Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now We're Cooking with Gas Sun!

Our solar panels are now powering us! 
Yesterday was connection day.  We have had the snowiest December on record, but Curt was up for the challenge of installing our PVsystem despite snow, wind, freezing rain and a blizzard. 
Curt had raked off the heaviest snow from the panels with a plastic roof rake so they would be entirely clear for his first test readings. 
Yesterday afternoon,  Curt measured the surface temp of the panels; on a 25F day the panels measured 46F, plenty warm to make snow slide right off. 
Our driveway was packed with vehicles for the big hook-up--two from the utility, two belonging to the  electrical contractor and Curt's pickup.

Our old electrical meter had been mounted on the same utility pole as the transformer.  People's Cooperative, our utility, required that the new meters be on a separate pole.  The electrician built a panel for the meters that stands directly in front of the pole. It's not the most beautiful (neither was the pole) but I have some ideas - come spring it will become garden art.
First, they disconnected our power for the afternoon.
People's removed the old transformer from the top of the pole.  It is full of coils and oil and weighs about 300 pounds.  
The lineman gracefully maneuvered  between the windmill and utility pole. 
A new transformer was hoisted into place.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the pole,wiring was going on to hook up the two meters.
Finally, with the new transformer installed, the old conduit was removed, new conduit mounted, and the line from the house was connected to the transformer.
The electrician finished  hooking up the new meters.
The inverter, located in the barn, shows how much power the panels are producing at any given moment.  I took this photo earlier today and our PV system was producing 3901 watts at the instant this shot was taken, mid-morning in December. The power was fluctuating and moving quickly  upward before my eyes as the sun rose in the sky! 
Back at the pole, the top meter shows power drawn from our utility. When the sun is shining we will be using solar power first, then drawing from the grid only if necessary.  When it is not producing enough power to meet our electrical usage (for example at night, on short winter days), we will draw any extra we need from the utility and the top meter will indicate the power we are purchasing. 
The bottom meter will tell us how much solar electricity in excess of our needs is produced. This power will be sold back to the utility at the same rate we pay to purchase power.  The 8.3 Kw system should on average supply all our electricity--and if we become  more energy efficient, we might even make some money selling electricity.  
We will be Power Mongers! 


Allison at Novice Life said...

So Cool!

katiegirl said...

Very exciting!

Dan said...

Congrats, Susan! So exciting to see this project fully installed!!