Greetings from Vermont on New Year’s Day 2020 (at time of writing). Looking back into my archived articles here on CleanTechnica, it appears I have not had anything published since November 20, 2018. My first article regarding our rooftop solar + Tesla Powerwall 2 system was published on April 21, 2018.
A lot has happened in the last year, most notably that I took a new position as a travelling Construction Manager. My wife and I had decided that with the children now adults out on their own and her full retirement from the daily grind scheduled for March 2019, what better way to spend the latter part of my professional career than travelling the country supervising the installation and commissioning of food processing plants.
My travels in 2019 took me first to Honolulu, Hawaii (real tough duty for a New Englander in January and part of February), and then to downtown Chicago, where I participated in the building of the largest Starbucks in the world. There were long days and weeks and months needed to complete the build on time for a November 15 grand opening, but it was definitely the most interesting project I was ever involved in. I was able to walk to work for 9 months for the first time in my 40-year career. So, there was no need to have a car or even entertain driving myself anywhere in the area — a definite way to work towards net zero energy consumption. We used public transportation exclusively during our stay there. We had no way of calculating our kWh apartment usage since our place included utilities.
The “bad” news is my 2016 Tesla Model S was a 6000 lb paperweight for the duration. We returned home on November 24 and have been here for the month of December for the holidays. As I write this, I am awaiting to hear when and where we will be headed next.
The main purpose of this article that I wanted to share with the CleanTechnica community is the fact that the electrical energy use at our home in Vermont, although fully occupied by a friend for the duration of our absence, had net positive generation for the calendar year. See the attached screenshot from the Tesla app as well as the monthly spreadsheet at the bottom. Would that have been possible had I been charging the Model S for my former daily 200-mile round trip commute, as I was doing May through October 2018? Possibly, seeing that our generation and power returned to the grid far outpaced our usage.
The other aspect of our solar installation plus one Powerwall 2 is the seamless and worry-free operation of backup power system for the home should a grid outage occur. As shown, we’ve had a total of 72 such events and 28 backup hours since going online in early April 2018. Some of those have been as little as a few minutes while others have been up to several hours in one 24-hour period.
Some of you who have read my other articles may remember my rationale for adding solar to our home. In my opinion, regardless if you are staying long term in your home or not, a solar installation is still a good idea. Especially how much costs have come down and the fact that many utilities provide programs to help offset the costs.
Since the average American moves 11 times in their lifetime, odds are you will not see a full payback on your investment while living in that home. To be perfectly honest, after living in downtown Chicago for the better part of 2019, my wife and I have entertained the idea of living in an urban environment in the future once again. However, that does not mean looking back we wouldn’t have installed our system or purchased an electric vehicle. Resale values should be good on all of these products.
I look forward to your comments and observations going forward. I have yet to receive my new assignment for 2020, so we are home at least through the first week of the year, and then, who knows? I do intend to drive and use the Model S on my next assignment, so I hope to be writing more articles about where we are, solar installations, EV involvement, etc. Happy New Year to all!
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