Nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives relies on the help of volunteers to install solar on the homes of low-income families throughout the United States, making easy-to-use equipment that is safe for inexperienced installers an absolute must.
With an estimated 20 million low-income homes in the United States, GRID Alternatives has found a way to bring financial benefits to deserving families across the nation while at the same time provide solar job seekers with real-life work experience.
GRID—a national nonprofit organization—partners with a variety of solar manufactures to receive equipment at a reduced or donated price. Enphase is among the list of GRID sponsors, offering intelligent microinverter technology that is both simple and safe for novice volunteers.
The homes in the Hollyhock development, a mutual self-help housing community in Sebastopol, California, have been going solar one by one with the help of GRID and its partners. 24 of the development’s homes use Enphase technology, eight of which were installed by Enphase employee volunteers.
“For an affordable housing development like this one, we don’t have a lot of roof real estate to work with,” said Tim Sears, COO and co-founder of GRID Alternatives. “Enphase microinverters allow for greater design flexibility, helping us to maximize system size and maximize client savings.”
Enphase’s simple plug-and-play technology makes for faster, easier installations that are safe for even the most inexperienced installers. Designed with low-voltage DC wiring, Enphase technology significantly reduces the risks of fire and injury.
“These systems were installed by volunteers in a matter of two days, so ease of installation of all of our equipment is very important to us. The Enphase microinverters are novice-friendly in both understanding and safety,” said Sears.
The Trainor family is one of 24 Hollyhock residents impacted by the Enphase-GRID partnership.
“I’ve been fascinated by solar and sustainable living since I was kid, inspired by my father who also dreamed of going solar back in the 70s,” said Nathan Trainor. “Having hip, groovy parents meant we may have been a bit ahead of our time, but unfortunately always a dollar shy of making our solar dream a reality. Taking this step toward a more sustainable existence is exciting and makes the future look a whole lot brighter.”
But the Trainor family won’t just be going green; they’ll be saving green. The new 1.7kW Enphase System is expected to save the family $14,500 over the course of its lifetime.
Although each system is relatively small in size, the eight systems installed by 125 Enphase volunteers total 55kW and provide a combined savings of $466,000 in energy costs.
“Enphase’s monitoring system allows us to keep track of production and do quality control and troubleshooting for our clients, making it easy to keep their systems producing the cost savings they rely on,” Sears concluded.
Client: Hollyhock Development
Location: Sebastopol, California
Installer: GRID Alternatives
System Size: 55kW
Microinverters: Enphase M215