A Satisfactory Solstice

By , December 22, 2015

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.

The solar panels on the Winter Solstice (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The solar panels on the Winter Solstice (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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!

Our classic Winter Solstice down channel view (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Our classic Winter Solstice down channel view (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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