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...


Jim said...

Steve, congratulatons on the solar panels! Ours will be 5 years in January, never regretted the decision. Need to use more power? Get a reef tank! :-)

I don't think the state ever reimbursed for excess power generation. During daylight hours you may generate more than you consume, but you buy it back at night, in effect using the grid as your storage battery. What a concept, time-of-use and bi-directional metering, huh?

Check out my blog, I just did a blurbon motor/transmission assembly.

Steve said...

Thanks Jim,
That blurb on the tranny will be a big help. I was told that 15 or 20 years ago, the power companies had to buy back your excess power, but I don't know for sure.
I don't know about a reef tank. I was thinking of a little redwood or cedar hot tub, but I'll wait to see how much electricity the car takes.