Home Solar On Steroids Powers Calif. Estate

A modest home solar-power system might have peak output of 1.5-kilowatts (kW). Stepping up to 5 kW, you can “completely meet the energy needs of many conventional homes,” the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says. That puts into perspective, we hope, the utterly massive scale of the 150-kW setup newly installed at a Southern California estate. It’s said to be the biggest U.S. home-solar system ever.

Word of this system-on-steroids comes from SolarWorld, which supplied 600 250-watt mono-crystalline panels for the installation. SolarWorld said the owners of the sprawling hillside mansion requested anonymity, so we don’t know who went to these extraordinary lengths, but the company did provide a picture.

largest residential solar power installation in U.S., SolarWorld

image via SolarWorld

The first thing you notice, looking at the picture, is that this isn’t a rooftop system. And, in fact, from the home itself you’d hardly know it exists. The other thing that jumps out is the hole in that huge expanse of solar panels. According to SolarWorld, that’s a result of the owners of the system “playfully omitting a block of six solar panels to accommodate a protruding boulder.” Zeroing in and cropping the photo shows exactly what they’re referring to.

largest residential solar power installation, SolarWorld

image via SolarWorld

SolarWorld calls the system the largest residential installation in the United States, and while we have no way of verifying that, we also have a hard time imagining one that’s bigger. According to the company, the system was installed by SRC, an electrical contractor based in Vista, Calif., using materials from the Ramona, Calif., branch of Consolidated Electrical Distributors, a wholesale electrical distribution company based in Irving, Texas.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.