Powering through winter solstice in Seattle

March 2, 2015

November through February are pretty dark months in Seattle. Often you’ll leave for work before the sun comes up, and return home after the sun goes down. You might get a sunny week or two in January, but most years February’s got you searching for clinical definitions of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Because my solar array was installed last fall, I have been paying extra close attention to insolation statistics through this period, the darkest third of the year. I now have data for four full months of operation, which should essentially tell me the worst news I can hear about how my solar array is performing.

Chart showing monthly solar data

February has been the best month so far, with roughly 61% of our electricity needs powered by the solar panels. By contrast, December’s solar output offset only 32% of our electricity. Overall, we are seeing approximately 45% of our demand being supplied by solar power, with an average daily output of about 5 kWh from the renewable energy source.

At some point this summer (July? August?) I bet we’ll see a crossing of those lines on the chart, indicating that solar is providing full coverage of my electricity and then some. That said, this exercise has been a good reminder to me to work on limiting my consumption, at the same time as I cross my fingers for sunny days ahead.

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