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California Solar Success Stories

San Diego Homeowner Shares Helpful Advice for Installing Your Own Solar System

Installer Name: David L.
System Owner: David L.
System Size: 3.78 kW
Project Date: May 4, 2009
City: San Diego

David's Story:

My neighbor leases his solar array. His leasing company provided him with a copy of the schematic, wind loading, component specifications, and permit requirements. When I saw this I realized it was a road map to installing my own system - with a few unforeseen glitches. When I was installing the stanchions I realized the roof work was more difficult than I had expected. The roofer I called said the composite shingles were pretty beaten up and that I should let him install a new roof and that he would find the rafters and put in the stanchions in a straight line. This unexpected cost was worth it. Now I don't have worry about taking up the array to fix a leaky roof. The paper work was hard but would be easy the second time. The City permit people made it harder than it should have been. My calculations showed I needed a 25 amp breaker in my main panel. 25 amp breakers are really scarce. I offered to be safer and use a 20 amp breaker, but the City said no. I finally found a 25 amp breaker that I will bet had been on the vendor's shelf since World War II. However the City inspector was very helpful and made some good suggestions. The SDGE inspector came and left when I was not here. I worried that the CSI inspectors were going to pull a "gotcha" on me to reduce my rebate. They came with some sophisticated measuring equipment and actually improved my rebate number a little bit. I worried about the wrong things. The hardest part was stringing the conduits. This technology is about where plumbing was 40 years ago. There are compression rings and nuts on each end and they have to be in the proper order. You struggle to get the wire through only to find you have the parts on backward. On the second try the wire is harder to push through because you bent it on the first try. The good news is that when I finally got my system passed off and turned on it worked as predicted with no problems so far.

Couple Finds Their Perfect Solar Dream Home

Mudit & Shweta S.
Community: Carsten Crossings at Whitney Ranch
Builder: Grupe Homes
City: Rocklin, CA
PV Provider: SunPower

After seeing solar panels on a friend's home in Sacramento, architect Mudit and his software developer wife, Shweta, became intrigued by both the monthly savings and the positive impact solar panels could have on the environment. When the couple decided to move from their apartment in Citrus Heights, CA and began looking for a new home in the Sacramento area, they were pleased to learn that Grupe Homes offered solar panels. "I looked initially and found only a couple of builders offering solar in locations where I was not interested," says Mudit. "So when I came across this development, it was a pleasant surprise for me."

The couple learned more about solar panels and the benefits to both their wallet and the world from a Grupe sales agent. "When I came across Grupe, I was very happy to see their efforts to make this a truly green development. It made the choice easier for me," says Mudit.

The couple chose a 2,400 square foot home in Carsten Crossings with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and solar panels as a standard feature. The couple estimates they save about $40-$60 a month on their electricity bill. Mudit is such a fan of the solar panels that if presented with a comparable home for $20,000 less and no solar panels, he would still choose the home he has. "It not only helped reduce my monthly bills, added resale value and helps the environment, but it's a cool technology to show my friends and family when they come over to visit," says Mudit.

Executive Goes Eco-Friendly with New Solar Home

Janene R.
Community: Madeira at Del Sur
Builder: Shea Homes
City: San Diego, CA
PV Provider: SunPower

Advertising executive Janene was eager to enjoy all the benefits of a newly constructed home and really concerned with finding one that was eco-friendly. "I lived near where the new Del Sur community was being built in San Diego and really enjoyed the idea of the environmental approach and attention to detail that they were providing," says Janene. "I wanted to do as much as I could for the environment while still enjoying a new home."

Packaged as an option by Shea Homes, Janene was happy to add solar panels to her house. Her only concern was that they might be an eyesore on her beautiful new home. Once she learned of the integrated panels offered by SunPower she wanted to do her part to save energy. "I'm just happy to do something that is helping to contribute to a better quality of life for everyone," says Janene.

While she hasn't done extensive cost savings analysis, Janene estimates her monthly electricity savings to be about $50 per month.

Family Uses Internet to Check Home's Solar Power Production

David N.
Community: Laureate at WestPark
Builder: Lennar
City: Roseville, CA
PV Provider: SunPower

David, a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration and his fiancé Shelly and nine-year-old son Michael moved into their solar home in April, 2007. A loyal Lennar customer, David is no stranger to home ownership. "This is my second Lennar home, the third new home and the sixth home I've owned," he explains. In addition to the community's proximity to the airport, the family was very happy to find a community that offered solar panels. "I wanted to do something good. I'm an electrical engineer and very into the solar power concept," said David.

Although they were not initially in the market for a solar home, the couple was impressed by their previous experience with Lennar and pleased to learn that solar was included in the price of the home. "The cost was the same as other builders without the panels," notes David.

The family's 2,600 square foot, single-story home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms,10-foot ceilings and is part of Lennar's SOLARplus program. SOLARplus combines energy efficient design with on-site solar electricity which generates up to 60 percent of the home's total household energy. David's first electricity bill in his new home was just $10.

"I love that the power box is connected to the Internet and I can check my home's power output from a website," says David.