My Altadena household has been making electricity since March 27. Our solar panels are almost disappointingly discreet — I can’t help but want everyone to know how virtuous we are. But on the other hand it’s nice to be humble, quietly saving the planet in our own way, you know….
Solar installation took about two whole days once it got going, allowing for rain and including a day for cutting concrete and trenching an electrical line from the free-standing garage to the panel. Prior to installation there had to be some installation of stand-offs on the roof for the panel supports, and a little re-routing of exhaust vents (which took a couple of days). So it took a week in bits and pieces to install our little system.
When the panels were up, we added a hose on the roof, in order to rinse off the panels every two months and keep them producing at their optimum rate. As our solar friend Shelley pointed out, be sure to wash them down BEFORE they heat up in the middle of the day….
We get sun on the panels this time of year from about 8:30 to 4; we’ve installed a total of 21 panels.
Oh, the thrill of watching the SCE meter running backward! Eventually our in-house monitoring system will be up and running — everyone says you get quite compulsive about your power situation then — but in honor of Earth Day, I promised to report our early results:
• The most astounding fact is the “pounds of CO2 saved” stat on our outdoor monitoring system. We have saved 622.71 POUNDS of CO2 — if I’m not mistaken that is a very lightweight GAS….
• We’ve generated 366 kwH in three weeks — (we use about 2,000 a month), including 17.34 today (we average 40 a day). Our goal was to generate 40% of our electricity with this system (about six more panels are due to be installed), so we’re doing well.
• Our electrical bill, which covered only about half a month of generation, was down by about $100 from the previous month, though our daily usage this period is greater than the last two years. Last year’s bill for this time period was a little more money, and we’ve used a few less kWh this month than this time last year, so it’s all a confusing mish-mash.
• Our first whole month of generation will be reflected on the next bill. To make things even more unscientific, we traded in our old TV (and my brother-in-law, a frequent guest), and the cost of power fluctuates like crazy, so it may take a year for us to get good comparison numbers. The kWh generated are the easiest to track, but the $ make the most impact — except for that CO2 number.
Happy Earth Day! Eleven years ago I met Jane Goodall and burst into tears. I’d like to think that the chimpanzees are thanking me for living a bit less heavily than I once did.
— Mel Malmberg
People have asked for the name of the contractor — a 12-year-old firm recommended by an architect friend and made up of very knowledgable former utility employees. Jesse, my project manager, was terrific and the subs (electricians and roofers) were fantastic. They took care of all the paperwork including rebates, which have increased this year and help make the costs, over the long term, pencil out. Jesse says they are busy installing residential charging stations for electric cars.
Jesse Marez, B.S.E.E.
Clean Fuel Connection Inc.
Office: (626) 445-1445 ext. 11
Facsimile: (626) 445 1450
Mobile: (626) 824 8911
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