Plasma cutting steel staircase Tung oil applied on trim woodwwork Floors milled from site grown trees Septic field restoration Reflecting afternoon sun Birth of a barn on Bragg Hill Radiant floors Solar panel installation Capping off the chimney Proud shape emerges on the hilltop Pumping concrete into the three gables Forming 12x12 Gables Delivering concrete from the sky Parallam beam positioning Flying flitch beam ICF window framing Precision concrete placement Lower level ICF fabrication Newly excavated driveway Finishing garage deck concrete Pouring concrete footers Rebar safety caps Surveying the construction site Checking out the excavation equipment Rapid soil stabilization Testing the soils for drainage Taking Solar Pathfinder measurements Milling downed trees onsite View to the Southeast over the Benzel Family Trust Future meadow to be cultivated Taking a stroll on Bragg Hill Road

Going Solar: A Race Against Time

click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge

Being that the sun has been in existence since the birth of our solar system, you wouldn’t think that we’d be in such a hurry to get our photo voltaic system installed and inspected.  If, however you are counting on a special grant from a government body who is willing to pay for a third of your costs, time becomes important.

Like many states in the US, Pennsylvania has an incentive program to encourage residents and small businesses to install solar panels on their premises.  Pennsylvania’s program called the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Program established by the State congress is limited to $100 Million.  Qualifying for the program requires close cooperation between the property owner and an approved solar installer, in our case: Re2G (formally known as Solardelphia).  Because the rebates are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, we got in early.  The application and approval process is rigorous.  As stipulated by the state, we were to have our 9.675 kWdc photo voltaic array installed and inspected in 12 months, or April 6th, 2011.

The winter of 2010-2011 was brutal; too cold for our masons to build the chimney.  Without a chimney, you can’t complete your roof, without a finished roof, you can’t attach solar panels.  Fortunately, we weren’t alone.  Many other construction projects were severely delayed by the winter weather.  The Pennsylvania Office of Energy and Technology granted us a 60 day extension.  With only days remaining before our grant was to expire, the sun truly shined upon us.  The weather cooperated, the mason’s completed their work, the roofing materials finally arrived and we were able to install the 43 Sunpower SPR-225 panels and inverter.  With just a week to spare we got our final inspection.

Oh, by the way, we’re generating a ton of power: more than 30 Kilowatt hours per day!  See the slideshow of the whole installation.