Bruce Croissant learned about power while serving as a nuclear reactor operator in the Navy. So he had some background in how power systems work.
That came in handy when he decided he wanted to install a solar power system on his house in 2012.
There weren’t specialized installers in the area at the time, so he had to investigate to determine what kind of system would work best for him.
That’s one of the first tips he’d give anyone thinking about installing a solar system. Do your research.
Today there are multiple installers in the region, but if you know something about the options and what you want to accomplish, you can get the best system for your situation, Croissant said.
Many of the solar panels seen on roofs in Loveland today are flat against the roof. Croissant’s are angled so in spring and fall he gets maximum power production. “Peak of summer, (the sun) is a little bit too high, but by then you’re making more power because the day is so long,” he noted.
His system produces about 6 megawatt hours of electricity per year. His home consumes about 3.5 megawatt hours. “All that extra power I sell back to the city,” he said.
Unlike many systems, his 20 panels operate individually, so if a tree is shading a few of the panels the whole system does not stop running.
He also recently installed a 7 kilowatt battery outside his home to store excess power. Before he had it, he had to buy electricity from the city at night, when his system was not producing power. Now he saves his electricity for use at night.
In winter, he said, he will still have to buy some electricity. “I end up running out of battery before I run out of the night.”
Croissant said solar power systems are actually simple. “There’s no moving parts,” he said. He compares solar with electric cars, noting they’re both almost maintenance-free since there are no metal parts rubbing against each other and wearing out.
He said the system is nearly maintenance free. He had some microinverters in his system fail, but they were under warranty and quickly replaced, and he noted the technology has become more reliable in the 12 years he has had the system.
Another benefit comes when the city power system has an outage. “You can look out the window and no one else has their lights on and your furnace is still running,” Croissant said.
He’d like to see the city of Loveland do more to encourage use of solar power.
But he’s happy with the system he’s put together for himself.
“I take a lot of comfort in knowing I’m hardly producing any carbon dioxide due to electricity, and it doesn’t affect how I live,” he said.
1) When did you first install your solar power system, and what prompted you to do it?
My system went live in December of 2012. I purchased it because I wanted to decrease the size of my footprint on Earth.
2) Have you found that it saves you money?
Yes. For the price of a used car, it produces more energy by far than my home consumes in a year. It is virtually maintenance free, doesn’t require yearly license fees and drives my monthly electric utility charge to a minimum and often results in a discounted total monthly utility charge.
3) What should people consider if they are thinking about getting solar for their homes?
Each person will have their own desires and limitations. Do research Find a solar installer that you will trust to help you make a decision in regard to brand of system, size of system and location.
4) What kind of misperceptions do you find people have about solar?
My experience is that the perceptions are political. If someone doesn’t like the idea they will accept any opinion that reinforces their position. If someone likes the idea, they will justify their decision similarly. In my case I was looking to be nice to Mother Nature, so despite the fact that solar installers weren’t a thing when
I purchased my system, I found a way to get it done.,
5) How does the system do in weather extremes like blizzards or hail? Do you ever have to supplement your solar power with city electricity?
My system has operated continuously since it went live.
When the panels are covered by snow they do not produce energy. I n our climate this condition is transient. Sun soon reappears and the snow slides off the panels and the energy flows again. If I can’t wait I get on the roof and push the snow off.
No wind has damaged my system so far.
No hail has damaged my system so far.
I have to use city-supplied energy to power my house when the sun goes to bed.
Since I produce far more energy than my home uses (on a yearly basis) I recently added grid-tied batteries to my system. Now it is only occasionally that I resort to purchasing power from the city.
Also, I own a plug-in hybrid car. I’ve owned it for nearly five years and have fueled it with gas less than a dozen times while putting 17,000 miles on the car.