Tesla Powerwall

After our first full calendar month since we moved in, we can share our thoughts and experiences with our Solar Panels and the Tesla Powerwall.

It was May (probably the best month of the year for solar energy, at least in the northern hemisphere) and of course, we really need to wait a full year to have the full picture.

Here is an analysis of a really sunny day – 27th May

  • Colour coding for the screenshot below is:
    • Green is the electricity which the system produced (almost no clouds that day)
    • Blue is the own-produced electricity we used
    • Red is the electricity we bought from the grid (not very much!)
  • 25 kWh electricity was produced that day
    • 11.8 kWh of which we used ourselves
    • 13.4 kWh of which was exported (some of the ‘exported’ electricity will have been used by out heating/hot water system which is on a different electricity meter, but it was a hot day with no heating required, so most of it would have been sold to the grid!)
  • Since almost all of our electricity usage on that day was at a time when there wasn’t much electricity being generated (we were not home at lunchtime!), 53% of our usage came from the battery, rather than directly from the panels. On a day like this, the battery clearly makes a huge difference to how much electricity we bought that day.


Other statistics for May:

  • Despite a wet start to the month (almost the first week there was no sun), on 21 out of 31 nights, the battery had enough charge to last all the way through the night.
  • Between 8:00 am on 20th May and 5:30 am on 31st May (11 days), the battery was almost never flat, with only an hour or two on a couple of days where it didn’t quite make it through the night and went flat just before the solar panels were producing again.
  • In total (including the heating/hot water system) during May:
    • We used 559 kWh in total
    • We bought 255 kWh from the grid
    • We sold 163 kWh to the grid
    • We used just 92 kWh more than the system produced.

Driveway, Paving and Lawn

The ground outside our house is either completely hard (like concrete) when it hasn’t rained for a few days, or completely boggy (as soon as it starts to rain), so we are really happy that already in January we had met with a local landscape gardener and planned and ordered the block paving for the driveways and patios.

Originally they had given the impression that they would do all of it in the first week of May (which was a short week), but in the end they didn’t start until the 8th May and it was not until 31st May that they had completely finished (although most of the important bits were done during the first week, and fortunately most of May was quite dry).

Now we are watering the grass seed and hoping that it will soon start to turn green!

Kitchen Installation

We survived living in a house with no kitchen for a couple of days, but are glad that our kitchen has been installed.

Originally we were told that due to some doors not having arrived on-time, that they would install it in mid-May (which would have been very annoying, especially as we ordered it more than six months ago, and we told them in January that we wanted it installed in April).

Fortunately, they agreed to install it (with a few doors missing) and to come back with the missing doors later on.

After 1½ days, it’s done!


Moving In Day

In the days since the final handover, we took the opportunity to start moving boxes to the house in the car on the way to work and at the weekend did several runs back and forward, managing to move almost all of them and leaving on the furniture.

On Tuesday, we rented a transporter to move the furniture, and with some extra helpers (thank you to them!) managed to completely clear the old apartment.

During the day, the electrician turned up at the house to perform the tests on the network sockets to ensure that they are working at full-speed.

Two of our french balconies were exchanged (due to small scratches) and the window company turned up (this time arriving slightly early – no snow this time) and has now cleared the blockage of cement which was preventing two of the shutters from running smoothly.

Even though we have about 100 boxes to unpack, it already looks and feels like home!

The kitchen is coming on Thursday!

Final Handover Complete

Today was a long day, but we’ve made it! The house is complete, we have paid the final invoice to Viebrockhaus and the house has been formally handed over to us.

We arrived at around 7.30am, just as the painters were leaving, having touched up all of the places we had marked for re-working.

The guy who had previously been there to put silicone sealant in the bathrooms was also there, and had already done a couple of improvements and the work that hadn’t been done last week in the guest WC. He had to come back anyway, to fit and seal the Viebrockhaus Cornerstone, with the precise coordinates of our house on.

Around the same time, someone from the heating / plumbing company turned up to check the heating, which fortunately has been running without any alarms since the electrician let the water out yesterday. He said that the alarms would certainly have been caused by the flooding to the inside of the heat pump, but it will not have done any harm.

Our new shower tap (the correct one) hasn’t arrived yet, so they will call us to make an appointment to come and change it when it does arrive.

The construction manager then arrived and we went through the open issues list we’d made last week, mainly crossing off the things that had meanwhile been completed, and adding some new ones.

The issue with the water being stuck in the cellar window light shafts was easily solved by the construction manager unscrewing the vents which seemed to be blocked – as soon as he did, we could hear the water running away. We will need to keep an eye on these and if necessary take them completely out and clean them, but it was nothing serious in the end.

After some formalities, the construction manager then handed over the certificate which states for the next 50 years, a specific 150 sq. meters of rain forest in Bocas del Toro, Panama will be protected in our name. This is to offset the CO2 emissions caused by the construction of the house, effectively making it carbon-neutral. We might visit sometime if we are passing on a cruise ship!

We also received two small gifts from Viebrockhaus, a tree to plant in the garden and a set of scissors.

The window company had been expected to show up at 9am but apparently were stuck in snow and finally turned up at 4pm. We did have a couple of snow flurries today, but not enough to hold you up that long. We’re not sure what happened, but as we were planning to be at the house all day it didn’t matter. When the guy he was very friendly and quickly fitted our front-door handle (the wrong one had been delivered, but he is coming back on Tuesday to change it)

He also lubricated a few windows which were not closing smoothly, adjusted the front door which was rubbing on the floor tiles and replaced the sheared off screws on one of the window fixings that had been broken since the day the windows were installed in December.

We made use of the spare time to start building the new furniture from Ikea – a provisional sink for the Utility Room (eventually this will move to the cellar) and the first of two chests of drawers for the wardrobe.

We are really impressed with how Viebrockhaus (and of course our construction manager) co-ordinated everything throughout the construction and in particular how quickly things have been finished / corrected over the past few days. Although we haven’t built another house with any of the other companies that we considered, we are happy that we chose Viebrockhaus, and that we now have a lovely house waiting for us!

So what’s next?

Over the next week or so, the kitchen will be installed, the shower cubicle is coming and we will of course move in! We’ll post some pictures when we can.

Beyond that, we will probably post some pictures of the driveway and patios, and over the summer months we hope that we will be able to share some photos of the garden turning from brown to green…

12 Hours To Go…

254 days have gone by since we first found the plot, and now it’s only 12 hours to go until the handover meeting, and an amazing amount has happened today.

  • The installation of the shutters is successfully completed. We can now shut and open them!
  • The problem with the heating system was identified and seems to have been corrected (the condensation hose was running uphill so that water could not run away and was flooding the system instead)
  • The satellite dish has been correctly positioned
  • All other small electrical work (such as turning light switches the right way up) has been completed.

We have only one real problem remaining – the light shafts for the cellar have filled up with water and the water is sitting in them (not running away / being pumped away as it should).

Hopefully this is relatively easy to solve but in an emergency we could also buy a cheap pump to pump the water out before the cellar floods in case it rains a lot before this gets resolved.

Other than that, there is only very minor things left on the list (adjusting windows and front door, adjusting a couple of the shutters, touching up paintwork, missing silicone, replacement of the shower tap with the right one.

Now we are looking forward to the handover, and to the huge amount of work to be done for moving in and making it home!

Clean & Ready to Move In

Having a four day weekend over Easter in between the ‘pre-delivery inspection’ and final-handover has the disadvantage that there was not (is not) much time for our list of minor points to be worked on, but the huge advantage that we had time to fully clean the house (mainly the floor) and in doing so look for anything we had missed. Only a couple more minor points, mainly with the paintwork on the walls.

Also, we had plenty of time to take some last photos before the furniture moves in!

We did however discover that the heating system has some kind of problem – it is leaking water and keeps going into an alarm condition. It does however keep working so we were warm (despite the sudden return of wintery weather) and had plenty of hot water. We were also able to test out the 24 hour hotline for the heating system and a technician should be there tomorrow. Hopefully it is nothing serious that cannot be sorted out quickly.

The electricians still haven’t been back either which means we still cannot control the shutters (although it seems that they have a mind of their own and open and close at random, which is slightly scary) and the satellite dish is still not pointing where it should.

Hopefully all of this will be resolved tomorrow, as we really would like to pay the final invoice on-time, on Wednesday.

We also had time on Saturday to make another trip to Ikea – a few new pieces of furniture is now waiting to be assembled, and also to plan the walk-in wardrobe (Ikea Elvarli) which we will install in the coming weeks.

Monday was quite dull and wet in the morning, which meant we had the lowest amount of solar energy so far (around 5 kWh), but also meant that another 1000 or so litres of rainwater has gone in the tank!