Solar profile: Matt Conrad

My solar system went live February 29, 2016. I have 42 Canadian Solar CS6P-260P panels spread across my southern and eastern exposures producing a max of 10.7 kilowatts. These feed to a Sunny Boy 10000TLUS-12 string inverter. On a good day I can produce up to 68 kilowatt-hours.

My journey to going solar started when my wife was pregnant with our second son. I had a two door sports car that was not very accommodating to child seats. I was interested in electric vehicles to save money on fuel for my 42 mile round trip to work, and decided to try a used Nissan Leaf. As expected, my power bill rose a bit, and I looked to solar to see if I could lower my bills. Initially the economics didn’t work as well as I wanted. Then I heard about the co-op in the West Orange Times. I told my Dad about the co-op and dragged him to a meeting. As a retired engineer, he had to run the numbers a thousand different ways, and he had a hard time poking holes in the proposal. We both went solar.

I found the installation process very easy and straightforward. SEM took care of nearly everything, and First Green Bank was a great way to finance the system. I would recommend to prospective buyers to do their homework and understand the basics. Then, with help from the co-op, many of their questions will be answered. This will help you understand the potential for solar your property has regarding placement, shading, etc. Also, they will help define your goals whether to lower your bills, or eliminate them entirely.

Before going solar I was averaging ~$180/month for my electric bill. This included charging my car with  about 12 kWh daily. After the solar installation my net utility consumption dropped to zero. I continue to receive the minimum bill from Duke of $10.38, while building up a healthy reserve for a rainy and hot summer.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with my solar system and continue to look forward to decades of cheap clean power.