Solarize NOVA was “outstanding” for these Sterling homeowners

Martin & Lilia Boyd
Sterling, Virginia

Solar panels_2Solarize NOVA (2014) 

Solar installer: Greenbrilliance

Year built: 1992

Size of installation: 9.9kW


Q&A with happy Solarize clients

Did you get a Home Energy Check-Up? 

Yes, we had an energy check-up and despite all our previous efforts to ensure our home is as energy efficient as possible, LEAP pointed out several more helpful tips such as to better seal around any seams in our attic. They also gave us several new energy efficient bulbs and a smart power strip for putting an end to loosing electricity from “vampire” electronics.

Why did you decide to explore your solar potential and sign up to participate in the Solarize NOVA program? 

There were several reasons. First, we felt that financially, the timing was right given the cost to install a system had dropped to only about $3 per watt. Second, we wanted to ensure we accomplished this before the Federal Government stopped its 30% tax refund incentive. Third, we were fed up with how badly our climate is changing due to the excessive greenhouse gases, especially CO2 (carbon dioxide) going into our atmosphere. We knew that it was high time we took some personal responsibility to be better stewards of our environment and take some significant steps to lower our carbon footprint. Fourth, we signed up to participate in this specific program because we knew that with the help of LEAP, we were sure to be paired with a quality solar system installer, that we would only offered quality products, and that the price would be competitive.

What did you think of the Solarize NOVA process? 

In short – OUTSTANDING!  Going solar is a big decision and it can be complex to work through all the options. But, thanks to Solarize NOVA, we found the process MUCH easier and we ended up with a quality system that we are TOTALLY happy with, something we rather doubt we could have ended up with had we not used this process.

What was your experience working with LEAP? 

A lot of what LEAP did for us came well before we ever met. We give them credit for helping establish the program, picking the top tier gear that would be installed and selecting the best solar installers to participate in this program.  Knowing that LEAP is a non-for-profit organization really gave us a peace of mind that we were going to truly receive the best system available. It was like icing on the cake when LEAP also conducted their extensive energy efficiency assessment of our home.

What was your experience working with your installer?

In short again – OUTSTANDING from start to finish! They promised and delivered a turn-key solar system. In addition the installer also worked seamlessly with a roofer that I hired separately to replace my shingles before installing the solar system. They gave us options to meet our budget and patiently worked with us when we changed our mind three times. They also ensured the application to obtain a net-meter was handled quickly and efficiently and conducted a thorough site inspection,  took care of obtaining the certified engineering drawings and obtained the building permit. Once we knew what we wanted, the installer ordered all the gear and efficiently installed it to code in only a few days and then saw that the system successfully passed the county inspection. They also installed our wireless monitoring device so that we can track the performance on the system.  Finally, they helped us register our solar system so that we can begin earning SRECs.

Why did you ultimately decide to sign your contract? 

We signed because no red flags popped up on our radar. The proposal was easy to understand and tailored to exactly what we agreed upon. Furthermore, our research showed the gear that they planned to install was indeed top quality and that the installation cost per watt was as competitively priced as could be. Thanks to the installer’s help, the production (i.e., amount of power) that the system would provide was also well understood, so we knew that we were going to end up with a system that met our needs. Finally, the testimonials from others who had a system installed by this installer were all positive.

What benefits are you seeing now as a result of your brand new solar system? 

Just loving it!  We amortized the cost of our system over the 25 years that it’s guaranteed to perform and then divided that annual cost into the total annual production (in kWh) that our system currently produces and found that, even though the orientation of our system is not ideal (it faces almost directly West rather than directly South), the cost per kWh is about 2/3rds of what our utility company currently charges for electricity.  And now we no longer care so much about how much our electric company raises its rates – we’re insulated from that cost increase!

Everyone asks us, “How long before you think you’ll break even?” We just smile and tell them that we’d not only break even, but in fact, turn a very handsome profit right away should we decide to sell our home based on a well-researched country–wide report on the benefits for homes with solar panels. So any other benefits beyond that are just gravy to us!

Our electric bill is now only about $7 a month to cover our electric utility’s distribution services. This saves us on average about $110 per month on our electric bill. Thanks to registering our system, we will soon start collecting money on a quarterly basis for all the SRECs that our system produces, so our system not only saves us money, it’s earning money for us!

We sized our system to not only cover all our electrical needs for the house, but also for all the electricity we’d need to commute to work and back (about 30 miles per day) in an electric car. We’re happy to report that our solar system is producing exactly what we anticipated so we are also no longer paying for any gas to commute and we have lowered our carbon footprint even more. Using our solar system to charge the car rather than buying gas for our old minivan, has cut the cost of fueling that 30 mile commute to about 1/8th of what it used to be.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

No red flags popped up after signing the contract either!  In fact, it was consistently quite the opposite. At every step along the way, we were pleased to receive more than we expected. LEAP really did ensure we had top-tier panels. For example, the panels had the highest Government rating possible against corrosion and were guaranteed to perform within specifications for 25 years, which is the best rating there is in the industry according to the research we conducted. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that the make and model of the inverters selected for our system were the highest quality available in the industry for residential installations and were also guaranteed for 25 years, again something only top of line inverter manufacturers offer.

Finally, we want you to know that we did a LOT of research on solar installations, the industry as a whole, the various technologies and how to calculate production for a given installation, and we’d recommend that you do the same. It will help you appreciate that much more what you are doing, and how much positive impact you will be having on our environment.


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