Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Gone Solar

Cells soaking in late-December rays. (12/26/16)
For as long as we have lived at our current home, my wife and I (well, mostly my wife) have maintained a vegetable garden from which we harvested multiple varieties of tomatoes, greens and other vegetables. Over a decade ago, my sons and I built our first composting pit with chicken wire in the backyard. Since that time we have added a smaller enclosed pit for wet waste before ultimately joining a community composting service. Two years ago, my wife leased a Volt after many satisfied years with the Prius. For a number of years now, my wife and I have discussed the possibility of having our home equipped with solar panels.

The next step seemed clear.

Our roof from a side street pre-installation. (11/15/16)
This past September, we met with contractors and received estimates and information about having a solar electric system installed as an end-of-year home improvement project. Just prior to Thanksgiving, we took the plunge and by mid-December, with the i's dotted and necessary permits acquired, our cells began collecting solar power and converting DC to AC through our basement inverter. (Full discloser: I am most definitely not entirely conversant in the ins-and-outs of the tech, so have chosen to use information from a FAQ page on Invictus Electrical's website for this post.)

Racking for solar panels installed. (11/29/16) 
Moving forward, the Photovoltaic, or PV system, will convert sunlight directly into electricity serving a portion of our home’s electrical needs. The PV system is connected to our home’s electrical service panel to supplementing the existing utility service. After an inspection by our local municipality, a secondary meter called a net meter was installed for tracking the balance of energy used in contrast to that generated by the cells. Because we have a Southern-facing rooftop with no buildings and trees obstructing the cells, our PV system will work for us anytime the sun is shining. When the PV system is generating more electricity than our home is using, we will receive a credit for the excess power our utility.

Twelve panels installed and catching rays. Note that the angle of the sun is
such that the neighboring tree does not obstruct the cells. (12/26/16)
"Sunny Boy" the inverter, all moved and ready to rock in the basement.
Net meter installed! (12/26/16)
I often tell my own students that I regret not having paid better attention in high school and college science classes as my basic understanding of the science behind the technology is spotty at best. Fortunately, I have my wife to point me to sources to fill in the gaps as we continue to modify and adapt our home around us, and adventure which continues...

No comments: