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In the next few weeks we are going to begin an off grid solar installation at our home in Tsawwassen.  I had considered a grid tied system but that just equates to feeding the beast that's killing us all, and now with their Smart Meter program grid tied just isn't an option. 


Off grid is more complicated and more expensive.  Way more expensive...  lol



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We captured 36.5 kWh in January (1.18/day) from our 8 modules, just 2 kWh more than Jan 2013. December 2013 was a dismal 27 kWh, so it's looking up, relatively-speaking. Still, even though we have no TV, our electric stove and dryer help to put us over 8 kWh per day, so we're nowhere close in winter to making it on our own. Being grid-tied is still the only option for us.
I have to say that our slow conversion from CFLs to dimmable LED (now beginning to compete on least in the US) has shaved another 15% off our lighting bill. Sadly, lighting is such a tiny part of our load that it doesn't add up to much of a savings overall. This technological revolution in lighting does however convince me that large windows, except on the southern exposures, make no sense anymore. The heat loss of a north window (R2 vs an R20 wall) is now never compensated by reducing the need for artificial lighting.
Those glass high rises are looking ever worse as energy dinosaurs.
I'll be looking to add more modules in time, and our limited dryer use will have to get even more rare to get anywhere near your amazingly low usage. Overall, we need to keep in mind that the average non-electrically-heated home in BC uses over 20 kWh per day. Truly frightening.

Hi Randy,

I don't know if you could consider a gas clothes dryer but there are direct drive clothes washers that use a fraction, say 1/10th the power of a regular unit.

Energy is energy, and given all the fracking in BC and the still serviceable electric dryer that came with the house, no change there is warranted. We have a front-load washing machine that is very efficient. I think our usage is about as low as we can reasonably go, and for more carbon neutrality we'll have to generate more ourselves.
On the heat side, where we do use gas, we have this awesome fireplace insert that draws combustion air from outside. Burning only construction wood waste, deadfall, and felled neighbourhood trees we get half of our heat.

Well the numbers for Feb 2014 are in. We consumed 19.5 kWh/month less dropping our daily average from 3.5 in 2013 to 2.7. We produced 64.4 kWh, 4.2 kWh more this Feb from the solar system increasing our daily average from 2.2 to 2.3. We ran the generator 7.2 hours less for a total of 16 hours. Had it not been for the snowfall we could have been generator free from the 18th as we had been producing well more than consumption. That cost us 5 hours of runtime.

I'm going to predict that my batteries are not going to last anywhere near the 10 years I was told I could get. Just from seeing the drain they get on a daily basis in the winter months and my morning voltage drop from last year I may have issues next winter or the one after that.

We were freed from running the generator after the first week in March. Our kWh usage averaged 2.7 per day and we managed to make 3.2 from the PV system. April was pretty much the same.

We added an electric kettle and a hot plate to take advantage of the power we generate and to reduce our gas consumption and in general we're using more electricity.

Yes, summer is here, with insolation rates through the roof. (Yes, my attic and garage are toasty-warm now.) My 8 panels peaked May 31 at over 9 kilowatt-hours, WAY better than the often sub-1kWh days of last winter. I have to say that it is days like those this week that make me happy not only to have solar PV, but also to be grid-tied. I feed the grid locally when it is being used the most, during the day, and I also incur no costs, economic or toxic, from having a large battery source. That said, making it off-grid is where true resilience lies, and less moral hazard from over-cheap power.

Here is the past two weeks of my production, which demonstrates just how punishing clouds and rain are to solar PV production, an interday variation of 200%.  Solar is not firm power.

I hit 9 one day but it was some work. The ceiling fans ran all day, I left the computers running, we did I don't know how many cycles of laundry. I didn't think of distilling some water and that would have really kicked it up. lol

So when we embarked on this project I pretty much replaced most of my electric appliances and tools for non-electric versions, and that's a good idea for the winter but then again I don't need most of them. Now I'm getting all sorts of yard/garden tools that I didn't even have before, preferably in next to new condition. I'm also plumbing in a set of "point of use" electric water heaters for under the kitchen and bathroom sink to cut down the gas consumption even more. Using an electric hot plate, electric kettle, and a toaster oven, besides the sun oven, has really dropped our gas usage enormously and this is really going to take a bite out of it.

I might even get an electric motorcycle some day but I'll have to record that glorious sound my Triumph makes and play it back while I ride...

Well another winter is winding down and we managed to reduce our overall NG consumption by 15% and the generator runtime by another 10%. The latter I suspect was from running the generator everyday for 45 to 75 minutes a day instead of 3 hours everyday, thus keeping the battery bank in a better state of charge because our average electrical consumption hadn't gone down from the previous year.

Unfortunately the cottage two doors down was sold and I suspect the poor little thing is going to be knocked down for a three storey battement, as has been the trend here. There had been a huge Cottonwood in that yard and it was felled, giving us a considerable boost to the solar production. I still would have fathered the tree but that's the way it went and now we've broken not only our record high for Feburary but March as well with a high of 4.0 kWh in one day. With clear or mostly clear days that means no more generator unless it clouds over for quite some time.

I cannot say this winter has been all that productive for my 8 modules.  Here above is December 1 to yesterday.  It has been greyer than normal, albeit warmer, and maybe the warmth is the reason for the greater cloud cover.  We never hit 4 kWh in a day (and usually had only a quarter to half of that amount) until just this past Sunday.  Yesterday was not bad either.  Still, this winter peak energy production is at best less than half of the average summertime production, a real problem for anyone considering solar PV installations here in the Lower Mainland.  There are certainly strong ecological reasons for doing it, but the real lesson, which you have taken to heart, Paul, is that a concurrent demand reduction initiative is absolutely necessary.

It's truly sad about that cottonwood tree.  Each of the communities of the Lower Mainland is losing trees by the tens of thousands.  Development pressures are laying to waste such critical bird and animal habitat, rain water absorption capacity, carbon fixation, wind and solar heat attenuation, etc.  In my case, I have a power pole to the south of me that shades my panels.  Now there is a "tree" we could afford to lose!

And we will when more people follow Paul's lead.

Our winter daily usage is on average 2.7 kWh/day and in December our solar production was a paltry 1.1 with a high of 2.1 while January saw us use 1.3/day and a high of 3.1 from the PV. I'm sure we could shave off another 0.5 kWh/day if we ditched the freezer and watched less tv but we're not likely going to do that. We're comfortable with the lifestyle changes, in fact we wouldn't go back to BC Hydro. If anything we'd like to plan out a house built around the PV system as this retrofit just isn't ideal.

You're spot on about the trees Randy. We constantly hear chainsaws and chippers in our neighbourhood. This is the first tree that was to the south of us with any sort of an impact on our PV system, but as people buy up these little summer cottages and put up 4000 plus square foot homes the whole yard gets eaten up and the trees are the first to go. Nothing gets planted in their place.

Once we overheard a neighbour jokingly tell another who was cutting the lawn to "Pave it and paint it green." Ah well, this is Delta. I left the suburbs in my twenties and I find little has changed.

Well, in Vancouver, the attitude is "pave it" and keep it black. Everyone likes the heat island effect, and asphalt right up to the foundation helps to keep basements dry (or so people think).

Suburban mentality is alive an well in Vancouver. The two of us are just a wee bit different.

However, it seems our systems are very close in capability. You seemed to peak higher once in January, but our Feb peak was the same and our averages are similar.

If I win my battle with the city and am allowed to replace my roof with Passivehaus structural insulated panels (SIPs), then I am going to mount another 12 modules on it, for then a total of 20. Now, I am not nearly as careful with power as you are. I still have an electric stove and dryer, my fridge is pretty large and I have a freezer, so I use closer to 8-10 kWh per day. (No TV, though.) That may be half of my average neighbour, but it is still more on average (on a year-round basis) than I can full supply even with 20 modules.

It sounds like I may need to pay you a visit someday to get some inspiration.

February is done, and what month it turned into.  Now I know why my tulips are up already.  They had a great last two weeks.  (They are not big skiers, if you wanted to know.)  So, February broke records at over 8kWh per module over the full month.  The grey line is the expected mean every day for this latitude, and I always do worse than that in the winter due to the constant rain.  This February was different.  I am still nowhere near to being off-grid, but getting closer every day.


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