Welcome to the Maine Solar House
2015 Report from Maine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 02 January 2016 16:43

pv2015decAnd so 2015 comes to an end. What type of year has it been for power generation? We generated 4.443 MegaWatt/Hours of electricity from our 4,200 watt solar array - a record! The fall, which was abnormally warm and clear, put us over the top.

Winter has been fairly benign through January. The 'Monster' storm seen to our south headed out to sea and we were left with sunny skies and lows in the single digits at night and the mid-20s during the day for much of the month. Here's what our home looks like from our drone at 75' altitude.

A buddy and I are now in the aerial photography business - Maine HDTV. We have our FAA-required 333 exemption; I updated my 1996 pilot's license; got current in Single Engine Land by flying with a Certified Flight Instructor at our nearby municipal airport; and received my 3rd class aviation medical certificate. A somewhat time-consuming undertaking but required by FAA regulations in order to conduct commercial aerial photography in the National Airspace System. You can check out our video on Facebook.

Climate change is a real concern along the coast of Maine as the marine ecosystem is under stress. One of Maine's largest industries is fishing - primarily lobstering. According to an excellent series in the Portland Press Herald, marine organisms are retreating further eastward as the Gulf of Maine continues to warm. I recommend that you read this excellent series. While record catches are still the norm, local lobstermen testify that the tastey critters are moving into deeper water and further east along the coast - to find cooler water. Connecticut and Rhode Island have lost the majority of the lobster crop due to warmer ocean temperatures. This does not bode well for the future.

Solar living continues to offer comfort and savings. It's a blessing that our architect, Steven Strong, designed such a magnificent structure for us to enjoy, now and into the distance future.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 April 2016 18:59
Three Weeks Into October Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 21 October 2015 08:55

solar-house-4kWe're sliding toward the really cold months with snow and ice storms the norm. The best thing a properly sited solar house has going for it in the fall and winter is the sun angles - shinning at a much lower angle into our south-facing home. That generates considerable passive solar heat. Our front room can approach 80 degrees even on the coldest of days, thus the need to disipate the extra warmth by opening several windows.

Year-to-date (October 21, 2015), we've generate 3,841 kWhrs of electricity which means we'll easily exceed our annual goal of 4,000 kWrs. Our solar thermal panels are now raising the daily water temperature in our basement tanks to 150 degrees - enough for showers, baths and radiant floor heat.

So as our 20th year of solar living in Maine approaches its end, setting our own energy policy two decades ago has really paid off. Regardless of the rise and fall of fossil fuel prices and national/state policies, we are snug and secure living the solar life.

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 January 2016 16:43
March, 2015 Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 02 April 2015 06:54

pvmarch15Now we're cooking! March PV electrical output was 477 kWhrs! That brings us to a year-to-date total of 1,076 kWhrs which puts us right on course for another 4,000+ kWhr year. The significance of these numbers is that in the 20 years of operation, our PV output has not diminished thanks to the industrial quality of the panels and the efficiency of the inverters. There's still a foot of snow in some parts of our land, but it is inexorably diminishing. Still a cold spring.

This month I'd like to celebrate the 100% solar achievement of the Wells Reserve at Lauholm in Wells, Maine. This federal estuary research lab has proudly installed PV panels on three of its buildings (along with a ground-mount array). Senator Angus King (I) of Maine threw the 'switch' at dedication ceremonies. The aerials, at the beginning and end, as well as the overall coverage were contributed by Maine HDTV (I'm a partner in their aerial photography division and a former Laudholm Trust board member).

The reserve had planned for years to make this leap - with federal money and donations from Laudholm Trust, the goal was reached on-budget and two years early. You can read about the facility, which will generate 73,000 kWhrs of 'free' electricity annually, on the reserve's website. "Where there's a will, there's a way!"

Last Updated on Monday, 21 December 2015 11:44
June Report, 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 02 July 2015 05:36

pvjune152015 June Report

Half of 2015 is now history. The big question is: How has our 4,200 watt PV array done in this 21st year of our home? Accumulated output for six months is - 2,307 kWhrs of electricity. Those numbers allow for some less-than-sunny months this fall and early winter. That is well within our annual goal of 4,000 kWhrs! Here's the meter as of July 1st.

Plug-in Prius

The lease on my PiP (!) expired and I searched for a suitable hybrid to purchase. After touring the local auto dealers, a 2015 Camry caught my eye. In its first month, the MPG is averaging in the mid-40s and there are some short 3-mile roundtrips where the battery can deliver 60+ MPG. Very pleased. This should reduce our electric bill as well (More on that when the bill comes in).

Threat to Solar Growth in Maine

Governor LePage proposed several bills that would have reduced or eliminated net metering in our state. We testified before the PUC some 15 years ago to help create that state policy - now it's in joapardy. The legislature rightly failed to pass the proposed law, but vigilance is required when it rears its ugly head at the next legislative session. Here's the latest news from Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

A Solar Neighbor

Thought you'd enjoy a quick video clip from our QuadCamera of our next door neighbor's PV installation.

It's an 8,000 watt array facing more west than south as it was placed along the property line. The house is an all electric structure (electric heat!). The array is one way to reduce that power bill.

Last Updated on Monday, 21 December 2015 11:43
February, 2015 Report PDF Print E-mail
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!


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 Thursday, 02 April 2015 07:17
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