Tag Archives: ann arbor

Video of Ann Arbor Michigan Solar Roof Installation

I was finally able to get the time lapse video posted to Youtube.com

This was the full roof installation. Before this was done the guys from Select Solar and Generator hung the inverter and set the wiring from the panels to the inverter and from the inverter to the DTE generation meter, and from the generation meter to the breaker panel.

In case you didn’t see it before this is 42 panels, each with a 230 Watt capacity for a total DC power rating of 9,660 Watts.

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The First Choice. Hot Water or Electricity?

Today’s post is about selecting between a hot water solar collector and a photoelectric solar collector, and the decision points involved in doing it.

When deciding on what sort of solar collector to deploy we considered cost, efficiency, return on investment, convenience once the installation was complete, and impact on the appearance of our home.

First we considered the cost. We could install a basic solar water heating system for a couple of thousand dollars by doing the work ourselves.  A solar electric power panel system would cost in the range of $2,000 for a small system self installed all the way up to $60,000 for a professionally installed system. But we found that in order to take advantage of the tax and utility company bonuses we would need to have installed by a licensed contractor.

Efficiency relates to how well the system turns the sun’s heat energy into usable energy for our home. In this area the solar water heater is much more useful, being able to convert about 90% of the sun’s rays into heat energy. Today’s solar electric systems range from 12 to 20% efficient.

The return on investment can depend a lot on how an installation is done. In our case we already have a quite effective water heater so even if we did install a great solar preheating system it still couldn’t save us that much money. (A water heater also needsa backup system in place anyway for over cast days.) On the other hand we can certainly use an inexpensive source of electricity and after the various incentives it looked like we would be at break even for our electric roof in about four or five years. As far as the convenience, both solar electric and solar hot water systems take a little continuous maintenance. The hot water system would take more, especially in the summertime when they can overheat.

Since the south side of our house is the front of the house the appearance of a solar collector became an important consideration for us. Neither type of system could be hidden, but we were more comfortable with flat panel collectors for this reason. If it had been on the back of our home we would have seriously considered vacuum tube hot water methods.

When all the ideas were evaluated we decided that a large solar electric collector was right for us. I hope this article was at least somewhat helpful.

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Michigan Solar Installer Signs Contract With Nationally Recognized Home Buying Expert

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN November 29 — Select Solar And Generator, a Michigan solar panel installer, has signed a contract to design, install, and commission a solar roof for Jon Boyd, a local home buyer’s broker and nationally recognized home buying expert. The installation will have the ability to provide virtually all the electric power needed for Boyd’s 1966 country ranch home.

“This seems like a great match.” said Mike Cooley. Michigan area solar installer for Select Solar And Generator. “Boyd has an electrical engineering degree and has played with solar cells since he was a young child. That, combined with his knowledge of home financing, home construction, and the amazing value with the utility and tax credits, and it is no wonder he is excited.”

The Ann Arbor home is served by DTE Energy and a significant portion of the solar photovoltaic system installation costs will be covered by DTE’s SolarCurrents program.

“I spoke to about ten different potential vendors for this installation and Select Solar stood out in a number of areas.” Said Boyd, past president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents and Manager of an Ann Arbor real estate buyer’s brokerage. “The bid from Select Solar was very competitive, but in addition I felt quite comfortable with their national presence and their experience having installed solar systems in six states and Canada. Mike and his company were able to custom design a system that met our needs and his local team of installers seem to be a perfect match for what we want to achieve.” Concluded Boyd.

Select Solar & Generator specializes in solar-electric system design and installation as well as emergency standby generators. They offer a full range of solar equipment by a variety of manufacturers, and deal exclusively with the Generac brand of generators. The company was founded by Mr. Paul Mullen in 2000. In 2008, he began offering dealership opportunities in Canada and in the United States. Cooley was the first to become an SS&G dealer when he acquired the East Tennessee and South East Michigan territories. Cooley holds a certification in solar design and installation, is a State of Tennessee licensed electrician, and State of Michigan licensed builder.

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Ann Arbor Energy Efficient Mortgage Project

For about 15 years I’ve been hearing about energy efficient mortgages. That is mortgages that are set up to encourage energy efficient improvements or designs.

Well it appears that we should utilize one of these for our Ann Arbor solar project, but even though I’m a mortgage expert I don’t know anyone personally who has experience with these.

So, a new research project. Here are the links I’ve found so far:

This is from 2009 and is fairly useful: http://www.emagazine.com/view/?4738&src= It mentions a $8,000 cap for FHA but also mentions an additional $4,000 for weatherization.

Federal Citizens Information Center in Pueblo: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/housing/fin-energy-eff/eff.html

Example: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/housing/fin-energy-eff/feehome_emm.html

Notes on Fannie Mae Program: www.p2pays.org/ref/19/18219.pdf

Residential Energy Services Network information on mortages: http://resnet.us/mortgages

FHA mortgage letters, guidelines, and example: http://resnet.us/ratings/fha_guidelines


Fannie Mae Energy Addendum Form: http://www.greenmortgagecompany.com/documents/US-C-218-3659.pdf


Not terribly useful article on FHA EEMs: http://www.fha.com/fha_article.cfm?id=69

FHA pages: http://www.fhasecure.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/eemhog96.cfm


Judging from this it looks like FHA limits the improvement cost to 5% of the median area price. ($165,000 in Ann Arbor), this means about $8,000 which isn’t going to buy many solar cells!

This site discusses the Energy Star mortgage which is a pilot program in a couple states. (not Michigan) http://energyprograms.org/index.html

Good Fannie Mae presentation from 2003: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2967012/Energy-Efficient-Mortgage-Michelle-Desiderio-Fannie-Mae-April-Energy-Efficient

FHA site including their EEM letters: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/eemlette.cfm

FHA fact sheet that says if homeowner has the skills that lender may allow homeowner to provide the labor: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/38235736/FHAs-Energy-Efficient-Mortgage-(EEM)-Fact-Sheet (There are a lot of good EEM documents on this site. Search for Energy Efficient Mortgage.

Here are some interesting energy saving window panels that can take a single pain of glass up to energy star standards with just an interior storm window: http://www.windotherm.com/

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