Solar Should Be Simple – Contractor #3

Guest post by Ian Clarke about their journey to solar in New Jersey, part of the Solar Should be Simple series written for Green Lifestyle Changes.

Previous chapter: Contractor #2

Contractor #3

contractor drilling post holes for ground mounted solar array
Contractor drilling post holes for ground mounted solar

We were able to push our annual consumption from 8,800 kWh to 12,500 kWh in the space of three months. It’s amazing how you can squander energy when you put your mind to it!

While this was going on, we again looked at the companies from whom we’d received plausible quotes, but weren’t convinced. I happened to spot one of those corrugated plastic advertisements you see stuck into the ground on traffic islands.

Armed with an electric bill that justified the larger system we wanted, we called the number. Long story short, they were credible, provided good references, and we visited a nearby installation that was virtually identical to what ours would be. It was rock solid and looked good. Their price was lower than anything we’d seen before, no doubt because the cost of solar panels has been coming down steadily for quite a while.

It was a matter of weeks before the permits came back and the equipment started to arrive. Construction, from start to finish, was probably about three weeks. While this was going on, our meter was swapped out for a two-way digital unit to measure imports and exports of electricity.

The end result was solid, a highly professional job. One minor issue was the cutting of our drywell outlet pipe when they dug the trench for the cable. I had delineated it to avoid such an eventuality, but that’s just it, they happen eventually.

We went live the afternoon of June 23, 2011, generating the princely total of 4 kWh.

Marking out the location of the solar array
Marking out the location of the solar array
Digging holes for the concrete footers to support the array
Digging holes for the concrete footers to support the array
Footers poured
Footers poured
Panels, racking and inverters arrive
Panels, racking and inverters arrive
Preparing to install the ground mounted rack system
Preparing to install the ground mounted rack system
Installing the posts and racking system
Installing the posts and racking system
Making progress on installing the racking system
Making progress on installing the racking system
Installing solar panels on rack which is amazingly fast work.
Installing solar panels on rack which is amazingly fast work.
The finished ground-mounted solar array - now to hook it up.
The finished ground-mounted solar array – now to hook it up.
Backside of the solar panels showing junction boxes and connectors
Backside of the solar panels showing junction boxes and connectors
Side view of the solar array showing inverters
Side view of the solar array showing inverters
Another side view of the solar array
Another side view of the solar array
46 - 230W PV solar panels in 10.58 kW ground-mounted solar PV array
46 – 230W PV solar panels in 10.58 kW ground-mounted solar PV array
Pair of inverters to change the DC power produced by the solar panels into AC power for the grid
Pair of inverters to change the DC power produced by the solar panels into AC power for the grid
Junction box combining the AC power from the 2 inverters
Junction box combining the AC power from the 2 inverters
Solar production electricity meter
Solar production electricity meter

 Stay tuned for more about SRECs, statistics, electric vehicles and the “final conversions.”

Continue to next chapter, Back to SRECs

 

Ground mounted solar array
Solar Should Be Simple Series

 

This chapter is a part of the Solar Should Be Simple Series written by Ian Clarke about his family’s journey to install a residential solar array at their home in New Jersey.  You can read more about their journey to solar or check out our own journey to solar in Massachusetts in our Going for Solar Series

Happy Greening!

 

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