Recent Installations and Services
“You have real green magic inside, don’t forget to use it,” says Steve Trash®, Rockin’ Eco Hero (www.stevetrash.com). “That’s the eco-empowering message that green entertainer Steve Trash—Rockin’ Eco Hero and Kid Comedian—brings to adoring fans all over the planet. Since 1984, Steve Trash has entertained over 20 million kids with live ecological illusions, magic tricks, and family-friendly fun appearing in live venues all over the world…”
Steve doesn’t just talk the eco talk; he lives it. He just turned green fields in Frog Pond, Alabama into green energy.
Affordable Energy Solutions of Huntsville recently built his new solar garden. This modest five-kilowatt system more than meets the needs of the Franklin County homeowners. Even at 5 PM on July 3rd we watched their electric meter turned backwards. Their system was putting power back onto the Alabama Power grid, as their solar garden met all the home’s energy needs and then some. Steve and Diane celebrated Independence Day in style by breaking free from dependence on foreign energy sources. It was a thrilling moment.
RAIS® (Redundant Array of Integrating Solar, www.tenksolar.com) Wave systems consist of alternating rows of 180-watt photovoltaic (PV) modules and patented reflectors. Look carefully at the photo above, and you can see rows of blue-tinted glass behind each row of modules. Viewed from above and in sunlight, these reflectors appear bright orange. They are designed to reflect the optimum wavelength of sunlight onto the adjacent modules.
Most flat-plate PV panels only produce significant electricity from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM solar time. A glance at the local sun chart shows why. The sun does not even reach the face of a traditional panel until the sunlight passes the 90° solar azimuth, and even then light is parallel to the face plate; sunshine perpendicular to the face is the most efficient.
As soon as the sun peeks over the horizon, however, sunlight begins reflecting onto the modules north of each reflector. This continues before the sun even strikes the face of the modules themselves. This captures sunlight that would normally be lost on a traditional system. Most flat-plate PV panels only produce significant electricity from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM solar time. A glance at the local sun chart shows why. The sun does not even reach the face of a traditional panel until the sunlight passes the 90° solar azimuth, and even then light is parallel to the face plate; sunshine perpendicular to the face is the most efficient.
The RAIS® Wave is designed from the ground up to be a complete solar harvesting system. If you are going to the trouble of installing solar, pick a system that will gather the most energy available to you.
The tenKsolar RAIS® PV module with its ground-breaking Cell Optimizing technology is the only flat plate PV module capable of efficiently harvesting reflected light. Other solar panels depend on uniformly distributed light to balance the cells in the system. They can only make as much electricity as their least productive cell. This means that shading or adding extra light to a cell creates a problem for conventional panels. However, tenKsolar RAIS modules integrate the light across the entire module surface and turn it into power. Because of proprietary Cell Optimizing internal to the module, spots of shade, soiling, even physical damage to a portion of a module will have minimal impact on the individual module or array output.
The RAIS® Wave system is marvelously engineered. In addition to the energy-saving parallel/series module production, the modules are simple to install. It takes only two different wrench sizes to assemble the entire array, and the design keeps itself aligned as construction progresses. The inverter and all related switching gear fit neatly under one row of the module/reflector peaks. Everything fits together nicely.
Getting the supporting concrete blocks proper aligned in three dimensions was a challenge, but we have learned how to do that and shared our solution with tenKsolar’s engineers. We expect smooth installations on ground or roof in the future.
While the Frog Pond Manor Solar Garden had advantage of a wide field near the home, this project in Huntsville made great advantage of a narrow, sunny spot in the back yard. The array is only 17 feet wide by 34 feet deep, but it still produces energy equivalent to a traditional five-kilowatt system.
This is an installation we completed in 2011. A 1.44KW array was added to an existing 1.40KW system. The two existing pole-mounted arrays are adjustable. The new 1.44KW array is roof mounted for summer orientation. By adjusting the old pole-mounts for winter orientation, this home can receive plenty of solar energy year round.
In this off-grid application, the user combines 6V batteries to create a 24V battery bank. The batteries are installed in a custom built, insulated battery. The purpose of the insulated box is to help retain the heat that is generated through the dis-/re-charging process. Keeping the batteries at a warmer temperature keeps them operating more efficiently resulting in less energy loss and reduces the chance of the water freezing during cold winters.
The battery box was fitted with a cover sloping in two dimensions. It is designed to let the hydrogen that results from recharging the batteries rise naturally to a high point in the cover and rise upward through a vent hose. The hinged lid on the cover allows easy access to check the water level in the batteries and add water as necessary.
The OutBack VFX3524 Power Inverter/Charger is the brain of the operation. It reads the supply of current being furnished by the PV panels, inverts the needed power to 120VAC, supplies the necessary AC power to the load downstream, and charges the DC batteries with any current not being demanded by the load.
The owner, a combat veteran, has a gasoline generator integrated in the system for use on cloudy days. His experience with operating Army communications sites in hostile areas has taught him to take care of his batteries. Lead-acid batteries typically last from three to ten years. Under his care, these batteries likely will have a long life.