Double The Solar = Net Zero House

We more than doubled the size of our solar power system in December and the new system got connected to the grid a few weeks ago. The new system consists of 29 325 Watt (9425 W total) Solarworld Bisun panels with SolarEdge optimizers connected to a 10kW SolarEdge inverter.

This increases the total size of our solar power system from 6930 W to 16355 W. My estimate of power production is approximately a little more than double even though the new system is a lot bigger than the old one. To fit the system we covered non-optimal locations on the roof and also mounted 8 of the panels as an awning on our deck. We specifically picked the Bisun panels because they let some light through.

Solar Awning

Along with installing this system we also added monitoring to our old system. So now I can easily check the status of the production online making it a lot easier to update the status on my solar production tracker.

The old system produced approximately 55% of our power consumption and now I expect both the systems together to produce over 100% of our energy usage. We also do most of our driving in an electric car – our Nissan Leaf and my hope is that by the end of the decade we go all electric and the goal is to still be net zero.

Considering the bifacial panels, the structure on the deck, optimizers and panel placement, this system was a lot more expensive with a much longer payback period. The new system was also installed by Genesis Home and Energy, thanks to Randy at Genesis being the only one who could find affordable bifacial solar panels. This system cost about $3/W before federal rebate (not counting the deck structure and monitoring for the existing system to make comparison with the old system fair). This equates to about $2.10/W after federal rebate. However the payoff period (not counting tax benefits of the Dominion Solar Purchase program) is somewhere between 15 and 20 years compared to the old system which I now estimate to be less than 10 years. Of course, I’ll keep track and keep the production tracker updated.

The structure on the deck was built by a contractor from our neighborhood – Armando Vasquez.

Stay tuned for more details and photos of the entire system.

Foam Tiles – Great Looking Easy DIY Flooring

Foam TilesWe recently finished a room in our basement and we wanted to pick an economical and easy to DIY flooring option. We considered vinyl tile, loose lay vinyl and rubber flooring amongst others. We were iffy on woods and laminates because this is a basement even though it is walkout and not damp thanks to the precast walls plus that wouldn’t exactly be “easy” DIY.

Finally we ended up going with Foam Tiles – these look sufficiently like wood, are soft to walk on. It took us an hour or so to do the whole room – just put them together like a puzzle. And they are easy to cut using a big scissor or a utility knife. They dont need to be glued or stuck or anything, just lay then down and done. The good part is they are cheap and easy to replace individually. They seem fairy sturdy but I think sharp objects, dragging furniture without some moving pads etc. will damage them.

As far as fitting together goes the tiles are really good. You can only tell edges by looking for the puzzle pattern or looking at just the right angle. If you do decide to get these, they are not exactly 24×24 because of the way edges are counted in the tile size. Assume they are 23×23 while calculating what you need.

We bought our tiles from Rubber Flooring Inc.  They have good fast shipping and it was free for these tiles. After we were done we noticed a damaged tile. The company offered to send us a replacement immediately. The tiles cost us about 2$/sq ft including wastage.

Ideal Precast Walls

Our new modular house is going to sit on Precast Concrete Walls from Ideal Precast. The walls are guaranteed waterproof, factory built in panels that are put together on site. They come with insulation already attached and ready to finish from inside with no need for any additonal framing. The first picture is at 9:00 am showing the gravel base that the walls sit on.

The second picture shows the walls sitting on the truck.

The third on shows the crane that lifted the walls and placed them on the gravel.

This last one shows the walls completed at 2:30pm.

Stay tuned for more details on Precast walls and more pictures of the walls.

Modular House Started Construction – Part 2

Just a few days ago I got pictures of the house just starting construction showing just the floor system. Yesterday I got pictures showing finished walls, bathroom fixtures and also kitchen cabinets nearly in place! Modular construction is crazy fast!

So far Icon Legacy has been great to work with. Our contact at the company recently moved to Icon Legacy from another company and so far we have found them to be very responsive to customer needs like helping us find a fireplace that exactly matches our need. They were even willing to obtain and install items from Manufacturers that they do not regularly work with, which the previous company refused to do.

Here are some pictures showing the main entrance, kitchen cabinets and one showing an exterior wall.

As it has been constantly raining, it feels nice that the house is sitting inside a controlled environment while it is under construction.

Modular House Started Construction, About Modulars Part 1

In case you didn’t realize from the previous posts, we are building a house. It is a modular house built by Icon Legacy and it just went into production. Here are the first pictures from the factory:


The left one is the floor of the main level and right one is the floor of the second level.

Modulars are basically like stick built houses built in modules in a factory. From what I hear our house will be built in four weeks. And then delivered on trucks! Will update as time goes on with more on the house on Icon Legacy and modular construction.