My husband and I installed a solar photo-voltaic system in out backyard. We previously had a solar system in our previous home in the California Mojave Desert. We live now in Huntsville, Alabama. We moved here nearly 3 years ago, due to a job change. We bought a standard, 2 story traditional home at the time. We bought the house for under the market rate and have been upgrading and fixing it up.
Our home uses all electric for energy. This makes it easier to get all of our energy from solar. Our previous home in California used a mixture of gas and electric. Our previous system was a 6kW grid-tied system which provided all of our electricity needs. Our new home needs approximately 14kW to provide our needs. This is due to our higher energy needs (less efficient home and all systems are electric). Another factor increasing the amount of solar panels needed is the smaller amount of average daily sunshine hours during the year due to more clouds fewer sunny days.
To calculate our solar needs we took our electric bill and averaged out our use for the year for each month. Then converted this number to a daily use value. Then we looked up the daily sunshine hours and divided the daily use by the number of sunshine hours and added in some extra for loss due to wiring and the inverter. This gave us our needs and we did some research on the number and type of panels we needed. We contacted a contractor experienced in building solar systems for a quote and site survey.
We only had one space available in our backyard for the solar system. Unfortunately, we had to remove a beautiful oak tree which was standing in the space. Once the tree was removed, we were ready to install the system. We built the system up higher so we can use the space below as a gazebo. In the next article, I will describe the structure and what was built as well as the cost breakdowns. Following articles will deal with clearing the site, installing the system, and its operation.