Last week, GTM Research’ssolarteam exchanged its analyst caps for hard hats and did some real solar field work. Volunteering under the guidance of GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest nonprofit solar installer, the team installed a 3-kilowatt residential system on a family’s roof in San Diego. According to the Solar Market Insight report, this represents a whopping .003 percent of all California residential installations for the fourth quarter of this year.

Over the past decade, GRID Alternatives has installed more than 11 megawatts of solar on the homes of nearly 4,000 families. Earlier this year, analyst Nicole Litvak highlighted the company as a residential installer to watch, ranking sixth in the standings in the U.S. PV Leaderboard.

In addition to delivering clean energy to low-income families at no cost, GRID Alternatives provides hands-on solar installation experience to students and people looking to get into the field. We were joined by a supervisor, certified team leader and several volunteers, including two students from a nearby trade school.

Brian, our supervisor, was a long-term volunteer before being hired full-time.

GRID Alternative spends two full days on installations, ensuring ample time for volunteers to get their hands dirty and ask questions along the way. As we were closing up the Solar Market Insight Conference, the team of volunteers installed the mounting systems and microinverters. By the time we showed up on day two, we were left to secure the panels, run the electrical wiring, and flip the switch.

The new solar homeowner and analyst MJ Shiao patiently wait for the meter to start spinning backwards.

At the end of the day, we watched the meter run backwards as clean energy streamed into the home. Scott Clavenna, CEO of Greentech Media and foreman-of-the-day, stood on the roof. Arms crossed, he looked west to the Pacific, then south to Tijuana, and asserted, “Our work is done here.”

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No modules or GTM employees were harmed in the making of this story.