I am mostly retired after a nearly 35 year, self employed career designing, installing and maintaining solar electric systems in my local, Northern California area. I specialized in off grid and battery backup grid-ties. I strongly believe in the importance of efficiency upgrades and conservation before solar pv, so let the new "expert$" do the lipstick on McMansion projects. I also do electrical wiring and some electronic repair.
My home system consists of four Array Technology dual axis trackers sporting:
12 Sun Tech 170's,
12 Shell SQ 80's,
8 Sharp 185's and
12 Solarex MSX 60's
and 2 fixed racks totaling 9 Kyocera 140's
totaling 6.5 kW.
These feed an Outback GVFX3648 & an Outback GFX2024 grid-tied inverters.
The primary use of the system is to add resiliency to my homestead.
For years my basic household energy needs were been met with a 1.4 kW PV system feeding a single Trace SW-4024.
In 2004, I upgraded the system to a more efficient Outback inverter and an additional 1.8 kW of PV.
In 2007 I added an additional 1.3 kW of PV.
In 2009 I added an additional .5 kW of PV.
In 2014 I added an additional 1.3 kW of PV.
This allows me to bank surplus generation with the local utility company during the summer (around 2.7 mWh in 2007) for use in the heat pump for winter heating. Along with the addition of hydronic space heating from my surplus solar hot water (two 4 X 10 flat panels collectors) my home has been "zero energy" since around 2004 (~109%).
Including winter heating loads my home uses 15 kWh per day.
With peak oil, climate destabilization and national bankruptcy at our collective doorstep, I feel focusing on resiliency is paramount. Because of this, I feel it is important to be able to generate my energy (including food) needs onsite.
I used to be very enthusiastic about "renewables" but after some 35 years of experience, I now understand these top of the technology pyramid systems are at best only hydrocarbon extenders since they are 100% dependent on the underlying, fossil fuel powered industrial mining and manufacturing foundation. The sad truth is technology cannot mitigate the limits to growth on our finite planet but they do add resilience to my homestead at an onerous and expensive maintenance treadmill.
Last Updated: Mar 16, 2020