Ever since I was a kid learning about solar photovoltaics (PV) from I have dreamed of having solar PV installed on my house. In the past few years while reading Steven Strong’s book, The Solar Electric House, I learned that Paul was/is one of the pioneers of the field of photovoltaics…
Before investing in a renewable energy system like solar panels, be sure to tackle efficiency improvement projects first. You will get a quicker return on your investment and the amount of energy you need to generate through your renewable energy projects will be reduced…Includes a list of projects to tackle first.
After you have done all the energy efficiency upgrades and behavior modifications around the house to reduce your load, then it is time to think about renewable energy…
Since solar installations (even after incentives) cost more than most cars, you should definitely speak to several companies or contractors before making your decision to proceed and selecting the right one for you…
Installing a solar system is not a small investment. In many cases it will be more expensive than buying a car and the contractor will be working in your home, so it pays to get a good contractor and one that you are comfortable with in the long run…
As with any big purchase in life, there is bound to be a few papers to sign. Solar projects are no exception. While this is not a fun part of the process, it is important. A good solar contractor like SunBug Solar, who we used, will make this process easy and do most of the paperwork for you.
One morning, shortly after our Utility Interconnection Application was approved, we had a knock on the door and the utility company was here to change the meter.
Beyond the first few steps in the waiting process comes the real work, construction. Every solar project will be a little bit different depending on the design, location and local building requirements. Our solar awning project construction happened in three steps.
- Building the Structure
- Installing the Panels
- Wiring and Inverter
Before you can flip the switch, you have to get the electrical inspection and utility interconnection sign offs.
I cannot believe how excited I was about getting an electric bill. I was eagerly anticipating our first electric bill after we turned on our Solar Awning. Yeah, I’m probably a little crazy, but I was excited to see how low our net-usage was, that is, how little electricity we used from the grid.
That didn’t take long, it took longer to write and publish this post. As soon as the days started getting longer our solar awning started generating more and more electricity. So much so that when we got our March electric bill (2/17-3/22) we were shocked that we didn’t owe a penny. Amazing! We actually earned a credit of $0.49.
In our first full year with our solar awning, we generated 5,816 kWh of solar energy, which is 16% more than we expected. I’m not sure if that is a normal fluctuation in the amount of sunny days we had this year or a trend towards higher production from the bi-facial panels. I certainly hope it is the later. Our total electricity usage for 2011 was 6,958 kWh, so we produced over 83% of our own clean energy. If we can get our usage even lower, maybe we can produce (in net) all of our electricity with our solar PV awning.
I love snow, but when snow is piled up on our solar panels it significantly reduces our electricity production! Most manufacturers recommend letting nature take care of clearing the snow from your solar array, and since we are grid-tied (meaning we are still connected to the electricity grid) we won’t actually lose power if the panels are covered for a few days. However, we want to make as much clean, green and renewable electricity from our solar array as possible, so I figured out a way to safely remove the snow from our Solar PV Awning. Watch the video or read below for steps and tips.
While we purchased our solar installation outright, there are other effective ways to get solar on your home. Here is a guest post by our friend and fellow solar enthusiast Bob Paine.
With all the sunny days in April, we reached a milestone with our Solar PV Awning. We moved being net-consumers of electricity to being net-producers for the year (first four months).
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could buy a solar panel and just plug it in to an outlet without needing to hire an electrician? Well, now you can! Be sure to read the cautions below for why you still might need a licensed electrician.
Going for Solar – The Second Year
We’ve had our solar awning in place for just over 2 years and I am happy to report that we love it as much today as we did when we had it installed. Maybe even more so now that electricity prices inched up a little this fall. Here’s how we did…
Stay tuned for more articles in the Going for Solar series from Green Lifestyle Consulting. Happy Greening! Jon & Alicia
What would you like us to discuss next about our journey to solar or renewable energy in general? Leave us a comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.