Tag Archives: Solar Panels

Bright Light

Now that we are racing to the summer equinox, the added hours of sunlight have been a big boost to our solar energy production.

Our 22-panel system was turned on in mid-November and struggled to generate much electricity at all. I certainly expected less output in winter, but it was almost none on some days. The panels were often covered in snow and ice, and as it is a roof-mounted system, there isn’t any safe way to clear them.

Last month things really took off and the electricity bill that arrived today was only $34, and there is even a 160 kWh credit that will carry forward to next month! Up until this bill, our net metering credit was for the full amount generated because it never came close to what we used; on our January bill, the credit was $3.74!

Our solar production since November 2019

The process to hook up to the Maritime Electric grid was a bit mysterious, and there wasn’t much explanation from them or my system installers on how the billing would work. All I knew was that we received a second meter to measure the outflow of solar energy from our panels into the grid, that amount would be deducted from the original meter that we have always had, and we would pay the difference.

I now see our net metering credit will only be for up to what we actually used from the grid and not the entire amount that went through our second meter. We will, therefore, never have a $0 bill, which makes sense as we would have to pay the service charge to stay connected to Maritime Electric. The credits will build up over the summer and be used up in winter.

April 2020 Maritime Electric bill

Our average monthly electricity usage since we moved into our house in 2002 was 605 kWh. It went up to an average of 850 kWh the first three months of this year with the addition of our EV (and I was driving to Summerside a lot), so to have it drop down again is really encouraging! I haven’t been driving much since March 13, so have only used 148 kWh to charge my Bolt EV compared to 459 kWh the previous month, which would explain some of the reduction.

The other drop in our bill is because the electricity from the panels goes through the house panel first and what is left over goes through our second meter and into the grid. Our solar system produced 897 kWh of electricity over this last billing period, and the second meter received 617 kWh, so we used 280 kWh of direct electricity that didn’t make it to the second meter, and that we didn’t pay HST on! I try to charge my car during sunny days to be able to drive on sunshine, and yes, I do sing a modified version of the Katrina and The Waves song when I’m doing it!

Solar production March 10 – April 9, 2020. Snowy days are pretty obvious!

So if you get a solar system in the winter, do not despair. Someday the sun will shine and you will see the benefits. As with everything these days, just hold on and things will be brighter.

Watts up?

So much has been happening this fall. I’ve been trying to catch my breath since the beginning of October. Things are finally slowing down and I can reflect a bit more on the fun bits (the not-so-fun bits can just scram!).

We had the fantastic experience of hosting three people who were doing the inaugural walk of a new 700 km trail around Prince Edward Island. I met the trail planner, Bryson Guptill, at Peter Rukavina’s unconference in June, so when I heard on CBC Radio that Bryson was having difficulty finding off-season accommodation in the western part of PEI, I emailed to offer him a bed and transportation to and from their trail.

A commemorative medallion from Bryson and gang, created by potter Michael Stanley.

They ended up staying for three nights over two weekends. It was fun to meet some interesting people and play the role of “trail angel.” They were delightful guests and it was great to support their dream. Bryson has just finished a book about the trail that is at the printers and will soon be available at The Bookmark and Bryon’s Etsy store. And Peter created this great map of the trail, so it all comes full circle!

Our solar panel installation was completed October 9, then we waited for Maritime Electric to install a second meter to finish the process and hook us up to the electrical grid. Some unfortunate miscommunication meant that didn’t happen until the second week of November, but now we are up and running. The amount of electricity we are generating isn’t spectacular, but it has been quite cloudy of late and the sun is low in the sky. You can see some of our stats here.

Watch an animation of our solar panels at work on December 11, 2019.

Last spring I started thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle to replace my 2012 Honda Civic. I will outline my EV shopping experience shopping some other time, but the quick version is that I was told more than once that no one wants an EV on PEI! I finally found someone who wanted to sell me an EV, and December 5 I took possession of a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Township Chevrolet in Summerside. My first impressions: quiet, torquey, high-tech, efficient, fun. I still have some things to figure out, but so far I really enjoy driving it, especially the one-pedal feature. I didn’t really pick the colour – it was the first 2020 to arrive – but I quite like it now. It is certainly a switch from driving a white Civic surrounded by dozens of other white Civics!

Oasis Blue. She’s called Greta.

My go-to electricians, Moore Electric, installed a Level 2 JuiceBox Pro 40 charger a couple of days before I got the Bolt, so now I drive into the garage and plug in to my own gas station. The last time I bought gas for the Civic was on a windy, rainy day, so good riddance to that and the grubby pump handles!

We took the Bolt to Summerside last Saturday, a trip that A Better Routeplanner says is 47 kms one way and takes 39 minutes and should have used 10% of our battery, which was not a bad guess. To get our battery back up to 100% when we returned home, it took the JuiceBox 4 hours and 37 minutes to add 30.751 kWh. This is a whole new world of numbers, and numbers just aren’t my thing. Someone asked me today what my mileage was for the Bolt and I said, “good,” and it is, I expect! I will figure it all out some day.

Sprinkled over these past couple of months have been many committee and board meetings, a course through Holland College about how to be a more effective board member (not being on so many committees would likely help!), and a couple of fund raising events. I’m am looking forward to a bit of winter hibernating and ruminating.