Welcome to the Maine Solar House
2019 Report from Maine PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 17:14

December 31, 2019 - The Maine Solar House continues it's 'green work' overlooking the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge along the Maine Coast. After a quarter of a century, some maintenance is due.

pv2019decPV Output - The numbers are in and the total of 3,964 kWhrs is within the range of the previous two years. This confirms my suspicion that a panel or two were underperforming. Back in 2015, our output was 4,443 kWhrs. Solar Design Associations ran output tests on the full array and found two that needed replacement.

2019xtraI have an extra panel in the basement and SDA will search for another. To the best of my knowledge, this size panel is no longer available. Still, the array keeps on grinding out solar power that offsets our overall power bill. That's why we went solar and we're fully committed to keeping the array up to specifications. The bottom line:  We have a 10% drop in electrical output or, to put it another way, we have an array that delivers 90% of its advertised output :)

Solar Thermal Output - The panels on the roof continue to fill our two 500-gallon tanks in the basement with hot water for use in our radiant floor. A sweeter system hasn't been invented!

2019acAir Conditioning - We've soldiered through uncomfortable hot summers before, but last year and this were above average. We're Mainers, after all, and we're supposed to suffer! Well, we decided to end the suffering by installing a Mitsubishi Split System for air conditioning and supplemental heat (if needed). We're quite pleased and the impact on the electric bill is acceptable for the comfort it provides.

Our Home - I did a drone brief flight shortly after Christmas. The earlier snow had partially melted and the temperature was near 50. When we view our location from above and appreciate the sweetness of living with minimal impact on the earth, we're thankful for this gift of pleasant living in the Pine Tree State. Enjoy the flight.

A sharp eye may find me at the controls in this video.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 January 2020 09:38
 
2018 Report from Maine PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 31 December 2018 16:01

December 31, 2018 - Another year comes to an end at the Maine Solar House. We've been a solar landmark since 1995.

pv2018decPV Output - 2018's annual PV output was 3,785 kWhrs. We have regularly hit 4,000 kWhrs or more annually except for last year when it was 3,995 kWhs. So the question is: Was this an excessively cloudy year or an output trend? Output in 2016 was 4,315 kWhrs...so at this point, I'm undecided but watchful. Next check will be at the end of 2019.

Solar Comfort - The house continues to work on our behalf. Passive solar gain on a sunny day in December can cause the south-facing rooms to heat up to 78 degrees. The Florida-like interior slowly dissipates its warmth during the night leaving our home's interior at around 68 degrees at sunrise. Nothing to complain about here.

Location - As I've mentioned multiple time (and will continue to repeat), our property is adjacent to a section of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has multiple parcels along the Southern Maine coast protecting valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Our section has a tidal river bisecting the land and our daily views are priceless. We have a resident red-tailed hawk family, an eagle or two annually and various great blue & white herons, egrets, Canada geese and other coastal birds. The enclosed video was shot by our drone on Christmas Day of this year. It ends with Three Lords a Leaping - grandson, grandfather and son. The White Mountains of New Hampshire are visible on the horizon.

Conclusion - Our solar home continues its unending effort to reduce our carbon footprint without sacrificing comfort. In fact, our comfort continues to be significantly enhanced thanks to a decision we made in the 1990s to "go solar!"

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019 19:37
 
2017 in Review PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 01 January 2018 09:46

As I write this report, the outside temperature is near zero (We've had it as low as -16 during the last week of December). Inside, our interior temperature dropped all the way down to 68.5 degrees overnight - by mid-day, it rose to about 78 degrees as the passive solar gain raised the temperature to Florida levels! In addition, the frigid weather is usually clear which means that the solar thermal panels transfer the circulating water to our two 500-gallon tanks in the basement. It is then pumped out of those tanks into our radiant floor for heat. My advice to any and all folks planning to build a home is: Build a passive solar home at least. The extra cost will more than pay for itself. Living in a home that the sun keeps in the 70s on below-freezing days is priceless :)

pv2018janThe annual amount of electricity generated by our 4.2 kWhr roof array was 3,995 kWh. That's just shy of our 4,000 kWh goal (I could round it off, but heck, let's be honest). Higher than average rain and clouds plus a three-day area power outage appear to be the culprits.

It's always fun to fly our drone around the property. Here's a look at our home during the winter. What's not to like about winter in Maine?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2020 11:40
 
First Half of 2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 02 June 2018 14:26

July 1, 2018 - Ah, we are into summer weather after a cold, cloudy winter and chilly spring. It was feeling good until our early July heat wave.

pv2018JunePV Performance: Here's a look at our PV semi-annual array output. I'm always looking for at least 2,000 kWhrs of output during the first half of the year to keep us on track for a 4mWhr year. A little arithmetic gives me 1,994 kWhrs for this first half of 2018 (89092 - 86098) - close enough to our 2,000 kWhr goal. All I needed was a portion of one sunny day to put me over 2,000kWrs.

Aerial View: As an FAA-certified commercial drone pilot, I enjoy viewing our property from various angles and altitudes. This is a map of our 2.4 acres adjacent to the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge (I wish I had mapped this at high tide). I got a slice of my neighbor's property in the process. It was late winter and the snow was melting slowly.

dronedeploymsh

Click on this link, then zoom in on the highlighted area to inspect the property. It was just a 5-minute drone flight to capture the stills. They were then sent to DroneDeploy.com for stitching.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2018 16:47
 
A Look Back at 2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 01 January 2017 08:20

pv2017jan1Solar Panels: What a year this has been. The good news is that we generated 4,315 kWhrs of electricity from our roof array. That's one of the largest power outputs we've seen here. The downside to that abundance was that we were in drought conditions that didn't begin to dissipate until late fall rains. Still, as all solar operations, we take what we're given thankfully.

Gardening: We have been in the midst of a warm fall and early winter. Those conditions have kept the spinach in our cold frames alive and well. These pictures were taken on December 23rd and the plants were still happy. I checked them on January 2nd and they look the same!

spinach2016

Usually, they'll wave "goodbye" and shrivel up around mid to late November and return to growth in February when the sun provides at least 10 hours of light. Mother Nature continues to amaze even if it's the small spinach plants.

Winter: Part of our lifestyle is to enjoy the pleasures of winter. Do we love the cold? No, but our home is warm and snug and the view of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge is always changing - the tidal river, the ice, the winter animals and above all the strong sun that heats up our solar water tanks and fills the house will passive solar heat (around 78 degrees on the coldest of days)!

There is beauty in the 'day after' as witnessed by our drone flight over Kennebunkport.
 

Last Updated on Monday, 01 January 2018 10:13
 
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