[aprssig] Fwd: Solar Power Works!

Larry McDavid lmcdavid at lmceng.com
Tue Aug 23 13:32:35 EDT 2016

Bob, I often read about your solar power enthusiasm on the APRS 
reflector, over many years. I remained unconvinced about pay-back until 
recently when I realized the rebates available to me would pay 2/3 of 
the system cost. I now have a 6000 Wp solar system on my home in 
Southern California, where our most severe environmental worry is excess UV.

I recently was asked to very quickly produce an article for my local ham 
club newsletter; I chose to write about my solar power experience. I 
attach a copy of that newsletter so you can read what I wrote.

My system has a single 6000 watt-rated SolarEdge inverter. Each of my 
22, 3 x 5 foot 275 watt solar panels has an "Optimizer," really a smart 
dc-dc converter itself. And, each panel communicates digitally over its 
dc output to the inverter, which communicates to the SolarEdge website, 
giving me clear display of even individual panel performance in virtual 
real-time. Anyway, read the article for more.

But, I wonder how you unilaterally increase the size of your solar 
system without city approval of the change. Anaheim inspectors visited 
no fewer than nine times during my solar installation! The city 
restricted my system design to a maximum of 100% of the energy I used in 
the preceding 12 months. How can you just keep adding panels?

As of today, since December 17 last year when the system was activated, 
I have fed 1064 kWh more into the city grid than I've used. I will 
surely use some of that credit as I use more air conditioning in the 
August-October high-usage months but I'm beginning to believe I won't 
use all that credit.

I do have a Net Metering Agreement with the City of Anaheim, which is my 
electrical utility, owning all the distribution grid and selling 
electrical energy to residents. Fortunately, the city does not 
stair-step the rate with usage (not once past the state-mandated 
baseline rate), unlike typical state public utilities. Anaheim is a 
wealthy city, much due to the presence of Disneyland, the associated 
hotels and the city convention center, the largest on the west coast. 
So, the city had money to buy partial ownership in several large 
generating stations across the US. In addition, the city owns six large 
natural gas-powered turbine peaking generators. The city has a very 
active "Anaheim Underground" program to move all HV lines underground; 
all such poles are gone from the Disneyland area already and two years 
ago the city removed a 66 kv line near me and all the power poles.

Solar practicality varies with location. I have a friend on the west 
coast of Canada where hydroelectric power costs only $0.08 per kWh. That 
is a "renewable" resource so Canada does not incentivize solar power. 
That, combined with the rain (they actually get rain!) and northern 
location just makes solar difficult to justify.

I got 5.6 inches of rain at my home last rain-year. Without rain, my 
solar panels get dirty and I surely don't want to spray 
high-mineral-content city water on them. There are now three local 
businesses whose only business is cleaning solar panels with deionized 
water! I tried that once but it increased my output only 4%; guess I'll 
wait for rain...

Best wishes,

Larry McDavid W6FUB
Anaheim, California  (SE of Los Angeles, near Disneyland)

Best wishes,

Larry McDavid W6FUB
Anaheim, California  (SE of Los Angeles, near Disneyland)
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