Monday 17 April 2023

More more solar panels. Do we now have enough energy for a gas free home?

We now have four solar panels on our garage roof. They're at an angle so that they face exactly toward the south.

Today with help from a friend we installed two more solar panels on our garage roof. This means we have four 400 W panels on the garage roof to work alongside the sixteen 235 W panels which are on the roof of our home.

The original two garage mounted panels were in the shade until about 9 am so you can see from this graph that they suddenly "wake up" at that time. The new panels placed today do better a few minutes earlier as they'll be earlier out of the shade.

The roof of our home is oriented south west, while the panels on the garage are oriented directly toward the south so as discussed a few days ago they compliment each other. The garage is shaded by our neighbour's home early in the morning but as the new panels are further to the south and will be shaded less (even though to arrange this we had to push the older pair slightly further north) we're hoping that we see a little bit more electricity early in the morning than was previously the case.

The new set of panels, closer to the camera, are mounted at just 12 degrees, vs. the 24 degrees of the set which we put up last year. This will mean they have slightly lower output overall, but they will shade the older set behind them less often due to being lower at the back and they will catch the morning sun from the east a bit better due to their lower angle creating less of a self-shadow.
The usual "back of an envelope" design process

Last time I couldn't get commercially made hooks as everything seemed to be sold out everywhere. This time I used commercially made hooks to hold the solar panels in place as they were available inexpensively. Otherwise the frame which these panels are mounted on is very similar to that of the last pair of solar panels except that they're at 12 degrees from horizontal this time instead of 24 degrees. This is to decrease the chance of the new set of panels putting the slightly older set behind them in shade and to hopefully increase their output early in the morning when the sun comes from the east. We'll see if that works out.

So far as possible I collected the parts required for this job by bike. Three meter long pieces of wood do make for a slightly unusual sight on the cycle-path.

In total the bill for the two new panels, all the parts required to make the brackets and all the parts required to make a safe connection to our electricity supply added up to about €550.

Helping a friend with his installation a few days ago. He then helped me today. Doing things for each other certainly helps to keep costs down !

We now should have enough energy

Our gas supply was removed last week so we need to have a heating solution for next winter which does not involve gas. As discussed a couple of weeks ago, we actually didn't use much gas at all, so replacing it shouldn't require too much electricity. Added to the overproduction of electricity which we already had before they were installed, the new panels ought to be enough to make our net electricity consumption very close to zero for the year.

As it stands right now, our energy company is asking us to pay €5 a month for energy, with an expectation that we will have overpaid by €290 at the end of the year. That seems to be working out quite well !

Over the summer we installed the heating system which the two extra solar panels will supply, a poor man's heatpump. This was too inexpensive to attract a subsidy but it should be enough for us.

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