Toasting Solar in Sonoma County

When you ask clinical psychologist Harvey Hoefer why he and his wife decided to install a solar system, his answer is, essentially, why not? In this day and age, “Why does anyone not go solar?” he asks.

Hoefer and his wife Lisa Carr, a physician, called on Gaiam Real Goods to design and install their system in 2006. It powers not only their Sonoma County, Calif., home, but also one of the pumps that help irrigate their 10 acres of organic cabernet grapes.

The couple sells their grapes to northern California’s renowned Bonterra organic winery. “I grew up in the Napa Valley,” Carr says. “My great-grandfather was a barrel maker there.”

Hoefer and Carr’s solar electric system boasts 18 Sharp photovoltaic (PV) modules, which are mounted on an embankment next to their home — rather than on the roof like many solar systems. The unconventional location is optimal because of the abundance of shade on the couple’s property from their numerous California oak trees.

The couple gives props to Gaiam Real Goods’ technical staff for designing their solar electric system to blend in architecturally — yet also locating it appropriately. “They worked with us for at least half a day to site it,” Hoefer says, “and now you can barely see it.”

Hoefer and Carr figure that the power their PV system produces will just about offset their monthly electric bill (about $180 per month on average), and that they’ll routinely be selling the excess power they produce back to Pacific Gas & Electric, their local energy utility, via their grid intertie. “We have a little meter in the house,” Hoefer says. “One of our morning entertainments is to see if we’re consuming or we’re selling.”


Tech Specs:
Hoefer-Carr Home's
Gaiam Real Goods
Solar Electric System
System Type Grid Intertie System
System Size 3kW
PV Panels 18 Sharp 167-watt modules
Inverter Fronius IG 4000
Controller 1 MX60 OutBack controller
Batteries 4 183A 8GRD-type Real Goods
solar cell batterie


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