Paso Robles house

Paso Robles house solar panels. Credit: Mike Brown
Paso Robles house solar panels. Credit: Mike Brown
OwnersMichael Brown
LocationPaso Robles, California
CountryUnited States
TypeSustainable renovation project
Owner Web
Owner contactMike Brown mwbrown42 @

Summary of house features

  • Solar panels, grid interactive. 25 Sanyo 200W panels, 5kW
  • Xeriscape landscape replaced front grass


We bought this 1670 sq ft, single-story house in June 2007 in Paso Robles California, in the heart of the Central Coast wine region. One of the first projects I wanted to complete was the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. You can read more about my thinking about solar power at the first link below. I wrote a program to display the real-time and historic power generation data – go to the first link and click on the big screen shot to launch it.

Since my house roofline runs North-South, we had to go with a ground-mount system. Luckily we had enough room on our 2 acre lot to find the perfect spot. I did the prep work in July 2007, and the system installation was done September 17-26, 2007. After months of planning and a week of installation, we powered up the solar system and my electric meter immediately started running backwards.

Other green living factors we are doing in our lives:

  • I hired a landscaper in September 2009 to replace my front grass with a xeriscape landscape, using native low-water plants and trees
  • We use soybean-derived B-99 biodiesel fuel in my wife’s VW turbo-diesel Beetle, getting 49 miles per gallon on the highway
  • We only use compact fluorescent light bulbs, including outdoor spotlights
  • We use an Energy-Star refrigerator and washing machine
  • I installed a tankless electric water heater to remove my dependence from propane and avoid replacing a rusted-out tank every 6-8 years
  • We have ceiling fans in every room
  • The house has excellent wall and attic insulation and has a West-facing overhang, blocking hot afternoon sun
  • Recycling is excellent here. I take all paper, cardboard, plastics and metal to our local recycling center. Drink bottles and cans are recycled and deposit paid back.
  • I declined to get garbage service because we recycle so much. I take the non-recycleables to the landfill once a year or so.
  • I rebuilt the wood burning fireplace venting to bring it up to code and make it safe. I use about 15 pieces of fallen tree wood to heat the house all winter, avoiding use of the existing propane heat system.

CategoriesCalifornia | Rural | Renovation | Sustainable houses