Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nearing 15,000 KWhs Produced

In a couple of months our PV array production should pass 15,000 KWh in around five years. Of course, most of that is with the inferior southeast orientation, but it is still pretty good even at that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Let the consumer beware. . .

This thing about having to pay to have our panels moved still ticks me off. So, I went back to my contractor and showed him how big the difference in production was between the old location and the new, and asked him if- since he had mentioned that ‘we usually install them on the southwest side if it is available’- if he could help us out a bit in the fee to move them. To us, it seemed like paying to move them was rewarding them for making a mistake in the location in the initial installation.

Nope. They are not liable for placement of the panels being inferior to another placement. He claimed that the industry standards only suggest that the companies install panels in a generally southerly position within a range of degrees of direct south. And, they were within that range in the initial installation.

So, BEWARE consumers. Make sure that the location of your panels is correct and will maximize your production from the start. Most solar contractors now have access to equipment that can tell you the maximum exposure for your installation. Go with one of those. If you have a contractor without this equipment, even if they are the low bid- Get a new contractor. They are only guessing. And with your system costing as much as they can cost it is worth it to have them where you will get the maximum exposure to get a faster payback.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The July 2009 PG and E bill is in

Well, for our first full two month total credit for 2009, we have hit $47.66 which is just about what our total unbilled credit was through all of last year. This is looking pretty good. We did have a bit of AC use last month so our total electricity use is up to 10 Kilowatt Hours for July. Of course, putting that with our 13 KWh credit from June, we still have a 3 KWh credit over the first two months of this billing year. The 10 KWh use for July 2009 compares to a relatively high 63 KWh in July of 2008. It is amazing what moving those panels has done.

Oh, and the natural gas portion of the bill is pretty good also. For July, our gas bill was only $3.93 for 2 therms for the month. That is about equal number of therms compared to last year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cleaning your Solar Panels to get the maximum production

How many times have I seen Ed Begley Jr. hop up on his roof and clean his solar panels as if he was standing on solid ground without a care in the world? Too many times- actually, this is more a comment on how often the show “Living with Ed” is re-run. I guess a new season is not in the works? Too bad: I guess we will have to live with the limited series it was. Now, getting back to cleaning the panels, what do you do if you are not Ed Begley Jr., or do not at least have his “non-fear” of roofs?

I have already mentioned that a dirty panel can cut as much as 7% annually from your production. It would seem that you should try to find a way to get at least some of the dirt and grime off. There may be a way at “Real Goods”. This is a solution that comes pre-mixed in an applicator bottle. You simply connect it to a hose, get as close to your panels as you can without taking the inevitable plunge off the roof- and spray it on your panels as if you are applying fertilizer to your lawn through a hose end sprayer. That is basically it. You spray the surfactants on, and let it soak into the crud for a few minutes. Then you switch the sprayer to fresh water and rinse the dirty suds away. I am sure it would be better to actually have a brush to physically wash the heavier stuff away, but this is a pretty easy alternative to that heavier job. I am not 100% sure how it has worked yet, but the panels did appear to be cleaner after the treatment. Time and the next PG and E statement will tell if it has helped. It could at least work as in interim solution until you can locate someone else to do it in return of a six-pack of their favorite beer.