Recently we moved from an 80-unit, urban condo, into a single-family home in the suburbs. Our condo had shared common spaces (including the roof) and to implement solar panels for our entire building would require pursuing agreement from our governing board, along with the majority of the other 79 owners. This task, along with the likelihood of success, was more than I wanted to tackle. Now, in our new home, we have the option to install solar panels. We have decided to pursue this because it is one of the best things we can do to personally address global warming.
You may recall an earlier post, What Matters Most, I discussed a book entitled Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming. It was published in 2017 and describes the analysis and conclusions of over 200 scientists investigating ways to reduce, i.e., drawdown, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. In that analysis, rooftop solar installations ranked as the 10th most effective, out of the 100 ways examined, to reduce atmospheric CO2. Clearly a big deal!
While there are many solar companies available to homeowners, we selected Freedom Solar Power to design, install, and maintain our solar system. We selected Freedom Solar Power because we were familiar with an installation they recently did for a family member (they are very satisfied). Additionally, Freedom Solar exclusively uses equipment designed, manufactured and warranted by SunPower Corporation, an industry leader with some of the best products on the market today, including their solar panels. According to EnergySage, (an online comparison-shopping resource for solar, backed by the U.S. Department of Energy), SunPower solar panels are the most efficient panels currently available on the market in the United States. We also liked the idea that all aspects of the system would be installed and maintained by Freedom Solar employees (not subcontracted) and the warranty of all the equipment was with SunPower. Our consultant explained, if anything goes wrong, there is “one throat to choke”.
To determine how many, and what power capacity of solar panels are needed for our home, we relied on the past years’ monthly power consumption. Since we just moved into this house, and we didn’t have those power records, our energy consultant was able to obtain the usage of our home for the past year by downloading the data from the energy provider and our “smart meter”. Also, he was able to retrieve satellite data of our home’s configuration, including potential obstructions such as trees. When he visited our home a few days later, he was able to present the best options regarding the locations of the panels on our roof, the electrical capacity we might want, and the type of panels which would work best for us. The information was clear, and informative and we were impressed with the modeling and graphics used in the presentation. In addition to providing and installing the equipment, Freedom Solar will handle all permits, including our Homeowners Association, as well as interconnection to the municipal power grid.
The system size we selected utilizes 14 – 327-watt solar panels – a total of 4.578 kW, which will produce 5,879 kWh per year. We expect this system will generate more solar energy than we will use for the months October through May (during which we will sell power back to the grid). During the other months, when the air conditioner is used more, we will use more energy than our panels produce and we will buy the difference from the grid. Based on our usage estimates and the system design, our net electric bill for the year should be near zero.
While the installation of the solar panels will likely be completed in a day, we expect the entire process to be completed in 6-8 weeks, depending on the scheduling of installation, securing permits, certification, and interconnection to the grid. Once installed and operational, the annual environmental impact our system will be:
- CO2 Emissions Avoided (lbs): 9,164
- Offset Miles Driven: 10,314
- Trees Planted: 104
- Coal Not Burned (lbs): 4,580
- Gallons of Water Saved: 1,764
Needless to say, we’re anxious to begin powering our home with solar energy and continuing to do what we can to address global warming and climate change. Recalling the ABCs to Save Our Planet, let’s not forget the letter “I” and Install Solar Panels.