Sun Break


Oregon is awesome. In December, when a midwesterner would normally expect blizzards and ice storms, we get rainbows. And despite the fact that we get a LOT of rain, we get some sunny days too. This has made energy management in the house interesting… since we’re not living there yet, many of the electrical loads (such as refrigerator) are not yet online. But some, like the well pump and lighting, are. I’ve been pleased to see that we’ve not yet gone below 95% on the battery charge for the solar system, though I know that will change soon.   What’s more interesting is that I’m now more in tune with the sun. When it’s out, the batteries get full pretty quickly, and we have excess power. What to do? I’ve started turning on the electric heated floors in the bathroom and mudroom when it’s sunny. It’s free energy at that point. Conventional wisdom is that electric resistance heating is not compatible with solar power, as it’s very watt-intensive, but I’ve discovered this is a weird exception to the rule, a way to use bonus energy and even save some firewood in the process.

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2 Responses to Sun Break

  1. ChickenBrian says:

    So could you automate that? Have excess power dump to the heaters automatically?
    As Brian said would be good time to run the water pump too.

    • jim says:

      Automating that would be tricky, as I’d need to have a way to connect the floor controller/ thermostat to the battery monitor, to know I was at or near 100%, and then also to the power controller to tell the system that we were producing power at the same time. I’m sure it could be done theoretically, but beyond my ability. Heh. However, I can content my self with the idea that some degree of human interaction required is nice because it awareness of energy management issues in general (and is fun).
      The water pump is an awesome and convenient synergy that I will be exploring more in the summer. Right now, it runs very infrequently: only when a tap is open, and sporadically even then. But if we were doing something with a high water demand, such as watering a garden, then it would run a lot more. Luckily, we will only need to water gardens in those times when it’s not raining and really sunny, so we will have the most electricity available. That should work out just fine.

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