Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cre8-ing Electricity: Our Solar Installation

In August of 2009, after we had taken efforts to reduce our electricity consumption and done a lengthy analysis on the feasibility of acquiring a Photovoltaic Solar System, we had a 7.7 kW Solar Electric System installed on our roof by a local mid-Atlantic company called Standard Solar

We were giddy with excitement the day of the installation.  The truck pulled up, the workers unloaded all the materials and gear and they got right to work up on the roof.

Some of the Panels anxiously waiting on the deck to be installed
The Specs
Size: 7.7kW Solar Electric System
Panels: 44 Suntech 175 Watt solar modules.

Type of PV Cells: Crystalline
Monitoring: Sunny Webbox.

The Installation
Overall, the installation was completed in two days.  The process was very painless for us - not so much for the installers being up on the roof in 95 degree weather!!  But, I did my best to keep them hydrated.

The installation involved putting the mountings on the roof to securely hold the panels, installing the panels, installing the inverter, tying into our electrical system, and upgrading the meter to a digital meter which can run forwards and backwards.

Our New Meter
Wiring through Attic to Inverter

Laying the Groudwork to Secure the Panels
Installing the Last of the Panels

It was about 2 weeks between when our system installation was completed and when the electric company approved our Interconnection Application so that the system could be tied into the grid.  Rather than having a battery backup, our system is tied into the electric grid.  This means when we are producing less than we use, we pull electricity from the grid and our meter runs forward.  If we are producing more than we use, we push electricity back to the grid and our meter runs backwards.  Being tied into the grid means that when there is a power outage in our area, we still experience that power outage.  We are okay with that, because it doesn't happen too often for us.  Standard Solar has a great little video on how the Solar System works in this setup.

So far, after a year and a half, everything has been working just as expected.  We have not had any issues or problems so far.  In the next Solar Post, I'll tell you how we track the performance of the system and how it has been doing with all this extreme temperature in the Mid-Atlantic over the past two year.

How about you?  Do you have a solar system?  Are you considering alternative sources of energy?

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