System size: 6.8 kW
I wanted to reduce our family’s carbon footprint, save money in the long run and put my money where my mouth is by setting a good example for my family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Was there anything that surprised you about the solar process?
We had several complicating factors with our yard that we had to deal with including shade from trees, a septic drainfield, setbacks and fences, design and installation delays, but we were able to overcome those with careful planning, layout, patience and persistence. We interviewed and received quotes from national and local firms, got recommendations from those with solar experience. We are happy to have selected an established local company which helped us deal with our complicating siting issues to install our ground mounted PV system.
Do you have any data about your solar system performance? What electricity savings have you seen since going solar?
We have been online for less than a month in low productivity time when the sun is low and behind trees, but we have produced 140 kWh and appears to have exported more than we have consumed so we anticipate significant savings on our first electric bill with solar.
What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?
Plan ahead and thoughtfully consider what your needs and goals are. Considering the challenges of siting the array in our yard, if we hadn’t starting talking to companies and getting proposals in July, we likely couldn’t have had a system operating by December 31. We considered multiple PV system configurations, the installer we wanted to work with, the deal the installer offered, financing options, and the necessary site preparation before installation. We really did our homework so we were confident in our decision to go solar once we made it. Because PV systems will be operating for 30 years, select the most reliable installer, and install the most productive, highest quality system that makes economic sense and meets your needs for now and in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions of your installer throughout the entire process, and take advantage of the many resources online via Google and Youtube to familiarize yourself with the installation process and equipment options. If you’re into numbers, have production and consumption monitors installed so you can keep tabs on your system’s productivity and how much energy you are not importing and paying for from the grid. We didn’t get batteries as our City utility as an excellent net metering program offering full retail banking of kW hours. If your utility offers a poor net metering program you should definitely consider batteries or an electric vehicle because you will be essentially giving your utility electricity at a steeply discounted value which they will sell to your next door neighbors at a much higher rate.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Ground mount systems are a good alternative if your roof is shaded, but a portion of your yard is sunny. As part of your due diligence if you have trees, download the app Sun Path to your phone which you can setup to see where the path of the sun is going be throughout the day on the shortest and longest days of the year from where your array is going to be mounted. This will show you which trees may be creating shade at different times of the day and during the year and whether your array will have a clear view of the sky between the peak sun hours of 9:00 to 3:00. I used it to strategically site my ground array and to remove trees so the array would see the sun between 10:00 and 4:00 for most of the year.