You can’t polish a turd.

Last friday, Jeff Tobe from Solar Energy International visited the Community Rebuilds crew and lead a day workshop/seminar about solar energy. It was awesome. We started out with a very enthusiastic and dense powerpoint presentation which covered the basics of electricity, battery power, and then solar energy. We even talked about Tesla and Eddison (“an argument between two old white men” – Eric Plourde). It was a totally immersive and thorough look into the invisible thing that powers everything around us.

After the presentation, we made our way out to Moab’s local radio station, KZMU, which is solar powered, and looked at their array. It was exciting to go from sitting in a room looking at everything on a screen to seeing it in real life and actually getting to touch and experience it.

Finally we ended the day at the job site doing our very own solar site analysis with the Solar Pathfinder. Jeff also demonstrated the function of solar panels in a tangible way using a small panel to pump water. Despite the simplicity and small size of the demonstration, we were all completely amazed.

Now to explain the title of this blog: One of the biggest lessons we learned that day was that it is better to start with smart solar energy techniques, to design them into your structure or business, rather than try to ‘slap some solar panels on a roof’ in an attempt to save money. “You can’t polish a turd” reminds us to design intelligently.

Thanks, Jeff, for a great day of solar education!

Jeff Tobe talkin' 'bout Ohm's Law

Former Community Rebuilds interns Kate and Jess see how much sun the house will get directly under the eaves.

Totally awesome demonstration of how electricity works. Jason experimented with covering up different numbers of cells, rows and columns to see how it effected the flow of "electricity." We learned that if your panels are going to be shaded, it's best to shade a column before you shade a row. Because of the flow of power, shading a row will stop the flow of electricity completely whereas shading a column only slows it down.

SOLAR PATHFINDER!!!!!! In a nutshell the way this works is the plastic dome on top mimics the curve of the earth while the grid below clumps months of the year with similar day patterns. When you place this tool somewhere on your site, you can see a snap shot of sun and shadow at that particular spot for the whole year. The reflections of objects on the plastic dome (trees, buildings, the Moab rim, and in this case us) cover parts of the grid below showing what times that spot will she shade and at what time of year. Amazing. Always, always use one of these (there's an app for it too) when doing your own site analysis.

The inverter one KZMU's solar array.

The array at KZMU. They have been using solar for three years.

We had so many guests on this day: Wade's brother, Brandon, our super volunteer, Erica, and former CR interns Kate and Jess. It was a perfect day for solar.

One Response to “You can’t polish a turd.”
  1. john marvin says:

    Power inverters are great to take camping

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