Solar, solar, solar!

We had been making plans to install solar panels before we even moved into this house. Dave works for a solar company, and it’s something that we both think makes a lot of sense, so this was one of those “put your money where your mouth is” things for us.

But Dave wanted a specific set of panels, but they weren’t being installed in the US until very recently. So we had our initial estimates done last summer, but then sat around and waited… and waited… but finally, they’re here! It took a few days of finding places for all of the equipment and figuring out our crazy electrical system. The contractors finally decided that our house just wasn’t grounded, so they put a hole in the patio right under our electrical box and installed a ground:

The concrete patio is pretty ugly as it is, so an extra hole doesn’t really bother us. We’re hoping to redo the patio later this year anyway. Here’s a wider shot of the back wall:

The existing utility stuff is all painted to match the house, the new stuff is unpainted. The big box on the top left houses all of the electronics for the monitoring system. It’s not required, but of course we just had to get it. Unfortunately they had it all installed before I realized how close to the kitchen window it was… We get a pretty good view of it from the dining room, and it’s not exactly pretty. ah well I guess we’re not going to forget it’s there at any rate…

Anyway, enough of that, on to the actual panels! They’re installed over our garage, on the opposite side from our front door. Here’s a shot from the roof, looking towards the back of the house:

And here’s another from the roof, looking out towards the court:

They’re actually not very visible from the street, I had to stand in front of my neighbor’s house to get this shot:

The multitude of cars are more noticeable than the panels, really. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s the view from the rarely-photographed (because it mostly just holds weeds and trash cans) south side of our house:

The electrical wiresย  come out towards the left of the panels in this picture, then curve around and enter our garage through the wall just out of the frame. Inside the garage:

We have the DC cutoff, the inverter, and then the AC cutoff, then it’s off to make friends with the electrical panel. Here’s a closer shot of the conduits in the garage over the side door:

Incoming from the panels on the top (with the bad ass “caution” sticker) and outgoing to the electrical panel underneath. The blue cable is a CAT5 for the monitoring equipment. And here’s another shot of the inverter:

Yeah, it’s pretty big. We moved a lot of stuff around and they put up a sheet of plywood to mount it on.

Anyway, enough of these boring, practical pictures, let’s see the glam shots! Here are the panels right before the sun disappeared behind the roof. (Sunset: not the best time for high power output.) And you can just make out the bones of our pollarded mulberry tree in front of the sun.

And here’s a closeup of the panels also taken at sunset:

Dave assures me that the fingerprints don’t affect the efficiency in any measurable way. ๐Ÿ™‚

And here is the most glamorous shot of them all…

1.5 kilowatts at noon on a sunny day in the middle of February. We should be getting 1.9 kW at noon in the summer, and you bet I’ll be checking to make sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Net metering will soon be in effect for us, which means that the power we aren’t using will go into the grid and we’ll get a credit on our electrical bill. I don’t know all of the details yet, but I will very soon. We don’t have air conditioning in our house, so we really aren’t using much power during the day unless I run a load of laundry or something, so we’ll probably be putting a fair amount of our power output into the grid during peak hours.

All in all, we’re a little sad to see our savings account shrink, but we’re seriously stoked to have this done! I can’t wait to see our energy bills…

Posted on February 12, 2012, in home improvement, outdoors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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