Here in DeLand we have gone solar, but in a somewhat unique way that will power the house and the shop, with a twist.

After some friends and family “went solar” with great results, we decided to look into it for the house and the shop.  Our electric bills were topping $400 a month in the summer, and “summer” is a long time here in the Sunshine State.  We also had an advantage in that we are on two and a half acres, offering some flexibility for installation.

The house is facing in entirely the wrong direction, so putting the system on the house was immediately out of the question.  However, the large back roof of the shop faces almost directly south, making it seem like an ideal place for solar panels.  To our dismay, though, the shop roof option would have meant taking down many, many tall trees on both sides of the building, which eliminated that possibility.

The only option left was what is called a “ground mount.”  The installers construct a rack system on the ground and mount the panels on them.  This was deemed to be “too ugly” for our pastoral property, and another solution was pursued.

Sunvena from Sanford, Florida, took on the project with our idea in mind…if you are going to do a “ground mount,” why not elevate it eight feet to provide a shaded area underneath for parking things like our Nissan Titan?  Plans were drawn, permits obtained and construction completed.

While this is not a new idea, it is a relatively new idea for residential properties.  Commercial “carport mounts” are found around commercial buildings all over, but this custom approach is a little different.  The structure was built with treated lumber using 6×6 posts and 2×10 rafters, upon which the solar panel mounting system was placed.  We have a 42′ wide x 28 feet deep structure, open on all sides, with forty-eight 355Kw solar panels mounted.  The system produces 60-100 KwH of power each day depending on clouds, rain or beautiful clear skies.  We rarely have rain for a full day in Central Florida, but in the summer the afternoon thunderstorms provide us a couple of hours of clouds and rain almost every day.

Another Florida advantage is that our local electric utility, Duke Electric, is required by law to buy back any excess electricity that we produce and feed back into the grid.  And they have to pay us the “going rate” for it.  So by day, we produce excess electricity that powers the house and the shop, and we also feed electricity to the power grid.  At night, we take power from Duke, using the excess that we produced during the day to power the AC and lights at night.  The goal is to eliminate the electric bill, although there is a fee of about $15 to be connected to the grid.

Results thus far have been encouraging.  Our power usage in previous years has been around 21 megawatts per year, and this system is capable of creating almost 24 megawatts per year.  So, we should be in good shape for the years to come.

So if you want solar but can’t use your roof?  How about a carport or pergola?

 

 

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