Recap: Big Summer Solar Install

Working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the blazing summer sun, eleven members of the Stanford Energy Club’s Projects team helped install over twenty-five 280W REC solar panel units through local non-profit SunWork. Known as the “Big Summer Installation 2016”, this is the largest solar installation that the SEC has ever done to date.IMG_8817

SunWork Renewable Energy Projects is a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area that installs solar electricity systems on small-energy-footprint homes with the help of trained volunteers. SunWork’s innovative model lets it deliver solar power to homeowners who have low electricity use (and therefore low electricity bills) at a third less than the market cost, allowing more people to make the switch to solar and enabling broader adoption of this clean, safe, and renewable source of energy.

Among those making the change was the Ecumenical Hunger Program located in East Palo Alto, who recently received a grant to renovate their roof. While carrying out renovations, they decided to employ SunWork to install over 105 solar panels on their main office, which serves working families, seniors, and people with limited income in East Palo Alto and neighboring communities. At the EHP building, our volunteers learned to install L-joints on silicone mounts, drill in railings with precise alignments, run conduit and wire through each rail, and finally mount the solar panels.

“These solar panels are pretty decent. They output 90% production from sticker value at standard operating temperature,” said Rueben Veek, the head of SunWork and solar panel installation instructor, “This includes 5% losses due to wiring and AC/DC conversions.”

The wiring from the 6 lines of solar panels converges into one central unit that empties into an electrical room of the EHP. Here, students and volunteers learned about the 3 central inverters that convert the power from DC to AC, as well as the large form factor of these units to account for heat dissipation.

Work will continue on the project until its completion on August 10th. If you are interested in contributing to the solar installation scene, check out local projects and training sessions offered by SunWork, and subscribe to the SEC mailing list to learn about more exciting activities in the fall!

-Rahul Kini and Arnav Mariwala