Our First Week With Solar Energy!

Solar Panel
We can track online how much energy is being produced by each of the solar panels on our roof!

Over the past week, I have written about our decision to go solar, as well as our recent solar installation.

Today we get into the fun stuff: how our new home solar energy system has performed during the first ten days of a (hopefully!) long and productive life!

Our inverter, which converts the direct current generated by the photovoltaic panels on our roof into the alternating current that can be fed into the electrical grid and used to power our home, is made by a company called SolarEdge.

While the science behind how the inverter works is no doubt fascinating, I am more interested in the impact the solar panels and inverter will have on our electric bill!

Solar Power
This cute little PLC is connected to our inverter.

Fortunately, SolarEdge also provides a robust platform to monitor our solar production in real-time.

Two small units called PLCs, one of which is connected to our inverter, and one of which is connected to our Internet router, are constantly delivering information about how our system is functioning. We can access this information through SolarEdge’s website, and it is also provided to our local solar company so they can track how our system is performing.

The data available is pretty comprehensive, and I have found that monitoring our energy production is somewhat addictive.

While at work, I find myself regularly checking the SolarEdge app on my phone to see how much energy our system is producing.

And even when I’m home, I find myself logging onto the Solar Edge website to track how everything is working.

I’m also more focused than ever on monitoring the weather.

I have been obsessively tracking the 10-day weather forecast, while desperately hoping for clear, sunny days, not because our family has a vacation planned at the beach, but because we’re in peak solar energy production season!

Now’s the time to build up production credits to pay for our electric bill during the cold, dark winter!

I can see where this could become unhealthy very quickly, but right now I am attributing my obsession to shiny new toy syndrome. My assumption is that after a couple of weeks, my relationship with the performance of our new solar energy system will become much healthier.

Solar Energy
Our daily solar energy production so far… still cursing the cloudy weather on June 16th, and today is not off to a great start either!

As you can see from the above chart, even during peak solar energy season around the Summer Solstice, daily production has been quite volatile. We’ve had three beautiful days, where close to 16 hours of sunshine produced around 50 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy – but also a couple of cloudy and rainy days where production was less than 20 kWh.

Over the course of weeks and months and years, everything should balance out, and production will likely be right around what we anticipated when we decided to purchase our system.

As I mentioned in my previous posts on going solar, our expectation is that we’ll have dramatically lower electric bills in the coming years, and that we’ve also increased the value of our home by close to the amount we’ll end up paying for our system.

Solar Energy
Doing our part to save the world, one sunny day at a time!

Overall, I view home solar energy as a potentially good financial decision. The possible environmental benefits are also nice, but did not drive our decision-making. On the left I included some data provided by SolarEdge, showing their calculations of the small contribution our home solar energy system has made thus far.

Before you think I’m getting too soft, I’d like to note that we’ll need to track the actual impact on our finances over an extended period of time before I am willing to go on record stating that going solar qualifies as a Smart Financial Decision. In a future post, I plan on outlining some of the hidden costs of going solar we identified as we went through the process.

In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying one fewer major monthly expenditure in our quest for financial independence and early retirement!

For those of you who have gone solar, has your system performance been in line with your expectations?

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