2014 Solar Results – September

The 9th month of the year gave a good electricity yield, not the best September, but still better than the poor return experienced in the same month of 2013!

September 2014 Generation Stats
Month Total: 181.49 kW
Best day: 10.71 kW 09/09/2014
Worst day: 2.01 kW 20/09/2014
Generation per kW/panel: 90.74 kW
Daily average: 6.05 kW

September 2014 stats

Record Week Of Solar Generation

Wow what a week! This week has both been encouraging and dispiriting all within seven January days. I’ve set four new generation records for my 2kW solar harvesting system. Three of which were very welcome. The other I would rather forget about, but for the sake of this blog I will bring myself to mention it once more!

First, just to confirm that due to the installation date of my PV array, my generation week runs from Thursday to Wednesday. Now then, to get it out the way I reluctantly report that my first record of the week was that on Monday 30th January I generated my all time low of 0.17kW. In fairness it was a dreadful day, very grey and wet from start to finish.

On a much more happier note I am pleased to report that during the same week I also broke three other records since having my solar panels installed. Even with the day mentioned above, the week turned out to be my best ever week’s generation yielding over 24kW of electricity from the sun’s rays. The other records for the week included the greatest yield in one day at 5.86kW and finally, if I have not bored you away, I also saw the highest generation peak from my array of Sanyo HIT-H250E01 panels at 1.464kWh that works out to be 73.2% of its maximum possible system yield.

Things are moving on a lot from two months ago when I reported very poor results in comparison. As this is only now the end of January I look forward to presenting even greater achievements from my little solar energy system!

Solar Panel Generation – First Month Stats – East West Split

A little late publishing, but here are the first month’s generation statistics for the east-west split solar panel array. These stats are for my father’s 2.64kW system, which employs SunPower 240kW E19 Series solar panels with SolarEdge power optimisers fitted.

These statistics are the very first shown for the east-west system that was installed on 7th December 2011. After all the upheaval and agitation that he has endured over the previous month it’s rather nice to blog about something a little more interesting than installation problems.

Like my own, my father’s expectations were a lot higher than that of the received yield of solar generated electric. Having an installation in December is probable not the best idea if you want to receive instant encouragement and return from your system. After all this was now the darkest and gloomiest days of the year.

When reviewing my first solar harvesting statistics I had nothing to compare with. Seeing these now, although comparison is still very liberal due to the split array and differing size systems, it nonetheless offers some interesting similarities and solar array personalities.

What stands out when comparing these solar generation statistics to that of south, south-east system in particular at this stage is that the east-west split seems to harvest more on dull days. Obviously I can’t compare like for like but I believe that this slight improvement on certain days is down to the power optimisers. Overall the near south facing array trounces the split system during these shorter days, but once the longer days arrive the east-west split should come into its own. It should be rather interesting comparing in the months to come!

East-west split solar array first month's statistics

The electricity generation statistics are for the period from 8th December to 7th January 2012. During this first month the system harvested just over 37.5 kW of electricity, averaging 1.21 kW per day. The chart also shows the highest spike of generation hitting at 2.51 kW.

New Electric Meter – Plan your daytime energy usage and draw less

After first having a visit from my electric supplier’s meter team who tried and failed to replace my meter due to the fusebox restricting the meter from being lifted off its hook, and then another turn-up without a meter, I have now finally had a new meter installed.

It’s been a rather a troublesome affair for something that really should have been so simple. I had to get the electrician back to move the fusebox 30mm so that the meter could be lifted off a screw hook. Call him back again as I was left with only partial electricity in the house and then take more time off work for the meter man to return.

I thought that having a new electric meter fitted would mean that I would get one of the new Smart Meters. Unfortunately these have had several teething problems and have not yet been released for widespread installations. I will need another visit for this in the future when they have been fully rolled out.

A lot of people are under the impression that if you have solar panels on your property then you get free electric by day. I thought this, or at least I did at first – and you do if you generate enough at the time you want it. Having now had a new meter installed I have come to realise a little more about how this works and how much is free.

You would think that if you are producing your own electric from the sun then you should then be able to use what you generate. But no, you get to use what you require at the time of generation – The rest is fed to the grid. You can not store your own electric for use later, although I have read and also heard about a few set-ups and systems that people are coming up with. For the typical user, myself included, what happens is that if you are using electric by day when the solar panels are harvesting the sun’s rays, it will use this electric first and then either top up from the grid if you require more or export any that is unused.

Let’s say I’m boiling my 3kW kettle and my system is harvesting at 2kWh while the water boils, this would then mean I’m drawing electric at 1kWh from the grid. In effect I would be buying this top-up of 1kWh at 19 pence a unit or whatever the present rate is. Now let’s go the other way, if for example, I’m using my personal computer for one hour. It uses approximately 150 watts per hour. If the panels created 1.2kW for the hour while the PC is switched on, I will have fed the excess, slightly over 1kW of electricity onto the grid. Disregarding any government subsidies this will then earn me 3 pence.

Three pence earnings per kW exported is not really worth worrying about. It is far better practice to plan your day time energy usage and draw less.

Loose Solar Panels

An email was sent off to the installers reporting the damaged panels on the 27/12/11. But due to the Christmas and New Year holidays an auto out of office reply email was received saying that they were closed until January 3rd. There was an emergency telephone number if required.

Further problems were to be experienced on the 29/12/11. From this date the weather conditions changed to high winds which seemed to caused all sorts of rattles above my fathers bedroom under the east solar array. An additional email was subsequently sent off on the 30th reporting these new issues and requesting an experienced installer to visit as soon as possible and investigate the noises.

Over the weekend of 31st December and 1st January while visiting my parents I found my father looking very tired and apprehensive. He said that he had not been getting very much sleep due to the the noise on the roof. He also said that on occasions he was now also hearing banging sounds which were very disruptive. Although it was not quite as windy now as it had been on the previous couple of evenings, I had a look up at the east facing panels from the end of the garden. I could see nothing alarming or untoward from this distance. However, I could see some loose cabling under the right hand panel, maybe this was flapping around and causing the noises!

On Tuesday 3rd January, the installation company was back in touch and were arranging for their installations supervisor to visit and check the reported problems. He arrived mid-afternoon today, 4th January and started by investigating the noises coming from the roof on the east side. On inspection of both the east and west arrays, he found that 3 of the east facing solar panels were loose and not clamped tightly which was causing them to lift and bang down in the wind. This was immediately rectified together with the securing of loose wires under the panels with cable ties. One of the solar panels had to be removed completely to allow access to a roof tile that had not been refitted correctly at the time of installation. Finally, the scratched solar panels were found to be only surface marks and cleaned accordingly.