Tuesday, April 5, 2011

March 2011 Analysis

Well, my final numbers are in for March 2011 and I am very pleased. The total kWh produced was 577.65 which equates to approximately $463.28 this month. Not bad for a March that seemed like there was lots of rain.

It helped that the last week had three or four days in a row that were very very sunny with very little cloud cover. I was producing 35kWh those days which really helped the bottom line.

For the month it was approximately $14.94/day income and the target was only $12.05 so I was producing above target which is more than one can ask for!

The kWh/kWp/day was 3.529.

Here is a graph of the results of the power produced vs. target to give you a better idea how the system is working.

I guess the last thing of note is that 4 days in March had less then 2kWh produced. One day had 0, and another 2 days fell in the 2-3kWh. These days were likely snowy and or pouring rain with extreme cloud cover.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maternity Leave and a Home Business

For tax reasons, all solar income from the OPA go into my wife's business which only purpose is for the solar panels. My wife is currently on maternity leave right now and collecting EI.

Unfortunately, the business, has really impacted the maternity benefit process. When we had our first child, and had no solar business, the EI cheques just came in the bank every couple weeks. When we had our second child in October, the cheques were coming in regularly and then we told the Government that my wife now has another income stream, the solar panels.

Boy, trying to explain this to Service Canada has been quite the experience and involved a LOT of phone calls and one trip down to the local Service Canada office. The unfortunate thing, is that just about every person I talk to, tells us something differently.

After we told them about the solar business, they told us to report the income weekly. We told them that this was not possible as the payments come bi-monthly. This was something else that was extremely hard to comprehend. Basically the end result of that was that we were to report the income for the week it was earned when we knew.

Well, a couple days after that, we recieved a letter in the mail saying that if the income was less than 850$, we could CHOOSE to voluntarily report it by week or as a lump payment. This has different implications that I will get into another day.

This was contradictory to what we were told on the phone so we called again to make sure that what came in the male was correct. We were told, no, that we still MUST report the income for each week that it was due. During this process, we had nothing to report and without telling us, they cancelled my wife's EI claim because she had not claimed any income.

So, fast forward a couple weeks and we got a payment so we finally had income to report. I broke it down by week and subtracted the expenses. (Side note, capital cost depreciation is not counted when calculating expenses) My wife called today, to claim the income per week and to re-activate the claim. She went into the details, again, for the nth time about what she was doing and that she had income to claim by week and the person said she didn't want it broken down, she just wanted a total and that next time we can just claim the total for the week the payment was received. Completely opposite of what the last person told us!!!! Anyhow, I like this answer and we are going to go this way from now on. She also told us we need to start filing her papers weekly stating income as 0$ until a payment is recieved and then claim that full amount as income for the week it was received.

The long and short of it, is that no one who works in the EI office goes by the same rules so I guess it just depends who you talk to!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

First Payment from KW Hydro

Earlier this month I received my first official payment from my LDC. The payment was for $302. This was for the period starting December 3rd (Connection date) to February 10 or around there.

The payment included HST which I am collecting and remitting to the government. It also included a one time 10$ account setup fee from KW Hydro and another 10.50$ in administration fees.

The $10.50 in administration fees will be every period. The payments are bi-monthly so that means that it is approximately $5.25 per month for administration. Not exactly ideal, but reasonable given the fact that I have heard that Toronto and Cambridge are both around $10/month. So, hopefully KW Hydro keeps the rates as is!

March 2011 Looking Good

As the sun gets higher and higher and stays out for longer and longer, my system is really starting to generate som serious power.

Three or four days this month have reached over 30kWh which is approximately 24$/day. The average per day is over 15kWh/day so far and that is ABOVE my target/plan so that makes me very happy.

I have noticed that it is not uncommon to average over 4.3kWh between 11AM and 2PM. I have also seen a max of 5.1kWh for a couple brief seconds. I am not exactly sure how this is possible as the inverter is only rated for 5kW, but whos complaining?

Clearly as these numbers come in I get more and more comfortable with the 'investment' because I am actually seeing the results!

I can only imagine as the days in June/July get longer and longer that I might be able to reach 40+ kWh/day.

I can't wait!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Maximum Reached!

The last couple of days have been great and I reached a new maximum output yesterday and then another new one today. Yesterday was around 19.5kWh and today was about 20.8kWh.

I am not sure exactly they today was 1kWh better as both days seemed similar. Temperature's were similar, and cloud cover seemed equivalent.

I mention temperature being the same because my understanding is that the colder the temperature, the less resistance, and therefore the more efficient the PV System works.

I paid pretty close attention to the panel output and it was a very steady bell curve that produced over 3.5kWh for quite a while with a quick peak reached at 1:20pm. This doesn't really make sense as you would think the peak would have been around noon. The peak itself was just over 4kWh!

I can't wait till the summer!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Insurance and MicroFIT

Insurance is something that we should all have if we own anything that would cause us a lot of trouble if something were to ever happen to the item. A solar system is something that for ten's of thousands of dollars, is something that you would want covered.

The other thing about the panels is that they are attached to your house and in the event that they happen to start a fire, you would want your house insurance to cover the costs of rebuilding your house to ensure you were not stuck with the bill. The likelyhood of this is very very small, but to me, it is worth going into detail to ensure no possible problems could arrise.

My suggestion to you is to investigate your insurance with your insurance company BEFORE you sign a contract with an installer or pay for anything as it should be taken care of first. Back in the summer, I called my insurance company, TD Meloche Monex, and told them what I was doing. I told them that the cost of the panels would depreciate and I asked them straight up, 'if the panels would cause a fire, would they cover the damage?' This question went to the under-writers and I was told, yes. As long as they were approved for use in Ontario and that they had the proper ESA certifications, this would be fine.

The quote they gave me was about 5$/month, which I thought was pretty reasonable, so I went along and got my system installed.

After the connection to the LDC, I called back my insurance company to put the additional insurance on and the guy said, yup no problem and then he said, everything is fine with one condition on the agreement. 'If you use the panels for commerical purposes, any damage caused by the panels would NOT be covered'.

Of course I raised the red flag and was thinking, why was this not told to me back in the summer. I explained exactly what I was doing, selling the power back to the LDC and they said it was fine. Fortunately, I got one of the very good sales agents and I told him that it was unacceptable and that I would be switching insurance companies and he told me he would talk to the underwriters to see if this could be removed.

He called me back a couple hours later and told me the first level of underwriter's could not remove the line but a higher level underwriter could so he contacted them and wouldn't you know it, he was able to get it removed! I was thrilled, so for an extra 5$/month, my panels are covered.

I was also told that I could call in every year and tell them the 'new/depriciated' value of the panels and it would lower the insurance premiums.

I have asked another person and they were paying almost 40$/month for the insurance with the panels....

What insurnace company do you have and how much is your monthly premium?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Analysis of Solar Production as the Days get Longer

As the days get longer, and the sun gets higher, it would only make sense that the panels would produce more and more energy until mid June and then would slowly produce less and less as the sun got lower again.

However, I noticed back in January that there was one day where there was some 'bursts' of sun that brought the panels up to near max efficiency, approximately 4.3 kWh AC. On February 3rd, I assumed that with an amazingly clear day, with only sun in the sky, I would reach the same 4.3 kWh, but I didn't. The day still turned out to be the best day yet, 18.95kWh.

So I thought about it and can't explain while the max didn't get reached, I could explain how the total energy produced would increase even if the max output at any one point wouldn't be increased. And that is simply that on shorter days, the max output is a very sharp peak where as longer days will have a flat top and a much longer curve to the graph, with no distinct peak. Here is a simple chart that shows this and it is only a difference of 5 or 6 days!

The values you see there are averaged over 5 minutes so you can't actually see the 4.3kWh but you can see that the curve is flattening out at the top with the blue line (Feb 3rd).

It is 8:45AM today and the panels have already reached 1kW/h production which was not reached until 9:45 on February 3rd so if the weather stays the same, you can bet that the 20kWh for the day is attainable today!