Grid-Tied Photovoltaic System
Barry Schmidt, Morgan Hill, California
“I was very satisfied. The job was very professionally done and very efficiently. All my questions were answered and the results were spectacular. I’m very happy with it because I haven’t had any issues that have required any service whatsoever. It’s producing more electricity than I thought it would. It has been money well spent. Apex Solar was great to work with. I’d be happy to recommend them to anyone who wanted to call and talk to me.”
Description of Site:
The home site is situated on a number of acres and is located in a canyon on the north facing slope with pines and oak trees in the steepest areas. Not all of the property had full sun throughout the year, but the array location had good afternoon exposure.
Customizing the System:
Mr. Schmidt contacted Apex Solar primarily because of his high utility bill which was roughly $600-$700 monthly. Mr. Schmidt also had a desire to have their utility costs covered upon retirement. He was concerned that utility costs would continue to rise, eating into their retirement savings and reducing the flexibility they had hoped to have during this part of their lives. They also felt strongly that they needed be more proactive in doing their part to protect the environment. With these concerns in mind, we set out to customize a system for the Schmidt’s that would achieve all these goals.
For the power requirements needed, the home had an inadequate roof area for the proposed array. Thus, a ground mount system was chosen. Considering the aesthetics of the property, the array was placed in remote area, 300 feet from the home. By using a high voltage system (350 volts) there was no loss of power from the array to the home. The balance of the system (inverter, AC/DC disconnects) were placed near the pool pumps and is completely out of view from the front and sides of the home.
Although the array could not be oriented directly south due to the slope of the terrain and shading from some nearby trees, a southwesterly orientation was used. The utility company servicing this home has a program called “Time Of Use” (TOU) metering. Because of the way this metering works, the orientation of the array will actually yield a higher annual utility credit.
Apex Solar performed a free energy audit. First, we identified how they were using power and the equipment with the highest energy consumption. This led to the following recommendations:
1. Replace all incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. This included fixtures not normally associated with fluorescent lights such as recessed can lights, chandelier lights, and outdoor lighting. With new advances in the availability of receptacles, bulb shapes, and colors, the fluorescent bulb can match almost all current incandescent bulb styles.
2. Replace inefficient appliances with Energy Star appliances. At the Schmidt’s we recommended that the replace their all-electric clothes dryer with a high efficiency energy star gas/electric dryer.
3. Adjust pool pump for optimum efficiency. During our energy audit of the home, we discovered that the “freeze protection sensor” on the pool pump was set at too warm of a temperature and the pump was running unnecessarily during many evening hours. We also adjusted the amount of time that the pool pump was filtering to increase efficiency without decreasing the cleanliness of the pool.
Results of Installation:
Apex Solar installed this system in four days after pulling permits. More than a year after the installation, the system is working as promised with no call backs and Mr. Schmidt’s utility bills have dropped dramatically.