Solar Sister’s energy rank rises dramatically

My sister and her husband’s solar system was recently connected to the grid.  Their text message and embedded image nicely summarize what they think of their system:

Sister neighbor efficiency rank

              “Here is a great shot of our home energy report.  Thank you solar!”

An astronomical rise relative to their neighbors, from near the bottom to near the top.

When I received this image, I was reminded of a TED talk by Alex Laskey.  Laskey found that people are more highly motivated to save energy if they know how much energy they use relative to their neighbors.  Using human behavior to motivate energy conservation is a simple yet powerful idea.

And now that I see my Sister’s report, I wonder what motivated her and her husband to go solar:  the fact some of their neighbors also installed solar systems, my happiness with solar power, being able to make serious money by selling SRECs, or was it being ranked 98th out of 100 back in February???


Solar carport

It’s official.  We will be getting a solar carport!  We have been working with someone at Southern Energy ( and finalized the details.  Our builder will build the structure so that it matches our house architecture.  Lumos LSX 180W panels will go on top (  These panels are really neat.  They are frameless and have a clear backsheet, thus allowing light to penetrate beneath the structure.  The light penetration will be a nice touch and keep the underside light, airy and inviting, while still providing shade.

This will be the first time our solar installer uses these panels.  They arrived at their warehouse last week and everyone has been checking them out.  It sounds like everyone thinks they look nice.  We’ll have to wait a little longer to see for ourselves (waiting for building permits to be issued).

We had also looked into using Sanyo/Panasonic 195HIT bifacial panels.  They also allow light through but cost about four times as much.  So, we didn’t go with them.

Here are the details of what we’ll be getting:

  • 24 Lumos LSX 180W clear panels
  • Mounted at 5° tilt, due south
  • DC rating:  4.32 kW
  • SMA Sunny Boy 4000 Grid-tie inverter, with monitoring

This system will generate slightly more (106%) electric power than we use in a year, so we will be net energy producers (although if/when we get a plug-in car, we’ll likely break even).

I have been keeping track of how much electricity we use in our Green-built home for the past four years:

On average, we use 4,876 kWh / year.

Based on the PV Watts calculator, our solar photovoltaic system will generate 5,155 kWh / year (hence the 106% figure).

Our electric rate is currently 12.8¢/kWh, so this system will generate $660 in electric savings per year.