Ever wonder what going solar and installing a home solar system entails? Wonder no more. We took hundreds of photos of our 5.59 kW solar system being installed by REC Solar workers. We selected the best ones and put together a step-by-step photo montage of our solar system going up on our our perfect-for-solar, south-facing Colorado rooftop. Check it out below. Click on the first photo to get started.
THE INSTALLATION PROCESS BEGINS: REC Solar Lead installer Tim Brodersen (right) and helper Joel Chacon begin unloading the truck at 9:30 a.m. on June 1, 2010.
A bright orange ladder is the only thing that’s been “installed” so far on our bare (some might say barren) solar-less roof.
Tools and supplies start making their way up onto our roof.
Tim (right) goes over the blueprints for our 5.5 kW solar system with Joel (left).
Tim measures out our roof in preparation for installing our solar system.
A “ladder’s eye” photo of our roof catches Joel (left) and Tim (right) measuring out, and chalking up, our roof.
Tim’s REC Solar T-shirt from the back. Nice colors and color contrast!
A half hour after the team’s 9:30 a.m. arrival, REC Electrician Dustin Dodson begins the unglamorous — and tough — job of finding a route for the system’s electrical wiring through our garage and main home attics.
Tim (right) makes the first roof penetration with a drill with an impressively long bit at 10:50 a.m. on Day 1 as Joel (left) looks on.
Tim installs the first railing foundation at 10:54 a.m. on Day 1.
Tim (right) installs the first of more than four dozen flashing units as Joel (left) looks on.
Tim (foreground) and Joel work on the very early foundations of our solar system at about 11 a.m. on Day 1.
The first flashing and mount on the far southwest side of our roof.
Dustin continues the behind the scenes (really, under the roof!) work of finding a route for the system’s electrical wiring in our well-insulated, and probably 100-degree attic. (Notice the nails sticking through the roof that make the going even tougher for Dustin).
Dustin makes his way through our hot, tight and difficult-to-manuever-in attic while scoping out a route for the system’s electrical wiring.
The basic mounts and flashing are all ready on the southwest side of our roof at about noon on Day 1.
The railing supports have all been installed on the southwest side of our roof in this picture.
The view toward the west from our roof. In the distance, beyond the trees, you can see the Rocky Mountains.
Tim grabs one of the 14 railings that our 5.5 kW, 26-panel system will be mounted on.
Tim (foreground) and Joel (background) install the railings for our solar system at about 1:30 p.m. on Day 1.
Tim (left) hands off a railing to Joel (right) on the upper part of our roof.
Railing hangs off our roof. Tim later cut the excess railing.
The southwest corner of our roof now has a full set of railings at about 2 p.m. on Day 1.
Tim saws off excess railing. Tim’s job often requires that he complete difficult work right at the edge of a roof.
The east side of our house before the installation of the SMA Sunny Boy 6000 Inverter and the accompanying AC and DC shut-off boxes.
Dustin installs the wall mount for the system’s SMA Sunny Boy Solar Inverter at about 2 p.m. on Day 1.
Tim (foreground) and Joel work on truing the railings.
Tim (left), Joel (middle) and Dustin (right) mount the SMA Sunny Boy 6000 Solar Inverter that forms the core of the system. By the way, Dustin estimates it weighs about 140 pounds!
The inside of the SMA Sunny Boy 6000 Solar Inverter, mounted on the east side of our house.
Dustin installs the PV Disconnect at 3:08 p.m. on Day 1.
Dustin installs the DC Disconnection Box.
Dustin installs the AC Disconnection Box.
The view of our rooftop at the end of Day 1. What you’re seeing are the 14 rails that will support the system’s 26 panels.
BEGINNING OF DAY 2, 9:10 a.m.: A palette full of 26 REC 215 Watt panels sits in the REC Solar truck ready to be unloaded.
The first solar panel comes off the truck!
The specs on our REC 215 Watt solar panels.
Tim (right) shows Joel how to install the grounding lugs onto each panel.
Tim installs grounding hardware onto the rails at 9:45 a.m. on Day 2.
Tim runs the grounding wire from rail to rail. The grounding wire is in case the roof/system is struck by lightning.
Dustin works on installing grounding wire on the system — he’s about to run the wire down the west side of our house, with help from Joel, as you’ll see in the next picture.
Dustin (top) feeds the grounding wire to Joel, who’s about 20 feet in the air on a very high ladder!
A bird’s eye view of Joel as he runs the grounding wire down the side of our house. (BTW: The sweatshirt is to fend off the mosquitoes, which were pretty dense at the time.)
Tim heads up the ladder with a power saw in hand. He’s about to cut some conduit piping that will feed into the main junction box at the top of the roof.
Tim drills holes for the screws that will hold the primary junction box (through which the wiring from the panels must run).
Tim cuts conduit piping for the primary junction box at 11:30 a.m. on Day 2.
The SMA Sunny Boy 6000 Inverter (center) is up, as are the required disconnect boxes (AC, DC and PV).
Dustin (left) and Joel run the grounding wire into — you guessed it! — the ground outside our house.
The grounding wire and grounding pole for our system, stuck in the ground on the west side of our house.
At exactly 1:05 p.m. on Day 2 Tim hoists the first solar panel onto our roof! (Each panel weighs about 35 lbs.)
Tim (bottom) and Joel (top) lay the first REC panel on our roof!
Tim (left) runs the outtake wiring from an REC panel into the rail upon which it will rest.
Tim works to true and align the first two solar panels.
Two of 26 solar panels have been laid at 1:25 p.m. on Day 2.
Now, four panels have been put down.
Our roof is beginning to really show a big — and improved — transformation at 1:40 p.m. on Day 2.
A cool shot of two solar panels glinting blue on a hot, early June day.
Tim hoists another 35-pound solar panel high up onto our roof.
Joel makes another trip up the ladder with a 35-pound solar panel as the afternoon heats up. The high temperature for the day was in the low 80s.
Tim (foreground) and Joel place more panels on our upper roof. Notice how the panels accentuate the beautiful blue sky!
Ten of the 13 panels that form our upper-roof level string are now up!
The sun,yes, the sun!, beats down on a panel Tim is carrying up at 1:55 p.m. on a beautifully sunny early June day!
Tim (left) and Joel (right) set the final panel on our top string of 13 panels at 2 p.m. on Day 2.
Tim’s job as a lead solar installer puts him on edge frequently — as on the very edge of a roof. It’s 25 feet straight down behind him!
At 2 p.m. on Day 2, all 13 panels on the upper roof have been set (but not yet tied in completely, electronically).
Dustin works on installing conduit piping that will encase the wiring running from our solar system on the south roof, to the solar inverter on the east corner of our house.
At 2:05 p.m. on Day 2, the upper roof area and its 13-panel string are pretty much finished.
Wow! Check out the beautiful blue sky and white, puffy clouds — and the deep, dark blue hues of our panels. Who says solar is ugly?
The ladder climbing and hard work continue. Tim brings up the first panel to be set on our lower, garage area roof at 2:20 p.m.
The garage roof begins to stack up panels — two in this photo.
Tim (left) and Dustin (right) test to make sure the upper string of panels is making electricity. It is — lots of it!
Four panels and counting on the lower garage roof area — we’re getting there!
Progress is being made — and the roof is looking better every moment!
Dustin works on the conduit piping running into our solar inverter late on Day 2.
Two panels shy of a full, 5.59 kW solar system!
Tim cuts off excess railing, again getting pretty close to the edge of our roof in order to do so.
Dustin feeds the wiring from the inverter upward.
The wiring is hanging out of the inverter and AC Disconnect at 5:30 p.m. on Day 2.
Dustin taps into our house electric box at 5:45 p.m. on Day 2.
Tim works with wiring coming out of the main junction box at the top of the roof late on Day 2.
Tim sets the final panel of our 5.59 kW solar system at 5:55 p.m. on Day 2.
The system, all 26 panels of it, has been installed by 6 p.m. on Day 2 (but not completely hooked up, electronically).
Our sleek, futuristic 26-panel, 5.59 kW system will pump out 8,000 kWh of electricity per year, enough to power our home and an electric car!
The primary REC Solar team that installed our system poses in front of their work. From left to right: Lead Installer Tim Brodersen, Electrician Dustin Dodson, Helper Joel Chacon. Thank you for your hard work!
A City of Aurora Building inspector (right) signs off on our system as REC Solar Foreman Peter Karns (left) looks on.
The label says it all. As of Friday, June 4, 2010, we have a solar-PV system powering our home’s electricity!