Archive for the ‘Solar’ Category

Long Time No See but Plenty of Sunshine in the Meantime


Its been a LONG time since I last posted an update. I guess I have just become lazy since the system has been running flawlessly and churning out power EXACTLY as PVWatts predicted. For the 20 months my system has been in operation PVWatts predicted 33,049 KWH. As of December 31st 2011 I had generated 33,031. That is a difference of ONLY 18 KWH – unbelievable! People ask me what kind of routine system maintenance I need to do – the answer is nothing – seems like when it rains the panels get a good cleaning.

The flawless operation & incredibly predictability of the system has been great. The bad news however is that the Delaware SREC market has TANKED in the past year and despite a recent flurry of legislation I don’t know exactly what is going on except the RECs are at $60 now down from a high of $275 at one point – ouch.


First 100+ kWh Day & Megawatt Generated

Last Friday I completed the paperwork with the sate that makes us an official “Renewable Energy Generator” in Delaware.  In my mind that means I am a power company now or as my brother-in-law describes it “owner of half-mile island“. Today we also hit a couple of milestones. Not only did we generate >100kWh for the day but also reached 1,044 kWh over our first 13 days of production. That comes out to an average of ~80.29 kWh per day over this time period which is about 23% over the 65 kWh I estimated per day for May. Now I am probably unusually lucky with the number of sunny days so far but at least we are doing well out of the gate. If you add up the energy produced & SREC credit the grand total in real $ made over the 13 days is ~$450. Not bad for our first lemonade stand.

I was going to post some video of the meter running backwards but the digital meter I have now isn’t the “smart” meter that is supposedly going to be installed this week.


First Day of $reen Energy Production

I am happy to report that our new Solar System is complete and today we had our first full day of production. As you can see the system produced a total of 98.37kWh of power today and between 12 & 1 this afternoon maxed out at a steady 13,000 watts of continuous output. So this = ~$13.79 in savings from the power company and an additional ~$23.6 in SREC income or a cool ~$37.39 total. Not bad for the first day…  Over the weekend I will post more info and a video of the meter running backwards.

If you would like to follow our energy production in real time just click here.



My kids came home from school yesterday and said it was Earth Day. I had no idea we were starting the solar installation on the same day. It must have been a good sign because after two days of good weather all of the 64 solar panels are now mounted on the roof. On Monday we will run the wiring down to the basement and hopefully be in the energy business by Tuesday.

You can see more pictures here.

Solar Install Part 2 video is here.


Getting Energized

My dad doesn’t look too energized about the recent “upgrades” that have been going on around the house but trust me he is happy. Domenic Sr. turns 81 next week and I can only hope I have as much energy as he does when I get to be his age (if I make it that far). He just wants all of this stuff to get done so he can plant his tomato garden (aka Italian Roses).

Anyway, over the last couple of days all of the rails have been bolted to the roof and as of this evening we have 24 of the 64 solar panels mounted. The inverters have also been hung on the wall in the basement computer room. The plan for tomorrow is to get the remaining 40 panels installed and complete the wiring that will go from the roof to the basement. By early next week everything should be up and running.

You can see more pictures here.

Solar Install Part 1 video is here.


Clear Cut



Its sort of ironic that I need to cut down several trees to be “green” but then again that’s how it goes sometimes… Many of the trees in my backyard are getting cut down tomorrow so here is the first of many short Video Blogs that will document the project over time.

Before & after Pictures are available here.

The Geothermal wells are going to be drilled in about two weeks (4 wells = 4 days of work) with the actual system going in afterward (5 more days of work). I will have lots of pictures and additional video then.

Solar Contractor Selected

We have selected KW Solar as our solar power installer. Before we can start the actual installation we need to wait for the panels to arrive and the go ahead from Demarva Power . I am told that this process can take up to three months – argh! In the meantime I am going to concentrate on cutting down some trees in the back-yard, removing the attic fan, and getting the electrical panels ready.

The solar system will consist of:


What’s all of this going to cost?

Good question! “You need to spend money to make money” definitely applies here…

Before we get to the costs I should first talk about how much energy we are consuming a year. My current annual energy consumption is as follows;

Total Kilowatt Hours = 35,000

Total CCF (natural gas) = 1,500

A 14.72kw solar system will generate about 20,000 kWh of energy annually in my area (an offset of $2,823 per year @ $.14 per kilowatt hour). In addition the SRECs will bring in ~$5K in annual income.  The geothermal system (actually two separate systems for my house) will save ~70% on heating costs and ~50% on cooling costs plus heat over 50% of our hot water.

In round numbers I estimate the 14.72kw solar system will run about $95K and the geothermal system will be about $48K (all before rebates & tax credits or about 1/2 the cost afterwards). Now that is a HUGE upfront investment but the payback is only about eight years. The way I look at it if I were to do nothing & energy costs didn’t go up over the next ten years I was looking at spending at least $75K anyway. With this investment I should break even in a shorter amount of time & will totally eliminate my energy bills plus turn an annual profit of $2,000.


Welcome to the Italian Palace!

The Italian Palace is what ended up being the nickname of our home after we remodeled it a few years ago. We cut the roof off of the the original three-bedroom ranch, added a story, and finished the basement. The net result was a 13 room, 6 bedroom, and six full bathroom 5,500 square foot monster!

Sounds like a dream home right? That’s what we thought until our first gas & electric bill arrived. Our yearly energy costs have been averaging over $7,500 which comes out to around $625 a month. Even with this “investment” in energy the house is cold in the winter and hot in the summer because I keep the thermostat at levels that my family will barely tolerate (around 64 & 79 degrees).

Obviously our energy costs are way out of control and I needed to figure out a way to get things turned around. When I first started looking for a solution a few years ago Geothermal and Solar energy emerged as the technologies that could substantially lower our energy costs but at the time it wasn’t very attractive from an up-front investment and payback perspective.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides for a 30% federal tax credit for Solar and Geothermal systems with no cap on the total system cost. This plus additional State incentives made me take another look at the economics of going with renewable energy.

This winter I crunched the numbers and decided it was time to invest in a 14.72kw solar system along with Geothermal for my HVAC. My analysis showed that I could eliminate my $7,500 annual spend and actually turn a profit of `$2,000 per year. This would be through a vastly more efficient HVAC system, generation of ~20K kWh per year, and income from Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

This blog will document the entire process from the selection and installation of the equipment to the post installation savings.


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