Green Power!

April 1, 2010
As of today we are officially a power company. We received the final approval from our electric utility to begin operation of our grid-tied solar electric system, and we activated the system this morning. Starting today our goal is to produce more electricity than we consume. Here's a photo of our 6.2-kilowatt photovoltaic array:

We noticed a difference as soon as we activated the system. The first photo below was taken yesterday, and shows our toaster oven operating on ordinary "dirty" electricity from the utility company, most likely generated by a coal or natural-gas fired power plant. The second photo shows the same toaster oven this morning, after we switched on the solar array and started operating on clean renewable energy. We had no idea that it would make such an obvious difference in the way our appliances operate. Apparently our solar electricity is creating higher-energy photons inside the toaster and shifting the color spectrum to shorter, greener wavelengths. Somehow the toast tastes better today. And if you look closely you can see, that's a Sunbeam toaster!

Update, 8:00 P.M.
It was mostly sunny today, and the following shows a graph of our first day's electricity production as displayed on the inverter monitor. The system produced 29.9 kilowatt-hours, with a peak A.C. power output of about 5000 watts between 1:00 and 3:00 P.M. We're on daylight savings time and near the western end of our time zone so solar noon is about 1:45 for us. Over the last 24 hours our energy consumption has been only 5 kW h so we produced six times as much as we used! Unfortunately we won't be able to sustain that year-round, but we are off to a good start and we're optimistic that we'll produce more than we consume each year.

This page was updated on Wednesday January 11, 2017