From scratch: solar electricity?
I'm very excited to tell you we are going to put in solar electricity. We had a fire and are rebuilding/remodeling, and my very conservative husband skeptically gave the OK. Since he's also the General Contractor who will be doing the installation (we think), that's important.
Anyway. I'm reading, reading, reading, and am unfortunately becoming more and more confused. I'm hoping if I give you some of the details, someone might have some direction or recommendations for me?
We have a 1974, energy wasting, chemically poisoning, inefficient Ranch, 2600 SF, with electric heat, water (well), air, everything. Power outage? We fire up that ol' gasoline wasting generator that creates enough noise pollution to deafen even the most hardened rock concert attendee.
However, we do have 8-14 hours a day of unobstructed, unmitigating, HOT, southern Maryland sun, and an extremely low-pitched roof. It's just begging for solar panels! :) There are only two of us, but my husband hates to be hot, so air conditioning is a must.
I am reading about PV panels that mount on the roof, then I see there are some that stick (?) on?
Then I see that they work best when ... cool? How does one achieve that, while taking advantage of the sun?
Is there a way to "stage" installation in case we have to do this piece by piece? Perhaps the converter (inverter?), and meters, then, batteries, the panels, etc?
Do we need special water heating equipment if we're going solar for the entire house?
I've already done as much as I can with regular conservation.
Lightbulbs, caulking, cool water for laundry and dishes, and only running the dishwasher when we don't have any more silverware.
I stuck bricks in the toilet tanks.
I have motion sensing, timer lights outside, and motion sensing lights in all the rooms (where my husband tends to leave lights on.) The latter dropped my BG&E bill dramatically!
We use an evil, hated wood-burning stove, where I get wood off Freecycle or out of the paper.
I compost and am working on a gray water system for my gardens.
So with all that in mind, is there a place where I can read about the steps to installing a system? Are there PV panels more recommended than others? Inverters, batteries, etc? I could build you a computer out of a bucket of bolts, but the electrical terminology boggles my mind. So I'm hoping for someone to simply say, "Haven't you read 'Planning a Solar Electric System for Total Idiots'?"
Oh - and I'm in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. So far, every company who installs systems wants $1000 up front to come out and tell me what to do. Frankly, I don't blame them, but with a contracting husband, I can't even call a plumber because he can do it... But this is NOT his area of expertise, so I need to learn as much as I can so we can do it ourselves.
Thanks so much for letting me ramble and for your recommendations. Questions, too, if I haven't provided enough real information!