Solar Investment = Peace of Mind for Retired Electrical/Mechanical Engineer
Solar Power | June 17, 2013 | Posted by Fred Greenhalgh
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As they approached retirement, mechanical/electrical engineer Mike Tabone and his wife Louise, took a look ahead at the future and tried to envision what they wanted their life to look like. With tumult in the financial markets, investments in more traditional avenues seemed a risky proposition, while the reality of rising energy costs seemed certain.
“I’m old school,” Mike says,” “When I was a young man, I was taught self-sufficiency. That means being able to take care of yourself and your family from things like skyrocketing costs of oil.”
His hunt for a better way to heat his home started with an article about local schools using modern heat pump technology to meet large-scale heating requirements. He was impressed with the fact that modern mini split heat pumps would produce heat in outdoor temperatures as low as -15°F.
The same technology used to heat local schools would work just as well on his home. He calculated that it would cost less than 1/2 of the cost of oil to heat his home using electricity with these high-efficiency units, so, he made the switch. Mike settled on three Fujitsu heat pump units to provide for all of the space heating and cooling needs of his home. His original oil heating system will remain as backup as required.
Pushing the Envelope
But a switch to electric heating alone didn’t meet Mike’s aims for true independence, and he started researching how to produce his own electricity using solar panels. “I actually stumbled across some of your videos on YouTube and read a positive testimonial from a family over in Belgrade [The Rhodas, previously on our blog!],” Mike Says, “Coincidentally, I bumped into them about a week later in town, and after we chatted a bit about solar energy, I ended up taking a tour of their system. All in all, I was pretty excited about solar for my home and contacted your office in Liberty. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the service I got.”
Solar energy design specialist Hans Albee visited Mike and Louise to discuss the solar energy opportunities on their open south-facing roof. They had enough room to install a substantial 12kw array comprised of 47 Canadian Solar monocrystalline solar panels connected to Enphase microinverters.
Solar Goes Up
Over the days of the installation, Mike says he was blown away with the performance of the ReVision Energy crew. “I have a great deal of industrial project experience working with professional contractors, and your crew was the only one I’ve seen who just came in and did what they needed to do, cutting no corners, and showing immense respect towards me and our home.”
His 12kw of panels powered up in late April, and since then Mike has been able to immediately reap in the benefits of the solar electric production. “The first five days, we saw 70kWh/day in production [about $12/day worth of electricity],” Mike says, “Based on our estimates, the system will provide all of our household’s electric needs, including the heat pumps.” Since the installation in April 2013, the system has generated 2.26 Mwh! (April 4 – June 4).
In addition to the heat pumps for space heating, Mike also installed a GE heat pump water heater and has ambitions to install an electric car charging station. Mike installed an eMonitor performance monitor which tracks his home’s electric usage in real-time, which he can compare side-by-side to his solar production (provided real-time through the web via Enphase). “I immediately became aware of needless energy hogs in my home, such as a bank of recessed lights that was consuming 1,600Wh. I switched out those lights to more efficient ones and immediately repaid some of the investment cost of the monitor.”
In terms of the bigger picture, Mike and his family are starting to appreciate the benefits of a completely solar-powered home. “There is an incredible feeling of pride and peace of mind in having the solar electric array on our roof,” he says, “My wife said to me, ‘I thought you were crazy at first, but now I realize what a great thing you’ve done. No matter what happens, we’re free from the burden of energy bills for the rest of our lives.’ It’s a hell of a feeling. Because we are providing heating, cooling, hot water and electricity all together, it looks as though our payback for our investment will be 5-7 years. After that, it’s all ours. Thank you ReVision Energy for helping us achieve our dream.”