A Sunpower monitoring report for the Mirkin family’s solar panel system in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Gaithersburg, Maryland

In June of 2010 the Mirkin family of Gaithersburg, Maryland, submitted their request to the Lakelands HOA Design Review Committee (DRC) to install solar panels (link to Lakelands solar article) on their home. With some education in solar efficiencies, the DRC approved the placement of the solar panels stating that the Mirkin household would lose greater than 20% efficiency if the solar panels were placed on the rear of the home or garage as originally suggested by the DRC.

“The DRC did their homework when it came to solar, solar access laws and solar products” said Geoff Mirkin. “While it was challenging for me to wait on the approval, I could understand their point of view when it came to preserving the aesthetic of the neighborhood.”

Mirkin choose a less obtrusive panel for this reason – overall aesthetic. Solar panel manufacturers have made drastic changes in the aesthetic of the panel, while also increasing panel efficiencies. The Mirkins selected the SunPower® Smart Mount Residential Mounting System, which features high-efficiency solar modules, is architecturally attractive, and incorporates natural ventilation that enables it to maintain its performance.

“The installation itself is clean and pleasing to the eye,” says Mirkin. The dispute was about placement of the panels. The DRC quickly learned how the placement drastically affects savings and earning from a system.

The system has proven itself to save more than was originally expected. In November 2009, Mirkin had an electricity bill of $171.85 as compared to November 2010 of $96.69. That’s a monthly savings of more than $75.

Adding more than $2,600 per year to the family revenue stream solar can be one of the best investments available today.

“The return on investment for solar is between 15-18% whereas ROI on the S&P is around 9.59%, and I’m very pleased about this investment.” said Mirkin.

Geoff Mirkin is an owner of Solar Energy World so it stands to reason that his goal was to walk the walk. “As an owner it was important to me to understand what our customers experience when working with us and equally important, understanding the obstacles they may face when choosing to go solar” said Mirkin.

Project Overview
Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland
Completed: July 2010
Number of Solar Panels: 18
Products: SunPower® 225-watt solar panels


  • Eliminates $962.37 per year in energy costs
  • Earns $1,600 per year from Solar Renewable Energy Credits
  • Will realize ROI in less than 4 years
  • Reduce CO2 emissions by 8,513 pounds per year

The DRC now has approval guidelines for solar that will help others throughout the approval process.