Home Rooftop Solar Panels in Arkansas

My spouse and I have wanted to reduce our carbon footprint and utilize renewable energy for a while, but it had to make sense. Our utility provider offers a “renewable investment” where we invest $$$ into their renewable implementation and we get X% off our bill – but this never made financial sense, it would never pay for itself. So we looked into installing rooftop solar. Our setup makes financial sense while also reducing our carbon footprint. Going Solar is Arkansas is definitely do-able.

The System


The panels are LG NeON 2 High-Efficiency 335W 60-cell photovoltaic solar panels. Total output capacity of the system is 8.04Kwh. The panels ratings include for high wind and baseball sized hail, which are important considerations in my region. They come with a 20-year parts guarantee, 25-year performance guarantee, and they are rated to produce 90% of their original output when they reach the 25 year mark.

Our system is grid-tied, meaning we supply our excess power generation into the grid, which accumulates as credit, and we pull on that accumulated credit at night, cloudy days, or seasons with higher utilization (like summer).

22 panels on the west roof (photo taken after 5pm)

Most of our West-facing rooftop is unshaded year-round, so there we have 22 panels, but for a 100% electricity use offset we needed 2 more panels. We had the option between placing panels in the Southwest corner of our roof and accept that they would be shaded during peak solar hours through portions of the year, or we could put the 2 panels on our South-facing gable over our garage, where they would be shaded through some of the morning but have more peak hours year-round. We went with the latter plan, so 22 panels on the west roof and 2 on the garage.

2 panels on the garage

The panels are mounted through the roof on railing that keeps them elevated from the roof, allowing them to stay cool while they absorb sunlight. The railing is also necessary to distribute the weight of the panels evenly on the roof. The panels themselves, by keeping direct sunlight from reaching the roof, should also help reduce indoor heat accumulation during warmer months.

Roof mounting during installation

Each panel connects to an Enphase IQ7 Microinverter underneath, and the wiring runs through the attic and to the Enphase control module near the electric meter.

Photovoltaic control system

Electricity goes both directly into our home and any excess goes into the grid. The Enphase control system tracks system production and grid utilization to provide realtime and long-term statistics on grid net usage/contribution. This information is directly available to the consumer through the Enphase Enlighten website and mobile app.

For those with more of a DIY/devops disposition, the solar controller has an undocumented API that some on Github have found ways to tap into directly. You can see my real-time solar production stats here.


There isn’t much to tell here.

  • We signed for the system in early/mid February.
  • February through March: The installers went through the regulatory approval process with the city and the POA.
  • Late March: physical installation completed in 1 day.
  • Mid April: the city inspected the installation.
  • At the end of April: the power company inspected the installation and installed the net meter.

Cost and Return on Investment

My Enlighten lifetime production statistics for the past 3 weeks

In the 3 weeks since starting, we have produced nearly 645kWh, and netted 356kWh into the grid. The goal is to net a decent excess of electricity in the Spring, so that in Summer there is credit to draw on in the event that production doesn’t cover the utilization created by air conditioning. Our installation didn’t complete in time to maximize that timetable for this calendar year, but we still seem to be on track to avoid large electricity bills this summer.

Total cost for the system, before the 26% Federal tax credit in 2020 and any sales incentives, is $33,305. The state of Arkansas allows for 20-year zero-down solar loans. During our first few years our solar payment will be only slightly higher than our previous average monthly electric bill.

With normal regular rate increases from the utility company, our prior electric bill would have exceeded our flat solar payment in approximately 7 years. That makes our return on investment occur somewhere near year 12 of owning the system. The solar loan requires that, to keep to our current monthly payment, we redirect our Federal solar tax credit into the solar loan to reduce the principle cost of the system.

Thanks to Arkansas’ generous 1:1 net metering rules, all excess power that we generate and do not use becomes a full per-watt credit on our account. With our particular power company, if we maintain a credit for 24 months, we can request a check for the wholesale rate of our excess power generation.

Our solar installation makes financial sense and has a sound return on investment, while also reducing our carbon footprint. Prohibiting factors for you going solar would be shade, minimal electricity usage, or exceedingly high electricity usage. I think higher usage actually makes it easier to go solar as a quicker return on investment, but the upfront price tag might be higher than most want.

With home appliances always becoming more efficient, and our system rated to produce 90% of its original output in 25 years, this system could last us for the rest of our lives.

Installer: Performance Guarantees and Service

For the installation of our system, we used SunPro out of North Little Rock. We chose them because:

  • SunPro guarantees the annual production of the systems they install, or they pay you the difference
  • They use top-tier panels from LG and offer them at the best prices
  • They guarantee the quality of their work for 20 years
  • SunPro’s parent company also does roofing, so they have a separate income stream from solar
  • SunPro has the largest footprint across the Southern United States for solar installers
  • Despite not living near Little Rock, their installation team was just as available and prompt as if they were local

SunPro also has a potentially lucrative referral system, where they will give both the referrer and the new customer cash just for taking a meeting, no obligation. If you’re interested, feel free to email me at erik [at] thespecter.net

To answer the most common questions I get:

  • So what happens if you need a new roof? The installers will take the panels down and store them for a flat rate, then put them back up when the roofing work is complete.
  • Why don’t you have batteries, isn’t the point to be off-grid? While many people do install solar panels to be off-grid, and solar companies will gladly sell home batteries to you, it doesn’t make sense as a financial return on investment. Batteries will double the cost of the solar installation.

Side-note: If you are interested in having some amount of off-grid power power during power outages, and have no shading potential, the SMA Sunny Boy line of string inverters offer 1 electrical outlet that can be powered directly from the panels. Some think of it as a gimmick, but I could see it being handy to charge phones or other emergency item during a power outage. As long as there is sunshine.

The fluidity of truth

In times past, humanity did not have clear notions of truth. The concept of fact was relatively vague and allowed for variety. A person could accept something, let’s say a history for their specific region, while also accepting an accompanying history from others that may have contradictions; those contradictions would not be a problem. An individual could believe in something as truthful while also believing in something else that might constitute a contradiction. A Catholic could accept the story at the beginning of Genesis while also accepting an otherwise apocryphal story like that of Lilith.

Truth had variability and context. The advent of social order, and then intellectual thought, reasoning, and science with its clear and rigorously tested concrete facts has helped humanity reach a distinct level of clarity in its thoughts about the world and existence.

However, this development has displaced the traditional source of knowledge: religion. Religion appeals to those less conscious and forefront parts of the human experience, our subjective feelings of personal truth.

Now, the “culture war” clashes of our contemporary society have come from those religious forces trying to reformulate their beliefs in the form of reason-based knowledge and scientific facts; they aim to create an authority like reason-based truth without its key component: critical thinking.

This can be seen in any ideologically-geared counter-factual education, particularly like those being put forward in the state of Texas. Depicting evolution as “controversial” where no actual controversy exists in the scientific community, for example. The next step after presenting it as a “controversy” is to then depict it as more and more suspect until the common authoritative perspective concludes in its falsity, not out of reason but rather out of engrained half-truths; the tone and authority of science without any true intellectual rigor or evidence.

Bizarre Korean beliefs and urban legends

1.     Fan death – To me, this is the most hilarious urban legend that I’ve encountered.  Apparently, a number of years ago, a man in very poor health was sleeping in a 90+ degree room with the windows closed and had a fan blowing on him, and the fan, in combination with his poor health and alcohol-induced state, caused him to dehydrate and get hypothermia, killing him. Conventional conclusion: don’t go to sleep drunk, dehydrated, and in poor health while the room is ridiculously hot and lacks proper ventilation. The Korean conclusion: fans and air conditioners, when used in an enclosed room, will somehow remove the air from the room and cause you to suffocate. The explanations can vary, like the device “sucking out” the oxygen, the device “chopping” the oxygen up, or pushing the oxygen down to the floor and leaving you nothing to breath. Fans that you can purchase at all of the retailers here have shut-off timers on them that the manufacturers, government, and doctors strongly suggest for you to use so that you do not die from the fan. Everyone in the country, with few exceptions, believes in this and will not accept any notion to the contrary. Korean doctors and academics have researched and documented this “phenomenon” while doctors and academics from around the world have researched and documented how it is not the case and how ridiculous this Korean belief is.  Read more on Wikipedia.

2.     Never write a name in red ink because it will cause the person to die. The justification goes like this: red is the color of blood – blood’s appearance is a sign of death – conclusion: writing a name in red will cause someone to die. The children, and the teachers even more-so, are terrified of having a name written in red.

3.    Your blood type has a direct correlation to the type of personality you have, or will have, and other various things about your life and lifestyle. Never mind things like genetics, environment, and life experiences – it’s your blood type.

4.    The season you are born in determines how tall you will grow. Again, never mind genetics and environment, it all has to do with the season you were born in. There has been substantial research in this field by Korean experts, and every time they find a population that doesn’t follow the trends that they expect to find they will simply label it an anomaly and entirely insignificant.

An explanation of “Mount Impossible”

Richard Dawkins uses the analogy of climbing a mountain for different perspectives regarding the development of the eye, which he dubs ‘Mount Impossible’. The instantaneous development of the complexities of the eye would be the equivalent of leaping from below the mountain to the peak in a single stride.  This would seem impossible, short of some form of divine or extra-human intervention.  If you choose to realize a more gradual process for climbing the mountain, or the evolutional development of the eye, though, you will find the accomplishment much more feasible and plausible via natural and explainable processes.

Evolution: The Modern Synthesis

In the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin proposed natural selection, which is that traits that provide for a species to succeed are those that are passed on while those that are unsuccessful will become less prevalent.  The problem with natural selection, as he proposed it, is that he suggested inheritance occurred by the blending of traits from both parents.  This would cause dilution of successful traits, and thus not allow for natural selection.  In contrast, Gregor Mendel, through the observation of simple trait inheritance of plants, found that there are dominant and recessive quality for each trait, and that each trait was come to separately from other traits.  This would more properly allow for variation seen in species and lack of blending for each trait, thus not resulting in dilution of traits.

“The Modern Synthesis” is the resulting combination of the ideas of Darwin, Mendel, and Meischer.  Independently, Darwin’s Origin of Species was not able to explain the means by which traits were passed on.  Also, Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance, while able to explain the passing on of traits, did not provide for the actual mechanisms by which those traits were passed on.  The discovery of DNA by Meischer, and its combination with Darwin’s natural selection and Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance allowed for a complete understanding of the physical mechanisms, trait inheritance, and overall trends of evolution.

Soul and Mind

The concept of the immortal soul is one that is incredibly difficult to defend in reason and observation, difficult to connect to one’s body, and hard to differentiate from an ethereal mind. Instead, it’s much easier to promote just the mind, as the mind is something we phenomenally experience as well as have a physical counterpart to.

The mind is a metaphysical entity, a center of operations, that is a byproduct of a field effect emanating from the human body. As the whole is not the sum of its parts, the field effect of the mind cannot be wholly observed through human brain composition or activity.

An analogy of this would be software visuals on a computer. The image created from a data file cannot be observed in the binary code alone, but as a composite visual product created on the display. Our thoughts manifest themselves, not in the physical material that is the composition of our brains, but in our actions. A similar analogy may also be made with that of the relationship between subatomic particles and physical objects. The subatomic particles alone share little in common with the qualities of a physical object, but the composition of all of the subatomic objects in a certain arrangement creates a perceivably unique object.

Under this notion of the mind, the relationship with the body becomes evident. The failing of our bodies, whether due to illness, age, or death, weakens or entirely eliminates the field effect. Additionally, anything that occurs to our body will have some degree of repercussion upon the field effect that is our mind. Because of this relationship, when we die our mind does not live on like a soul is believed to do, but instead the mind ceases to exist as the whole system of the body fails.

This makes our immortality less of an individual one, and rather manifested in our contributions to the world and other people in whatever form our talents allow.