Thursday, March 19, 2009

After the solar panels were moved...

The move of the 20 solar panel array went fairly smooth. Actually, as far as jobs like this usually go for us, it was flawless except for one brief glitch. When the switch was turned back on, there was an error message on the inverter, and no power flowing. It was late afternoon. Maybe there should have been a bit of power by then, but we waited to see what it would do the next morning. You guessed it; no juice then either.

The installer came back, and after re-tracing it all, he discovered he had wired the individual panel assemblies in parallel instead of series. So we were only seeing the voltage of one group. Once he fixed that, we were back online with only 2 full days of production missed.

You should be prepared if you do anything with alternative energy to become a nitpicker when it comes to counting your production, mileage or electric bills. That couple of days can make a difference if you are off for some reason. For us, it did not matter that much since this is a time it is normally not that sunny anyway, and that we are not yet on the maximum high use charges.

So far, it looks good. We are already surpassing our normal daily production just by having the panels pointed more towards the sun in the afternoon. One glitch in the overall plan was that at the same time we were moving the panels, we were having a small pond put in. That pond has a small waterfall. That requires a pump. You see where I am going here. This is what normally would be considered a waste of electricity. And we have already cut back the run time from 24 hours a day to just 12. For the first month it had been on, it cost us an additional 12 kilowatt hours a day. Part of our reason to get the solar panels was to be able to afford to run our AC in the summer. This pond would tend to cut into our extra capacity, and I think it might lose out in the long run if it goes up against our comfort.

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