When you are married to an Environmental Engineer, you tend to do things differently from the average American family; not so much by choice but by his constant need to become environmentally correct in everything we do.
As solar panels became a thing in California about 10 years ago, it didn’t take a wizard to predict this would be one of our next big projects since we loved to do our own home improvements. Sure enough, I arrived home from work one day to find a solar kit in our back yard.
Now, no one tells you, even for a simple water heating system, about all the red tape and different entities involved that you must deal with before you can even begin to put these small sun-driven heating elements on your house.
First, we had to get the electric company (why?) involved along with the city building inspector who then informed us that we had to get permission from the Home Owners Association before we could apply for a license through the state agency and then the city permit/license and so forth.
The Home Owner’s Association was not an actual entity any longer. So we had to throw a BBQ and invite at least 75% of the home owners in our area in order to obtain over 50% of their signatures or go door to door which doesn’t work because so many of the residential inhabitants were renters.
Six months later, and over$3000 out of pocket for miscellaneous pursuits, we were no closer to installing these expensive panels. We were still looking at an additional $12,000 to $15,000 just for the privilege of having “Free” hot water in our home.
We finally gave up and sold the kit to a farmer for half of what we originally paid. He would not have to deal with the obstacles that we did being out in the county and therefore save a tremendous amount of time and money. Two months later, he had them up and running at a total cost of under $10,000.
This was an expensive lesson to learn. I know the process has streamlined somewhat and costs have changed dramatically but check out the rules and requirements in your area before you even consider Solar Panels and save yourself a lot of time and trouble.