Monday, August 24, 2009

Solar Evolution

Our interest in solar energy started with a gift card for from my brother Brian. I went to the site and found a solar charger for cell phones and small appliances. That was cool enough to get me interested in doing more things with photo voltaic panels. I bought a 15 Watt panel from
and began using it to charge my Mac. After running the laptop for months exclusively on solar power. I bought three more 15 Watt panels. That led to our experiment with solar ice.

With the success of a solar powered ice machine we began to discuss what else we could do with solar. I had seen an electric motor scooter that could be recharged with PV. I tried to charge it with the four 15 Watt panels but they ran the deep cycle battery down every time I tried, so I bought two 64 Watt panels. They were powerful enough to charge the scooter but the panels were lying flat on our driveway and in danger of being run over by various service people who came to the house.

We talked about how to get the panels up on the roof and then decided to go all the way and cover the roof with PV panels. We contacted Michael Brown of Solar Ray and contracted him to install a 5.4 kW PV system using Outback charge controllers and inverters. Once we got that going and began monitoring our power usage we discovered that the pool pump took $90.00 a month to operate from the grid. We called Solar Ray again and had Michael install four more 190 Watt panels and a solar powered pool pump that runs all day when there is daylight. So now we have a 6.2 kWatt system.

After getting our PV system grid tied, that is selling back energy to the power company, our power usage came to $0.00 per month with a small utility charge for administration and a serge protector for the whole house.

We have two refrigerators, and a five ton air conditioner set to 78• F. Our usage increased in August as we live in the house. We recently added a new scooter, the XB700Li.

One other thing we noticed when we were monitoring our power usage, we found that the electric range used a shocking 60 kWh of power to cook a pot of meat on the small burner. As a result of this we ordered a solar oven. We have had a chace to use the Sun Oven for a few weeks and it's been a delightful way to cook! We use it every day and save thousands of Watts!