Given the fact that everyone else in the Questionably Civilised World seems to be giving themselves a forum to vent their fury at the injustices and indignities we're being subjected to on an almost daily basis the last thing the world needs is another semi-political blog, but I can't help myself.
With the sheer volume of such rantings out there, and the fact that practically nobody reads these pages, once I decided to set out on this little venture it seemed to make sense to hive this bit off as another annexe to the Little House of Concrete rather than adding political and socioeconomic commentary to the main site and risk losing what few readers I might actually have.
So, in the unlikely off chance that there's anyone out there who is actually interested, welcome to the People's Republic of the Little House of Concrete, the title of which is probably a fair indication of where we're coming from.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Little House of Concrete Goes Solar (2)

Based on a scan of yesterday's blog entry The Presumptive Reader might be inclined to envisage the following scenario.

The departure of the final work truck produces a flurry of activity as doors and windows are closed. Four air-conditioning units are cranked up to Arctic mode, followed by a vision of Hughesy sprawled out in the comfy chair with a cool drink as he announces "This in living!"

There are a couple of reasons why it didn't pan out that way.

One mentions, in passing, that the sum total of air-con action in the week since the panels went on the roof has been a spell of about half an hour when I got back from the walk last Wednesday morning.

For a start, over the lat week the sou'easter has been blowing away nicely, removing the need for artificial cooling. The corner block with nothing to block the breeze continues to deliver.

More significantly, closing the front door means you can't see outside, which has certain implications when it comes to the real powers that be in the Little House of Concrete.

With the door closed there's no way of knowing when Lik Lik and Ninja, having appropriated egress, are desirous of readmission.

I've toyed with various look out through the front door options over the years. While one way glass looks like it might be feasible, until we do something in that regard there's no way of knowing when cats want to come back in.

So that's two reasons. There's a third, which raises some interesting implications when it comes to renewable energy. A cynic would suggest therein lies much of the resistance from the non-renewable part of the electricity generating sector.

Quite simply, having gone solar we're interested to see what it can do and how much of the daily usage twenty panels on the roof and a 5 KW inverter can cover. The theory is that it should cover the lot, but it doesn't quite work like that.

It takes a while to reach full capacity in the morning and it, predictably, tapers off in the afternoon.

Your first reaction, unsurprisingly when you're in an inquisitive frame of mind, is to scale things back until you get a fair indication. And, at the same time, you become more conscious of what you're actually using.

There's a sense of proprietorship (or something) when it's "your" power, and I've found myself being more careful about what I turn on and much more systematic about turning things off. Recharging the iPad doesn't chew up much juice, but I'm inclined to do it when I head off to the Post Office around midday.

The inverter can be monitored through the WiFi network. While we haven't been given the log on details so we can do that ourselves, daily emails provide a bit of feedback on the system's performance. They started arriving on Thursday, with a week by week summary turning up on midnight on Sunday night. Not that I'm sitting up breathlessly waiting for it to arrive.

Burning the midnight oil would be a waste of electricity...

But the first weekly report suggests a pretty solid 25-point something KWH, which doesn't seem too shabby. If I'm reading the daily reports correctly, 5.1, 4.3, 5.2, 5.8 and 4.2 KWH going out since the reports started.

On that basis it "seems" to suggest we're covering our daytime usage, with around 20% of what we generate going back to the grid.

The next question is whether what goes out generates enough income to cover the cost of what comes in between the time the panels start to taper off in the late afternoon and the time they start to hit their straps again in the morning.

Very little of that probably matters to either of the people who stumbled past here yesterday.

But, on the other hand, a blog entry is a handy way of clarifying thoughts on the matter.

Tomorrow (probably): Further musings on small-scale sustainability.

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