Browse Category: Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Sunny and Dry Means a Productive July!

Home SolarOur area of the country experienced unusually sunny, hot, and dry weather over the past month.

Which means that although our gardens and lawn are struggling right now, our solar energy production was off the charts!

Our rooftop solar panels delivered their most productive month ever in July, eclipsing our production from last August by a whopping 9%!

Even though our power consumption was also elevated, due to working the air conditioning harder than normal, we still ended up with a small electric bill for the month, as well as additional solar energy credits to use to reduce our energy costs next winter!

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The Real Numbers Behind Home Solar

Solar PowerWe’ve now had solar panels on the roof of our home for over a year.

Which means we finally have twelve months of data on the performance of our home solar energy system to report upon!

The results are definitely mixed.

While our electric bill is much lower than it used to be, our anticipated payback period will likely end up being longer than we initially anticipated.

I hope the information we’re sharing will help readers considering home solar power systems to make the right decisions for their individual situations.

Keep in mind, however, that the rules associated with solar vary considerably from state to state. The potential costs and benefits for you could be dramatically different from what we have experienced, so make sure to conduct your own research and perform your own due diligence before making a decision!

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Solar Energy Update: Why Am I Already Thinking About Next Winter?

Early RetirementOur first spring with solar power is working our very well for our wallet!

As the days have gotten longer over the past few months, we’ve started to build up a large bank of solar energy credits to keep our electricity bill low next winter. A combination of lots of sun, relatively cool weather, and no need for air conditioning have kept our power production high and our electricity consumption low.

I’m looking forward to reviewing a full year of solar data when we reach the one year mark with our solar panels in a few weeks, but as of right now, I’m still viewing our installation of a home solar energy system as a Smart Financial Decision as we continue trying to move closer to financial independence and early retirement.

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Solar Energy Update: Back In (The) Black!

Solar PowerAfter a long, cold, snowy, and dark winter, we finally started to get some record-breaking production out of our home solar energy system in April!

The cold, but sunny, days of early spring proved to be fertile ground for excellent solar power production.

Over the past month, we recorded our five most productive days for power generation since having solar panels installed last June!

When our system was installed, a representative from the company told me the panels worked most efficiently when it was cooler outside, and that I’d love seeing my production in the spring, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

But I still find it amazing that our home solar energy system consistently generates more power during 13 hour days in April than it did last June and July when the days were 15 hours or longer!

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Solar Energy Update: Spring Kicks off with Stunning Productivity

Financial IndependenceSince 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!

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Solar Energy Update: Mixed Results, But In Line With Expectations

Solar EnergyAs I mentioned last month, our bank of solar energy credits for the winter ran dry in January.

Since we didn’t install solar panels on our roof until late June last year, I figured we probably wouldn’t have enough credits built up to keep our electric bill at minimal levels for the entire winter.

Unfortunately, I was right.

Next year, the situation should be better, as I expect we’ll start generating significant solar energy credits for the winter of 2018-2019 in the coming months. Our electric bill will still probably be larger than normal in March, but my hope is that by the time we get to April, a combination of longer days and (hopefully!) little or no snow on the panels will once again yield a surplus situation as far as our energy production versus usage.

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Our Solar Energy Bank Goes Bust

Early Retirement
Any guess which panels are producing lots of energy and which panels aren’t producing much at all?

Our solar energy bank finally went bust in January.

Since we didn’t have solar panels installed until last June, we knew our first winter with solar energy would likely be our most expensive. We missed out on several months of strong sunlight last spring that would have allowed us to build up more solar energy credits heading into the winter.

We tapped into the credits we built up last summer to keep our electric bills at minimal levels in November and December, but we finally drew our balance down to zero last month. Short and dark days, and lots of ice and snow, kept our panels from producing much electricity from late December through late January. Our solar energy production for the past month was less than 10% of what we produced in August. Continue Reading

Solar Panels Don’t Produce Much Energy When They Are Buried Under Snow!

Solar Power
There really are solar panels under the snow!

We’ve had our home solar energy system for just over six months, and have now experienced both the best and the worst the sun has to offer homeowners.

Our system was installed just before the Summer Solstice in June. During the summer months there were a handful of long and sunny days when our system generated over 50 kWh of energy, which helped us build up a nice bank of solar credits to offset future bills.

In recent weeks, however, our energy production has plunged as we neared the Winter Solstice. In late December, a combination of limited sunlight and snowy weather meant we produced less than 1 kWh of power on six of seven days.

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Solar Energy Update: Our First Withdrawal From The Bank

Solar Power
ROMT Solar Production (YTD 2017)

As the days got shorter this fall, the amount of power produced by our home solar energy system has been decreasing.

This isn’t surprising – it’s simply a matter of science!

That said, the drop off has been dramatic. Our solar production for November was half of what we produced in October, and less than 30% of what we produced in August, which was our peak month so far.

With the days still getting shorter for another week and a half, science says that our power production for December will be even lower!

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Solar Energy Update: Another Tiny Electric Bill!

Home SolarWith October now in the books, we have another month of data on our electric bill following our installation of solar panels in June.

The great news is that for a fourth consecutive month, our electric bill was as low as possible. We generated enough energy that all we had to pay for were the daily cost to connect to the power grid, in addition to some mandatory fees. In our state, these expenses cannot be offset by solar energy credits.

That said, the year over year improvement in our electric bill was the smallest we have seen to date. After saving more than 90% on energy compared to last July, August, and September, our bill shrunk by just 84% in October.

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