The Solar Panel Works!! Tested, Verified, so when will it pay for itself?

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So yesterday morning (Saturday) I finally had a chance to verify my solar panel installation. I had completed the wiring a couple weeks ago to my shed and with some very much appreciated help from my parents the trench got all filled in and other bits and pieces squared away.

So it was *finally* time to test out the system.

I set up my solar panel… which implies just leaning it on my shed for now, it doesn’t have a cradle yet for the top of the shed roof.

I plugged it into the inverter.

And then I waited for the fog to clear. And I waited, and I waited, and I waited.

FINALLY the clouds started to break and the sun started to shine. I was monitoring this website of course to check the Solar Radiation values. Anything over 300-400 should produce enough power for the panel to activate its inverter and start generating. But nothing… still nothing.

So I went out and tested the connectors on the panel. There was definitely power to them. But nothing into the inverter. I must not have crimped the “MC4” connectors correctly. So I dismantled them, and compared them with the industrial MC4 connectors on the inverter. Sure enough, I had reversed the male and female connectors. Oops! So I re-crimped them… plugged it in… and the light on the inverter started to blink!! SUCCESS!!

Here is what the inverters web monitor reported (this is actually later in the day… it originally reported 68W):
Enphase Web Monitor First Time!

And here is what my whole house energy monitor reported. (at the same time as the previous image)
The Energy Detective on first day of solar panel!

Hooray!

So now you’re probably all asking…. great. So how long will it take you to pay this stuff off?

Well, if I look at the cost of the Solar Panel and the Inverter only, that would be about $500 that I need to pay off.

Since this solar panel is going straight into the grid, BC Hydro is basically paying me exactly what I pay it for electricity. So $0.06270/kiloWatt hour or $0.0000627/Watt Hour. (Periodically it rises to 8 cents when you use more than 1200 kWh and get into the 2nd tier, but I’ll ignore that to try to keep it simple.)

Now a Watt hour means if you have a 60W lightbulb on for an hour, then it will cost you $0.003762 or just over a third of a cent. 🙂

It just so happens that my solar panel, through most of the year, will probably produce on average of around 60 Watts for 3 hours a day.

To Pay off $500… $500/$0.003762 equals 132,908 hours. At 3 hours a day that’s 44,302 days or about 121 years. Luckily, it will be a little better than that, but not much! 🙂

So, as you can see, at this point, this is not a money making venture. 🙂 At this point I consider it an investment that should add value to our property, like a remodelled bathroom.

If we were in Ontario, or in Germany, where they pay you around $0.25/kWh it would take a slightly more manageable 30 years to pay off. By pure coincidence I got a message from a cousin of mine in Ontario who is having a large commercial solar panel setup installed on their house this weekend!

OR, if I was getting payed as much as the Run of River and other private power projects around BC (over 70cents a kWh!) it would take 11 years. Now we know why those companies are so eager eh?

Anyway, today, once the sun pokes out of the clouds, I’m going to try a fun experiment. I will be shutting off all of the devices in my home (including the server that serves this website, so there will be a little downtime). That way, I can see if my solar panel will actually spin the meter backwards! It should… very very very slowly. I’ll get a video of it. 😀

9 Replies to “The Solar Panel Works!! Tested, Verified, so when will it pay for itself?”

  1. Chris
    Taking anything back from BC Hydro… Priceless
    Just curious where you picked up a PV panel and inverter for 500 dollars?
    Good on you for making a start.
    Bruce

  2. Thanks for the links Chris.
    Enjoy your website.
    As a lost son of PA its a great way to stay in touch.
    Take Care
    Bruce

  3. I like the new pic!!! But my friends from Edmonton will not be happy – they thought it was hilarious to take a look and see if the laundry was up, kids toys out, etc! “Only in Port Alberni” they say!

  4. Yes, that pic is provided by the folks at BigWaveDave. I only have it there temporarily as my webcam is in the doctors office. 🙂 I’m investigating either fixing it or getting a new setup…. not sure yet. Until then, a view of the harbour seemed nice.

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