Monday, October 22, 2007

California's Latest Power Plant: My House!

Our solar panels are now up and running. So far we have generated more electricity than we use, indicated by our digital meter going backwards.* I think that trend will definitely continue, at least until I get the electric car running. For some particulars, we generated 19 Kilowatt Hours yesterday, with a peak of 2,906 watts. It's starts up with a few hundred watts at about 8 AM and by 10:30 or 11:00 it is over 2,000. It peaks at about 2 in the afternoon and starts to decline from there. It should do even better in the summer with the longer days.
Interestingly, the wildfires in California put a haze over us here on the Central Coast today, even though we are 200 miles away. You could actually smell smoke.
Because of that, we generated a smaller maximum of 2,457 watts today (Compared to the previously noted 2,906 from yesterday). So assuming that yesterday was a clear day, I can create my own haze index for the amount of sun blockage: 2,457/2,906 = .845, so that's about a 85% of what we maxed on a clear day. That's a 15% loss in efficiency, which is quite significant and that's 200 miles away from the source of the fire. It gives you an idea of how smog must effect L.A.
Anyway this is like a new toy for me and I'll update with more factoids as they come. Hopefully, that will be the worst of the fires, but I'm not optimistic, as it is still warm and dry and the Santa Ana winds are expected for the next few days.
I wish I had a better car update. I hack-sawed my motor key to the proper length and I will try to attach the clutch and transmission to the motor this weekend. I'm stuck after that until I can get a motor mount from EA, who are again not returning my e-mails.
*For the record, California doesn't reimburse you if you make more energy than you use anymore, so consider it a donation to the grid...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Solar Panels Up!

We have the solar panels installed! They still need to hook it up to the electric and it has to be approved by the power company before we can use it, but that should happen quite soon. I had a neighbor hinting that he was concerned about the possibility of "glare" from the panels. I figured this was just one of those concerns people bring up that turn into a big nothing and I think my assessment is correct, as I noticed no glare in the afternoon sun from the street above ours. They look quite nice, in my opinion, and when they are running I'll have more details about energy production, cost, etc.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Still Waiting...

I just ran into an old friend, Mark, who said that there was a talk in town today about electric vehicle conversions, which I missed. Turns out it was Mike and Shari from Electro Automotive. I'm happy to see that they are spreading the good word about electric cars, but it might be nice if they could focus on the orders that are already in rather than looking for more business. Uh-oh, I'm getting grumpy... On a lighter note, I took a weeklong sailing course with a friend of mine down in Santa Barabara last week and I'll post pics when I get them developed (I forgot my digital camera). Our solar panels should be up early next week and I'll have some pics of that, too. Now if I could only make some progress on my electric car, I'd be in business (grumpy again).