Yesterday we officially flipped the switch. We are now running on solar energy!
We have installed a 7.5 KW photovoltaic system, that comprises of 30 x 250 Watt Solar panels, an Outback Power Inverter system and 12 x 4 volt 1104 Amp Hour Flooded Batteries. We are going to give the system a few months of testing and then we will share a detailed review.
This is not our first foray into solar but it is the first time we have the option to use the energy as we see fit. In Ontario we had a 10 kw system and we were part of the Microfit program. All of the energy produced went directly to the grid. We were paid well for the energy and it was nice to get cheques from the energy company every month, but we were still paying the same bills every month and were prohibited from storing or using any of the solar energy for ourselves.
With New Brunswick Power, the program is quite different. We will not be paid any money for the energy we feed to the grid (unless my husband is successful in his negotiations with them 🙂 Instead, a credit will be applied to our account that will offset future bills (net metering.)
By default, our energy needs are served with solar power, when possible. If not, we get grid power. When the grid is down, we run off of battery power. When the batteries are full and we have excess solar production, it gets fed to the grid, offsetting our grid utilization costs.
We are running regular appliances for the most part, though high efficiency (and our stove is propane, which helps.) We are also running our wood furnace rather than our electric system, which results in a draw of about 1-1.5kw on average ( Not bad for winter). We have some things we can fine tune around the house to bring that number down further. We are limited to a total household draw of 60 amp, which has not been a problem yet.
Over the next few months we will evaluate the system and then write up a review of the components, the overall system and how it’s been running. If there are things we would change or things than needed to be changed. We will do our best to provide some valuable input for anyone else looking at installing a system like this.
I certainly feel more secure having all of this redundancy. Today we are experiencing another ice storm, and freezing rain which is a perfect formula for a power outage. We shouldn’t be impacted (or even notice) power outages anymore which makes me feel very happy.