Meet David and Doyz – he works in financial services and she’s a full-time homemaker and part-time property agent. They have two boys (whose names, like their entire family, all start with ‘D’). Earlier this year in July 2022, they installed their solar panels with Solar AI.
The family chose to get their 14.5 kWp solar system (that’s about 27 panels) through the Rent-To-Own program. Rather than purchasing the system upfront at a cost as high as ~$30,000, they’re enjoying guaranteed solar electricity at a small monthly payment that’s already lower than their previous electricity bills.
We were excited to hear from David and Doyz about their love for the environment and experience getting solar!
What made you decide to switch to solar?
Doyz: David is extremely conscious about wanting to save the earth. He was the one who introduced it. He wanted to do it way earlier but we finally got to it.
David: Yeah, for a long time. I’ve been scuba diving since the early to mid 90s. As often as I’ve been diving, you do see the degradation in the quality of the oceans and the reefs so it’s actually quite heartbreaking. So I want to do anything I can to combat climate change. It’s a direct correlation, what we’ve been doing affects the environment.
Doyz: Now that he’s got an EV it also just makes sense to get solar panels.
David: But had to be sure it was structurally viable for my house and quality of work was going to be sound.
We’ve got a couple of friends who have done the same thing… They were quite progressive and inspirational… The good thing for them is the nature of the build, when they were installing solar, people could see it right away, so it generated a lot of interest among the neighbours.
The community’s role in encouraging people to make decisions towards the low carbon transition is powerful indeed. David and Doyz’s flat roof may not allow their solar panels to be visible from the street, but they’re doing everything they can to share with others and hope that if you’re reading this and able to generate your own renewable energy, you won’t hesitate!
What were your biggest concerns about solar initially?
Doyz: I guess because it’s totally new, I was just concerned about what it’ll do to the house, how long it’s going to take, whether it’s going to be a tough one… but it turned out very well. And then they installed it within 3-4 days, very fast.
David: Cost is one thing. Second of all is how long it’ll take. I didn’t realise it’ll be so fast, some contractors tell you one week it ends up three weeks or something. Also the weather, if it’s raining there’ll be an impact on the process. Whether it’ll damage the roof, leaking I think everybody has that concern. Bolong and James explained, showed me this is how they’ll do it, they’ll install the railing and then it’s clipped on without any drilling. So that’s very important.
For me as well, some of the aesthetics around it, I didn’t want to see wires running all over the place. There were a couple of installations earlier than ours, maybe they were a little less concerned. They were less exacting about wiring and how they position the different units for solar conversion. I was a bit more exacting about the aesthetics. So yeah but they did a really good job.
Their solar inverter (what converts solar electricity to electricity your home can use) is located right along their EV charger in the car porch. Talk about a perfect configuration.
How did you decide to go with Solar AI?
David: I came across Solar AI in one of these startup challenges. [I thought] yeah okay it’s come to a point, if you’re ready to switch to solar there are actually a few viable options… I spoke to Bolong, got more details. Really good follow-up, Doyz followed up with a couple more quotes.
Note: David’s referring to when we participated in Startup Arena challenge by Tech in Asia x East Ventures.
Doyz: I got more details: what [the contract] entailed, what was the process, how long it was going to take, the installation and that sort of thing. Yeah, it was a good experience overall. [Solar AI] even had a team who came and sat with me to explain the whole process.
David: The commitment they had, the people they sent over, very patiently speaking with Doyz – convincing her it was going to be a relatively painless process. And the package they offered was actually quite interesting, whether you want to pay everything upfront, or the 5 or 10 year options.
Why did you eventually decide on getting solar through the RTO model, over purchasing it upfront?
David: I think from a pricing perspective, we ultimately chose the 5 year one because not having had solar, we’re not sure whether it would create any issues around maintenance. I like the fact that if I subscribe to the RTO model, the $300 per visit is waived. If not, if I just pay for it upfront, I have to pay $300 per visit.
The warranty under the 5 year plan meant [Solar AI] will be here for 5 years: anything goes wrong and it’s covered. That gave us the reassurance we needed. That was the main deciding factor.
Note: Maintenance and cleaning costs for a residential solar panel system usually range from $300 to $500 per visit in Singapore.
How did you find the solar installation process?
David: It was well done. In many ways the supervisor, James was very prompt with following up. Installation was done quite fast, it’s just towards the end, with SP services, trying to get it all linked up. But it went well, I think the SP just did the inspection last month. James and the team were extremely helpful, gave us advice on what our rights are whether we want to stay on with SP. Covered to the end, good experience. It was excellent.
Note: Once your solar panels are installed, Singapore Power (SP) will typically take 2-4 weeks* (in busy periods, up to 3 months) before commissioning your solar system and connecting it to the national grid.
How much do you save with your solar system every month?
For the warranted lifetime of David and Doyz’s solar system, there should be more than 100 trees “planted”. Financially, they enjoy electricity bill savings of ~$400 a month, depending on prevailing electricity rates.
David: The solar panels deliver up to 40% of the electricity we consume on a monthly basis. For me, money aside, because energy prices will fluctuate, it’s really about doing what we can to lower our carbon footprint. [We expect this will also help us] get more conscious about how we consume energy… because we ultimately wish to consume less energy from fossil fuels.
Were there any changes to your lifestyle after installing solar?
Doyz: Is it cooler upstairs?
David: Actually it is, you know. We have a west facing house and find that the bedroom upstairs is easier to cool down after a very hot day.
A definite extra perk to having solar panels is the cooling effect they often add to the roof.
David: I think we’re a little bit more conscious than ever about how we consume energy. For example, we’ve turned up the thermostat on all our aircon units around the house.
Anything you want to say to a homeowner exploring solar?
David: Please do it. Don’t wait.
Doyz: Highly recommend it.
David: Have that honest conversation with various service providers and people who have installed solar panels. Take your time to carefully consider the pros and cons. And finally, if doing it makes sense, please do it.
Doyz: People tend to be rather concerned about the cost. Even those who can afford it…
David: …they’ve just not had the opportunity to consider all options, many of which now can make the adoption of solar more affordable and risk free. On the other hand, the environmental situation is an existential crisis. All I ask is when people are doing their sums on affordability, consider as well how such an investment will help save Mother Nature.
David and Doyz believe climate change is real and we can do more together to make a more positive impact. Their passion for the environment was a huge inspiration to us and we hope to you as well. If you’re in a position to make that decision to switch to renewable energy, what’s holding you back? There are trees to “plant”.
Try our online solar assessment tool here to calculate how much of an impact your house’s roof can make.