This weekend I attended a two day workshop in Pittsboro on solar power. We discussed the pros and cons of grid tied systems (about 95% of systems), hybrid grid tied systems (more complicated but useful in areas that have frequent power outages) and off grid systems.
Other topics and exercises included:
· Using a multi meter to measure volts and current in various pv modules (panels)
· Finding the amount of sunlight a site would receive year round by measuring with a solar pathfinder (such a cool tool and great for gardeners, too!)
· Measuring temperature of the panel itself· .
Wiring the charge controller and safety disconnect to attach to the inverter, batteries and pv module that powers the small off grid Abundance Foundation office seen here in the picture
The skill level of the attendees was all over the spectrum; electricians, contractors, homeowners, non-profit staff, and moi. Our instructor, Rebekah Hren, a NABCEP certified solar PV installer and licensed NC electrician somehow kept us all engaged. I believe everyone left with loads more knowledge and skill than when they arrived on Saturday morning.
My reason for attending was to better serve my real estate clients buying or selling a home with solar components or systems. The experience with a recent transaction, mentioned here earlier, made clear having a good working knowledge of the difference in systems, a ballpark figure of cost/lifespan and how they work could translate in thousands of dollars in the cost of the home for buyers or the sale price of the home for the sellers.
During the transaction I mentioned earlier, I was working with the buyer and the lack of expertise of the appraiser sent by the lender in solar saved my buyer a bundle, but it was clear I needed a group a professionals to call upon the next time I have solar power systems in a property. Happily, I now can call upon the expertise of a team of professionals that include an appraiser with solar knowledge, lender with green certification, and solar inspector.
That's me below, genuflecting to the sun god.
Rebekah Hren and her husband Steven wrote a book featuring 36 projects to work toward The Carbon Free Home. While many of the projects might be extreme for most folks. Almost everyone can use some of the ideas and projects in the book.
Rebekah, who is a nationally sought after solar instructor for Solar Energy International. This month her new book, Let the Sun Shine In, a buyers guide to photovoltaics and solar thermal, will be available.