3 reasons home solar still rocks after 3 years

Our 5.59 kW home solar system has produced nearly 26,000 kWh of clean electricity since being installed by REC Solar three years ago. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
editors-blog-entry3Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted something new to SolarChargedDriving. It’s not easy holding down a full-time job, being a full-time father of two young girls, and doing all the things that need to get done for an upcoming year-long adventure in Germany, which will see us jet off to Hamburg exactly three weeks from today.

Meanwhile, we’ll have tenants leasing our Aurora, Colo. home who plan to lease a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in and who, ironically, will beat us to having a solar-charged EV in our solar-covered Aurora, Colo. home! Go figure 😉

I’ll also confess to having lost some of the solar-charged driving “mojo” over the last four to six months or so, as it became clear we wouldn’t be plugging our own EV into solar until Fall of 2014.

Not that I can complain: The reason for the wait is definitely worth it, meaning a year of adventure for us in Germany where my kids, who we’re raising as German-English bilinguals, will be going to a German school for 10 months, and where I will be researching German attitudes toward the globalization of the English language thanks to a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant I have been fortunate enough to receive.

Despite my personal drop in solar-charged driving enthusiasm, something which has severely cut back content production on SolarChargedDriving.Com, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass: Our three year anniversary with home solar.

Yes, our 5.59 kW system, installed by REC Solar, and which officially went online on June 28, 2010, has now been pumping out solar electricity for us, and our neighbors, for exactly three years.

Here are three reasons that make our $8,000 out of pocket expense for our system worth it –>

Consistency and reliability. I suppose I should knock on the proverbial wood here, but our 5.59 kW system which consists of 26 REC 215 watt panels plus a SMA 6000 inverter has been humming along with nary a problem. We never have to think about it. No maintenance, no problems, nothing. It’s hard to think of anything else we own that’s been as reliable as our solar PV system :-).

Environmental benefits. Our 5.59 kW system has prevented about 44,000 pounds of CO2 from being pumped into the atmosphere during its three years on our roof. At the same time, it’s provided well over 100 percent of our home electric use. In fact, it’s essentially turned our single-family home with about 2,000 square feet and four bedrooms into a net zero home.

Productivity. In three years, our 5.59 kw home solar system has pumped out 25,520 kWh of electricity, or about 6,500 more kWh than we’ve actually used in that time. So, we’ve temporarily donated those 6,500 kWh to our neighbors (our utility, Xcel Energy, allows us to “bank” any extra kWh we generate with our system indefinitely). A tremendous sense of satisfaction comes with being 100 percent independent in terms of electricity production. This sense is made all the more satisfying by the fact that Xcel Energy hasn’t seen a dime from us for electricity for three years — and won’t ever see another penny from us for electricity generation for the rest of the time we’re in this house.

In sum, home solar continues to rock as much as it did on the first day that our 5.59 kW system pumped about 40 kWh worth of locally generated solar electricity into our Aurora, Colo. neighborhood grid on a blue-sky summer day three years ago.

The REC Solar crew that installed our 5.59 kW system poses in front of our house three years ago. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
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