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Solar panels?

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Joined: May 4 2007

We have a Eichler in Menlo Park with an 18 yr old roof. After this past winter, we found quite a few leaks. (We've owned the house since last July.)

We are in the process of finalizing our new roof plans and hope to get permits soon. (We are keeping the flat roof and adding vertical space for all new AV, networking and electrical wiring.) We are seriously considering solar panels and I'm curious if anyone here has installed panels while still keeping the Eichler design spirit. I'm working w/ my architect who's very familar w/ my type of house, since he's already remodeled one.

Seeing the pic below, I want to see if the pitched roof can handle solar tiles so that the entire section can be tiled, provided it makes sense. I also want to see if there's a way to put as much panels on the flat portions of the roof and still not look like an industrial building. I'm hoping my architect can get a bit creative.

Any suggestions comments are welcome.

Joined: Apr 20 2006

I am assuming by 'solar tiles' that you mean the small roof tiles that double as tiny solar panels. About two weeks ago, Menlo Park adopted the new LA County Fire solar installation limits. Menlo Park wants 4 feet of roof at the edges without solar. This has a big effect on the cosmetics, especially with the solar roof shingles.

You may have some choices re. locating the solar panels. On the flat roof, we can install them only several inches above the surface, making them invisible from below. Since we are a Sunpower Dealer, we can use the unique Sunpower panels that are pure black, and very attractive. Sunpower makes the most efficient panels available. This means that they take up a smaller part of the roof. A pure black panel on your sloped roof looks more like a big skylight than a collection of solar panels. It only takes a few minutes to assess the roof for solar.

You should have your designer talk to our Office Staff re. the space being designed to protect the new wires etc.. This construction will raise the height of your flat roof, making it more visible. Wiring is small, and can be run without constructing special raceways.
Randy from Dura-Foam Solar Center (in Menlo Park)

Joined: Mar 10 2005


Looks like you have a beautiful house!

I know of a somewhat similar Eichler in Pal Alto, with the combination peaked roof and flat roof. Previous owners put in solar heating for the water (typical at the time - late '70s). The panels - which still work - are on the flat roof, tilted at an angle. Since they're set back from the roof edge and the lot and surrounding area is flat, you only see them if you get up on the roof. Perhaps you might be able to set your panels up on a similar rack-like structure on the flat part of your roof.

Nearby neighbors have the more modern solar panels on their peaked roofs. They're noticeable, but not offensive, particularly compared with the industrial-looking A/C ducting snaking all over the roofs of some Eichlers. The panels and shingle roofs are similar dark colors, which helps.



Joined: Feb 13 2007

It was with horror that I saw the article "Sun Power Rising" in the Spring 2009 issue of CA Modern. It should be a crime to so disfigure an Eichler.

The article mentions a 9- to 10-year payback on an investment in solar panels, mitigated by a host of government subsidies. Everybody knows solar is great for the environment, so it should be supported by the government. Just as everybody, especially the Bush administration, knew ethanol was great for the environment and should be supported by the government.

So my question is: how much of the $46,000 true cost of a 5.8-kilowatt system goes for energy? We know that the purification and crystalization of silicon to make integrated circuit chips is highly energy intensive. Is it much less to make the much larger silicon panels? Is there somebody who can provide an energy usage balance sheet that compares the energy needed to manufacture solar panels against the energy they eventually generate?

Joined: Jan 1 2010


Solar panel prices have come way down due to the Chinese companies entering the market and an over supply. With the unlimited Federal Tax Credit and the PGE Rebate the system pays for itself from day 1. Of course your demand depends on a lot of things but by the way it is going the Tier 1 rate of PGE will hit 20 cent per KW/h not in too distant of a future. They found a "great way" of increasing the rates by playing with the different tier prices. Once the Tax Credit is gone, 2010 is the last year I think and the PGE rebates diminishes then it will be a totally different ball game.

Happy 2010 to everyone


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