Interviews with Solar Homeowners

interview with Lee-Ann Pinkard 

Lee-Ann Pinkard, a resident of Bowie, Maryland, and member of the Bowie Solar Co-op, shares her experience going solar and her advice for other homeowners.

Why I went Solar

My family decided to go solar because we felt that reducing our electric bill with this natural resource was a no-brainer. We wanted the array to be large enough to cover as much of our consumption as possible. Our 12.54 kW solar system was installed at the end of May, 2015, and turned on about six weeks later.

 Photo Credit: Community Power Network

Photo Credit: Community Power Network

At first, the initial capital outlay of purchasing a system stopped us from going solar. We considered leasing, but after doing more research and receiving price quotes from a few solar companies, we realized that we would get more benefit by purchasing the system. 

  • System Size:            12.54 kW
  • Installed:                 May 2015
  • Payback Period:      <6 years
  • Main reason for                        going solar:             Financial


What to Consider 

Cost is the biggest issue most people face with the decision to go solar. We found that solar made financial sense for us because we plan to stay in our home for the foreseeable future. The system will pay for itself in a few short years, and after that we will reap long term savings.

It is also important to make sure your roof is relatively new. Paying attention to the warranties for your roof, solar installation and solar equipment will give you peace of mind later. Depending on where you live, you may also have to get involved in the interconnection process with your utility. After waiting for 30 days to be interconnected, I called our utility company and within two weeks they had connected my system.

  Photo Credit: Community Power Network

Photo Credit: Community Power Network

Benefits of Solar 

Our system is already producing savings. Previously, I had been paying on average $179 per month. I hope that after installing solar, our electricity bill will be very close to $0 for the entire year. Our bill for the first full month after installing solar was approximately $8 (for distribution charges) and we had a credit carried forward to the next month.

We are using the savings to pay off our initial capital outlay. In combination with the SRECs, federal tax credit, a $1,000 state rebate, and $5,000 county rebate, the system should be paid off within 6 years. It is very exciting to know that in so short a time I will have almost no utility bill.

interview with Arthur Tanner

Arthur Tanner, a resident of Bowie, Maryland and member of the Bowie Solar Co-op, shares a description of the installation process and advice for other homeowners.

  Photo Credit: Community Power Network

Photo Credit: Community Power Network

The Installation Process

I recently had an 8.1 kW solar system installed at my home. The installation itself took two days, after which the system was inspected by the County, and then interconnected to the grid by the utility.

The first day of installation, a four-person team showed up early in the morning, each with a particular job. One team member handled the AC electrical work on the side of the house. He installed a breaker box next to our main power panel inside, and a knife switch outside leading to the inverter. He then wired the AC lines from the inverter directly into the main power panel. 

A second team member handled wiring work on the roof, while two others laid down rails for the racking system. They bolted the racking system to the rafters, using long stainless steel bolts and heavy-duty flashing panels designed to seal out water.

The team came back the next day to finish installing the panels, which went quickly as all of the other components were in place. I had initially ordered silver panels but the black color (as seen in the photo above) matched my roof better. A few days later, the team connected a system monitor unit, which provides real-time performance data over the internet.

The County’s electrical inspector took about 20 minutes to review my system, which passed with no problems. The installation team came back the next week to put on a few some cosmetic finishing touches and provide me the paperwork for Maryland’s solar rebate.

 Photo Credit: Community Power Network

Photo Credit: Community Power Network

The final step was to get my smart meter connected to the solar unit. My utility responded the day after I contacted them, and a technician came by to connect the meter within a week. I received confirmation to turn the system on a few days later. I can now watch in real time as my system produces power and saves money on my electricity bill.

Advice for Others 

Going solar is great! My installation crew was skilled and efficient, and clearly wanted to make sure the process went smoothly for me. Do not hesitate to ask your install team questions, they are helpful and knowledgeable. I have every reason to believe that you will have a similarly good experience – good luck!

Thanks to Community Power Network for conducting this interview and for letting us use it here.