9200 GigaWatts, Baby!

Okay, well… more like 9200 basic watts, but still….

So one of the first things I wanted to do when I finally bought a house was put in a solar PV system.

My system consists of forty SunPower E18 230 watt panels. For the fastest return on investment, you want to size a system based on your yearly consumption to just keep you out of the more expensive rate tiers. However, at 9.2 kW DC, my system is much larger than necessary because I just love the idea of offsetting * all * of my electricity consumption with solar generation. (And even get a little compensation from PG&E for any net excess for the year.)

I already drive an electric car (a Nissan LEAF) for nearby destinations but I fully expect that in a couple more years I’ll be able to trade in for something that will let me do all my driving via electricity. I’m also looking to get a heat pump installed soon to avoid needing to use propane as much. So I expect to be able to use much more of what I’m now generating.

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It’s December now — winter in the northern hemisphere and so the sun is low in the sky and the days are short but the system is already generating around 5500 watts AC at peak in full sunshine and even 2100 watts when cloudy/overcast. Sweet! All told, it’s generating over 30 kWH on a sunny day — and it’s winter! That’s much more than my current average daily consumption. Of course that’s with me not commuting right now (so not charging the car as much) and no electric heat pump yet.

In summer, the peak production should be closer to 8000 watts AC and the days will be longer but the mornings can often be foggy in the summer here. And of course there will be days with little sun. It’ll be fun to see how my little power plant does over the course of the year though!

By the way, Solar Technologies was a great installer and I highly recommend them! And remember, you can even have solar installed with no money down with a lease: you replace your monthly electric bill with a smaller lease payment!

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