Tuesday, November 14, 2006

eco: solar power payback time

Jake from Declination Solar installed 9 SX170B 170 Watt panels by BP (the slightly-less-evil oil company that bought Solarex) and a Xantrex grid-tied inverter months ago, but we didn't have sign-off to hook it up and local utility P.G.&E. kept losing our proof of insurance. Finally they found the right form and a guy came out to plug in a new electronic (but not remotely readable) electric meter.

I powered up circuits, turned on the Xantrex inverter, BIOS versions appeared (does this inverter run Linux ?), it began a 240-second countdown to sync up with the utility power, and then:
Xantrex inverter shows 1112 Watts instantaneous, 0.120 kWh so far
Wahoo! 1112 Watts baby!

Run outside to new meter and:
P.G.&E. receiving 451W net from house
I'm contributing more energy than the house consumes, P.G.&E.'s wasteful customers are getting 451 Watts from me. Maybe the polar bears will survive after all.

Of course, if I so much as turn on a hair dryer:
P.G.&E. giving me 1010 W
One 1500 Watt appliance and I've swamped the photovoltaic panels and need 1010 Watts; we're back to paying the utility to burn fossil fuel.

I've yet to get the rebates and tax credit and accounting from our builder, so I'm not sure how much this cost. But it's a great feeling for a drop in the bucket.

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  • That is AWESOME! Congrats. I bet that first solar-heated shower was fulfilling :)

    By Scott Fegette, at November 14, 2006 8:39 PM  

  • Haha. Solar photovoltaics is running. Meanwhile our solar heating (glycol in tubes), to one of three three storage tanks (hot, warm, and tepid) backed up by heat exchanger, and then to in-floor radiant heating, has yet to work! 17 months after we signed on and all we have is a whole lot of tubes and wires, and a series of leaks. Any hot water we get is heated electrically at great expense.

    By skierpage, at November 15, 2006 5:27 PM  

  • D'oh! Well, at least you're moving in the right direction (IMHO) to break that fossil-fuel dependency. Much more than can be said for many of us other PG&E-locked locals. (I imagine I may have some questions for you downstream too, when we start work on a similar refactoring of our power system... ::grin:: )

    By Scott Fegette, at November 16, 2006 10:36 AM  

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