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Category: Install of the Month

Install of the Month – July 2019

Install of the Month – July 2019

Every month, we highlight our favorite customer projects in our Install of the Month feature. These galleries give our visitors an idea of what to expect from the DIY solar process.

Worked with us to build a system and want to show it off? Submit your install for a chance to have your system featured on our blog! We’ll send a WSS care package your way if we feature your project.


This month’s featured project comes from Jonathan B. and family, who installed a 6.6 kW roof-mount system on their home in Missouri. Jonathan started out with a quote from a local solar installer, but soon realized he had the DIY background to do most of the work himself, which would save quite a bit of money if he was willing to put in the legwork.

Jonathan turned to online guides and YouTube videos to teach him what he needed to know about managing his own solar installation. He was meticulous about researching every aspect of his project to make sure he had all the details planned out before taking the leap with his purchase.

That planning paid off in a big way. Jonathan saved thousands on his project by doing most of the work between himself and his friends, only hiring an electrician at the end to inspect the wiring and approve the system for interconnection.

Here’s what he had to say about tackling his DIY solar installation:

What solar system type did you Install?

Grid-Tied

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

My friend and I remodeled my basement putting in an egress window and I did a lot of the electrical myself watching youtube and learning from an electrician friend of mine.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

The paperwork was most certainly the most difficult part. If I had it to do over again I would have hired a company to do that for me. I overcame it by just continuing to tackle it in small size pieces until it was done.

How many helpers did you have?

I had a friend with general construction experience that helped me throughout. Then the day we hung panels we hired two more friends from work to lift the panels. Then I also had an electrician to check everything when I was done.

Did you hire a contractor?

Just my friend with the carpentry experience and the electrician at the end

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

Yes- though mostly it was because I was just trying to get my head around the project. I ended up taking back $400+ of materials moral of the story Wil Burlin knows best and just do what he says and you’ll be fine.

How long was the full installation process?

4 days + waiting on our utility and city to inspect and turn on.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

Amazing! We are so excited. Our first bill was $8!! So exciting to be producing our own electricity!

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

We were in contract with a local installer but then I got sense knocked in to me as I considered how long it was going to take to pay off. Then we remembered Wil and Wholesale and reached out to him. We picked up where we had left off a few years ago and now here we are!

What was your total solar install costs? (Ball Park)

$12,796.45

How much did you save on your taxes?

$3,838.94. I also got a utility rebate of $3,307.50 so you could subtract that directly from the install costs.

Components in Jonathan’s system:

Jonathan's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $12,796 including installation
  • Yearly System Output: 9,623 kWh per year
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $3,838 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 10.9 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – June 2019 (Part 2)

Install of the Month – June 2019 (Part 2)

Every month, we highlight our favorite customer projects in our Install of the Month feature. These galleries give our visitors an idea of what to expect from the DIY solar process.

Worked with us to build a system and want to show it off? Submit your install for a chance to have your system featured on our blog! We’ll send a WSS care package your way if we feature your project.

We featured an Install of the Month winner earlier this June, but this system built by Jerry R. was too good to pass up. So we’re back for round two!

Jerry’s project stands out thanks to knowledge and commitment to the DIY approach. He’s done quite a bit of DIY work in the past and was eager to tackle this solar build as his next project.

Along the way, he even built a trolley to help him lift panels on to the roof—a solution he custom designed and built exclusively for this project. Alden, his design consultant, was impressed by his ingenuity and enthusiasm throughout the process. So were the inspectors, who gave Jerry high marks for his professional craftsmanship when they signed off on the build.

Jerry was eager to share his experience going solar, so we’ll let him take it from here!

What solar system type did you install?

Grid-Tied

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I have a ton of DIY experience. I have installed a 16 KW Generac Standby generator, a complete 16 zone 70 head underground sprinkler system, a complete kitchen addition from the ground (I mean foundation) up, an On-Demand Water heater, zoned HVAC control, a Smart Home system and an electric car charging station to name a few. I have completed all of these projects 99% by myself… electrical, plumbing, framing, sheetrock, you name it, I’ve done it. Even with all that, this is the first time I was up on my roof for an extended period of time… and I am not great with heights.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Getting the first rail just right. The roofer had done a really lousy job of installing the shingles so there was not a straight line to be had. This made installing the FlashFoot 2 a challenge. I devised a means of determining distance and square to overcome this. I took about 4 hours to install the first 42 foot rail and only about 1.5 hours once I got to the fourth 42 foot rail. I chose to do all of the splicing in place. You can’t carry a 42 foot rail by yourself and not break something.

The other difficult part was panel lifting and installation. For this I designed and built a trolley (see pictures). The trolley was designed to work with a standard extension ladder. I used a double pulley system and casters that would ride on the ladder sides to reduce friction. One person could easily lift a 40 lb panel to as high as the ladder will go. With this trolley and the help of two neighborhood kids we were able to install 31 panels in about 6 hours.

How many helpers did you have?

I did all of the work myself except for the actual panel installation. I had two helpers for that… one on the ground using the self designed trolley to move and lift the panels, and one on the roof with me to install the panels. That worked very well. The first one took us about 45 minutes to get the process right. The last 5 took us only 8 minutes each. I guess we learned something…

Did you hire a contractor?

No!!!

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

Safety harness, shingle lifter, trolley parts, knee pads.

How long was the full installation process?

I did everything myself so I took my time.
  • Permitting: 5 days
  • Material Receipt Panels May 2, 2019
  • Material Receipt Remainder: May 6, 2019
  • Combiner 3 and Disconnect installation: 16 hours
  • Line side taps and Transfer Switch panel work: 6 hours
  • 1″ Main Trunk (75′) and wire pull (8 #10 plus ground): 24 hours
  • Garage roof rails: 10 hours
  • Main roof rails: 21 hours
  • Four #10 branch circuits: 40 hours
  • 31 Microinverter installation: 3 hours
  • 31 Solar Panel installation: 6 hours
  • Commissioning: 3 hours (including Enphase setup)
  • Inspections: 3 hours
  • Project Complete: May 30, 2019

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

Well, I was very happy… first that it was done and second, how nice it looked. All of the inspectors commented on the quality of the workmanship. Now I am looking forward to many years of clean, reliable solar power.

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I considered a number of turn-key installers but felt I could do this myself. I found Wholesale Solar on-line. I was skeptical but Alden Silber was my rock. He was with me through the whole process and I am very grateful for his guidance and assistance.

What were your total solar install costs? (Your best ballpark estimate)

$28,952

How much did you save on your taxes?

I hope to save about $9,000 this year on my taxes.

Components in Jerry’s system:

Jerry's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $28,952 including installation
  • Yearly System Output: 13,455 kWh per year
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $8,685 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 14.9 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – June 2019

Install of the Month – June 2019

Every month, we highlight our favorite customer projects in our Install of the Month feature. These galleries give our visitors an idea of what to expect from the DIY solar process.

Worked with us to build a system and want to show it off? Submit your install for a chance to have your system featured on our blog! We’ll send a WSS care package your way if we feature your project.

This month’s winner is Michael from Davidson, NC. As a carpenter and engineer, taking on a DIY solar build was right in his wheelhouse. 

Although the heat delayed the installation somewhat, they still managed to wrap up the project in less than 10 days. When all was said and done, they built a system that will offset over $1,500 in electric bills every year.

We connected with Michael to ask some questions about how the project went. He was kind enough to pass along this time-lapse video of the entire project from start to finish, which gives a great snapshot of what to expect from the DIY solar process:

What solar system type did you install?

Grid-Tied

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I am a carpenter, engineer and seasoned DIY’er.

Before moving back to NC we renovated a 90 year old Colonial in Hartford Connecticut including all new electrics. Installing a Solar System seemed to be much more fun than replacing knob and tube!

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

The installation itself was not difficult. It helped to prepare by watching the videos and the material available from WS and SolarEdge online. The heat, however, became a difficult factor limiting the work time on the roof to the mornings. I feel we maximized our time by working inside to install the inverter, wiring the switches and panel etc., when it got too hot on the roof.

The most difficult process overall was the permitting prior to installation. There were simply no clear directions on what the process is for a homeowner functioning as the general contractor. It was a “learn as you go” experience for us and with a few more clear directions a lot of time and resources could have been saved.

How many helpers did you have?

My father, an electrical engineer, joined me from Germany and was a great helper. My wonderful wife Alison made a lot of phone calls during the permitting. Our 3 daughters provided a lot of moral support and served Gatorade during the installation.

Did you hire a contractor?

NO -the only trade we had to contract was a structural engineering analysis of our roof structure, which was required for the permit.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

We decided during the preparation to buy some 2 by 4’s and OSB boards for scaffolding to make the installation easier and safer. This is due to our 45 degree roof angle.

How long was the full installation process?

It took 7 days to install the system. It took 1.5 days to build and remove the scaffolding.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

GREAT! It really all went very smoothly and better than expected. Seeing the first production number in the APP was amazing! Obviously we check it every day since.

One goal for this project was to show our children that the sun can produce our own energy, which can greatly impact the future of our planet. The fact that our 5 year old Josie now points out potential good solar roofs as we drive through our town is simply the feeling of great accomplishment!

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

In preparation for this project we read some literature and checked out several online retailers. The fact that WS offers different pre-configured packages triggered the call to discuss our desired system in more detail.

After the first call with Wil there was no question that we wanted to work with WS. The very competitive pricing combined with the technical expertise and helpfulness was what we were looking for.

What were your total solar install costs? (Your best ballpark estimate)

$16,500

How much did you save on your taxes?

$4,950

Components in Michael’s system:

Michael's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $16,500 including installation
  • Yearly System Output: 14,722 kWh per year
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $4,950 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 10.24 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – April 2019

Install of the Month – April 2019

Our April Install of the Month winners are Troy and Suzanne H. from West Virginia. They built their system in two phases, starting in 2014 and adding on in 2017 to build an array that produces 11.1 kW of solar power in total.

The project likely isn’t finished, either. They have their eye on retrofitting the system with a battery bank and converting to an off-grid setup as batteries become more affordable in the future.

As someone who grew up repairing his own cars and appliances, Troy was well-equipped to take on this solar build as a DIY project. Aside from an assist on the electrical hookup, Troy and his wife Suzanne were able to manage the entire build themselves.

Troy got back in touch with us to reflect on the process of going solar. Here’s what he had to say about the project:

What solar system type did you Install?

Grid-Tied

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

Adding solar provided us the opportunity to not only produce our own power, reduce our carbon foot print and energy expenditures, but also to do our part to leave a better earth for our children and future generations. Eventually as battery technology becomes more affordable we would like to go off grid.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

Growing up in rural West Virginia in a less than affluent family, I learned at learned at an early age from my father, in order to survive we had to be self sufficient. We had to maintain and fix our own vehicles, repair household appliances, perform general home renovation and maintenance, along with performing numerous other diy projects. In more recent years, my father and I, along with the help of family, converted a barn into a passive solar home.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

I wouldn’t say anything in particular was all that difficult. However I got extremely lucky when my electrical inspector allowed me to use his crimpers to do an irreversible ground crimp. Prior to this, I called everywhere trying to rent or borrow one. To buy the crimpers that has the proper stamping die is very expensive. I performed the crimp while the inspector did his final inspection.

Probably my least favorite part of the install was jumping through hoops applying for permits from the power company.

How many helpers did you have?

My wife and I performed the majority of the install. We also got some help from other family members.

Did you hire a contractor?

The outstanding support from the technicians at Wholesale Solar made the entire process much easier. They made it possible to do the entire project without much outside help. Admittedly, before submitting my plans to the power company I had a Master Electrician friend review my plans and drawings.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

I can not imagine piecing out every nut and bolt, clamp or component on our pv system. Wholesale Solar did an awesome job putting the pieces together, making the install a snap.

How long was the full installation process?

We did our install in two phases. Phase one was a 6.9 kw ground array. The array sits 350′ from the house so it took a little additional work doing voltage drop calculations and running the lines. After the permitting process we rented a ten ton excavator to do the digging. We broke ground in September 2014 and that system went live in December of the same year. Phase two was a 4.2 kw roof array that included an EV charger. We started the install July 2017 and went live in September 2017.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

It was an incredible feeling of pride and accomplishment when we went online and started generating our own power. Our system not only provides 100% of our home’s energy needs (with the exception of a little wood for supplemental heating and a small amount of propane for cooking). It also provides energy for my wife’s EV to travel to and from work (home is the only place she charges), and we put excess (green) energy onto the grid that is used by our neighbors. Doing this in a coal state, where people said it couldn’t be done is beyond gratifying.

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

We very quickly decided to go with Wholesale Solar as our PV supplier. Not only were their prices competitive with all out there, their tech support was second to none. After several initial calls to their tech support, I quickly realized they were the company for us.

What was your total solar install costs? (Ball Park)

Phase one’s total investment, including renting an excavator, additional direct bury electrical wiring, the ground structure, permits and inspections, before a 30% residential energy credit, totaled $17,688. Phase two total cost was $7204 before the 30% residential energy credit.

How much did you save on your taxes?

Though our state did not provide any tax incentives or rebates, we received a federal residental energy tax credit of $5306 on phase one and $2161 on phase two.

Components in Troy and Suzanne’s system:

Troy and Suzanne's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $24,892 including installation
  • Yearly System Output: 13,539 kWh per year
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $7,467 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 10.2 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Solar in the Shadow of the Frozen Tundra [Guest Post]

Solar in the Shadow of the Frozen Tundra [Guest Post]

Editor’s note: Dave and his wife Sher worked with Wholesale Solar to build their 6 kW solar system back in 2014. Five years later, he contacted us to share his reflections on going solar in a freezing cold climate. The report below was originally produced for the Clean Water Action Council and is reprinted here with permission.

Living in a region famous for the “Frozen Tundra” of Lambeau Field, does it make sense to buy a photovoltaic solar system?  Solar PV has been in the news since the 1980s, forever promising lower cost.  We know now that they make sense in sunny California, but what about here in northeast Wisconsin?

We live south of De Pere and built a system in late 2014.  It is producing about 8,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year thus far, despite our less than ideal climate. The output varies by month, but so does our consumption.

The green bar chart below shows just how much more power is produced in summer versus winter.  It is our experience that the system produces more energy than we consume from February through June, holds its own July through October, but fails to deliver enough power during the short, cloudy days of November, December, and January.

We sized our system to provide 90% of our electrical needs.  So far it is producing over 93%.  We still heat our potable water electrically.  A natural gas water heater would mean we could make more electricity than we consume, but our old log home doesn’t lend itself to adding a chimney or side venting.

The solar system only produces its maximum instantaneous output during a week or so around the Spring Equinox.  The angle of the panels is nearly perfect then, and the air is clear.  You might expect the Fall Equinox to match the Spring, but it does not, as by Fall the air is thick with debris from the agricultural harvests, and alive with all manner of seeds, spores and insects that scatter the sunlight reducing its intensity.

So, that is the big picture.  The average US home is 2,700 sq. ft. in size and uses 867 kilowatt-hours of electricity monthly.  Your home is probably smaller and uses a bit less.  You can examine your own utility bills and find out just how much you do consume right from your monthly bills.

Our system is a grid-tied array of 20 panels operating as two strings, or circuits, of ten panels.  Each 295-watt panel has its own Optimizer/Safety Disconnect built by SolarEdge to reduce energy loss due to shadows or other issues.  The 6000-watt inverter is connected to the local utility on a net billing basis.  We live in the country and have enough land to have built our system on a ground mount.  Good thing, too, as it allows for easy maintenance.  By which I mostly mean snow removal.

Our mid-winter days only last nine hours.  The sunlight is weak as a result of the low arc the sun cuts across the sky.   Weather bureau data confirms the generally cloudy conditions.  Frequent “Alberta Clippers” dust the panels with snow.  The sun will melt the snow and ice off of the panels, but at the cost of hours, maybe many hours, of production.  That is where the maintenance part happens. 

We chose a fixed angle ground mounting for the panels because it is cheaper to build and panels have become so inexpensive.  A moveable mount that tracks the sun’s position in the sky would collect more sunlight and produce more electricity.  But such a moveable array that can take a 90 mph wind load and a 40 pound snow load is expensive to build and requires maintenance.  A simple to construct fixed angle mount easily meets code requirements.  So for overall cost, it is cheaper to add more more panels than to build a moveable, sun-tracking mount.

Now, adding even more panels would produce more electricity than we use every month, but taking financial payback into account, that would have been a poor decision.  As built, our system has a 7.5 year payback.  Much better than the stock market, as electric rates never go down.  And as the system has a twenty-five year warranty, it will last longer than I anticipate living here.  Thus it will still have value when we sell our place, and taking its residual value and sale price into account when we do sell reduces our payback time even more.

We considered a stand alone system with batteries instead of a grid-tied system but decided batteries were not ready for prime time.  That is changing.  Battery prices for homes, automotive, and utility use are dropping rapidly.  Soon enough, batteries and balance of system components will make sense.  Very soon, within three years, battery electric cars will be cheaper to buy than gasoline powered vehicles.  And the home charger that will come with such cars can utilize the car’s battery pack to provide storage for solar power and backup power to your home during a power outage.  Electric cars today have enough batteries to run a household for days at a time.

If you haven’t given solar much thought, it is time to reconsider.  They are a better investment than any annuity, and they provide you a means of personal action against the crisis of climate change.

Dave Verhagen lives with his wife Sher in De Pere, WI. He serves on the Board of the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin.

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Install of the Month – February 2019

Install of the Month – February 2019

Our February Install of the Month winner is Greg R., a gentleman from New York who was engaged in his solar project from start to finish and truly a delight to work with!

Greg started exploring the possibility of going solar to offset the astronomical cost of electricity in New York (which is a whopping 50% higher than the national average). The prospect of helping the environment by switching to clean energy was an added bonus for him.

After local solar installers quoted him prices that were far higher than he was willing to pay, Greg came to Wholesale Solar looking to source the equipment directly. As a handyman with a penchant for DIY projects, he figured he stood to save some money by building his system himself.

In the end, by completing the entire installation himself (including the electrical hookup), Greg got his system built for less than half the price he was quoted by the local installers.

Greg’s background as a seasoned DIYer really shines through in the photos he sent us. Everything about this build is crisp and clean.

The panels are expertly racked on his roof without any wasted space. He also did an amazing job installing the conduit for the wires that connect the panels to the SMA inverters, PV rapid shutdown switch, breaker box and electricity meter that ties the whole system into the grid.

Here’s our full interview with Greg about what it was like to build his own system:

What solar system type did you install?

Grid-Tied

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

I was thinking about installing this system for a long time because it saves a lot of money and it is clean energy. I think it is more convenient.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

Yes, I’ve done handyman projects and have DIY experience. For example, I built a gazebo in my backyard. I will attach pictures for you.

(Editor’s note: the gazebo is really well done, here are some pictures he was kind enough to share with us!)

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

I think running the wires from the roof down into one tube. Even though the installation was difficult, in the end I feel accomplished and happy.

How many helpers did you have?

I had my friend to help me because it is always good to have another hand around because I needed help with carrying the panels onto the roof.

Did you hire a contractor?

No I didn’t.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

I got MC4 connectors and an MC4 crimper for the hookup.

How long was the full installation process?

This took 6 working days. I spent two weeks (on the project) from delivery to turning the system on.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

I am happy that I did the job myself and I am saving money and energy. I am also happy because this is one of the hardest projects I have accomplished.

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I spoke with a few local companies. I chose Wholesale Solar because I saved more than half on the project. If I would’ve chose the other local company it would’ve been too much money.

What was your total solar install costs? (Ball Park)

$26,500

How much did you save on your taxes?

30% on federal. I don’t know about state this needs to be checked with my accountant.

Components in Greg’s system:

Greg's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $26,500
  • Yearly System Output: 20,624 kWh per year
  • Total time to install: 6 working days
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $7,950 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 18 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – January 2019

Install of the Month – January 2019

Our latest Install of the Month comes from Darryl P. in Boerne, TX. Darryl came into this build with plenty of DIY experience, having flipped a few houses prior to this project, though this was his first time working with solar.

His aptitude for these kinds of projects was evident from the start, as he had clearly put plenty of research into his system design before connecting with Wholesale Solar to work out the kinks and put the finishing touches on his plans. That made life easy for Wil, his design tech:

“Darryl was a really nice client to work with. He basically came to me already knowing what he wanted to purchase and install. After some back and forth technical emails, Darryl was ready to hit the ground running. I appreciate the opportunity to work with DIY customers like Darryl, and help them navigate the technical aspects of system design and installation.”

Darryl spent over a year researching and building the system, balancing his first solar installation with other work that needed to be done on his properties. The project was not without its challenges and delays. He had to design a hybrid roof/ground mount to accommodate a large 34-panel system, and to anchor the posts in the ground, he needed a jackhammer to drill holes in the solid rock on his property. All in all, he estimates it took 140 hours to complete the highly-customized build.

One thing we love about this project is the clean wiring into the Enphase combiner with IQ envoy, which protects the system from the elements and simplifies the interconnection process. Here’s what Darryl had to say about the decision to go with the pre-wired envoy:

“Purchasing the combiner box with the envoy pre-assembled made bringing all the components together in a very professional & easy to use package. Even the utility coop inspector was impressed with the look of the combiner box & it’s plexiglass cover so he could review wiring without having to remove a cover exposing potential live wiring. Without this I probably would have ended up having to purchase a few junction boxes from a local home improvement store and it would have made for more work. Very pleased with the ease of access, quality construction & weatherproofing.”

Here’s the full interview with Darryl about the build process.

What type of solar system did you install?

Grid-tied

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

Staging a design to eventually be net zero and possibly off-grid.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I have flipped 2 houses prior to this project. A little experience in electrical, but no solar experience at all before this.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Digging post holes for ground mount racks, some places were solid rock and required use of an electric jack-hammer.

How many helpers did you have?

None, I installed the entire project solo, but after several months of research, planning and lots of questions to staff at Wholesale Solar, which was very helpful.

Did you hire a contractor?

No

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

None

How long was the full installation process?

This took over a year, but was not able to work solely on this project. I was working on other projects on a property we purchased. All said and done it probably took me 140 hours to do roof rack, ground rack, trench wiring back to service panel, wire everything per local coop requirements, mount inverters & panels.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

Great, especially on the 1st day it hit 55KWH and I only used 36, (with using heater too). Looking forward to the long days of summer to build up a credit for use next winter with my coop.

Why did you choose to work with Wholesale Solar?

Customer service, online reviews, staff knowledge and willingness to answer questions. If they didn’t know the answer, they were really good about stating that and getting back when they did get an answer.

Darryl's production in the first month of owning his system.
A snapshot of the production from Darryl's array in the first 27 days after he turned the system on.

What was your total cost to install solar?

16k before tax credit

How much did you save on your taxes?

$4,700

Components in Darryl’s custom system:

Darryl's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $13,660
  • Yearly System Output: 13,922 kWh per year
  • Total time to install: 140 hours
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $4,700 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 9.87 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – October 2018

Install of the Month – October 2018

October’s Install of the Month feature comes with a little bonus: video! This month’s winner Ryder M was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the 4.2 kW grid-tied system he built out in Petaluma, CA. Take a look:

Ryder started to consider solar because it “felt like the right thing to do,” and the financial incentives were enough to get him to take the leap. With local electricity rates a good 30% above the national average, Ryder’s system is sized to knock $988 off his electric bill on a yearly basis.

After taking the value of the federal tax credit into account, he’s looking at a 7-8 year payback period to recoup the up-front cost of his system. Since his panels are warrantied for 25 years, he’s got plenty of time to profit from his investment into solar.

Ryder had some past DIY experience remodeling his home, so he was more than comfortable hooking up his system himself. In spite of some complications during the inspection, he completed the build in one day and said it was one of the easiest (and most rewarding) DIY projects he has worked on to date.

With local electricity rates a good 30% above the national average, Ryder’s system is sized to knock $988 off his electric bill on a yearly basis.

Here’s what Ryder had to say about his project:

What type of solar system did you install?

Grid-tied

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

It felt like the right thing to do to as well as financially beneficial.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I’ve done a few DIY projects with varying degrees of success, kitchen and bathroom remodel as well as an addition that was a bit more involved. Installing this solar system was one of the easiest (& most rewarding) projects.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

When installing the roof racks, I used a high powered stud finder to locate the roof joists, however, the accuracy through the composite shingles was not as accurate as I’d hoped. I had much better results using the bottom of my fist to tap and listen/feel for the joist.

Not sure if this should be shared…I did have some difficulty with the SMA rapid shutdown device, and although I’m certain it was wired correctly, it did not start working properly until it had gone through a hard reset (removed power completely and then brought power to it). The main challenge was my inspector, who was certain that the SMA Sunny Boy 5.0 was made of plastic and therefore my metal conduit was not properly grounded. I lobbied and lost so I had to put ring grounding nuts on the conduit penetrations.

How many helpers did you have?

I had one helper which was more than enough.

Did you hire a contractor?

No, I did not hire a contractor.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

A chalk line was helpful in installing the IronRidge mounting system.

How long was the full installation process?

One day and the system was up and running offsetting 100% of my power usage.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

I was extremely happy with the installation process. Wholesale Solar made the permitting and installation process easy by being there to answer any questions I had.

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I considered using Tesla, however, I really liked the package designs from Wholesale Solar and feeling like I was part of the process.

What was your total cost to install solar?

I installed a 4.2KW system for less than $12,000.

How much did you save on your taxes?

$4,000.

Components in Ryder’s custom system:

Ryder's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $12,000
  • Yearly System Output: 6,338 kWh per year
  • Total time to install: 1 day
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $4,000 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 15.59 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide for a crash course on how to buy a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – September 2018

Install of the Month – September 2018

Congratulations to our September Install of the Month winner Luis M! Luis first got in touch with us back in the middle of 2017 to build a grid-tied system on his Spanish tile roof.

Luis lives in Covina, CA (near Los Angeles) where the cost of electricity is nearly 35% higher than the national average. Facing electric bills well over $250 during the sweltering summer months in Southern California, he was eager to run the math on solar energy to find out whether it was worth the investment in the long run.

When he did the math, he found that he would save $3,000 a year in electricity costs alone. After claiming the 30% Federal Tax Credit for investing in renewable energy, he knew it would cost around $12,000 to get a system built and installed.

That meant his investment would pay for itself in less than 4 years—pretty appealing, given the 25-year wararnty on the solar panels.

“At a 7% return, he figured that money was worth about $1,050 per year on the stock market. But it would return over $3,000 a year in energy savings. Even with the penalty for cashing out from the retirement fund early, it was worth it.”

Luis didn’t have the budget to buy the system outright, and he didn’t want to be on the hook for loan payments. So he did something a bit unusual: he pulled $15,000 from his retirement fund.

At a 7% return, he figured that money was worth about $1,050 per year on the stock market. But it would return over $3,000 a year in energy savings. Even with the penalty for cashing out from the retirement fund early, it was worth it.

Once he decided to pull the trigger, he had to figure out how to mount the system on his beautiful Spanish tile roof. For that, we set him up with the Quick Mount flashing system. Rather than cutting tiles to fit them for hooks, the entire tile is replaced with the fitted Quick Mount base.

Luis took a slow and steady approach to installation, working around the unbearable summer heat (made worse by his tile roof retaining heat). He was determined to complete the installation with his family members, which saved him about $4,000 in labor on the project. 

Once it was completed, the payoff was immediate: his first electric bill came out to negative $4.40, with the utility company owing him a credit for the surplus electricity he produced.

“[Finishing the project] felt good, but not as good until you get the first electrical bill: -$4.40. That was back in February. By the time it gets full sunlight hours, it should produce an extra 10% of electricity close to 950Kw this month.”

-Luis M.

Here’s what Luis had to say about his project:

What type of solar system did you install?

Grid-tied

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

It made a lot of sense to install a solar system by my self, not only for the savings in the electricity bill but it’s also great for the environment.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

Yes, but not in solar installations. I learned everything from the how-to videos on the wholesalesolar.com website.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

The summer heat, it was very hot on my tile roof.

I was also a little worried for the Santa Ana winds. I solved that worry by keeping the post separation to no more than three feet. Not that it was required, but just for peace of mind.

How many helpers did you have?

I only needed two people (family) on the actual panel installation. I didn’t want to drop one.

Did you hire a contractor?

Only for the actual final electrical connection from the inverter to the main panel. I did run all the conduit.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

At the end, I wanted to make sure I could monitor the whole system on the web, and I added a wireless link myself. Now I can check and monitor the solar system on my iPad.

How long was the full installation process?

Well, I added extra posts, I was in no rush. It took me six months for a 22-panel system. Let’s break it down: it took an average of 1 hour to install a post, times 48 post. Rails took about a couple of days, and panels two days this time with two people helping. Conduit and wires took a couple of days by my self. Then the final electrical was the electrician and their assistant.

The reason it took so long it was because of the summer temperatures and the tile roof. I had to replace the tiles I broke on the process. No big deal.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

It felt good, but not as good until you get the first electrical bill: -$4.40. That was back in February. By the time it gets full sunlight hours, it should produce an extra 10% of electricity close to 950Kw this month.

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I couldn’t afford to have my panels installed by a solar panel company. ( I had three estimates done). I also did not have any cash available.

What I did was, I took $15,000 from my Roth IRA. Let me break it down for you: that money makes an average of 7% a year on the stock market = $1,050. With my $15,000 solar system, it is going to create at least $250 a month, that’s $3,000.00 per year cash savings. I get $5,000 back from the government, that put the system at a cost of $10,000. Plus let’s add the penalty for cashing money out of your retirement, $1,500.00 in this case. Now the cost is $11,500, divided by $3000 a year of electricity savings. In 3 years 9 months, the system will pay for itself. In other words my investment of $15,000 is producing a 20% return on my money as I write this. By the way, after 3 years 9 months my system is going to give me net $3000 a year to put back in my IRA.

What was your total cost to install solar?

The solar system cost me around $13,000 at Wholesale Solar and around $2,000 for the extra help. That is $15,000. I calculated I did save about $4,000 worth of work myself.

How much did you save on your taxes?

A third, about $5,000.

Components in Luis’s custom system:

Luis's Solar Breakdown:

  • System Cost: $13,000
  • Cost of Labor: $2,000
  • Yearly System Output: 9,807 kWh per year
  • Total time to install: Estimated 80-100 hours over a 6-month timeframe
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $5,000 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility Rates: 16 cents/kWh

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide for a crash course on how to buy a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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Install of the Month – July 2018

Install of the Month – July 2018

Albert “Stoney” Douglas first got in touch with us back in March to plan out a grid-tied system in Boulder City, Nevada.

Stoney is a seasoned DIY vet. Thanks to his experience with auto repair and home improvement projects, he felt confident he could take on a solar system installation as his next DIY project.

With the help of his wife Diana – and a creative pulley rig – they hoisted the panels onto their roof and put together the array themselves. The only outside help they needed for their solar project was an electrician to swap out the main electrical panel, which was built in 1975 and wasn’t fitted with a PV hookup.

Once the materials arrived, it took just 5 days of work (with breaks to avoid the sweltering midday heat) to install the system.

From the start, we got the feeling that Stoney was the type of guy who likes to do his research and come prepared. DIYers have an innate desire to understand their whole project inside and out, and Stoney is a perfect example of that. He clearly had a desire to learn the ropes of the solar industry, and had a great idea of how the project would shape up from the start.

So it’s no surprise that Mike, his system designer at Wholesale Solar, said he was super sharp and easy to work with:

“Stoney was a great customer from the start. He had a lot of great questions which I was happy to answer. Stoney was able to tell me how the panels needed to be placed on the roof to accommodate his A/C and roof vents. This was very helpful in designing the right system for them. He and his wife did a great job installing the system in only a few days. I am very proud to have been part of their project.”

They finally decided to take the leap when we ran our 15% off sale in April. Paired with the 30% federal tax credit, the system cost was feasible with their budget.

In total, they spent just over $20,000 on equipment and installation expenses, and received a credit of more than $7,000 to apply to their taxes this year.

Here’s some more info about the system, in Stoney’s own words:

What solar system type did you install?

Grid-Tied

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

Reduce electric bill and environmental impact.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

Home improvement, auto repair, will try almost any project.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Permitting and inspection.

How many helpers did you have?

My wife helped hoist and install the panels.

Did you hire a contractor?

Contractors were hired to replace the 1975 vintage main service panel which did not have breaker locations for the solar breaker. The roof was replaced before the solar installation as well.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

Conduit, junction box and home run wiring from the roof to the inverter were not anticipated, my lack of understanding.

How long was the full installation process?

1 day running home run conduit and wiring, 1 day installing Flashfoot system and racking, 3 days optimizer and panel installation.

Days were largely early mornings and late afternoons as the temps in southern Nevada in June are over 100 degrees.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

Pretty neat to see the system producing energy.

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

Checked several commercial installers and other online vendors. The April 2018 15% off sale and the Federal 30% total installation tax credit made the system feasible.

What was your total solar install costs? (Ball Park)

$20,123

How much did you save on your taxes?

estimated at $7387

Components in Albert and Diana’s custom system:

Albert's Solar Breakdown:

  • Time to install: 5 days, mostly mornings and evenings
  • Daily kWh output: 16-32 kWh per day, depending on season
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $7,000+ U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility rates per kWh: Varies: different rate plan options and TOU rates in place
  • Average Monthly Utility cost: Varies: different rate plan options and TOU rates in place

It’s Your Turn

Thinking about making the switch to solar? Download our Getting Started Guide for a crash course on how to buy a solar energy system that covers your needs.

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