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!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January 2011 Output

Well, January is officially over and that was the first full month of power generation.

The final output was 183.3 kWh. The projection from the analysis was 240kWh. That means I hit about 75% of target, which was pretty decent because it seemed like we had a lot of snow and lots of cloudy days this month!

I think the important thing to see is that there was about 6 days that were for the most part nothing days and that the overall trend is increasing. The average yield per day is approximately 6kWh/day and if you took the first half of the month and the second half of the month as a unit, you would see the second half was significantly better.

Why is this? Well there is a couple reason.

  1. Days are getting longer! The system turns on earlier in the morning and stays on later in the afternoon.
  2. I am more aware of what needs to be removed and what doesn't in terms of snow.
  3. As the days get longer, the sun gets higher, and with a low slope (15 degrees), my panels should be getting more efficient.

My highlight for the month is reaching 4.3kWh for a couple seconds. This is AC which is pretty close to 100% effiiency for my system, after you derate the DC to AC conversion of a 5.3kW system!

Here is hoping to February being a strong month with a similar trend!