Volunteer Solar Installation: Energizing a home and the human spirit.


It started with a simple survey and resulted in an experience of a lifetime. My name is Nick Andrews. I’m a Mechanical Designer in our Seattle office, as of a few months. After checking the box, “I’m interested”, in a company survey, a month later I was traveling to San Francisco to volunteer with GRID Alternatives (GRID), a non-profit driving renewable energy resources to underserved communities. I was allotted this very cool opportunity since Mazzetti is conscientious towards reducing environmental harm and actually participating in the solution.

You can check out the video from our first install last year. 

This past weekend myself and a group of my colleagues paired up with GRID to install a 3 kilowatt solar system on a woman’s homestead in Oakland, CA.  Check out some photos here. 

CAUTION: Technical info ahead. Not to worry, this will be brief.. The 3 kw solar system included 14 solar modules, installed using micro inverters. The system facilitates panels to perform independently, compensating for production drops due to shade. (The alternative: Without the use of micro inverters, the panels would be wired together, essentially acting as one large panel. The level of production is then dependent upon that of the weakest producing panel.). Phew now that that’s done

Back to the build and my personal experience….

Entering into this, I hadn’t given it too much forethought. I knew I had the availability, so I offered to help. I thought it might be “nice” to pair a little learning with some community service. And of course, the fact that the build was in sunny California (and I live in sometimes rainy Seattle), didn’t hurt either. But as I alluded to earlier, the experience was far greater than “nice”.

Day One

We arrive at our site, greeted by Rivka, the owner of the homestead. It was quickly evident she took pride in living as environmentally sustainable as possible,,and that is probably putting it lightly.

She had a garden full of fruit, veggies, and nectar from “hummingbird sage”. She had a 1000-gallon rain water storage system and grey water systems that she used to irrigate her garden. I was inspired to see how this installation would in fact help her reduce her energy cost and live even more sustainability.

We divided our labor between the roof and ground. Roof workers installed the rail system and micro-inverters, while the ground crew assembled the rail system and bent the conduit that would connect the solar panels to the house.


Day Two

We connected the solar panels to the micro-inverters and installed onto the rail system. Next, we wired the junction box connected it to the modules. Upon completion, we installed a monitoring system so that Rivka could see and manage the production. And the results… the system was producing MORE power than she was using at the time. She was actually producing additional clean energy , going back on the grid!

Rivka was electrified! (Sorry, I couldn’t pass up saying that!) In all seriousness, seeing her genuine passion and happiness at the end, made the trip completely worthwhile.

I met some wonderful people, learned new technical knowledge, but most importantly, I was able to feel the immediate impact from a simple act of generosity—energizing a home and the human spirit.

When I first learned Mazzetti’s vision, to make the world a better place by creating better environments, I didn’t absorb it fully, I admit. After this experience, I can completely attest to it. We have made it a priority to help communities, help people, through our work.. It’s an attitude, and it’s infectious.

– Nick Andrews


Projected environmental and economic impacts for the family and the community:

  • $25,400 value of energy generated this system over its lifetime (direct savings to family)
  • 80 tons of carbon emissions prevented (equivalent of planting over 1,850 trees)

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