We installed solar panels this fall. We decided to go with Sungevity. They are based out of Oakland but are installing panels all across the country in partnership with Lowes. Sungevity uses local contractors to do the actual installation based on the designs of the Sungevity engineers. In Bakersfield they are using Divine Power as the local contractor. Sungevity took care of all of the paperwork. Any documents we had to sign were done electronically. We decided to go for the pre-pay 20-year lease arrangement because that would mean less out of pocket for us over the long haul, though it is a sizable up front cost.
Here is a photo album of the installation over two days. Our system has 15 panels that will generate up to 3.675 kW DC/3.164 kW AC equivalent. Based on our annual usage, that will take care of 82% of our annual electrical needs and it will keep us in the lowest tier of the electrical power pricing even during the summer when our electricity usage spikes because of the air conditioning. If you want a quote for a system of your own, go to the Sungevity site and please use our referral code 530353 in the quote request. From quote to installation was 3.5 months. That includes all the design phase, site visit, permits, and actual installation work. It would have been 3 months if our work schedules had allowed. Permission to interconnect our system to the PG&E grid, i.e., become fully operational, was received on December 26th which is about a week after installation was completed.
Roof before the installation.
First step: remove concrete tiles, drill into the roof and put in the roof mountings.
Second step: cut the tiles to fit around the roof mounts
Third step: install the conduits that will bridge the two sets of panels. We decided to keep the conduits outside on top of the roof instead of going through the attic. The street is on the north side of the house, so the conduits and panels are not visible from the street.
Fourth step: cross braces for the panels
Fifth step: lay out all of the cords and plugs before putting on the panels
View of the western side of the roof
Front side of the panels (left) and back side of the panels (right). Each panel is 39.1 in wide by 64.6 in high and is light enough for one person to lift it up high.
The Aurora inverter converts the DC (direct current) output from the solar panels into AC (alternating current) that can be fed into the electrical grid. The small gray box just to the left of the inverter holds the communication equipment that talks to Sungevity over the internet. The box at the far left is a manual switch between the home system and the electrical grid. These boxes are mounted on the west side of our house inside the gate, so they're not visible from the street.
The picture at left shows the conduit about one-inch diameter that goes from the panels to the inverter. We decided to keep the conduits on the outside rather than have crews tramping through the attic crawlway space. You can always keep everything internal if you want.
Sixth step: mount the panels!
This shows the one panel on the second row of the east end of the roof. Our arrangement is one block on the west end with two rows: four panels on top and three panels on bottom; and one block on the east end with two rows: seven panels on top and one panel on bottom. Although we do have that mulberry tree, during the summer the Sun will be high enough so the tree won't shade the panels. During the late fall and winter, the Sun will be lower but the leaves will be off the tree, so the panels should still get some Sun. Our largest electrical usage is during the summer with the AC.
This shows the west end panels
Here again are the stats for our system. Our system has 15 panels that will generate up to 3.675 kW DC/3.164 kW AC equivalent. Based on our year-found usage, that will take care of 82% of our electrical needs which will keep us in the lowest tier of the electrical power pricing. If you want a quote for a system of your own, go to the Sungevity site and please use our referral code 530353 in the quote request.
Sungevity has a nice web-based feature of monitoring your solar power generation. Below are images of the graphical display from a winter period and a summer period.
First full day of output after returning from Christmas break.
Day 11 of generation. Typical winter day in Bakersfield.
Typical summer day in Bakersfield.
Power generation on an overcast day with occasional showers.
Last update: August 11, 2014
Contact: Nick Strobel