We signed a contract in October to get the system installed, but the timeline was really January or February. They were that busy, and that was OK with us. We were comfortable with the company and weren’t in a big hurry.
The project manager was good about contacting us about a week before anything happened, and it was actually a very simple process for us.
I got an email that a site survey was needed, and responded with a few times that worked for me. The project manager and I agreed on a day and a window of time. I ended up getting a little delayed in town that day, and I got a text from the PM that he was on the way.
I was about 20 minutes late, and by the time I got there, he was about done. We waved and introduced himself and then drove off. I talked with my wife, and they walked around the outside of the house, looking at the electrical setup (my panel is outside). They also went into the attic to check the roof interior and up on the roof for structural integrity.
Overall, one of the smoothest and quickest contracting experience we’ve had for a project. Not a lot of wasted time or chit chat.
After a few months of quiet, I got an email that they were looking to install in late January. We coordinated with the project manager and got texts the day before and when they were on their way.
It was a cold day when they got started. The estimate was 2 days, but they noted that it might be 3 days because of the weather.
Day 1 was the initial arrival. Two trucks, 3 or 4 guys, working outside in poor weather.
!(/assets/img/solar/solar1.jpg)[trucks at the ranch]
They did tell us that they didn’t expect to get on the roof with the weather this day, so they focused on installing some boxes near the panel to support the electrical routing. They also started runnind conduit up the side of the house, but stopped at the top of the basement.
The weather was better on day 2, which was a Friday. They continued with wiring and managed to get conduit up to the roof. They had to cut a hole in the soffet to get the conduit up there, but they sealed this nicely and it looked good.
They also spent most of the afternoon getting the panel frames on the roof. These are the brackets that mount the panels and contain the wiring connections.
They finished this day, but no panels went up, which was a bit disappointing. We stared at the brackets all weekend.
They came back Monday, but I had errands and was gone most of the day. When I came home, I saw the panels on the roof. This was about a half day to get these up and connected.
At this point, the hardware was mostly there, now we were waiting on other steps.
As they were packing up, I went to talk with the project manager. He said everything looked good, but now the county needed an inspection of the work. He said for our county, they subcontracted to the state, so he’d need to get them to come out.
It took about a week for the inspector to come out. There was a mis-schedule the first day, but the inspector apologized and prioritized us a couple days later and came out early. The project managed texted me and arrived only a few minutes after the inspector.
The inspection felt silly. The inspector told us what he wanted to look for, but really just filled out a sticker and put it on a panel as he was explaining things to us. The whole process was about 5 minutes.
The Utility Meter
The last step before turning things on was for the local utility to add a small meter to the house for net metering. Their main billing meter is on the East edge of our property on a utility pole, but they needed to add a meter on the house. The project manager said this would take about a week, and then showed me the two switches to flip to turn the system on.
The next day the local utility guy came out, which was stunning. They rang the doorbell and let us know they were here. After a few minutes, he drove away and I thought we could turn things on. However, when I went down to look, there was no meter. I’m guessing he was checking on things, but no communication, which is about par for our utility. They aren’t great.
About 4 or 5 days later, I came home and saw the utility truck driving away on the road. I went down and saw the meter installed, so I turned on the sytem. This was February 23, 2022 when we went live.
I logged onto the monitoring system with the credentials I’d received in email and saw the system live. Here’s the first day:
!(/assets/img/solar/solar6.png)[generating power on the first day]
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