BTU has installed 2 solar “flower petal” design arrays on the front lawn of the BTU building. Each array has 8 panels and can generate up to 1.4 kilowatts (kW) or 1400 watts (W) of electricity and they stand 16 ft. tall. The arrays absorb the sun’s radiant energy to generate electricity which is fed into the BTU electric grid. One of the arrays tracks, or follows, the sun throughout the day so it is in the best position to absorb sunlight all day long. The other array is in a fixed position and does not track the sun.
Solar Arrays Details
The two solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays located on the front lawn of the BTU Utility Building have a total generating capacity of 2.8 kilowatts (kW). Each array is a 1.4 kW flower petal solar design which has 8 BP brand solar panels (model BP 4175B) and each one has an inverter so the electricity generated can be fed into and used in the Utility Building. All equipment is mounted on an 8” diameter steel pole which is buried six feet and set in concrete. (You can see several photos below of the construction process.)
The arrays are engineered to withstand wind speeds of 90 mph which is the official wind speed load for construction in our area. The PV panels are polycrystalline photovoltaic panels, which have been manufactured and used for more than 40 years. The brand of panels is BP Solar which was previously the Solarex company. Solarex began manufacturing solar panels in 1973. BP Solar is one of the very few companies that has been in business longer than the 25-year industry-standard solar panel warranty.
The arrays are identical except for one feature. The array closest to the drive-through lanes near 28th St. tracks the sun throughout the day as the Earth rotates. The tracking system is a Wattsun model AZ-125 and utilizes a dual-axis so the maximum sunlight is absorbed by the panels.
Because the electricity generated from the arrays is direct current (DC), an inverter must be used to convert this to alternating current (AC) for use in home appliances or to tie to the electric grid. The inverter is a Xantrex model 2.8-GT inverter.
For more information on all of the equipment used in our arrays, you can view the manufacturer’s equipment specifications here.
- Solar Array Panels by BP Solar
- Tracking System by Wattsun (now Array Technologies)
- Inverter by SMA America
It is our hope that the arrays will serve as a teaching and learning opportunity for the community, and promote renewable energy practices because BTU is very involved in the renewable energy market.