Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Power. We are Gaining Power!

The tracker that our solar panels are on is designed to hold 20 panels.  Up until now, we've only had 10 panels installed.  It's been a long time coming, but we now have 10 more panels to add to the original 10 for a full load of 20.  Along with a new inverter, designed and built by our friend and alternative energy guru who is staying with us for a couple of days to get the new system up and going, these additional panels will really beef up our solar power.


Today has been intermittently sunny and cloudy, highs in the 40s with a very stiff wind blowing.  Not the best weather for this job, but at least it's not raining . . . or (gulp) snowing.


If you look closely at this picture, you'll see Papa Pea's legs sticking out of the truck as he's sitting sideways on the front seat.  I had to give him a hard time about not being right up there on the scaffolding (and in the wind) with C.  He informed me his job was very important; he was "on call" in case C needed anything brought up to him.  Actually, all that was left to be done was the wiring and it was a one-man job for which, obviously, C was more qualified.


This is a shot from underneath.  I cannot believe how much BIGGER the whole array looks now.

It's going to be very interesting to see how much more electrical power we're going to be able to generate this winter with our exciting, new set-up.

Progress, folks.  It's progress!

28 comments:

Sparkless said...

Ohhhh that looks great. Solar panels are on my bucket list of things I just have to get.

tpals said...

Sweet! Monday the electrician finished hooking up my new battery bank. It's great to have the solar panels working for me again. I don't remember you mentioning yours before.

Nancy po said...

Cool, wish we had some...

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - It just makes us feel a little more independent from all the things we're "hooked into" in our society of today. Now if we just get a winter full of sunshine (which we didn't last year), we will be happy campers.

Mama Pea said...

tpals - Great that your solar panels are back in working order. New batteries are something we're going to have to budget for in the next couple of years.

Mama Pea said...

Nancy po - Put 'em on your wish list! Even just a couple of panels mounted on the roof can be a good start.

Akannie said...

I wish we had 'em too...we talk about it but never do anything about it...

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Congratulations on getting another 10 panels up. You're going to be very happy with the extra power.

Now when you have all kinds of snow do you or your husband get up on a ladder and clear these panels with a broom?

Sue said...

Dumb question---do those generate any power on cloudy days? Around here, we never see the sun from November until the middle of February.
Hubby and I often talk about getting some kind of alternative power....but that's as far as we get. Talk. Sheesh. Wish we had your bravery. And I say that, because basically, that's what our problem is--scared of the unknown!

Kristina said...

That is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Oh how exciting! I can't wait to start getting my system set up. Probably will be a little at a time, but every bit helps!

http://caffeinatedhomestead.weebly.com/blog

Tyche's Minder said...

Jealous!

Susan said...

Ditto, what Tyche's Minder wrote... :)

Mama Pea said...

Akannie - Start small. You can have that and still be hooked up to the grid . . . until you don't need it anymore.

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - In all the years (close to 17) we've had our installation, there has only been one occasion that snow stuck to the panels. That was last winter during a wet snow that froze so solid overnight that it took 24 hours to slide off. We can manually turn the whole panel section (from a control box on the pole that is within reach from the ground) so that it is in just about any position. Parallel to the ground or perpendicular to the ground or any angle in between. Surprisingly enough, we rarely have to do that when the panels are covered with snow. Even in the dead of winter, if even the littlest bit of sun (or sometimes wind) hits it, the snow will quickly disappear.

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Not a dumb question at all. The answer is yes, but at a much lower percentage. But that's where your battery bank comes in which stores excess energy from when the sun was shining full force. You just can't go forever without more sun to recharge your batteries. Our weather has definitely changed in the past several years. We used to have many bright, sunshiney days once we hit January and February. Last year was about the worst we can remember with little to no sunshine during the whole winter.

Can I loan you my husband for about a year? It would give me a rest. He is never hesitant to try anything after he's researched it out and has decided it would be a "good thing." I'm the one who has to keep him anchored from going off into unknown territory!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Thank you! We've had to put off getting the full compliment of panels for many years. They are much, much more economical than when we first got into alternative energy, but you still have to find the bucks to put toward them! You understand how that is.

Mama Pea said...

Stephanie - There's nothing wrong with starting a little at a time . . . it all helps!

Mama Pea said...

Tyche's Minder - Oh, if we all could win that big lottery, eh? (Guess we'd have to start buying tickets first though.) :o)

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Well, I won't say it's hassle-free even once you get your system in place. There's regular maintenance and sometimes that problem that you don't know how to fix. But we're very fortunate to have the two guys that got us going with the solar panels as friends. They could not be more accommodating. They both live a distance away, but the one services many installations in our area and comes up here regularly and many glitches have been fixed via the Internet or phone.

Lisa said...

How Exciting! We're also one of those who 'talk' about alternate energy resources, but never 'act'. You guys are so inspiring in how you choose to live. With these new panels, adding to your existing structure, will that mean you will be able to produce all the electricity you will need and be 'off-grid' completely now?

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - The "proof will be in the pudding," as they say! We've never been truly energy conservative (she says with shamed face) when using our solar energy. In other words, we have not been as careful with our use of electricity as we could. We have a dehumidifier in the basement which takes a drain on the system, three freezers, etc., etc. In the winter when I can spend more time quilting, I may have the iron on for long periods and so forth. BUT the new inverter will make it possible for us to more efficiently use the solar energy coming in so that will help, too. In giving our 24 storage batteries a good going over yesterday, C and Papa Pea found two "bad" ones that will have to be replaced. Any weak battery in the system pulls the rest of them down. So we still have some tweaking to do. It's exciting to see if we can truly create all of our electricity (we should be able to), but time will tell!

Lisa said...

That's what is so interesting to me, is that you continue to life an electrically 'normal'? lifestyle on the system you've designed. Sometimes I wonder if the thought of having to alter our energy uses is what puts us off to trying alternative energy sources. We try to be conservative here too.... but still want to run a HVAC system, dishwasher, separate freezer..... interesting. Please do keep us updated on how your system works out.

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - I want to comment on your comment (!) but I know it will be too long to enter here so I'm going to send you an e-mail.

Mark said...

That is definitely cool!! I've thought about putting up some solar, but the way things are going it's going to end up as a retirement project along with a livestock shed, goats, a wood stove, a garage, getting proficient at a couple of languages, spending more time with piano,.... You get the idea: The list goes on and on and on.

I'm looking forward to hearing how the added capacity works out and how it improves things for you.

JoyceP said...

How exciting. I'm so happy for you!

Mama Pea said...

Mark - Ah, yes. The problem on the homestead is that we can't physically (let alone financially!) do everything at once. Then there is finding the balance between all work . . . and no time for learning a couple of languages, spending more time with the piano . . . yep, I know very well what you're saying. We just keep putting things on The List. Maybe those things will happen. Maybe they won't. In the meantime, we're all doing what we can. :o)

Mama Pea said...

JoyceP - Thank you! We're kind of excited to see where this leads us, too.