The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Solar Energy for Your Home

Posted by | April 5, 2013

Jennifer Hatch, Marketing Manager for ReVision Energy, provided an informative introduction to solar energy options for homeowners on Wednesday evening in Mather Auditorium. Over 40 people attended this Climate Stewards evening lecture, and one lucky winner, Mr. Jed Thomas, went home with the solar charger door prize (below)!

Solar Joos Winner

The next Climate Stewards lecture in our series will be held on Monday, May 13 from 6-7:30pm featuring Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College. Under Mulkey's leadership, Unity College recently became the first college in the nation to divest from fossil fuels, and is now adding climate change to all aspects of its curriculum.

Following are snippets of information I jotted down in my notes during Jennifer's presentation, for those of you who missed it!

  • Solar energy is a clean, stable, and infinite energy supply.
  • Maine has 33% more sunshine than Germany, the world leader in solar energy.
  • The ideal tilt angle for solar panels/collectors in Maine is 45 degrees (our latitude). Southwest orientation is best.
  • There are three types of domestic solar hot water systems: 1) unglazed (used to heat pools) 2) flat plate 3) evacuated tube. The flat plate and evacuated tube are the most common types of systems installed in Maine.
  • The workings of solar hot water systems: 1) The sun heats the rooftop collectors 2) A pump station sends propylene glycol through the collectors 3) The heated propylene glycol travels into a solar storage tank, where there are two coils--one connecting to a boiler (back-up system for solar) and one connecting to the solar system--which heats the water supply for a house.
  • The size of the solar hot water system is based on the number of people in a home.
  • May-October, the back-up boiler system is off, which saves most households 200-300 gallons of fuel per year.
  • If solar collectors are covered in snow, the system doesn't work. It usually takes 1-2 days for the snow to melt.
  • Solar energy crowd
  • The cost of a domestic solar hot water system for a typical household is about $6,050 (after tax credit and rebate). The estimated payback is 5-7 years, and most systems last for 20-30 years.
  • Grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) systems (solar electricity) can be mounted close to a home, or a distance away from it.
  • One kilowatt of PV panels = 1,000 watts at peak sun. One kilowatt hour of solar electricity = 1.34 pounds of CO2 reduction.
  • The workings of grid-tied solar electricity: 1) The sun hits the panels and creates electricity 2) Inverter converts solar power 3) Excess power is sent to the grid.
  • When the grid goes down, so does the solar system.
  • GPS Tracker is a solar system that is more expensive, but the panels move to follow the sun all day long.
  • One kilowatt = 4 panels (each panel is 5 feet by 2.5 feet)
  • The cost of a domestic solar electricity system (4 KW) for a typical household is about $9,200 (after tax credit and rebate). The systems are expected to last up to 50 years (and have a performance guarantee of 25 years).
  • Regarding leasing options, many homeowners use home equity loans or loans through Efficiency Maine to finance the cost of solar systems.
  • Installation generally takes two days.
  • If your roof needs replacing, have this work done before installing solar panels.
  • This month, ReVision Energy installed a 37-kilowatt system on the roof of the Coastal Ecology Center at the Wells Reserve!

This Climate Stewards lecture was funded by NOAA's Climate Stewards Education Project. The lectures in this series aim to enable community members to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of climate change, thereby appreciating the impact of their choices more, reducing their carbon footprints, and becoming more impassioned stewards of the planet.

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