...On March 15, I followed Solar Solutions construction manager Atta Kiaresh around to see what it's like to install solar panels on a home. We went to a place by the Van Ness-UDC Metro stop for an installation. The 18 panels were made by Canadian Solar and produce a nominal 250 watts per panel.
The process is pretty simple. You need a truck, a forty foot extension ladder, an anchor rope to tie off to the chimney, the support structure (cinder-blocks, screws, metal framing), and tools to cut and secure the support structure.
The most important part of the installation is skilled workers. The guys I met had no fear of heights, solid electrical skills, and everything it takes to make support structure. They knew how to connect each panel with a micro-inverter and how to wire the whole system to the main fuse-box. They got this job completed in a few hours. However, these workers are also the ones that will cost you the most--their salary is around $50,000 annually.
The visit was very worth my while and Atta was a great host. I was hesitant to climb the ladder though--it was a windy day and with the ladder fully extended, it bowed a lot. But pride is a hell of a thing and I did my damnedest to look cool.
Finally, this was one of just two projects Solar Solutions was installing that day.