When Ron Krincek made a routine trip to the Home Depot, he came away with a lot more than just the items he’d set out to buy. Always curious about how solar energy worked, it wasn’t until Krincek heard an announcement at the Vauxhall store, which is the largest Home Depot in the U.S., that he decided it was time to learn more.
“I was doing some research at home, reading articles and just trying to understand how it worked and how you can get the return on your investment really quick,” he said. “It was interesting and I thought I really need to reach out to somebody.
“I was in Home Depot and I heard an announcement that said Home Depot is proud to partner with PSE&G in a solar program and come talk to us to see if you’re a candidate for solar and I thought ‘That was it. They’re dropping the bomb on me right here. I got to go listen because if I have any interest, I have to go find out.’”
From there, Krincek met the two men who would be instrumental in helping him achieve his goal of becoming more energy efficient through the use of solar power.
Matthew Morra, of Advanced Performance Solar, who is also the director of operations at 20 Home Depot stores in New Jersey, and Kevin Kraft, solar project manager at the Home Depot, helped determine if Krincek’s Weston Avenue residence qualified.
Morra said with the use of a satellite, he is able to tell within 10 to 15 minutes whether or not a residence or even a commercial building is potentially suitable for solar panels.
"These guys were great," Krincek explained. "They said 'Let's look at your address.' He looked at where my house was and so he saw it and they put in some numbers to figure out which way it's facing to see if they should go out and do a site survey. When they look at it on the computer, they can either rule it out almost immediately or say, well there's a chance here."
From what was visible from the satellite, Krincek's home appeared to be a good candidate so a site survey was the next step in the process.
Krincek said an electrical engineer measured the roof angle, the tilt of the roof and the angle it faces the sun.
Some issues that can make or break the chances of installing a solar electric system, according to Morra, include:
shingles cannot be more than 15 years old
only one layer of shingles must be present
too much shade from mature trees
not enough space on roof with southern exposure
Before he could begin the process, Krincek, who grew up on North Hillside Avenue, needed to remove two mature, diseased trees that were not only a hazard but would also cast too much shade over the roof.
After making the requisite calculations, Krincek's home was outfitted with three sets of 12 panels. Each set is called an array. Morra pointed out that panels do not invade the roof but rather are bolted on to rails.
A wire is attached to each array and is connected to inverters in Krincek's basement. Direct current comes in and goes into the inverters and is then converted to alternating current, which is then used in the home.
"When the sun comes up, a light comes on and it actually shows the power that I'm generating right on the screen of the inverter," Krincek said. "It's really fun. You look at it and, as the sun comes up, it shows you how many watts of electricity you're making and the number just keeps climbing."
JCP&L then removed the Krincek's meter and replaced it with what is called a net meter, which reads the amount of power the Krinceks use off the grid, while a second number represents the amount of power Krincek's home is giving back to the grid.
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