Gone solar

I have to admit watching the power meter run backwards is fascinating.

Yup. Went solar.

I’d liked to say that we were the pioneers in our neighborhood, the first to install a roof-based solar system.

We’re not even the first on our street, more like the third.

As far as I can tell on my morning  walks with Lily the dog, there are nine or ten units in the  neighborhood. One is at least five years old, and the others more recent.

After reporting this summer for the Lake Hopatcong News Lake Hopatcong News – Your Source for Lake News on homeowners in the Lake Hopatcong area who were installing solar, starting with homeowners installing the Tesla roof system, I began to investigate online the pros/cons, company histories, costs, incentives, etc.,  of making the switch.

That reporting showed that since 2019, more than 150,000 NJ homes and businesses have switched to solar. The head of our installation crew said they are putting up six systems a week.

Beforewarned: Solar companies have a hot product and they will find you with incredible speed.

So, be prepared.

Read your electric bill, visit the NJ Bureau of Public Utilities website for information on the laws, incentives and tax breaks for NJ homeowners — https://www.bpu.state.nj.us/ — visit clean energy websites for overviews and even, talk to your neighbors who installed  a solar system.

This is a replacement cost.

You already buy electric power and will be doing for as long as you own a home.

With solar you are changing the source and the system.

And, yes, you can watch your meter spin backwards because you are still  connected to the grid.

That’s how you sell back to the power company the excess electricity your solar unit generates. That’s part of the deal, and for a single homeowner helps reduce the overall cost of the solar installation.

The cost?

It’s like buying a new car, but you have 25 years to pay for it. And there is a 26 percent federal tax break, and state incentives, and this is for a product you are already buying and will be buying ad infinitum. Long term, it lowers your cost.

Not all homes are situated for solar. Too many trees or the angle of  the lot and other considerations.

My lot faces basically north and south and the large roof expanse is tree free. The 28 panels face both north and south.

We took down one dying tree that was doomed anyway because it’s middle and upper branches were landing on both my roof and the neighbor’s.

How much energy is produced?

Well, extrapolating from a small sample…a very small sample…three days worth— the system generated between two and three times the amount of electricity used in October.

All of this is situational.

While the house faces north and south, this time of the year the sun rises off due south about 20 degrees east, and sets about 30 degrees west off due north.

It is also on a  low-angle trajectory across the sky never rising above the tree line, so the sunlight hitting the roof is filtered through leaves.

That will continue until late December until after the solstice when the days lengthen and the angles increase.

This is the future. The technology is improving, investment is flowing into the solar and green energy business sector, construction practices are making such systems more practical and zoning and building codes will catch up.

Electric vehicles? Ask yourself how soon after Detroit began rolling out thousands of cars a year, did it take for roads and gas stations to follow?

This is that moment all over again.


About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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