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Journey to Solar – Part Five, Installation, Inspection and Flipping the Switch

The day was finally here we had been waiting for – installation day.

Our solar panel system is fairly large (7.2kw) so installation actually took two days.

Installation was a breeze. The hardest thing was keeping my dogs from freaking out while a crew of people stomped across our roof.

Now that it’s all done, our home looks like this:

SolarCollage

If we were overly concerned about hiding our system, we could have limited it to the panels on the side of our house that are virtually undetectable. I had a hard time even photographing them – in the photo to the left above. Because of the elevation of our house, you can barely see them from the street.

Our main concern was generating as much solar power as our roof and the orientation of our house would allow, so we decided to maximize our roof space by using the area over our garage as well.

Those visible panels don’t bother me at all. Where some may see “unsightly” panels, I see beauty (not to mention big energy savings – cha ching!). It’s all in the eye of the beholder after all.

Unfortunately, once our installation was complete, we couldn’t just turn on the system and start generating our own power. There were still more steps to the process.

First, an independent inspector had to come out to the house to review our entire system and submit a report to the utility company.

Fortunately, the inspector was here within the week, our installation passed with flying colors, and he filed his report quickly with Southern California Edison (SCE).

Solar City had warned me that SCE was taking about three weeks on average to clear solar systems for operation. I was pleasantly surprised, when just about a week after inspection, we got the go ahead from SCE to turn on our system.

Now that we had the thumbs up from SCE, I called Solar City and they walked me through a couple of steps. First, I needed to turn on the switch on my inverter – which is in the garage and looks like this:

solarinverter

Next, I had to connect the monitoring device (that communicates information from the inverter to Solar City) to my wireless router. This allows me to monitor my solar generation online through Solar City’s SolarGuard program. It also allows Solar City to monitor my system to ensure it is running smoothly and operating at full capacity. If there are any issues, Solar City will alert me and fix the problem.

After a few minutes on the phone, we were in business. Solar energy started flowing into our system!

We are a few weeks in to generating our own power now. It feels so good to know we are running our home from the sun. It gives me one more reason to smile on beautiful sunny days like today.

And saying goodbye to large electric bills for the next twenty years or so is going to feel pretty good too.

We are coming to the end of this journey but there is still one more step – the results! I’ll report back in a few months and let you know how it’s going.

Thank you for following me on this journey up to this point. Hopefully I inspired a few of you to consider powering your home from the sun too. If you have any questions about the process, just leave a comment below or send me an email. I’d love to help you begin your own journey to solar…

Related Posts:

Journey to Solar – Part One, Making the Decision

Journey to Solar – Part Two, Financing

Journey to Solar – Part Three, Auditing and Evaluation

Journey to Solar – Part Four, Rebates and Approvals

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6 responses »

  1. Really enjoyed seeing how easily you got connected. are you selling any electricity to SCE?

    Reply
    • Yes, we generate excess power during the day, which we sell back to SCE. Then, we draw from the grid at night. Still seeing how it all plays out in the long-run but very excited to be generating solar power now.

      Reply
  2. I finally read through your entire solar series. Actually, my electrical bills aren’t bad, normally a little over $100 during the winter months, and a little under $100 during the summer months. Still, I’m thinking solar probably makes good sense. I think my system would be smaller than yours, I’d probably just purchase (or prepay, if that ends up better). Did I read it right that you paid $20,000 for 7.2 kW? if so, that’s a little under $3/W, which is a bargain compared to other costs I’ve seen of $5-7/W. Looking forward to another update from you in a few months!

    Reply
    • Glad you got a chance to check out the series Brian. Thank you for reading! Our final cost ended up being just over $18,000. We had a slight reduction in capacity (therefore price) after our engineering audit. Prepay was the way to go for us. 20 years worth of energy for $18,000 versus estimated $80,000 over 20 years of electricity (factoring in average bill and cost increases of utilities over the next 20 years). A huge savings for us, plus clean instead of dirty. A bargain in my book.

      Reply
  3. Reblogged this on Framework 21 and commented:
    A detailed description of the consumer journey of installing solar panels in California.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Journey to Solar – Part Six, A Month to Month Comparison | OC Green Mama

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