10kw-solar

Solar Energy Self Consumption

I recently moved into a house that was consuming 85 kWh a day through winter. Ouch. I’m working to reduce it but realistically dropping it below half of that might be hard. Philosophically and economically irrationally I want my home to be a net zero consumer of electricity. If I can’t achieve this on a daily or weekly basis then I’ll settle for an annual basis.

Our peak loads will most certainly be in winter when solar irradiation is at it’s minimum, this is our constraint. I installed 10kW of panels and a 10kW inverter to start with. I might over panel it in future.

Thinking about all of the above, and granted storage is rapidly becoming more feasible, maximising self consumption of power from residential solar is going to play an important role in minimising the use of fossil fuel generated electricity.

This blog post is my experience of figuring out how to do this.

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devices

Solar Power System Performance Monitoring and Fault Detection

Australia has one of the highest residential solar PV installations in the world with over 1 million systems installed. They’re installed by home owners with the goal of reducing their electricity bill, saving money or getting a good return on their investment. How well this works is totally dependent on how well the solar power system is performing.

Any of the following this can go wrong which reduce output of a solar system:

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Power-router

Grid Connected Solar plus Storage

Across Australia most new solar installations are subject to tariffs which pay the owners as little as 1/4 or less for their excess power that they export to the grid during the day than they are charged for using the same power through the evening hours.

Installing a battery system in your home allows you to instead store this excess electricity and use it yourself, avoiding the high tariffs.

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Sun Path and Shading

The apps listed below let you track the path of the sun on any day of the year from any location. This allows you to understand how much sun will hit your building and assess the effects of shading from neighbouring buildings or trees.

  • Sun Seeker – Augmented reality 3D sun path app for iPhone / iPad
  • Sun Surveyor – Augmented reality 3D sun path app for Apple and Android
  • SunCalc – Google Maps sun path overlay
electricity-usage-analysis

Electricity Usage Analysis & Reduction

Analysis

Reducing your electricity usage starts with understanding where you’re using your electricity.

Start by making a list of the consumption from each device in your home using an electricity usage monitoring device. Keep in mind that some devices will consume a relatively constant amount of electricity over time (eg Toaster, Television, Laptop charger) whilst others will be more variable (eg Fridge, Washing machine, Rainwater pump). For those which are constant a spot check will be sufficient, for those which are variable leave the monitoring device contected for a period of typical usage over 24 hours.

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GreenPower_RGB

Green Power

You can’t completely remove your demand for electricity but you can buy it from renewable sources.

Most major electricity vendors in Australia can supply you with Green Power. Green Power comes from renewable sources and is part of a government accreditation program.

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TIndo-Solar-Panel

PV Solar Power

Photovoltaic solar panels where ever possible should form part of any green renovation.

What size installation?

  • Residential roof mounted photovoltaic systems typically start at 1.5kW and range up to 5kW
  • Ideally you would install a system which had an average annual production the same as your power consumption.
  • The ATA have created Sunulator, a spreadsheet tool allowing you to model the financial effect of different size solar systems. The tool includes the ability to import historical usage data from your energy provider and makes allowance for various electricity providers pricing tariffs.
  • Before deciding to install larger arrays, consider how much the equivalent spend would allow you to reduce your consumption by? For example installation of solar hot water, energy efficient lighting, draft sealing, thermal curtains, solar air heaters.

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