Phase 2 of Solar Power System Now Complete

Back in October 2010, I posted a link explaining Phase 1 of our photovoltaic system.

Back in August 2013, we completed Phase 2 of our system.  Here’s what it looks like:

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These are nine new ground mounted 230 watt capacity panels connected to the same inverter to which the original six 230 panels are connected.   Below is a picture of what our inverter looks like with the charge controllers from each of our two arrays on either side.  The charge controller for our Phase 2 array is the one on the left and the one for the original array is on the right.

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The total capacity of our system is now 3.45 kilowatts.  With our net metering interconnection with Mon Power, we are now able to produce enough electricity to completely offset the electricity we buy at night and when the sun isn’t shining.

In fact, our expanded system now produces electricity even on the cloudiest days at the darkest time of year.  Today, December 8, we had constant rain or snow and our system still produced 1.5 kilowatt hours.  On sunny days in September, we produced 19 kwh per day, almost enough electricity to cover three days of our normal consumption.  Our last two electric bills “zeroed out” our electric usage, and we have a small carryover of kwh credits into the next month.

If you are interested in installing your own power generation system, post a comment on this post and I’ll answer any questions you may have.

Our plan was to buy our panels in two stages, because we figured the price of panels was falling so quickly that we would save a lot of money.  We did.  The new panels we installed in August 2013 were half the price of the panels we installed in October 2010.

6 thoughts on “Phase 2 of Solar Power System Now Complete

  1. I don’t know about your area, but we had 4-5 inches of wet, heavy snow here in Jackson County. Do you not need to clear that snow from the panels? How onerous of a task is that?

    • Frank,

      That is an excellent question. Because none of my panels are on a roof, I have pretty good access to them. I have a squeege on the end of a fiberglass painters roller extension pole that extends out to about 16′. It took me about 20 minutes to clear the three inches of snow that were on my panels this morning. I have cleared them twice so far this year. So I don’t consider it a big chore at all.

      If people have the land and solar exposure to do ground mounted or wall mounted panels, I highly recommend it because of the ease of access.

      • I just want to chime in on this. Our .8 kw off-grid array is ground mounted (using a wooden structure Don built himself—for details see spectrumz.com and find “panel mount”). This is more efficient because roofs leak heat and PV is most efficient at cold temperatures, and much easier to sweep snow off—which is sometimes necessary twice a day. Usually it’s pretty easy. I didn’t sweep them at all yesterday despite the 6” of wet snow, because I’d swept them the day before and the snow just melted off. I use a push-broom.

  2. Nice Job Bill, the beauty of a solar array is that its modular and is easy to add to or take away depending on your needs. If I do some EE work I can fire up my hot tub or charge my car. Electrical consumption becomes more of an issue when you produce your own power, especially if the goal is to only pay the $5/mo base fee.

    • Good points, John. The most important thing about producing your own electricity is that you are in control. The most important thing you can do to reduce the cost of your PV system is to reduce your electrical use and improve the efficiency of your appliances and your home heating system. As you point out, you can also phase in your investment by starting small, if you make sure your inverter has the capacity to add panels later.

      Working with a WV installer also gives you the option to do a lot of the work yourself to save money. Matt Sherald of PIMBY Energy installed my new panels, as he did my original system. I did a lot of the preparation work, including running cable underground and building the foundation and framework for the new array.

      • Matt’s a very good installer and I’m sure he was happy you helped him with the logistics of the install but one thing anyone can do is to utilize micro inverters for many reasons. I have micro’s on my home system and I like the fact that I can access my production information on my smart phone and make sure my SRECS are being tallied for the day I can finally sell them in WV.

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