We decided to have a solar system installed on our roof. We selected Solar City as our vendor since they are the largest vendor in our area with experience to match, George also loves Elon Musk, an owner of Solar City. Part of the reason was financial, part guilt over using so much air conditioning electricity, and part was the panache of the techology (we can't afford a Tesla car). We decided to lease a system rather than buy for reasons of no out of pocket expense and full warranty for the life of the system. The lease is for 20 years. Because George and Marguerite were on our HOA Board we decided to put the panels where they would not be seen verses optimum for solar transfer of power. We therefore have a large 42 panel system and pay accordingly. However we do expect to save $100 per month on average unless rates change which is possible since energy providers are being put in a tough spot.
Contract was signed about April 22, 2015, we connected to the grid on September 29, 2015. It rained last month and no leaks were noticed in the roof. Monitoring of the system works fine on our PC and on Marguerite's cell phone.
Our lease payments and expected capacity of the system is shown above. Since SDG&E only returns 4 cents per kWh, one does not want to pay for excess capacity. Typically one buys 70% to 80% of nominal use. We are getting 99% because George plans on pigging out on air conditioning and we may buy a plug-in hybrid down the road when we replace Marguerite's Prius.
Our system consists of 42 Panels (made in Mexico), Electronics/Inverter (made in Austria), and a little internet device I think made in the USA. A "nested" thermostat could not be installed because of modifications made by SD&E 10 years ago so they could shut down the A/C if power grid stressed in the summer --- this program was eleminated 5 years ago but the sexy thermostat remained. George is happy with his old sexy thermostat.
The 42 panels were mostly placed on the rear roof (east facing) with a few on the garage (south facing). Most people would not know we have a solar system on our roof, including the sun unfortunately.
Step 1: Take out old Power Panel
George has wanted to replace this panel for some time. It is 30 years old and lights have been flashing for some time. It was replace for free by Solar City.
Step 2: Put in new Power Panel
Step 3: Fix Stucco around new Power Panel
Step 4: Assemble Crew at Site Location
Crew consisted of 7 folks (I think), 6 guys and one gal. Nobody I guess was over 30, I found out why later.
Step 5: Stage Solar Panels and Stage Install Hardware
Step 6: Keep Wife and Dog Happy
Our house guest dog Gretel (a granddog) was upset with all the noise so she and Marguerite stayed in the sewing room as activity progressed.
Step 7: Install Panels
The crew worked 10 hours straight with no break. I was amazed they were all still standing. Not an old person's game.
Step 8: Checkout Electronics/Inverter Unit
The primary purpose of this unit is to convert the direct current (DC) provided by the solar arrays into alternating current (AC) for use by the grid. Of course it needs to be phase locked at the grids 60 cycles per second (hertz).
The secondary purpose of the unit is to communicate with my receiver in the house and then to the internet where it is monitored by Solar City. They then provide a display for me at my computer or wifie with her cell phone.
Step 9: Admire Work
I usually like to stand back and admire the work I have done. Since I did not do any work I made an exception and admired the work the crew did. Since I designed it not to be seen this was hard to do. So I climbed my back hill and took photos of the east facing roof. The part over the garage is very hard to see.
Photo was taken at 9:30 AM. By 10:30 the solar cells are out of the shade and receive direct sunlight. The cells on the garage roof receive more sunlight.
Step 10: Check Production
From time to time I can go on-line or bring up an AP on Marguerite's cell phone to monitor production of solar energy at my home from anywhere in the world.
From example at left; on October 23, 2015 we generated 31.7 kWh of electricity and consumed 20.6 kWh. We did the laundry at 5 PM hence the peak of consumption. With A/C and spa and dishwasher going we can consume over 8 kWh of electricity.
A/C consumes the most energy by far and chubby George needs a cool house (72 degrees) so we are expecting to break even at the end of most years.
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