Renewable energy - An investment in my future: My solar-array figures update

$2400 or so is what our annual power bill is on average, for my household. However I only pay 75% of that figure which means I save around $1860 a year. That's money that can head into the investment kitty: Silver, crypto, superannuation, mortgage or some such area that benefits me...Not the power company. A pretty tidy sum don't you think? I think so, especially since we don't have to do a thing for it.

I'd like to tell you that wind farm you see on the hill is mine and feeds power into my house...It doesn't though. This one is in the south-east corner of South Australia, 5 hours from home, and I took a detour to go and have a look at these monolithic things up close when I was down that way recently. They are huge in case you didn't know.

Anyway, whilst I can't claim to own these monsters of renewable-energy collection I do have the ability to collect free power, kindly provided by the sun, via the solar array I have on the roof of my house.

Every now and then I take a snapshot of my energy usage and production and share it here - Today is that day.

Below you can see a couple of snapshots, both showing figures from October: The left (or first) is October 2019 and the right is October 2018. You'll see three metrics -

  • Produced (blue)
  • Consumed (orange)
  • Net energy exported (grey)

Plus a line-graph showing the days of the month with produced, consumed and exported marked upon it.

It's interesting to note a couple of things:

  1. The kWh produced between the same month over these years is not too dissimilar; An 8.77% difference in favour of 2019. This indicates more sunny days or periods and greater solar energy production.
  2. Consumption is almost line-ball with a 1.4% difference. This is interesting considering we were away for a couple weeks in October 2019 and I would have expected less power usage. (The house-sitter must have used a lot)
  3. The net energy exported to the grid is up in 2019 over 2018, up by almost 34% in fact. This is a direct result of the fact we weren't there for a couple weeks though.

You can see the period on the 2019 graph in which we were away, quite clearly. The 2019 image shows low usage period from the 6th to 19th of October as evidenced by the shorter downward orange lines with the longer grey and blue ones extending upwards in contrast.

Naturally the array only converts power during the day (no sun at night) and usage at night in orange is not off-set by production. The 1.4% difference between the years is negligible and clearly shows that our nighttime usage is really quite low. Considering we have LED lights throughout the house I'm not surprised. The main usage is the TV and fridge with some air conditioner thrown in. Interesting to see there's only a 1.4% difference in us being there or not. (Although the house-sitter was there a little, not all night though.)

Here are the figures for all time:

This time the grey metric shows amount of power imported. This means that we are 1.92MWh away from generating enough power to be neutral over a three year period. That's quite a lot of power really, although without the panels it means we would have imported the full 20.36MWh from the grid! Considering the cost of power here I think we're going well!

Note the orange bars are getting shorter year on year? That's our usage-habits getting better. (i.e. using less power at night - changing the way we use power and when.) The very shrot one is the year of installation (2016) and not representative of the whole year.

Below is a snapshot taken yesterday 25 November at about 1530. It shows the same metrics above but just for the day. You can see the rising of the sun represented by the blue section above the X-axis and and the grey once again shows the collected power heading back into the grid. It's been cloudy on and off today hence the erratic nature of the graph (the collection). You can see 3.63kWh has been sent to the grid for which I will get paid for, by rebate, by the power company.

Our solar array is now paid for so we are benefitting from it financially, each billing-cycle. We are now paying over 75% less for our power bills and that money is diverted elsewhere - A big win I'd say and one which also seems my investment-holdings increase for the future. A win-win.

We made the decision to install a solar array to save money and three years later we are happy we did so. Of course, our energy production is subject to the weather and in winter it will be much less. I'll do a comparison someday to demonstrate this. We send power back to the grid which we get paid for and our bills are significantly less and it works out over the year to that 75% figure. The only way to improve it is to add more panels, have more sun, or use less power during the day when the array is producing - Oh, we could add a battery but it's cost-preventative at the moment although we'd like to...Now, If only I can work out a way to get one of those big wind-collectors in my back yard without the neighbours of council complaining...

Stay tuned.

Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default

Discord: @galenkp#9209 ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ

Comments 53

@tipu curate
โ˜€๏ธ ๐Ÿ’ด

26.11.2019 08:31
26.11.2019 10:13

One of those big giant things would be quite the sight out the back!

26.11.2019 08:36

I'm working on it...I think, it I can bring it together, that it'll make the international news:

Loony bloke in Australia powers his house with big windmill

26.11.2019 08:45

Get an old V90 and use all the "extra" energy (they are 900kW) to power a mining farm that mines BTC (or anything) and then automatically buys STEEM which you then use to curate here. #instawhale

26.11.2019 10:26

BTC mining sounds like a good plan!

26.11.2019 10:28

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

26.11.2019 08:41

Looks like the solar setup is working out very well๐Ÿ‘

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26.11.2019 09:28

On the sunny days, yes. On the not so sunny, well...Not so much. (Or at night) ๐Ÿ˜€

26.11.2019 09:34

I am also thinking of installing solar panels, but since there is not so much sun in Lithuania and we have very long winters, my ballance would look so much different. And we can not sell power back to the grid, we can only "store" surplus for the 1/3 of the electricity cost. Meaning that you'd pay 30% of the price for the produced energy when you take it back fron the grid when you need it.

So commercially it's not a viable option, but i still love the idea of self sustainability and might install those arrays on that house restoration project.

What type of panels do you actually use?

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26.11.2019 09:34

You're right of course, the viability of the panels (system) needs to be considered. We had a feasibility study performed prior to installation and had projected figures presented to us to ensure that our system would return acceptable amounts of energy to justify the expense of installation. Obviously it worked out well.

The new modern-panels will collect power even on cloudy days however full sunlight works best and being in Australia we have plenty of that!

We can add panels, and storage also, which we may do. I think with 6 more panels we would be cost-neutral mostly however we may demolish the house at some stage and so are working through the viability of the cost of adding panels. It's all about finding the balance of cost versus benefit.

26.11.2019 09:43

Right, getting that windmill would be much more viable to me, same issues however :) But if someone would be genius enough to discover how to accumulate kinetic energy from rain... we would excel here lol

26.11.2019 11:47

Haha, rain power...sort of like hydroelectric but way weirder! ๐Ÿ™‚ You never know, might happen someday.

26.11.2019 11:51

Yeah, hard to collect i guess.. but just imagine how much kinetic energy it carries!

26.11.2019 11:54

If only...Something for sci-fi maybe though. Or the future.

26.11.2019 12:19

I live in the northern hemisphere too, but there is still a decent payback. We have a factor of about 1000kwh/kw installed.

If you want an assessment done send me 0.001 Steem referencing this comment in the memo. I may not get to it right away, but I will get it done ;)

26.11.2019 10:29

It's still on esotheric level of thinking, so do not burn your time over this. I'd simply like something self sustainable, at least ideologically because i know solar is not economically effective where i live. We get 7-8 hours daylight now and most of the time it is cloudy. Need to relocate :)

26.11.2019 11:50

A province back in Canada, developed a net-metering scheme making it profitable to have a small solar installation at your home, the typical size is 10kW, but as small as 4kW can make sense in some cases.

The sun in Nova Scotia looks like this -> which isn't too far off compared to where you are -> (I grabbed a random city)

26.11.2019 12:48

well, the battery option would probably save you a lot more. but then if you have the space you do not need the expensive lithium batteries and you can have a shed full of the saline type. Big and clunky but they are a lot cheaper and do the job just as well

26.11.2019 09:47

We've considered adding a battery, the Tesla one, but at this stage it's cost-preventative, especially since we may only be here for another couple of years. We're happy with the 75% at the moment and could improve it with another 4-6 panels however we're mindful of the cost of adding them considering the uncertain timeframe we will be here. We'll demolish the house when we leave and so any capital works would probably be wasted.

It would be cool to be off-grid though.

Thanks for your comments.

26.11.2019 09:50

If you have a DIY attitude and space, don't go Tesla. You can do something that works better and has way more storage.

26.11.2019 10:38

I'm demolishing in a few years so I'm not injecting any more capital into works here. My wife's uncle and aunt live 100% off grid though and it would be cool. We go to visit a lot. Such a good lifestyle.

26.11.2019 11:01

Definitely not worth the investment then. These are long term investments and really don't have a lot of re-sale value when you go to sell the home. People don't think a lot about operating costs (at least here) when they buy.

26.11.2019 11:15

I considered setting it up here then relocating it to the next place but it didn't make a lot of sense to do so and seemed like a lot of hard work. We plan to set up storage at the next place, along with a larger array than we have now.

26.11.2019 11:21

We're getting some juicy rebates too. The in-laws shouted us a 5KW system 5 years ago; worth its weight in gold. We're just mindful to run things like the dishwasher and washing machine during the day.
They're designed to stop running during a power outage, which makes sense for the guys working on repairing the lines; but I've been wondering about over-riding the over-ride if SHTF. I can't imagine it'd be too difficult.

26.11.2019 10:21

Cool! They're well-worth it.

In a SHTF scenario they won't help (without storage of some kind). Storage is costly though. We are considering that generator option that kicks in immediately the power goes out. Doesn't affect the panels and the medium sized unit will run lights, fridges and TV simultaneously I've heard. I think it would struggle with AC but in that situation one would apply common sense to power usage I would think. Not sure if we will, but seems a good idea considering we live in the land of power-outages.

26.11.2019 10:27

Yeah we run dishwasher and wshing machine on timers through the day too, and boost the hot water so I can have a bath - it's awesome. We got on the last state rebate, stoked.

27.11.2019 04:35

That's a great effort!

I'd love my own solar array because I'm a big fan of the tech and all the stats, but TBH my power usage is so low, it's not really worth it for me!

Glad it's working out for you.

26.11.2019 10:30

That's a good point actually. Power usage needs to warrant (justify) the array. My wife works from home all day so most of our usage is during the day, 5 days a week. That works perfectly as the array produces during the day obviously, and the washing machine and dishwasher goes on in daylight hours also.

Some people get systems thinking they're going to save billions...Then realise that they haven't, or can't, change their usage habits and they save zippo.

Thanks for commenting. Haven't seen you around much lately.

26.11.2019 10:37

We want a solar array for power and maybe hot water (haven't decided yet as we have gas), there's just the fun problem of being able to afford the solar array XD Saving up x_x and then there will be mor saving up down the line for a battery when they stop being even more cripplingly expensive.

You can have a smaller wind collector but they're not as efficient XD And those wind turbines aren't too fantastic for birds x_x

26.11.2019 11:45

Have you looked into the government programs for solar install? Not sure they have anything over in the West like this but here there's a few schemes that puts solar on the roof for very little money. I paid for mine prior to these schemes coming in.

Might be worth a look.

I'm going to battery up at our next place so we have free power at night. Also, power when the grid shuts down.

26.11.2019 11:50

I'm pretty sure there's rebates, last I checked they were paid out after the fact which doesn't really help us much XD Everything has come down in price since last I looked though we still don't have that money lying around, but at least it's less than it was XD

27.11.2019 00:59

We put it off for a while for the same reason. Took me three years to save the cash. I respect those who take the responsibility to not buy if they can't pay for it...Most use credit. That's leshit not legit.

Hope hump day is going well.

27.11.2019 01:03

We've been told we should get a credit card because points makes things cheaper. We still don't have one and I definitely would not get one as I'm not smart enough to work those things out XD It would make super big purchases easier but we're not going on cruises or trips to the other side of the countr yany time soon unfortunately.

LoL leshit XD

28.11.2019 01:33

I made that word up as the opposite of legit.

We have a credit card and pay for just about everything with it for the points linked to a Qantas FF program. We buy Woolworths or Coles cards with it and I buy Lego, groceries etc. We end up with thousands a year in those gift cards.

The thing is, we always have the money in cash to cover the credit card so never pay interest or over spend. It's paid at the end of each month, never fail.

We recently used the card to buy a car...Part of it anyway. The next day, paid the cash into the card and later ended up with a Woolworths card for several hundred dollars (a few cards combined). Works for us, but it requires discipline.

It's legit...Not leshit. ๐Ÿ˜€

28.11.2019 02:33

That's great! Yesterday we were watching this documentary on Netflix about ( I believe it was ) Denmark where the people living there took matters into their own hands and collectively bought these wind collectors to have their own power. This went well, and more of these were bought, some were owned by a collective of the people living there, others were owned by one family.

It was absolutely amazing and inspiring to see how these people took matters into their own hands and now there even are a bunch of electric cars bought by the people on the island, which are used by the nurses there I think. They are making a huge effort to keep their environment as clean as possible, and it's seriously inspiring!

I honestly can't wait until we decide where we will stay long-term, and have our own property (hopefully haha) to install solar panels to start with. But also grow some of our own veggies and fruit.. But at this time, we rent an apartment in the city centre of Budapest, so we will have to pay for the energy haha :)

Lovely to see some of these results from someone first hand though!

26.11.2019 13:23

I think having an awareness of our power usage has been the best part. Having solar panels doesn't mean we can use more power, it means we needed to adjust our usage patterns, which we did. Gets the best out of the system..

Good to see collective efforts around the place like you mention. We're going to Denmark next year so think, have heard it's a pretty cool place.

I'll be honest, we did it more for the monetary saving than the environment but there's a dual benefit there I guess. We grow some vegetables, not much, and try and live a waste-free life...I think it's important to do and is also rewarding. Hopefully you get your chance to do so as well. We are glad we got the solar system.

26.11.2019 21:04

This is neat.
Using less is smart. My household rarely goes over 230kw/h a month. At night lighting is big issue so we use LEDs.

26.11.2019 14:21

LED lighting is a good idea. We switched all ours over at the same time as getting the solar system - No sun at night so no power production. Changing our usage habits was the biggest thing though. We put the dishwasher and clothes washer on during the day, charge phones and devices in daylight hours etc. Makes use of the sun power.

Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it.

26.11.2019 21:08

Wow! There are very interesting stats for me. I live Roatan, Honduras, and we have some of the most expensive electricity in the world (I think). $0.45/Kwh. I am planning now on switching to fully solar. Either that or I just build a mud hut and wood stove. it is ridiculously expensive.

26.11.2019 20:11

Yep, that's expensive! We pay about 37.5 so not far behind. It's crazy isn't it? I like the mud hut idea but I guess in reality that's not practical - Certainly not here in Australia. We have been very happy with our system and I would recommend solar panels for anyone who lives in an area with plenty of sunlight. Good luck with it!

26.11.2019 21:15

Very cool! I have toyed a bit with the idea of putting in a small solar setup, if nothing else to provide something to an outlet or two if the power goes out.

26.11.2019 21:40

It's a good idea. I'm not sure what systems are like your way though, but here they won't provide power if the grid goes out, they are linked. For power in outages one needs battery storage. Might be different up your way.

27.11.2019 00:12

I haven't looked into it much, but the battery might be required in the event of a power failure here as well.

27.11.2019 16:56

A bit of research will get to the bottom of it.

27.11.2019 20:36

Awesome. I just got state and federal rebate for solar panels - we aint number counters and the bill hasn't come yet but I'm stoked they are up - only cost us 4 K AUD and I reckon we'll make that back pretttty fast by shaving bills down considerably.

27.11.2019 04:35

I love saving money and putting it to better use, such as silver or vacations. The solar helps us do that. There's some pretty good deals on now but we simply paid straight up when we got ours in 2016. It's working a treat.

27.11.2019 05:27

Howdy sir galenkp!That's brilliant. How are the panels installed, are they on top of the roof? I bet you guys are like Texas as far as the number of sunny days.

01.12.2019 00:13

We have a lot of sun, yes, and the cool thing is that they will collect energy even on cloudy days...Just not as efficiently.

The panels are on my roof, attached to rails and fastened to brackets that are fastened underneath the tile. There's some complicated wiring and control boxes and I can access it all by an app, which is where I took the screen shots from. It's cool.

01.12.2019 00:20

Sounds like a great system and I know more and more people are going that direction, solar I mean, not Australia. Although maybe immigration is up too. lol. We're going to get some kind of solar at our place.

01.12.2019 03:27

We've been happy with our system and whilst there's a little bit of outlay (ours was $7,500 AUD) I believe the benefits are worth while.

01.12.2019 04:09

Another brilliant move by you guys, you got it goin on down there!

01.12.2019 05:44

Haha, I don't know about that. We try to make smart decisions. Both came from a quite poor upbringing and so make what we have go as far as possible. We work hard now and are comfortable but old habits die hard right?

01.12.2019 05:47