Harvey P. of Yellow Springs Ohio hired SunRock Solar to install a photovoltaic array in his backyard using a seasonally adjustable pole mount system. The installation was completed on May 3, 2011, so the system has been in production for about a year. We interviewed Harvey about his panels and the pole mount system.
How big is your system?
Fifteen 230-watt modules for a system rating of 3.45 kW.
What percentage of your utility is being covered? How much have your utility bills gone down?
I am covering 100% of usage, but we were not big users. Our electric bill is now $10.00 per month, covering the first 100 kWh, which I never use.
Now that it has been running for awhile, have you figured out how long it will take to pay it off?
Very uncertain, as it depends on electricity rates, SREC values, and the value of my power uses (e.g. the use of solar to power my plug-in Prius displaces gasoline charges)
How many SRECs have you produced?
Slightly less than 4 MWh at this point.
You decided to use a pole mount system. Why didn’t you put the panels on your roof?
More shading from neighbors trees than was the case with the pole mount.
Why didn’t you use a regular ground mount system?
I wanted the option of “following” the sun during the seasons, and also the pole mount left more gardening space than a ground mount would have.
Do you think the pole mount system has helped your production?
Yes, based on a comparison with a roof-mount array located nearby. The steep winter tilt also helps prevent snow build up on the panels.
Are you satisfied with the production? Yes.
Is the tilt mechanism easy to adjust? Yes, very easy.
How often do you need to adjust it?
I usually change the setting twice a month, and sometimes more often if I am showing the installation to someone.
Have any issues or problems developed? No.
Have you had any major storms hit your area? Hail, or high winds?
There has been some small hail and fairly high winds. The hail caused no visible damage and the wind caused the array to shake a bit, but not enough to cause worry or damage.
Are you satisfied with the work that was performed? Very much.
What other things do you do at your house to reduce your energy costs?
We have new appliances, all energy star, and most of our lighting is with CFLs. We are replacing our windows to decrease air conditioning load, the only possible use that would exceed our production enough to use our “banked” production.
Are the panels producing enough energy to handle your house and charge up your electric car?
We have a plug-in Prius, and easily have the capacity to cover it. (about 4 kWh for a full charge. It is not used every day.)
Do you monitor your usage more now that you have panels installed? Has it made you more aware of what you are using?
No, I have kept a spreadsheet of usage for several years. But I do enjoy following the solar production using the online monitoring.
Are you glad that you had solar panels installed at your house?