Thursday, October 21, 2010
Solar Panels Installed on Two More Homes in Creekside
They are at 5843 Fountainhead and 5889 Montevallo.
I realized from the questions from several neighbors while our solar installation was was going on that many people don't know how Photovoltaic solar systems work and why you'd even want one. So I though I'd provide a simple explanation.
First of all these solar panels generate electricity. There are solar gadgets you put on your roof to create hot water but those are different than the three solar systems currently installed in Creekside. The amount of electricity the solar panels create depends on how many panels you have, and how they are oriented with respect to the Sun. Ideally you want the panels facing South because the Sun moves across the southern sky at varying heights above the horizon depending on the time of the year.
The electricity that comes off of the panels goes through a device (called an inverter) that makes the power compatible with the power coming into your home from the PGE power grid. If your refrigerator or other electric appliance in your house needs power it takes the power from your solar panels first before it sucks in power from the power grid. On the other hand if there's nothing in your home that needs power, the power from your panels goes out on the power grid for the neighbors to use (actually for PGE to sell to your neighbors). When power your home doesn't use goes out on to PGE's electric grid it runs your power meter backwards and subtracts from your power bill so effectively you are selling the power back to PGE. It's possible to put more power out onto the grid than you take in. In this case, PGE doesn't send you a check at the end of the month, they just credit your next months bill.
So what percent of your home electric usage can you expect to generate with solar panels? Of course it depends on how many panels you have and how they are oriented but Burt, who's solar system has been producing power since July 17, just told me that for the 98 days his system has been in operation it's produced 46% of his home's electric power. Not bad considering that Burt's home doesn't have a South facing roof surface to put solar panels on. He has his panels on a west facing roof.
So if you are using power these days while the Sun is up you may well be using the unused solar power these solar homes are putting out on the local power grid.
Stay tuned, we'll be writing more about the economics of solar power in the near future.
Posted by Larry at 9:40 PM