Below is an interactive demonstration with content from a home project. Explore the scene, look through the design details, and get in touch with how we can help bring in-depth interactivity to your project!
Replacing 5 MWh
Every month solar gets less expensive and more accessible. However our roof, the common install location, isn’t a possibility. With a little creativity, a large pergola was designed to support a small, yard installed, solar array. Our home uses 3 MWh a year, the array is estimated to generate 5 MWh a year.
A south facing, unshaded, roof is often the ideal location for solar installs. The minimum for an install would be: racks to hold the panels, cabling to an inverter (that transforms DC solar to AC home power,) and finally a connection from the inverter to the main service panel. Detailed, but not overly difficult.
Alternative Solar Locations
Roofs are often ideal because they are existing permitted structures. However, size, shade, and condition can remove the roof as an option. Ground installs make space otherwise unusable. This is where secondary structures, pergolas, car parks, sheds are all great alternatives.
Getting a professional install, especially with high-voltage electricity involved, is preferred for many but there is a large community supporting Do It Yourself installs. Most of all a DIY install often takes much more time but can be less expensive and more flexible.
Do It Yourself solar takes time to fully understand all the elements from panel types, to wire gauges, to permits, to ensure a properly built system. The time can be a great investment though, as solar systems are getting smaller, simpler, and long lasting.
1200 Tons of CO2 saved
9 Year Payback
(15% YoY Return)
Shaded, Multipurpose, Outdoor Space
5 week build
25+ Year Lifespan
Ideas Made Immersive
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FAQs (for the curious)
Solar has quietly become the go-to alternative energy for it’s simplicity and safety. Panels attached to an existing structure gather hundreds of watts or even thousands of megawatts without the complications of other options; solar’s main limitation is just space.
Why small? Why not advocate for larger projects?
Both project scales are important. Small installs provide a surprising amount of power. 1 home install has the potential to provide several adjacent homes with power. As we electrify everything from cars to HVAC, this will change and large renewable energy will be increasingly important to replace all oil and gas. Advocating for large scale renewable, wind, solar, and other projects are still important.
Why Self Install?
It’s fun! No really, there are many ways to reduce the difficulty, without sacrificing the power of, an install. While there will always be some tedious elements, the overall build is no more difficult than any other home improvement project, with quite a bit of payback hopefully.
How dangerous is the install?
Very. But no-more than any other home improvement project. Basic safety steps, treating electricity with the caution it deserves, and properly setting up the project mitigates most potential for danger. Most importantly, have friends and family help out and reduce the burden.
Where do these numbers come from?
Here’s where the nitty gritty comes in. First, you size the inverter. This system employs 14 Microinverters for each panel that will hopefully generate around 349 Volt-Amps or around 349 Watts per hour. These are paired with oversized solar panels. For this install, the panels can generate an absolute maximum of 480 watts. In both cases, these are maximums, not always reached. All solar installs oversize at each step to ensure they meet the total power needs of the user.
Will this truly replace all power needs?
Yes. Likely. There’s an excellent tool, PV watts, from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL, that allows you to size a system in a broad but realistic way. The tool takes a few parameters in, including satellite data based on address, and breaks down to even the hourly potential production of system. (Estimate of course.) As always, it’s good to be conservative about the system, set the power lower, the shading higher, and so on to make sure a system is powerful enough.