By George Harvey
Patrick O’Meara is a carpenter who has worked for many years doing fine woodworking of all types. His home is in an area of East Orange, Vermont that the electric grid never reached, so he had to install his own generating equipment for both it and the shop where he does his work. For years, the major source of his electric power has been his own array of solar photovoltaics (PVs).
The solar system was installed years ago, when solar prices were much higher than they are today. Even so, it was less expensive than bringing in grid power. In those days, solar was only exceptionally less expensive than grid power. Things have changed since then, and today it is the rule in much of New England that solar power costs less than grid electricity.
O’Meara’s shop is a great example of what can be done with PVs. As a carpenter, he has a lot of power equipment, and he depends on it for his livelihood. Nevertheless, the shop is solar powered. There is a battery system, of course, for those times that the sun is not shining, and so the work can be done in a timely, professional manner, powered by the sun, regardless of whether the sun is shining or not.
Darren O’Meara, Patrick’s son, grew up naturally interested in electricity. He took his degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and became a semi-conductor engineer. When it came time for him to have a home of his own, he wanted to live in the same area where he grew up, the same area without grid electric power. Of course, he put in his own off-grid solar system.
Since the O’Mearas had worked with their own PV systems, they naturally got requests for help, guidance, and advice from others who wanted their own systems. O’Meara Solar grew out of that demand.
Darren’s experience with engineering is a nice complement to his father’s with woodworking. Darren can do all the electrical engineering, including specifying makes and models of equipment that can be integrated into a system. Patrick has all the expertise they need to deal with custom roof mounts that work well with an existing building. Between them they have just about everything they need to design and install top-quality professional solar systems.
This is not to say that they do everything themselves. They subcontract things ranging from excavating for ground-mounted systems to electrical work, getting the benefit of workers with expertise in those types of work.
From the customer’s point of view, this means that the system was designed by the same person who sold it, and the same person was responsible for details of the installation. It means that the company does the installation knowing that it will ultimately be responsible for how the system performs. Darren points out that he hopes to maintain good relations with his customers for a long time. “We are small and local,” he explains, “and I expect to be here for the rest of my life.” For those who are interested, he is thirty-five, so he could be around for a good while.
The O’Mearas like to deal with local customers, and prefer to work on installations that are no more than an hour’s drive away. Nearly all their work is in Orange County, Vermont and Grafton County, New Hampshire.
Since the O’Mearas live with their own off-grid systems, they understand such installations and do a lot of them. They also do grid-tied systems, including both those with and without battery backup. Roof- and ground-mounted systems are both well within their abilities. Examples of their work can be seen at their website, www.omearasolar.com. The number is 802-522-2381.