20 October 2011

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

...and when it does, our little power plant will fire up and serve all of our energy needs.

When I got home yesterday afternoon, this was on our front door:

The city finally came by to hook up our solar system! Oh happy day!

But...if you can't read it, the bottom half of the pre-printed form says, "Please take the following action(s):" and then the installer wrote in "set solar meters" (which I was pretty sure was what he did) and "turn on breaker + system."

Um...what? I thought we were just waiting on the city to install our meter, and then we'd be cranking out the power. While it was nice that they told us that something else needed to be done, more specific instructions would have been nice.

In their defense, it was entitled "Important Notice," not "Helpful Notice."

At that point it was a race against time, as the sun was setting and there were just a few panels that weren't yet shaded by neighbors' trees.

The sun was also hitting the panels at a pretty oblique angle at that point, so I wasn't sure they would be able to do much with it anyway, but I was still hoping to catch a glimpse of that meter-running-backward phenomenon before we lost all daylight.

So I started looking for the secret breaker and/or switch. After checking the main breaker panel to be sure nothing there needed to be turned on (nope -- all good), I went to the panel area...which has become a lot more complicated in recent months.

Before the solar panels, the service entrance consisted only of the meter on the left and the big panel next to it. The three boxes on the right are all new for the solar system. (After calling our installer, I learned that there were three switches/breakers to turn on. I had figured out two of them myself, but I lost some time tracking down the third.)

Anyway, here's our shiny new solar meter:

It will keep an ever-increasing tally of how much electricity we've generated. So far it's at zero (because, despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to turn it on in time to generate even a single kilowatt hour).

But the solar meter isn't our only new meter. They also swapped out our regular meter with one that's better suited to solar systems.

Since it's brand new, it also reads zero, but it will switch between three settings -- received energy, delivered energy, and net energy. Net energy is what our electric bills (or credits) will be based on.

Can't wait to have some meter reading data to share.

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