NATiVE Solar Director of Sales John Lewis joined Studio 512 Co-Host Stephanie Gilbert to showcase the company’s focus on service and alternative energy solutions through a repeat customer’s testimonial and key considerations for homeowners considering a home energy system.
Austin resident Jim Trudeau, a repeat NATiVE customer, spoke about his experience.
What motivation(s) did you have to decide to go solar?
“Primarily the ecological benefit, but it had to be a practical choice as well. We sized the system to produce all of our electricity, so carbon-free energy production and an electric bill of zero dollars. Austin Energy’s incentive program was excellent, so that made it a financial no-brainer. I figured it would pay for itself in 10 years, and it is on schedule to do that. Beyond that, the value of our property went up by more than the cost of the system, on day one. So it really did pay for itself the moment it went online.”
What can you share to help homeowners who are considering going solar?
“Do your research — basic things like the orientation of your roof. There are good online calculators that can estimate what you’ll be able to produce based on the angle of your roof, both the pitch and compass direction. And there are details, like a single whole-system inverter or micro-inverters. There are pros and cons, and everyone’s installation is unique. That’s why a company like Native can be a consultant to give you good advice. Unless you have a battery system, when the grid goes offline your system goes offline, for safety reasons. So when the power fails, it fails even if you have solar panels. If you have a battery backup, then a switch takes your system off the grid, and you have power. The one perhaps subtle thing I would remind people is that the life of a solar panel is longer than the life of a shingle roof. If you’re going to replace your roof sometime soon, consider doing that as part of going solar. We did — it needed it — and we went with a metal roof, which does last as long as the panels.”
Why did you decide to get batteries for your solar system? How did you decide how big of a battery system to get?
“I knew you could. A ‘typical’ installation without battery backup goes offline when the grid fails because if it’s pushing power to the grid we could kill a utility worker trying to fix things. We made a reasoned judgment based on the historic reliability of the grid to not put in battery back up when we installed the system. That history has proven incorrect. So we’re putting in the battery backup six years later. Sizing the system was pretty simple. I looked at my average daily energy consumption in December and January and matched that.”
Why that number?
“In theory that gives us one full day of full power in winter. In practice, it will go a lot longer for two reasons. First, during the day the panels can recharge the system, at least somewhat. Second, we only power critical systems, so consumption will be well below our normal. My guess is, we should be able to go four or five days in winter, and two days in summer with the AC running. We can keep an eye on the battery levels and manage the AC — raise the inside temperature, open windows at night, that sort of thing. That all remains to be seen, the battery system isn’t live yet, so that’s an estimate. There was one technical reason we went with the battery configuration we did – it can handle all forty of our panels. So we get the full benefit of our solar panel system.”
This segment is paid for by NATiVE Solar and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.