VIDEO: Will this home’s solar panels be enough to cut the cord?

VIDEO: Will this home’s solar panels be enough to cut the cord?

Real Estate broker Jon Boyd installed one of the largest residential solar-panel installations in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area in a bid to reduce his electric bills to zero.

Boyd, who has an electrical engineering degree from the University of Michigan, was involved in choosing the components and designing the system, installed by Select Solar and Generator and partially funded by DTE, the local utility company.

"Buying solar is a lot like buying a home. You need to know what you are doing, and you need to know who you are dealing with. If I had just believed what I read in the local publications I could have spent $20,000 more and not had as nice as an installation," said Boyd. "My 10 years as a design engineer certainly helped me understand the concepts, but I also spent about six hours a week over six months to become familiar with the current solar PV technology and products."

Boyd's system consists of 42, 230-watt solar panels and a large grid tie inverter. He reported that the total cost for the mounting, panels, inverter, and labor was roughly $42,000. He also installed a 50-year roof under the panels, which were another $8,000.

After the system was operational, he received a $23,184 check back from DTE to defray the costs, and he will receive about $15,000 in tax credits over the next few years. Boyd expects the system to bring his electric bill down to nearly nothing.

Boyd created a blog site to share pictures, videos, his design process and solar experiences at

"We were a little concerned dealing with the bureaucracy of DTE, especially when they seemed to be a little confused with some technical aspects of the design, but they did come through as promised and even had their contractor make a return trip to correct a minor wiring mistake in one of their meters. Overall we were quite happy with their participation and the whole process," Boyd said.

Boyd shared this time-lapse video of the solar panel installation on his home:

For more information, see our Solar Power Research Center.

Topics: Rebates / Tax Credits, Solar Power

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