Monday, October 5, 2009

Making Electricity!

Installing solar panels on my roof is just part of the process, of course. The next step was to connect them to the inverter and the electric service panel. This was accomplished on Wednesday, September 30, when technicians from Kozma Electric made the necessary connections. The panels were operational that afternoon, making electricity from the late day sunshine poking through the clouds.

The system made even more electricity the next day, when fewer clouds blocked the sun’s rays. For a few minutes the panels were making more electricity than the house was using. I enjoyed seeing the dial on the electric meter turn backwards, indicating I was sending electricity into the grid. The installer’s estimate is my system should make about 60% of my electric consumption each year, so there will be several opportunities to observe the meter turning in my favor.

By Sunday, October 4, the day I participated in Green Energy Ohio’s Solar Tour, the system had made about 10 kilowatt hours of electricity (10 kWH). A meter installed next to the inverter logs the kWH made over the life of the system. The picture below shows the equipment located near the electric service panel in my basement.

Since the panels create direct electric current (DC), a device is required to convert DC to AC, the alternating electric current used in homes. The inverter is the large box in the center of the picture that performs this task. The digital display panel indicates the number of watts being generated at any given time. In addition to the meter tracking total kW hours, the electricians installed a data logger to track electricity production on my laptop and on an Internet site. This last component is scheduled to be operational later this week.

More than 30 individuals visited my stop on the Ohio Solar Tour on Sunday, getting a chance to see the system and ask questions. Thanks go out to John Flower, a representative from Dovetail Solar and Wind, who spent the day answering questions about solar power and my installation. Special appreciation goes to Cindy Woodward, who has helped in every step of the process.