How Do I Figure Out the Electric Load for my Appliances?

I am very interested to install a small solar system that would power our lights and water pump. We live in a new log home and use a wood-burning stove to heat the upstairs, and back up the stove with an electric heat pump. How would I figure out the electrical load for the appliances? I would think that I could use the electric bill for a month like April or October when the heat pump is seldom used. Jerry J. Columbia, SC

Jerry, Yes, check your electric bill for the Spring and the Fall to show your electric load without the heat pump. Once your get the lowest kWh readings per day in those two times it is pretty easy to minimally size your system, either to address your entire electric load or to dedicate your solar electric system to some of the important smaller electric loads. If you take a 15-year second mortgage (9%), it’s approximately $203 per month for a 2 kW system “with the works”. A lower percentage loan with some lower cost installed-PV system and maybe some added energy efficiency could probably get the cost below $150 per month. Cost depends on how you want to approach it. The National Renewable Energy laboratory (NREL) has guides to solar energy as does the US Department of Energy. Both have introductory primers that are all worth looking over as you consider a residential photovoltaics system.
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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