Solar Energy Update: Spring Kicks off with Stunning Productivity
Since we didn’t have solar panels installed on our roof until June of last year, we missed out on several months of strong solar production last spring. As a result, we ran out of credits to subsidize our electric bill over the winter in January.
Because of this, the reduction in our electric bills for both January and February were smaller than they hopefully will be in future years, when we’ll have a full bank of solar energy credits on the books heading into the winter.
Although we had no credits heading into March, our solar energy experiment still turned a major corner last month. With the production of our system increasing as the days got longer, we ended up with our smallest electric bill since December, and had our best day of production ever!
We generated more power in the month of March than we had since October, and because we were also out of town for a week for our vacation at Walt Disney World, our power consumption dropped by 25% compared to last year.
The end result was a reduction of almost 75% in our electric bill for the month.
Looking ahead to April, I’m confident the performance of our home solar energy system will be even better.
When our system was being installed last year, a representative of the company doing the work mentioned to me that I would be amazed next spring when I saw how much energy the system generated when it was still cold outside but the days were longer and the panels were completely free of ice and snow.
He noted that our solar panels would operate most efficiently when it was colder outside. While there’s more sunlight, and more direct sunlight, in the summer, it’s also generally a lot hotter, which means the panels operate less efficiently.
Even knowing this, my assumption was that we’d still experience our best solar energy production on a long sunny day with no clouds in the sky in June or July.
Until recently, my assumption seemed correct, as the most productive day for our rooftop solar panels had been July 5, 2017. That day was almost 15 1/2 hours long, and the weather was sunny and in the mid-80s.
But then came March 26th.
While that day was also sunny, it was only 12 1/2 hours long. However, because the high temperature was only in the mid-40s, our system performed so efficiently that it ended up generating 2 kWh more of electricity on March 26th than it ever had before.
I was honestly stunned by this result. While I had been tipped off that our solar production could be great in the spring, the possibility that we might have our best day of energy production on a day that was three hours shorter than those that we experience during the summer was shocking to me.
Not that I’m complaining!
Now that I’ve seen how our system can perform when its cooler outside, I’m hoping for cold and sunny weather for the next few weeks to start building up a full bank of solar energy credits for the winter of 2018-2019!