Reflections on a Decade of Installing Solar

Ten years ago, two guys (Andy and Reeves, hence the A&R) founded a company that was based on the crazy notion that people would want to install solar on their homes and businesses in the Pacific Northwest. It turns out that solar works really well here, just ask any of our 1,000+ customers.

Like any emerging industry, solar has been through a lot of changes over the last decade. We asked a few of our employee owners to share some of their favorite early projects and reflections:

Back in the day, we were lucky to sell a job or two per month. In the meantime, we weren’t able to pay ourselves anything other than the occasional evaluation fee (which we don’t charge anymore). I sold mattresses out of a storage unit on craigslist to make ends meet. (Dave Kozin, CFO)

Solar hot water used to dominate but is all but non-existent these days. PV equipment prices have plummeted while solar hot water materials (copper, glass, aluminium) have gone up. (Dave Kozin)

Featured Project

Neighborhood House, West Seattle
2010, 24.96 kW

I learned how to get on and off a ladder. (Dave Kozin)

Solar has changed from a product only for the rich and off-grid types to something most homeowners can afford. Now you can pay $100 a month on low interest loan and eliminate the majority of your power bill. (Jesse Anderson, Project Coordinator)

Featured Project

Heyday Farms barn, Bainbridge Island
2012, 11.76 kW

It has been incredible seeing our employees go solar as well. It really shows our commitment to the future and our planet. (Jesse Anderson)

I go home everyday happy, and I come to work happy. Best place I have ever worked. (Jesse Anderson)

Wide access to solar monitoring is a fairly new phenomenon. Ten years ago you were lucky to get a production output on your inverter screen. Now you can see what individual modules are producing. (Evan Manderbach, Operations Manager)

Overall system size has increased dramatically. Due to advances in solar panel efficiency and power density, the average system size seems to be about 7 kW compared to 3 kW back then. A 7 kW system back then was a monster. Modules have gone from 175 W being the standard to 300 W+ being the standard. (Andy Yatteau, Co-Founder/Operations Manager)

Having more people tell their friends and neighbors about solar, and the cost coming down has led to widespread adoption in the Northwest where people thought Reeves and I were crazy for starting a solar company. (Andy Yatteau)

Featured Project

Walla Walla Community College
2011, 71.76 kW

Getting paid for doing site evals and being able to buy groceries. (Andy Yatteau)

Developing an estimating tool. That was a big one for me. We had to submit each design/pricing request to the design team, and it took a week (at best) to get it back. I can now sketch and draft an estimate in about 10 minutes, and I can do it from my car or a coffee shop! (Damien Durand, Solar Design Consultant)

Featured Project

Winnie Farms, Bainbridge Island
2012, 30.13 kW

Introduction of Google Earth. When you’d first show homeowners that you could see their roofs from satellite images, some actually freaked out. “We’re being spied on!” Eventually it became “eh, just look on Google.” (Shane Nesbitt, Commercial Project Developer)

Just how rare it once was. If you saw an solar installation on a home, you’d definitely stop and look. (Shane Nesbitt)

Introduction of micro inverters and the simplicity and flexibility they bring to system design.. They were the holy grail of solar and everyone was waiting for their release. Now we have AC panels. (Shane Nesbitt)

How original solar advocates (read:hippies) have been slowly replaced by professionals. (Shane Nesbitt)

We used to make people pay $250 for a site visit. Andy and I would split the money just to get paid. (Reeves Clippard, Co-Founder and CEO)

Featured Project

KidsQuest Museum, Bellevue
2015, 4.48 kW

I used to know every customer (and potential customers) by name. (Reeves Clippard)

It used to be a big process just to figure out if we could afford to buy a new ladder. (Reeves Clippard)

My favorite part of my job is seeing how excited our customers are to have gone solar (and it’s even better when I hear how A&R blew away their expectations). (Reeves Clippard)

Featured Project

Hobbit House, Vashon Island
2008, 4.54 kW