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Sounding Off: View loss is insignificant versus energy saving

August 12, 2010|By Jim Mouradick

The photo on the front page of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot of Aug. 5 ["Resident: 'Green' can't trump views"] was shot in such a manner as to maximize the visual impact of my solar electric panels. It was taken by standing up close to the bedroom window, looking down at the panels, not out at the view. Most folks, when in their own bedroom, are actually sitting or lying down. In which case, the subject solar panels or not blocking any ocean view, as there is no ocean view in these conventional positions, as the bottom window sill is chest high.

On three different occasions I personally tried to invite Lea Eastman to participate in the pre-planning process before moving forward on the solar electric panel project. She was the ONLY neighbor whose ocean view might be affected and only partially from one window in her upstairs bedroom area. None of her ocean view was affected in the downstairs bedroom/living/deck area. Every time I attempted to converse with her on the topic of the solar electric system, it ended up with her yelling at me, cussing at me, and telling me "to shove the solar panels where the sun doesn't shine." During the actual installation of the system, Lea Eastman, or her mother, June, yelled at, cussed at, harangued and insulted the installation crew at least every other day.

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Regarding her use of the term "platform," there is none. The panels sit on a racking system, a series of joined and connected 1¼" steel pipes. The bottom edge of the lower portion of the panels is 1'2" above the level of our tar and gravel flat roof, and the top edge of the highest portion of the panels is 2'2" above the level of our tar and gravel flat roof. Of the five different racking systems that were thoroughly explored prior to construction, two of them would not work with our roof joist/rafter system, a third system was too heavy for our roof, and of the remaining two, we purposely picked the lowest profile one out of concern for the Eastmans. This particular racking system was also the most costly to install of the five racking systems.

Lea Eastman contends that a 15% pitch of the panels (their amount of slope) is unnecessary. First, the optimum slope for this part of the world is 20%, anything less reduces the overall performance of the system. Again, entirely voluntarily, our panels are set at a 10% slope, thus reducing their height impact by about 10" and concurrently causing about a 5% reduction in performance of the system.

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