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February, 2015 Report PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 28 February 2015 15:56

winter15Winter is a blast...literally! Snow, wind, freezing temperatures...but warmth inside our house. Wikipedia defines winter as: "...caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun." Well, I think the axis has been even further tilted from the Sun because of the weight of the snow - averaging a total of 3-4 feet to date, and knowing New England - there's still more to come.

One of the great inventions of our time is the snow blower - without it, no access to the front door and the backup propane tanks until Spring! I'm not sure it's just a Maine thing, but several years ago my neighbor said he didn't need his snow blower any more and wondered if I wanted it. Not wanting to insult his generosity, I immediately said, "yes." As you can see the pathway is a bit crooked but not bad for an amateur.

pvfeb15Our photovoltaic panels continue to crank out electricity. February's output was 286 kWhrs. That's lower that our normal February generation (usually around 350 kWhrs) due primarily to the parade of snow storms that kept the sun from shinning. But when it's out, it's powerful. Today, for example, we generated 21.5 kWhrs!

tempfeb15

Note the inside temperature today  - a high of 77.4. That's due primarily to the passive solar gain of our home. The sun shone from sunrise (0 degrees) to sunset (28 degrees) which caused the solar tanks in the basement to heat up to 148 degrees - ample 'fuel' for any overnight heat we might need. That's called a renewable resource!

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 February 2015 22:02
 
January, 2015 Report PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 02 February 2015 11:30

Overview:

pvjan152015 got off to a good start with a PV generation of 313 kWhrs. It would have been even higher if two snowstorms hadn't decided to 'dump' on us. That's not sour grapes, just a little perspective. In fact, it's snowing now and if the forecast is right, today's 12 inches will be added to the combined total of 21 inches from last week for a 7-day accumulation of 33 inches. Now that's winter.

Solar Living in Maine During the Winter:

You've heard it before, but there is great joy living in a solar home. The benefits in the winter are considerable:

  • Passive solar gain through the south-facing windows - yielding an indoor temperature in the high 70s on sunny days.
  • Having to open the windows to 'manage' the extra heat.
  • Enjoying our wood stove when the temperature goes down below 20 at night.
  • Enjoying our radiant heat in the floors and shower in the morning - much of it from our 1,000 gallons of hot water generated by the solar thermal panels on the roof.
  • Trusting that if the power goes out, our battery backup system will provide power to our necessary loads until the grid power returns.
  • Etc, etc, etc!

    Here's a video shot several years ago about Solar Living in Maine:


Last Updated on Saturday, 28 February 2015 16:03
 
June Solar Report PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 07 July 2014 14:20

pvjune14Solar Report

June was a fantastic month for sun. It now rockets our PV output to a sweet 2,247 kWhrs for the first six months of the year. That's a result of a 456 kWhr month (plus two days). No measureable loss of output from the panels since installation in 1995. Now that's dependability!

Plugin Prius

priusjuly14The good news is that my car has now reached the 13 mile range on the batteries. That gives me considerable flexibility is traveling to and from local towns. You might notice that my current tank of gas is registering 356 mpg!  Hope the range will top out around 14 by late July. Looks like I won't need any more fuel at least until September.

Gardening

gardenjuly14I added another raised bed this spring to my 'farm' and should soon see some squash and cucumbers blossoms. Already the tomatoes are beginning to set small fruit as are the peppers. We've been enjoying our lettuce, though soon they'll be going to see. Small is better is so many ways!

Last Updated on Friday, 02 January 2015 20:51
 
A look back at 2014 PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 02 January 2015 20:52

PV Array Output

pvdec14Well, here we are starting a new year. Our PV output goal has been 4,000+ kWhrs/year and a check of the meter shows our 4,200 watt array generated 4,115 kWhrs in 2014. Phew! November and December were lousy months for sunshine - had we received the normal amount of sun, we would have easily exceeded 4,200, but the array and inverters continue to work well. Output in 2013 was 4,190.

Plug-in Prius 

fuelly14I'm now into the last year of my Prius Plug-In lease. Overall mileage is currently 164.3 mpg but in the summertime I've averaged over 300 mpg. It's all about range. This year, the temperature got into the 90s only one or two days which meant that the EV range peaked under 14 miles. The range is in its downward slope for the next few months - right now it's 10.4 miles.

Aerial View via GoPro & Phantom 2 Quadcopter

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 February 2015 16:02
 
May Solar Report PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 June 2014 05:07

spinach14Finally, a dark and dreary May is over - the weather acted like it was April. We received lots of rain and clouds dominated the sky for the majority of the month. Here on June 1, the sky is clear and the temperature will be in the 70s. The great beneficiary of the cool/wet weather has been the spinach. I can finally take the plastic caps off the tomatoes. This picture shows a second cutting from last year's plants - there's anyways a silver lining if you look close enough.

pvmay14Having said that, our May PV production was 366 kWhrs which is around 100 kW below normal for May - that's still 1,791 kWhrs for the first five months of the year - lower than the average, but even a poor June will put us on course for our 4,000 kWhr annual goal - another silver lining.

fuelly514Finally, my Plugin Prius continues to gain battery-only range - now at 11.4 miles on its way to 14. Overall mpg is at 141.7 and growing.

This is the second spring for the vehicle and I remain pleased beyond expectation. My last fillup was in early May and as the graph indicates, I have reached the low plateau for fuel economy and the trend line is beginning (ever-so-slightly) to rise - another silver lining!

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 June 2014 05:46
 
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