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Single-Family Solar PV and Solar Thermal

Case Study: John Ebey Residence

4.5 kW AC Solar Photovoltaic System & 1 Panel Solar Thermal System 
(22) SunPower 230W panels & (1) Sun Earth Solar Thermal Panel

Article, Interview and Photos by Drew Lowell-Britt 

John’s personal energy and enthusiasm is inspiring...and so are his solar systems. Solar Santa Monica is proud to call John Ebey a Solar Champion!  

SSM: Why did you decide to go solar? 

JE: Solar is the talk of the town!  Not only are our bills almost non-existent, but it feels good to know we are doing our part to curb pollution. Saving money is good, but pollution and global warming are more serious. We are thinking about the health of the earth in our lifetime and the next generations’. We are so happy with the system; energy from photons of light…it is a miracle in a way. 

Solar Thermal installed near the
hot water heater...
...and extra PV panels on a west-facing roof racked
towards the south for maximum output.

SSM: As a young person on this earth, THANK YOU!  So, how long did the solar process take from deposit to final installation? 

JE:  We installed Solar Thermal, Solar PV, and a new roof. All three parties: All-Valley, Solar Forward and Santa Monica Roofers worked so great together. From the first deposits to final installation, about 1 month went by. It wouldn’t have taken that long except we told them to wait due to other construction projects.  

We were originally just going to get a new roof…then one project turned into another, and before we knew it, it turned into a big remodel.  One of the best decisions we made was installing sky lights and solar tubes.  We never have to use lights during the day!

SSM: How much were your electric and gas bills before and what are they today? 

JE: Before going solar our electric bills were between $100 and $150 a month. Now we are seeing bills that are only a couple dollars. We are also seeing good savings on our gas bill thanks to the solar thermal system that heats our water.    

The Ebeys’ solar electric system is currently being net metered by Southern California Edison. This means Edison is keeping track of how much solar energy the Ebeys are producing during the day and how much they are using from the grid at night. The balance will be determined at the end of the 1-year billing cycle. So while they are getting bills of only a few dollars month to month, at the end of the year they may receive a larger bill that represents their net usage from Edison. At the end of the first year, net metered customers have the option to continue paying their net usage once a year or switch to a month to month plan. 

SSM: Did everything go as expected? Any surprises? 

JE: There was a hang-up with the CSI rebate coming through from Edison, be we were expecting it to take a couple months. 

To avoid waiting for the rebate, ask your solar contractor to carry the rebate for you. Solar Santa Monica Preferred Solar Contractors should present this offer to residents during the bid process.    

SSM: To you, what were the challenges and benefits of going solar? Do you have any advice for other residents? 

JE: Besides the juggling of remodel work, the contractors and city were very easy to work with.  Michael Ware from Solar Santa Monica met with me three times and did a very thorough job helping me understand and coordinate going solar.  

Solar Forward made everything go smoothly. They have followed up with us multiple times. I highly recommend both Solar Forward and All-Valley Solar. The Santa Monica inspectors were also very nice and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Low profile PV installed on the main house

Spot the SunPower 230W panels! 
Custom water heater and storage tank set-up. The box  
underneath the cylindrical tank is actually a storage tank.  
Also included is a circulator pump on a timer  
(brown device, middle). 
Last updated: Thursday, 02/28/2013

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