from Germany or Australia or another state in the United States saying, we got ripped off because this only cost me X amount where I am.

It's like, that's great that you got it for such a great cost, but you have to factor in. Like Sean, you're in Brooklyn. My God, the cost of living in New York City is through the roof. It's like where, where Paul and I live is some of the most expensive areas you can live in the United States, but it's still way shy of New York City.

So it's like when you have high rent costs, that means higher labor costs. So people can afford to live in that city. So it's like all that stuff factors in. And I think that gets lost a lot of times when people see this, the number. And it always has made me kind of gun shy about sharing numbers like this because you get reactions like that.

And it's like, this is not, a dollar is not a dollar. A dollar depends on where you live, how far that dollar will go. So yeah, our stuff was expensive. Relatively speaking, it's not out of line for where we live for what you see for the cost of this kind of system.

Exactly. Total cost of ownership over a long period of time is part of it, right?

So if you have a gas machine in your garage, we're charging. I'm actually headed to Boston. One son lives in Boston, the other in New York. We drive on sunbeams for three seasons of the year. And here's a cut, you can't see that very well, but it's charging on solar right now and pre conditioned to battery.

So when we depart for Boston, we're going to get decent range right after this podcast recording. That's part of it. This turnkey solution is delivering today. Not waiting for a firmware upgrade. I actually delivered to my wife. This is what I promised you a year and a half ago. It's actually working.

That's a really good feeling, right? Sharing that with the world. Awesome. Hopefully inspire them to just know what's possible. And that's what the video is saying. It's not saying everyone has a circumstance that can do this. And boy, do I wish it was more affordable. We all agree on that.

And being at the beginning of that hockey stick, you and I are paying a lot today, but in 10 years, this stuff is going to be way cheaper than what it is today.

So we are early adopters in this stuff. So yes, early adopters tend to pay more. This will get cheaper over time.

Yeah. There've been some comments that were In the vein of what you guys are talking about, about evaluating return on investment, trying to figure out what, why you paid as much as you did, as Matt has pointed out a couple of times, there were also some comments like this from Jacob Bronstein, who wrote.

wrote in to say to Matt, you need to do a video walkthrough of Paul's home energy setup. He's living my dream. Like how off grid can he be? What types of monthly costs does he have between charging the car and house energy needs? Paul, I think you've already covered a lot of this in the form of like just the anecdotes of the summer is more expensive.

Or the winter is more expensive. Summer you can recoup some of that cost, but you're able to charge your cars. You're able to be very close to net zero, if not completely net zero, I imagine at certain times of the year. Um, but Jacob is, is inviting Matt to come to your home and actually, and actually walk through your house.

How would you feel about that?

Well, what's funny is I actually did. It's like, I have so much footage of my walk through Paul's house. I could make that video. Now, because it's like, I already have a lot of stuff, but yeah, you wanted to kind of, kind of give a little highlight about some of the other stuff that we didn't include in this specific


Yeah, sure. I'll, I'll preface it with saying my wife was the most anxious about the money angle of this whole thing, right? We knew it was coming to the YouTube comments and honestly, friends and family are going to see it. It's brutal, right? But it is the cost of two average American cars, which people are buying sport utilities at 48, 000 in America right now is horrible as it sounds.

And we just did our tax prep for this week. It is looking like we'll have a full 50, 000 off to the 150, 000 project, roughly, if you want even numbers. So we're coming in at right around 100, 000, just as I promised her. As far as the rest of the house, that project, it wasn't just that. I already hinted adding new insulation to the exterior of the house when the house is already built and we're trying to retrofit, and it needs a new skin.

It had aluminum siding. Um, that was a time to tape it up and seal it out with an extra foam and then, uh, insulation in the attic. Luckily we got incentives from our local utility. That was a struggle. Um, that was a lot of money back. Um, about a third of back because they found some mistakes like the garage and a added addition to the house weren't insulated at all.

Like, Oh, you're ineligible for a rebate to get like 40 percent off their project. So that helped triple pane windows and other incentive help there. That all led to how do you make a house instead of eight air exchanges per hour, go to 0. 8. That was Aero Barrier, an AeroSeal product. Um, then you move into it and put, rip out all natural gas and all baseboard heat and put in.

A brand new ducting system in the right spots in the room, two registers over every window in each room, a return near the door, doing it all right. There's obviously additional costs beyond the roof. So yeah, there's more to talk about. Unfortunately, two things, not done yet. Also, it's been a struggle, you know, with the HVAC system that I just alluded to, but also We're missing some data.

I had a Tesla gateway where I lost some months, so I have to actually reconstruct how did last year go. I need more time, as Matt has alluded to too, in his house. We don't really have a full year under our belt to know how we're going to come out in the end. And pinching, crunching all the numbers, it's challenging.

And frankly, um, Overall, we'll come out somewhere near that zero, but exactly how much, you know, that's hard to say, but man, I don't want to complicate or dizzy people with it. Just, we're coming out a lot closer than we would have been where we know we would have paid seven or 800 a month. If we went with an all electric house without going with some sort of mitigation, some sort of solar to offset that.

Cause we, again, we were ditching natural gas. We were trying not to burn stuff to live here for decades. And once you made that decision, that meant our electric bill was going to go much higher than it was to survive winter. Um, cause winter, there's not a lot of heat to get out of the air. Matt had geothermal.

He could get away with less solar panels by going, putting his money smartly in a new house, thicker walls and geothermal. I'm absolutely all for everything Matt did, right? Just different approaches, different circumstance in life. Some towns you might want to live in just don't have any plots to build on, for example.

So again, hopefully people will remember these little elements of They go a little beyond the video, Matt. This is good. Dive in a little deeper today. I appreciate it. Yeah,

it's We keep circling back to context, context, context. It's And that's something that Matt and I touch upon in most of our videos.

We're either talking about find the right tool for the right job. Or we're talking about remember your context and research where you are and what is available to you. And there were, there were a number of comments that were leaning toward you guys got ripped off, but there were also comments That were countering that very argument, there was a debate within the comments and I think a lot of the debate was born of people who had looked into this in their environment, in their, in their context and had data themselves and it's very easy for people, we all carry, uh, how we live and where we live in us without realizing that we are filtering

what we're looking at with that lens. And so I think it's, it's not to say to people who came in and said, you guys got ripped off. We're not saying they're foolish. We're not saying they're ignorant. We're just saying they didn't take the step of remembering. Oh, wait, I've got a lens on. I need to click. To a different lens and look at it objectively and say, okay, what's my context versus theirs?

I think a very good comment in that vein is from Jeremy Browning, who wrote, I spoke to two installers in Ohio about the solar roof. Both quoted me prices of around 180, 000. Which is about half the value of my home. So there was no way I was going to justify that cost. That's remarkable. I like, I cannot imagine looking into getting something done to my home and having the cost of that be half the value of the home itself, there would be no recouping that and it would, or it would take.

Decades to recoup that. So Jeremy had that kind of experience that led him to look at the video and not say, you guys are foolish because he himself had experienced something similar. Um, so I think that's something for us to broadcast to our viewers and our listeners is to remember Your experience is not exactly the same as somebody, not even your neighbor, but let alone somebody halfway around the world.

The difference of these contexts is remarkable. Is there anything else either of you wanted to jump into the, to sum up before we, we

close out? Yeah, I'll jump in first on this one. Matt, you would be welcome at my home anytime, right? I was just hinting that I'm just not quite ready with the HVAC system.

Humidification, dehumidification. MIRV 13 filtration with ERVs. All of that's way more complicated than it should be. There's nothing like a turnkey solution. And when you have a pandemic supply chain on top of it, made it very difficult to deliver on those promises to my wife. And we're still struggling with it, honestly.

So tune, but I'm really, I'm, it's really nice that we got that comp, that complimentary comment, that constructive feedback on YouTube. Someone saying, Paul's doing what I'm trying to do. It's exactly why you do a video like this, right? Um, and volunteer, you know, evenings and weekends to try to help out with stuff like this.

I was more than happy to have Matt share this story because I knew his, you know, power and reach in such a positive way. There's so much glum stuff on YouTube and for giving people, you know, hope. And, uh, that's how, that's how I feel. So again, super thankful

for me. The one thing I'd want to add is Paul and I kind of went all in, like we're putting all our chips on the table and pushing it forward.

We're invested in this future and this is what we want to do. It's perfect for us. Some people don't have the means to do that. Like Sean, you, you rent an apartment and you can't do something like this. Yeah. So it's like, if you're interested in solar, you're interested in reducing your energy costs, you want to kind of go a little more green, look into a community solar projects in your area.

That doesn't involve installing solar in your roof at all. It's like, and you could potentially save some money on your electric bill. Um, so there's, there's different things that you can do that might be more appropriate for where you live, for your income, for whatever you're able to do. And then on top of that, there were comments.

I see this all the time. I saw a panel videos of like, if you can't cover all your electricity use, it's not worth it. And it's like, no, it's like, you could cover a quarter of your energy use a half of your energy use. It's like, you don't have to install like, Paul, you have, what is it, 27 kilowatts. I have 17 point something on my roof.

It's like, you could get a little five kilowatt system installed and it's going to pay for itself really quick. And on top of that, you're reducing your bill maybe by half or a quarter. So it's like you don't have to jump all in, just dip your toe. Um, so I would just recommend community solar would be the first place I would recommend people.

Look into. I would question

the thinking. I would question the thinking of anybody who said I didn't, I don't want to save some money. I only want to save all the money. I'm not interested. It's either all or nothing for me. Either I'll spend all my money or I'll save all my money, but there's no in between.


very confused by that. Peeling that back, is that someone looking for an excuse to not do anything, right? Like, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Let's say to your loved one, significant member, yeah, that's just not ready yet. We got to wait another five, 10 years. Yeah. Yeah. Come on. When your heat pump water heater goes, or sorry, when your gas fired heat water heater goes.

Start with that maybe, right? Replace that if you can, if you're a landlord, that's, that's, that's how it goes. By the way, um, the water powered, I have, I have a creek nearby, right? I was seeing your video about water power. I was like, Oh wow, there's another source. Then I looked at the kilowatts, but is the, is the take home message there?

Do go chasing waterfalls? You know, if you've got a waterfall in your backyard, I mean, you know, that's the point. Your videos are comprehensive. It's not just about solar and roofs, right? You've got all kinds of stuff going on. Love that. Yeah.

So on that note, I would invite people to jump into the comments here.

If you have any follow up questions for Matt or for Paul, jump into the comments and if we have anything that we feel like we need to share with Paul, we will reach out to him and we'll get his feedback on that and share it with you in the future. Before we sign off, uh, both of you, first, we'll start with Matt.

What have you have coming up on your, where are you available, first of all, and what do you have coming up? We'll start with Matt talking about what he has coming up on Undecided. Obviously,

you can go to my website, UndecidedMF. com, if you want to get in touch, and have ideas for topics. I'm always looking out for ideas.

But man, we have, I can't even go through some of the stuff that's coming up. We have so many things that we're covering. Um, we're jumping all over the map. We're trying to expand out into new topics. Like we're going to be doing one on AI at some point in the near future, which is a topic that's kind of, uh, freaking me out and also getting me really excited all at the same time.

Um, so just stay tuned. That's what I would say.

How about you, Paul, where are you located and what do you have on, on your

website? Sure. Coming up on 13 years is Tinkertry. com. So that's my personal blog and running that. And then YouTube channel for it is YouTube. com slash Tinkertry, goofy name there. And then, um, still on X a bit at Paul Braren.

I use a whole lot of mute words and filtering to make it my happy place to talk about sustainability topics, EVs, um, bi directional charging, like a Cybertruck I'm about to see near Boston to talk to the person leading that event about that, because that plays into my house, right? I've got four power walls.

What if you had the equivalent of nine Powerwalls potentially I don't need a Cybertruck, but maybe a Model Y someday that could beef up what's in my garage affordably. That interests me. I love the underlying tech. So that's where I cover it on my blog. It's also IT topics, computer stuff as well that I've been doing for years.

But yeah, what do I have coming up? There's always, there's more about HVAC coming. So I get this project rolled out. Huge need I see for personal health when you live at home a lot and work at home a lot, like Matt and I do. It's pretty important. It's where your lungs are breathing all those days. And now you've got pollen season coming.

I've got stories there. So stay tuned if you're interested in that kind of thing. Yeah, um, follow, subscribe, a weekly newsletter, you can sign up for that on Tinkertry.Com too for any

article. It's interesting you mention that because, uh, during the pandemic by 2022, um, I was suffering from migraines that were hitting me every week, two or three times a week.

And I was really, really suffering with this and I ended up going to a doctor and it, uh, I ended up at an allergist who. One of his first questions was, what do you do? And I told him what I do for a living. And then he said, do you do that in an office building? I said, well, normally I would, but I've been working at home now.

And he said, so you have a big office building. And I said, yes. And I, and he said, okay, big HVAC system. And I said, yes. And he said, now you're at home for two years. And I said, yes. He said, where you probably don't have a big HVAC system. And suddenly the light bulb went off. And what it was, was being at home for two years, the dust Mold and all those allergens in the home that I had been exposed to now nonstop for two years had led to a triggering of allergies that I hadn't experienced during the decades of going into a very clean environment in an office building.

So what you're talking about is I've lived that exact experience. It is really, really important. So, uh, Interesting that you're doing all of that, uh, now and sharing that with people. It really is important. It's something that I, it wouldn't even have occurred to me that that was what was going on, but it definitely was.

Great. Thank you to your doctor for asking that question, right? Yeah. Cool. Yep. I'm just prescribing something.

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