Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Living within Our Limits: Tracking solar Consumption and Production

            For the next year, we will be tracking our electric usage and consumption each week—production and consumption. I will take the data weekly, but calculate the chart for daily average. This will allow us to smooth out some of the challenges and spikes in usage and give a clearer picture of what is happening. I know that we would forget—or not be home—to take a daily reading. We have already missed days and the set-up is new. I know that we will also be gone for a couple of weeks during the summer. So, a weekly (or occasionally bi-weekly) reading allows us to adjust for these contingencies; we just change to formula from seven days to eight. It also smoothes out the spikes of an occasional snow day, when I am trapped in the house by sleet and ice on the sidewalks, and turn on the oven, radio, and internet, as well as several lights!

            We started on the longest night of the year—December 21st. The two weeks of Yule are our highest usage for the entire year. We are both home. There is holiday baking and lights and music. It is dim in the house by three-thirty and we turn on the lights and we stay up later (no school the next day). Production is also at its lowest. The sun barely reaches the panels until about one-thirty. Being Oregon, there is considerable cloud cover in December, although we do have a few glorious days of bright blue sky. We are located right near the 45th parallel, which is the equivalent of Calais, Maine, right where the state leaves the ocean and heads North. It can be dark. The opposite is also true—June will be a glorious month for solar production!


            The chart of production and consumption will ride as a banner for the year. I am hoping, by making the information public, to help us learn to live within our limits.

Beets and Greens over pasta
Sunbow  Farm has had lovely baby beets for the past month. We have been eating them every week.

Start pasta water.
Chop a small onion and begin cooking in olive oil. Trim the beets from the greens. Peal the beets and chop in a medium small dice. Add to onions. Chop the greens and add. Cover and cook until tender. Season with fresh ground pepper and some salt, if you are not using feta cheese.

Cook half a pound of whole wheat spaghetti. Drain, plate, crumble feta cheese over it, and cover with beets and greens.

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