Monday, April 10, 2017

Going Solar

South side array
Summer 2016 we began researching going solar. Several solar companies had come through the area. Some had rent your roof options, leasing panels in a solor farm, or buying the system outright. Renting/leasing was the least expensive option, but buying the system offered tax advantages as well as savings on electricity. We decided to buy the sytem.

We signed a contract in September. We were assured that all construction would be completed before the end of the year as certain benefits would not be available in 2017.  And then we waited. What usually happens when a company comes into an area to offer something new, everyone wants on board. The salesmen happily sign up customers. The reality is these companies rarely have the amount of technicians able to do the installations. And that's what happened with us. We waited and waited and waited. September rolled into December. (We should have anticipated this as it happened when fiber optics for Internet, phone, and cable came to town, too. That install took nearly 9 hours over a course of 3 days.)

The worse part was trying to chase the company down for answers. When will this happen? Will we lose some of the incentives. And then in January, a call on Monday saying installation would happen on Wednesday. As if the homeowner could turn his schedule on a dime,  had nothing better to do, didn't have to take time off from work..

The installation did go very smoothly. The guys were in and out within a few hours, and we were the proud owners of a solar array. And then more waiting. Inspections had to happen. The town building inspector needed to add his thumbprint to paperwork as well as the electrical inspector. And then the electric company would have to come out and put a new meter on the house. And the snow flew and and flew and more waiting and chasing the company contact down.

By now it was late February, and we had a beautiful boondoggle on the roof not producing electricity. My thought was to call and tell the company to come and get the damn thing off the roof and put the roof back the way it was. Himself sent a letter to the company to that effect.

Another project manager contacted Himself and, we got to have a face to face meeting where we expressed our frustration and anger. Turned out the company had closed the office with the project manager we were dealing with. We were assured the company wasn't going under. And I told the new project manager their communications sucked.

We passed the building inspection, but failed the electrical inspection twice. Part of the problem was the electrical box is right near the rollers for the garage door. So as the garage door goes up and down, some of the protective wrappings on the main electrical to the house was being worn away by friction. The electrical inspector also didn't like the quick and dirty fix the company used. The company wanted us to cough up the money to have the electricians fix things. Our counter was the company should have noticed this was going to be a potential problem when they bid on the job. Not to mention the loss of time as in 6 months, and we had a system that was as useful as a teat on a bull. Yes, I said that to the project manager. 

West side array
In the end, the company stood by their product. They absorbed the cost of having the work at the electrical box fixed the way the electrical inspector wanted. They also refunded some money. The electrical inspector signed off on the project. The electric company showed up a few days later to change the meter on the house. Himself flipped the switch, and the system went live on 28. March 2017.

As our luck held, there was the April Fool's blizzard and then days of clouds and heavy rains. I always thought luck of the Irish meant good luck. The weather cleared. Today, the sky was an impossible blue with nary a cloud in the sky, and the solar array was busy producing electricity. Waiting in anticipation for the first electric bill to see how much we will save. I don't mind waiting for this. 

12 comments:

  1. Wow- what an ordeal. Hope these nice days get your system making lots of energy and then you power bill goes down. I've thought about solar, but not so sure if it really pays off enough. Let us know, because I am curious, and if it works, I think it would be fantastic to have. Hugs-Erika

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    1. Yeah, it was a long, frustrating haul to get things up and running. Hopefully, it will be worth the aggravation and the savings will end up paying for the system in a short amount of time.

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  2. I have issues with solar panels. The way they do them down here compromises the roof. Everyone I know who has them has roof problems. I wish you better luck! And I hope the electric company ends up owing YOU money!! LOL

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    1. That's why the town building inspector had to sign off on the project, too.

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  3. Using solar panels is a great way to save on energy costs and reduce our bills.

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  4. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Especially when it comes to bureaucracy. Glad you got it sorted, and may you have many, many sweltering days this summer. :)

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    1. I suppose if it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luch at all :-D And yes, lots of sunshiny days. The sweltering would be an added bonus for me.

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  5. OMG, CJ:) What a nightmare. I'm glad it's finally up and running and the company made good, though I'm sorry they put you through the ringer. Now that the sun is shining brightly will it store the energy for the days its not? Let us know how the electric bill comes out.

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    1. The waiting and chasing was a pain in the ( ! ), but finally over with. The solar panels are not solar batteries. They do not store the electricity. They make electricity. The electric company buys the electricity from us. Hopefully, we make more electricity than we use. The savings should be 50% as you never really get completely off the grid.

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  6. I am so happy that everything turned around and everything got done right! This is really exciting!

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    1. Yes, we are too. Hopefully, the savings in the long run will be worth all the aggravation

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