Go Solar with Home Rooftop Photovoltaics — We Did

The Unlikely Environmentalist's Home Rooftop Solar SystemWe recently joined the ranks of homeowners generating their own power via rooftop photovoltaics and so can you.

When we attended the Central Coast Bioneers conference in October 2012, we had been considering installing a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system for some time. During the conference green home tour, we visited the home of San Luis Obispo architect and green building expert, Stacey White, who had installed a PV system on the roof of her home. My spouse asked her who had installed her PV system and she said A.M. Sun Solar. That weekend we decided to install our own rooftop PV system.

Consultation & Contract

Within a week, my spouse had set up a site visit with A.M. Sun Solar to evaluate our roof for solar panels and I had provided previous electric bills.

During the first visit, our sales consultant, Glen, reviewed the preliminary estimate he had prepared, discussed equipment options, walked around our roof taking pictures and measurements, and answered a bunch of questions.

We checked the company’s references and confirmed they had a valid contractor license and insurance.

My techie spouse reviewed the equipment options and determined that since we live in a relatively cool climate, there was no need for the more expensive panels whose biggest advantage was hot climate performance.

We decided we wanted to purchase equipment made in the United States so Glen provided a quote for solar panels manufactured in Memphis, TN by Sharp Electronics Corporation and Enphase Energy inverters assembled in Milpitas, CA—both qualify for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This decision added about 9% to the cost of the project but we felt good about supporting American jobs.

Less than 3 weeks after Glen’s first visit, we signed the contract and made a down payment.

Design & Installation

We determined our worn out roof should be replaced before installing solar panels on it so that caused a slight delay in the solar schedule. Meanwhile, A.M. Sun Solar completed the drawings for our PV system, ordered the equipment, applied for a permit, and dealt with the paperwork needed to obtain the California Solar Initiative (CSI) rebate and connect to the PG&E grid.

The PV installation began shortly after our new roof was finished and was completed in less than a week. Our house is built on a hill and the solar panels are on the front part of the roof so we had to hike up the street and look back to even see them.

On a Friday, Cory notified the county our PV system installation was complete. The next Monday a county building inspector signed off on our PV system and Cory informed PG&E that we were ready to have our PV system connected to the grid.

The installation crew graciously took photos for me during the process (click to enlarge).

Power On

9 days later, a PG&E technician swapped our smart meter for an even smarter net energy meter (NEM) that interconnected our PV system with PG&E’s electricity grid. It took less than 10 minutes. He gave us the thumbs up and said it was okay to turn on our PV system.

My spouse flipped the switch. Glen came out that afternoon and reviewed the warranty and PG&E NEM information with us. We made our final payment.

Our home rooftop PV project went smoothly for two reasons:

  1. We established our goals and did our homework up front, we knew what we wanted.
  2. Our solar company, A.M. Sun Solar, handled all aspects of the project and each member of the team was excellent at what they did.

Voilà we are generating our own power. You can too.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information and to spark conversation. Her mission is to live more lightly on Earth and to persuade everyone else to do the same.

One thought on “Go Solar with Home Rooftop Photovoltaics — We Did”

  1. Hi Linda,

    So, WOW, what a great final blog. I really enjoyed reading everything you wrote and would have even if all of us from A.M. Sun Solar were not included. Thank you, very, very much for taking the time to write such informative blogs regarding solar energy. You did an amazing job of explaining the entire process and of course I really appreciate all of your kind words. So from me and the entire crew at A.M. Sun Solar, thank you! It was a pleasure working with you and Tori. Please keep us in the loop with all that you’re doing.

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