Hard to believe it’s been over three years since the system went online. Let’s have a quick look at the numbers for 2020. We cranked out 7,125 kWh last year, our best year yet and a 5% increase over 2019. The summer drought, which lasted until late September, probably had something to with that—definitely fewer gray days than normal.
We consumed 3,490 kWh on premises, a big jump from 2019 that can be attributed to the electric car we acquired last year. 3,635 kWh went to the grid, a significant drop from the previous two years again owing to charging the car battery. We saved $1,122.29 on electricity costs in 2020, bringing the lifetime cost savings to $3,306.46, or 20% of our investment. Depending on the price of electricity and other factors, we should recoup our investment around 2030.
Just like in 2019, May was the biggest month of production: 861.9 kWh. As usual, December brought the least production at 295.1 kWh. Interestingly, production was exceptionally high in October, matching June and just behind August. October can often bring gray skies and rain, especially later in the month, but not so much in 2020.
As in past years the system required almost no maintenance—just monitoring and occasional battery checks. Very pleased about that.
Looking forward to another great year in 2021.
Time to run the numbers again: let’s check out the performance of our solar system during year two. In 2019 we produced 6,764 kWh of power, about 7% less than 2018. Spring and Fall were noticeably grayer in 2019, which likely accounts for the drop. We consumed 2,300 kWh of the power we generated on premises and fed the other 4,464 kWh of excess power production to the grid for others to use.
At the 2019 utility rate of 15.33 cents per kWh, we saved $1,036.92 on our utility bills in 2019. Combine that with 2018 savings and after two years we’ve recouped 14% of our investment. At the current rate in 12 more years we’ll have saved as much as we spent on the system. But of course the utility rates will rise during that time so we’re probably looking at 10 years or possibly less, depending on the rates.
July was the biggest month in terms of power generated in 2019, compared to May in 2019 (as I said earlier, gray wet spring). March was also a big month last year, which makes sense given the bare trees (one of our strings is partially shaded by oak trees in the morning) and the cold weather, which noticeably boosts panel efficiency. March is also the month when the sun’s angle is optimal for our 45 degree panel orientation.
So far, so good. Here’s to a sunny spring this year.
We recently had our first extended power outage since installing the solar system almost a year ago. Nothing major, just an evening blackout after a windstorm came through. But it was a great test of the backup system.
Continue reading “First Power Outage”
While it was tempting to kick back and relax after the solar system was up and running, I knew it’s important to keep an eye on things and fine tune the charge controller and inverter settings for optimal performance and reliability (OK, I’ll admit I patted myself on the back the first night and cracked a celebratory brew). That’s especially true when you’re dealing with a battery bank, which is easy to damage if you’re not paying attention (particularly flooded lead acid). Continue reading “Monitoring & Maintenance”