I have anticipated yesterday’s Winter Solstice since last April, when I finished installing our new solar array (see Power Shift: The Plan in Place). Luckily for me, I remembered to keep expectations low, so I felt no great disappointment when the day arrived.
Our Winter Solstice weather proved quite seasonal. We’ve been heading toward a classic White Christmas for the last several days, helped out by almost 4 inches of new snowfall in the previous 24 hours. I went out to the solar array at daybreak to sweep off the snow. New snow covered it within minutes.
Around 10:00 a.m., the local apex of sun for our homestead (calculated as the zenith of the sun on our horizon before it disappears behind our southern point) I went out to take some photos. I swept the panels again then. I realized just how dark our solstice day was when I scratched my forehead and found I still wore my headlamp!
The rest of the day, the weather moved in and out, completely socked in one moment, hazy near-clearing shortly after.
Even with frequent panel grooming, we didn’t pull in much solar power. I did notice, however, that we brought in more power with overcast skies and a ¼ inch of snow on the new panels than we did with the old panels on a sunny Solstice (see Tracking the Homestead’s Individual Winter Solstice). By nightfall, around 3:45 p.m., we’d recorded 3 amp hours.
No matter. We had a lovely midwinter day. We went for a hike through the snow, and had a wonderful dinner by candle and Christmas tree light.
Starting tomorrow, December 23rd, we’ll begin to get a little more daylight each day. The nadir of solar collection has passed for the year. We’re on our way back to the long summer days!