Oct 18, 2019: Solar Monitoring and Upcoming Events

In our Newsletter on August 30 I wrote that our new solar system had been installed but that we weren’t able to turn it on yet. Well, we’ve had it turned on and operating for about three weeks now and it’s performing brilliantly. I’m very happy with the monitoring system provided by Enphase except for one small issue and one big one. I’ll get into the details in a minute.

Upcoming Events

First a quick bit of shameless self-promotion…

Meet Damon Gameau at the 2040 Regeneration Weekend in Bowral.

I wrote a very positive review of the 2040 Movie by Damon Gameau in our Newsletter back in June.

Now the movie is coming back to Bowral but this time Damon Gameau is coming with it. Here’s an excerpt from the Event Brite page about the event

From 6pm on Friday 25 October 2019, an exclusive screening of the film, 2040 will take place in The Mill’s courtyard and be followed up by a panel discussion including filmmaker, Damon Gameau, Bob Hawke Landcare Award winner, Charlie Arnott, Hamish Mackay Director of Biodynamics2024, Lizzie Buscaino from Piccolo Farm and Joanne Dodd from Quarter Acre Farm.


On Saturday from 10am until 6pm, The Mill will come alive with more 2040 film screenings, sustainability workshops, expert speakers, local fresh produce for sale as well as artisan stalls to enable locals to be informed and take immediate action.

Which brings me to the self-promotion bit… I have been invited to run one of the ‘Sustainability Workshops’ on Saturday at 2:30pm. The workshop is entitled ‘How to design a house that keeps itself warm in winter and cool in summer’.

The film screenings and workshops are free but apparently registration is essential although I’m not quite sure how you do it. I think this Eventbrite page (click on Register) is supposed to list all of the workshops but mine’s not there yet. But maybe give it a try and hopefully all the workshops will be listed by the time this Newsletter goes out.

2019 Art Studio Trail – Southern Highlands

Cintia and I have decided to open the Greeny Flat this year for the annual Southern Highlands Art Studio Trail over two weekends in November (the 2nd/3rd and the 10th/11th from 10am to 5pm).

With around 100 artists gathering in 46 studios across the region, the Trail offers something for every artistic interest. Don’t miss this once-a-year chance to meet the artists in their studios, see where they create their work and buy direct from the studio door. Painting, sculpture, bookbinding, printing, woodwork, jewellery, textiles, photography, drawing, botanical art, ceramics and more…

Cintia is the real artist in our household and will be showing some of her beautiful, functional ceramic art like this bowl she made recently.

One of Cintia's lovely ceramic creations.

One of Cintia’s lovely ceramic creations.

I also dabble in a bit of photography and will be showing some of my photos as well. Here is a link to a my photography website if you want to see some of my work.

Solar Power System Monitoring

Regular readers will know that I think anyone with a solar power system should have some sort of monitoring to make sure that everything is working properly. It’s also a good idea to monitor the electricity usage in your home to make sure nothing is malfunction and to help you look for ways to save energy.

One of the best monitoring systems comes included with every Enphase micro-inverter solar system which, as I mentioned above, is what we have recently installed on the house next to the Greeny Flat. Here is a screenshot from the Enphase Enlighten webpage for our system. This is where we can log in to see our daily electricity production and consumption.

191018 Ephase Solar Monitoring

This is the page for yesterday and you can see in the top left that we produced 30.55kWh, we consumed 3.77kWh and we exported 26.73kWh for the day. At the top right you can see the production figure for each solar panel individually. This is the great thing about the Enphase system because, if there is ever a problem with the system, we’ll be able to see immediately which panel is causing the problem. The bottom of the page shows the complete graph for yesterday in 15 minute intervals with solar production in blue and household consumption in orange. The dark blue shows the net production exported to the grid after any daytime consumption is deducted (i.e. the light orange bars deducted from the light blue bars). And the dark orange shows the energy imported from the grid.

This is all great information but, as I mentioned above, there are two problems. The small one is that the graph is in 15 minute intervals so if I want to know how many kW the system was producing at any time I have to take the production figure for that 15 minute period (in the graph above you can see that the bar highlighted was for 1:15pm and the net production was 1,069Wh) and multiply it by 4 to get an idea of the total system production (e.g. 1,069 x 4 = 4.27kW). This is a bit clunky and confusing but we can work with it.

The bigger problem is that the system hasn’t been set up to monitor our off-peak hot water electricity consumption. This means that the consumption figures are missing our single biggest user, the water heater. I have contacted both the installer, Space Solar, and Enphase Australia directly and they both told me that I was the first person to ask to monitor their off-peak hot water system so they aren’t even sure if the system can do it. They think it can but they won’t guarantee it. They’re supposed to be providing me with a price to try and set it up so I’ll have to let you know what happens.

Meanwhile the lesson is, if you already have an Enphase monitoring system be aware that it won’t be monitoring all your electricity usage if you have an off-peak hot water system. Or, if you’re considering getting an Enphase system and you have off-peak, I would suggest that you make it a condition of the contract that they set it up to monitor ALL of your electricity usage, including the off-peak.

Cheers and maybe we’ll see you at The Mill next week for the 2040 Regeneration Weekend.

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