Solar Update: February 2009

    Solar energy production for the month of February 2009. February 28 does not show up on this graph as for some reason the monitoring software started to have problems on February 28. I am returning back from Northstar Tahoe and will check into it.

    February is always a short month, but a more cloudy and rainy month than January. You will notice this if you look at the profiles of solar production for the month of January 2009 and February 2009.

    January only saw a couple of dips in solar production and the other days were relatively consistent between 8 kilowatt-hours of energy a day. In contrast, in February solar production varied a lot more day-to-day with rains and cloudy skies sprinkled much more often throughout the month. In fact, when my sister was visiting, unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy the majority of the time.

    Solar energy production for the month of February 2009. February 28 does not show up on this graph as for some reason the monitoring software started to have problems on February 28. I am returning back from Northstar Tahoe and will check into it.
    Solar energy production for the month of February 2009. February 28 does not show up on this graph as for some reason the monitoring software started to have problems on February 28. I am returning back from Northstar Tahoe and will check into it.

    I did get the annual bill for our energy use. As you may recall from my previous posts, once you get solar energy hooked up, you have the choice of paying the electricity bill monthly still, but you are actually not billed for any additional energy you use beyond the energy you generate until the end of every year from the point your solar system became active.

    Our true-up date is mid March so we will be settling the additional electricity we have used with PG&E at that time Note that at least in California, any additional energy you produce in surplus of your consumption is not paid for by PG&E, your balance owing just gets set to $0 and the cycle begins again.

    It is also tax season and I am happy to see the $2,000 tax credit on my federal taxes for this system. Do note that the solar tax credits have gotten even more generous so the $2,000 cap has been removed for solar systems so it is even more financially attractive to get a system these days. If you are still in a position to move forward with such a project which does take admittedly a large initial investment, I think it is financially very attractive in the long-run.

    There does seem to be a problem with our solar monitoring system, I would imagine minor. However, today when I logged on I got the error message below. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee and looking forward to another piece of Creme Brulee French Toast this morning in a beautiful luxury cabin in Old Greenwood in Tahoe so I am not sweating this. Once I return today to San Jose, I’ll check it out.

    sun-power-performance-monitor-error
    The additional rainfall, I would imagine, has been good for the water tables in the San Francisco Bay Area although this past Friday, “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.” (source: CBS/AP)

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    • Loni Kao Stark

      Whatever the issue with the monitoring system, it is back up. Just checked it now. <br />
      <br />
      I forgot to mention, we are looking at instant/ondemand water heaters and from everything I've read, there doesn't seem to be a negative thing about them besides the initial cost to purchase and install. <br />
      <br />
      Am I missing something here? Why are they not more popular?

    • Whatever the issue with the monitoring system, it is back up. Just checked it now.

      I forgot to mention, we are looking at instant/ondemand water heaters and from everything I’ve read, there doesn’t seem to be a negative thing about them besides the initial cost to purchase and install.

      Am I missing something here? Why are they not more popular?

      • bob

        Just found you site and we’re looking at putting in a solar system over in Roseville (you slow down on I80 at Roseville :-)).

        We’re looking at a 5,600kw system and Roseville is giving up to $10k in rebates (as well as turning back the meter).

        It’s going to be interesting.

        2 points:

        a: we looked into on demand hot water and were told that a: they are pricy and b: they are noisy. b makes sense since they have to do a lot of work in a small amount of time which means some decent flame going on.

        b: we got the price of 1500 bucks for the sunpower monitor and that’s just insane. I’m hoping that there are other options available out there but haven’t seen the docs on the inverter yet to see if they have a net connection. My concern is that at some point sunpower will decide that they need to charge $$/month for the service, that would be really bad after dropping 1500. You are truly lucky to get the monitor for free.

        congrads on your system and wave on your way to Northstar (our favorite ski slope btw).

        • Rick – Thanks for the note on instant hot water heaters. Great to hear from you, still loving our solar energy system. Let me know if you have any recommendations on instant water heater vendors/installers.

          Bob – In terms of the solar monitoring system, I can’t comment on the specific price but I would suggest you get at least get 2-3 additional bids and focus on the total package price, not just the add on.

          As for the concern of future monthly charges, I think it would be absurd for SunPower to charge for monitoring since what use is the monitoring unit without monitoring? No value at all. If you are concerned about it, see if you can get that written into the contract terms.

          I think the additional costs are very little to SunPower and they get to monitor the performance of their systems and the quality of installation indirectly. They also get some direct contact with the end consumer (very valuable) even though their sales model is through channels.

          Just my opinion.

      • Conrad B

        Hi Loni and Clint

        I too had an Aquastar on demand natural gas water heater installed in my last new home to replace the tank water heater. It was located in a garage next to the HVAC system which was below the great room area of the home. It was quieter than the HVAC blower. There were no negatives and I was completely satisfied with the unit.
        I’m still enjoying the chocolates that you sent.

        Thank you

        Conrad

    • Whatever the issue with the monitoring system, it is back up. Just checked it now.

      I forgot to mention, we are looking at instant/ondemand water heaters and from everything I’ve read, there doesn’t seem to be a negative thing about them besides the initial cost to purchase and install.

      Am I missing something here? Why are they not more popular?

      • bob

        Just found you site and we’re looking at putting in a solar system over in Roseville (you slow down on I80 at Roseville :-)).

        We’re looking at a 5,600kw system and Roseville is giving up to $10k in rebates (as well as turning back the meter).

        It’s going to be interesting.

        2 points:

        a: we looked into on demand hot water and were told that a: they are pricy and b: they are noisy. b makes sense since they have to do a lot of work in a small amount of time which means some decent flame going on.

        b: we got the price of 1500 bucks for the sunpower monitor and that’s just insane. I’m hoping that there are other options available out there but haven’t seen the docs on the inverter yet to see if they have a net connection. My concern is that at some point sunpower will decide that they need to charge $$/month for the service, that would be really bad after dropping 1500. You are truly lucky to get the monitor for free.

        congrads on your system and wave on your way to Northstar (our favorite ski slope btw).

        • Rick – Thanks for the note on instant hot water heaters. Great to hear from you, still loving our solar energy system. Let me know if you have any recommendations on instant water heater vendors/installers.

          Bob – In terms of the solar monitoring system, I can’t comment on the specific price but I would suggest you get at least get 2-3 additional bids and focus on the total package price, not just the add on.

          As for the concern of future monthly charges, I think it would be absurd for SunPower to charge for monitoring since what use is the monitoring unit without monitoring? No value at all. If you are concerned about it, see if you can get that written into the contract terms.

          I think the additional costs are very little to SunPower and they get to monitor the performance of their systems and the quality of installation indirectly. They also get some direct contact with the end consumer (very valuable) even though their sales model is through channels.

          Just my opinion.

      • Conrad B

        Hi Loni and Clint

        I too had an Aquastar on demand natural gas water heater installed in my last new home to replace the tank water heater. It was located in a garage next to the HVAC system which was below the great room area of the home. It was quieter than the HVAC blower. There were no negatives and I was completely satisfied with the unit.
        I’m still enjoying the chocolates that you sent.

        Thank you

        Conrad

    • bob

      Just found you site and we're looking at putting in a solar system over in Roseville (you slow down on I80 at Roseville :-)). <br />
      <br />
      We're looking at a 5,600kw system and Roseville is giving up to $10k in rebates (as well as turning back the meter).<br />
      <br />
      It's going to be interesting.<br />
      <br />
      2 points:<br />
      <br />
      a: we looked into on demand hot water and were told that a: they are pricy and b: they are noisy. b makes sense since they have to do a lot of work in a small amount of time which means some decent flame going on.<br />
      <br />
      b: we got the price of 1500 bucks for the sunpower monitor and that's just insane. I'm hoping that there are other options available out there but haven't seen the docs on the inverter yet to see if they have a net connection. My concern is that at some point sunpower will decide that they need to charge $$/month for the service, that would be really bad after dropping 1500. You are truly lucky to get the monitor for free.<br />
      <br />
      congrads on your system and wave on your way to Northstar (our favorite ski slope btw).

    • Rick Niemi

      Hi,<br />
      <br />
      I have an on demand propane hot water system. I have been using it for about 7 years now. I love it. I have an Aquastar 125S. I use it in my cabin. The S stands for solar which means it can take preheated water and adjusts the heat output so it does not over heat the water. Aquastar is now Bosch. My system is not noisy.<br />
      <br />
      BTW – You have a great looking website.<br />
      <br />
      Rick

    • Loni Kao Stark

      Rick – Thanks for the note on instant hot water heaters. Great to hear from you, still loving our solar energy system. Let me know if you have any recommendations on instant water heater vendors/installers.<br />
      <br />
      Bob – In terms of the solar monitoring system, I can't comment on the specific price but I would suggest you get at least get 2-3 additional bids and focus on the total package price, not just the add on. <br />
      <br />
      As for the concern of future monthly charges, I think it would be absurd for SunPower to charge for monitoring since what use is the monitoring unit without monitoring? No value at all. If you are concerned about it, see if you can get that written into the contract terms. <br />
      <br />
      I think the additional costs are very little to SunPower and they get to monitor the performance of their systems and the quality of installation indirectly. They also get some direct contact with the end consumer (very valuable) even though their sales model is through channels.<br />
      <br />
      Just my opinion.

    • Hi,

      I have an on demand propane hot water system. I have been using it for about 7 years now. I love it. I have an Aquastar 125S. I use it in my cabin. The S stands for solar which means it can take preheated water and adjusts the heat output so it does not over heat the water. Aquastar is now Bosch. My system is not noisy.

      BTW – You have a great looking website.

      Rick

    • Hi,

      I have an on demand propane hot water system. I have been using it for about 7 years now. I love it. I have an Aquastar 125S. I use it in my cabin. The S stands for solar which means it can take preheated water and adjusts the heat output so it does not over heat the water. Aquastar is now Bosch. My system is not noisy.

      BTW – You have a great looking website.

      Rick

    • Conrad B

      Hi Loni and Clint<br />
      <br />
      I too had an Aquastar on demand natural gas water heater installed in my last new home to replace the tank water heater. It was located in a garage next to the HVAC system which was below the great room area of the home. It was quieter than the HVAC blower. There were no negatives and I was completely satisfied with the unit.<br />
      I'm still enjoying the chocolates that you sent.<br />
      <br />
      Thank you<br />
      <br />
      Conrad