By Manfred Wissemann
Jim Henshaw and I set out to investigate a very large residential solar system installation near our Victoria airport.
Bert Neijmeijer, a VEVC member, gave us a warm welcome and proceeded in covering every detail of his solar system. Below is his report and it was just wonderful to experience his enthusiasm for sustainable energy. His knowledge and detail may serve us in our aspiration to go green. Bert did the entire solar installation by himself with the help of a few friends. This was Bert’s first time install and to do it himself by following a manual. Grid-tie-in was done by a licensed electrician.
In the past I was always looking for ways to reduce our carbon foot print. First thing I did was have fuel efficient vehicles to reduce our carbon foot print. Now with the availability of electric cars it is so easy to take that down to zero every time you drive, plus no more gas pumps to drain my wallet! Everytime I drive by a gas station and glance over all I see is long faces staring at the pump, I used to be one of those people. Driving an electric car in my opinion and other electric car owners I meet is far more enjoyable than a gas car in so many ways so no sacrifice here either.
Today some people are building net zero homes but you can also make an older home net zero just by installing solar panels. That is what I achieved here and the best part is, it is more comfortable because we keep it as warm in the winter as we like and as cool on the hot summer days as we like. In the past we would turn down the temperature a couple of degrees to save money. So again no sacrifice here either.
For us the return on investment should be about twelve years, but with the way hydro rates are increasing, this estimate will most likely be reduced. If I factor in gasoline savings the payback is much sooner as we would otherwise be spending over $ 3,800 per year on gasoline (based on todays price). Vehicle maintenance of our electric cars is also a fraction of what it cost us in the past even with newer cars. I really feel fortunate that this technology is available today and makes total sense as an investment in the future.
Our solar system consists of 3 flat roofs on three separate buildings. The first roof is made up of 25- 250 watt panels, the second roof has 24- 265 watt panels, and the third roof has 20- 245 watt panels, totalling 69 panels with a system size of 17,510 kW. All three systems use Enphase micro inverters which are basically plug and play. For a small cost, I had an electrician pull the permit and do the electrical work to code requirements. The electrician’s labour amounted to just under 3 hrs per roof. Total cost including taxes and permit etc works out to $ 3.08 per Watt. The aluminum beams and hardware to install everything was close to the same cost of the panels alone.
The reason I chose these 3 flat roofs is because of the ease of installation. The panels get better cooling which increases production on hot days, and any maintenance will be easy to perform – although maintenance should be minimal. If I had chosen the south facing slope on our home, it would have reduced the cost to just over $ 2.15 per watt. Next year at this time I will know what the total amount these three systems produce annually, and I expect it will make enough for all of our electrical requirements for our home which includes heat and hot water and cooking, plus the energy to run my shop and the charging of 2 electric cars that are driven over 32,000 km per year.
The installation was very simple and basically consisted of bolting everything together as shown in the instructions from the manufacture that had pre-cut and engineered the aluminum framework for the array. Fred, Rolf and Kim helped with the install of the first roof and in 12 hrs everything was ready for the electrical work by the electrician.
I would encourage anyone who has a suitable location on their roof or backyard to consider installing solar panels as the economics make sense from a return on investment especially if you are willing to put the hardware in yourself.
Thanks for your interest and support.
Do-it Yourself Testimonial:
Hi Fred, it is indeed correct that recently you supplied hardware and if I was putting everything together today I would have had you supply everything.
I wish you were set up back when I purchased everything but now going forward I will be assisting some friends in the near future and I will order everything that can be supplied from Do-It Yourself Solar.