Review for Sunwork Renewable Energy Projects
Sunwork.org Solar Panel (PV) installation is a no brainer
I'm writing this to our neighborhood because I am so impressed with our new PV System from Sunwork.org. I love saving money and doing something great for the environment at the same time.
If you've ever dreamed of doing away with 95%+ of your PG&E Electric bill (in fact, go to annual, not monthly billing) then you are probably going to like this relatively simple, affordable upgrade to your home.
Today (mid August 2014) (it's sunny (as usual) and in the upper 80's outside and we are enjoying our newly installed PV Solar System.. currently using our air-conditioner (instead of sweating our butts off) cause our 14-panel system is generating 2,850 ~ 3,000 Watts, enough to power our air conditioner without using hardly any PG&E. Our system uses one inverter, made by Sunny Boy (model 3000) for our 3.5KW system, but the Company makes larger inverters (model 4000, 5000 and 6000) for a greater number of Solar Panels and correspondingly larger wattage system: 4KW, 5KW and 6KW). For those of you who have a 100A Panel (stock electrical panel) on your Ditz Crane home, Sunnyboy makes a model 3800 which is the largest Inverter you can install without having to upgrade your service panel. This is important because your PV Solar Panel System ties into your Service Panel so that you can become a net-producer of electrical power while attached to PG&E's electrical grid. Sounds complicated, but it's all quite simple once it's explained. I've attached picture of our PG&E Meter (that I just took a short while ago.. yep, it says "Negative 2.024KW".. I'm not using PG&E's power at all.. in fact, I'm producing power for other PG&E Customers who are buying it for .38, .50, .60 or more per KW, depending on what PG&E Plan you are on.)
Sunny Boy's (that's the name of the manufacturer of these inverters) new single inverters are much less expensive (about $1400) than those offered just a few years ago and offer an emergency bypass in case PG&E has a black-out. In such a black-out, you can power up to 1500W of items directly off your PV System (even if PG&E is entirely down). You can use this bypass (ie: electrical strip) to recharge cell phones, power small appliances (TV, small refridgerator), power radios, lights, etc
As for the placement of the panels, Sunwork.org has a software system, called SunThink that, based on the position of your home, the angle of your roof, shading by surrounding objects (trees), plus the Season of the year, to recommend the number of panels, number of arrays and the placement of those arrays on your roof. A south westerly facing roof is optimal, followed by a easterly facing roof (as I understand it). SunThink recommended 6 panels on our easterly facing roof plus 8 additional panel on our SW facing roof.
Our single inverter handles both arrays for greater system reliability, efficiency and affordability. As I mentioned, these inverters support multiple arrays, so having 6 + 8 panels on two different parts of my roof is no problem.
The other alternative (to a single inverter) is something called "integrated inverters". In such a system, each Solar Panel has it's own mini inverter that separately convert each panel's DC voltage and current to AC Voltage (used by your home and PG&E). The advantage of this second alternative is that if your roof is shaded in multiple areas, but some area are in full sun throughout the day, each panel will contribute to the total power generated by the System. This works better in some cases, especially when an entire array is never in full sun. The downside is that integrated inverter system is about +10% more expensive and does not offer the emergency bypass electrical strip.
The payoff: as the picture shows, our PG&E Meter runs backwards when our PV System is generating more than our home's electrical consumption. You actually become a "power plant" for PG&E's electrical grid. Once you have completed PG&E's paperwork (including going on "time of use" rate plan and "net-metering" application) you are ready to effectively rack up "KW hour credits" when the sun is shining that you can use when it's nigh-time or very cloudy. If you size your system correctly (Sunwork.org will help you determine what size system you need, based on your usage patterns and future demands (ie: electric vehicle)) you can literally bring your PG&E annual bill down to "tens of dollars" instead of something in excess of a thousand dollars per year, like our PG&E bill used to be.
My system's installation was started on August 8 (Friday) at 8:30am and the system was operational the following day, August 9th (Saturday) at 4pm. Officially, you will go through a City Inspection and PG&E approval for "net metering" but Sunwork.org handles all of this for you.
PV Solar Systems are thought to be quite expensive, often taking 12 - 15 years to pay for itself.. so, most people pass on the opportunity to take the plunge. That was my case, too. Solar City quoted me $21,000 (yikes) back in 2010 and after a 30% Federal Tax Credit (Renewable Energy Credit) their system was still $14,000.. I concluded it would take me 14-15 years for such a system to be justified (since my PG&E electric bill averaged about $85/month or $1020 annually. Solar Companies today (like Solar City and Sungevity) resort to "leasing you a system" because it appears to be less costly (on a monthly basis). What they don't tell you (at least, proactively) is that a lease often is much more expensive than a purchase. Most Solar leases are 20-25 years long for atleast $100 per month. Do the math: 25 years x $100 = $25,000 over the life of the lease.. Sure, a lease offers you peace of mind and "free repairs" if something wears out, but the fact is, in a 20 year period, the only thing that will need replacement is the $1400 inverter, which is warranted for 10 years. The other parts of the system (the PV panels) are warranted for 25 years. Bottom line: the best way to go is a purchase..
My purchased system from Sunwork.org (not leased) cost $9900 - 30% Federal Tax Credit (Renewable Energy Credit) for a net price of $6930.. making it possible to justify the initial cash outlay (in the form of savings) in only 6 1/2 to 7 years. After that, your electrical power is largely "free". Larger systems will, of course, cost a bit more, but you would be off-setting a larger PG&E electric bill and your savings would pay for themselves in roughly the same amount of time.
If you'd like to learn more or have additional questions, I encourage you to contact Mike at Sunwork.org (he's the real expert ;-) Feel free to let Mike know that I referred you (no, I don't work on commission ;-) but I'm sure Mike would be pleased to know that a fellow neighbor spoke highly of them).
Here is Sunwork.org contact information:
SunWork Renewable Energy Projects
Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
477 Valley Way
Milpitas, CA 95035
Hope this is helpful info.
748 Shasta Fir Drive
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3.2KWH (14 panels)
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