In 2013, we launched the French Gerleman Solar Testing and Learning Center. It was one of the largest and most complex solar arrays, designed to test and demonstrate a wide variety of components and technologies, while offering customers an educational environment.
Here we are, four years later, and our Solar Learning Center has been a success. Our investment incorporates four different monitoring systems, three panel technologies of various wattages and three different types of inverter technologies. Due to the system’s complexity, the project took more than a year to design and build.
Here are a few key features of our Solar Testing and Learning Center and how it has grown.
We built our Solar Testing and Learning Center with our customers in mind. For our new customers just getting into the solar business, we use it to explain how solar works and the different types of products used when installing systems. Being able to see and explore the different products is a great bonus for these customers. Our newer customers tell us the Learning Center has helped them to not only design and install their systems, but helped with identifying the details that need to be considered when getting started.
Our existing solar customers have seen real value in the Solar Testing and Learning Center. We often receive requests from customers to bring their clients to our facility. It’s more than just a sales tool, it’s an educational experience. Our learning center helps their customers to understand and feel comfortable with solar, and helps them to make informed decisions.
Our Solar Testing and Learning Center is a great training resource for our customers and internal employees. We have brought in industry experts to teach classes and provide product training. We’ve also had customers use the Learning Center to train their employees on the various aspects of solar arrays.
Our Solar Testing and Learning Center has panels tilted at 20, 10 and 0 degrees, or flat. We did this to show how the tilt of the panel can have variable production values based on the sun angle at different times of the year.
Our Learning Center showcases various solar racking options. Racking adds to the weight of the system on your roof as well as if they penetrate your structure or not. For residential, we offer a rail and rail less racking solution for rooftops. For commercial installations, we offer ballasted racking, a flat roof non-penetrating solution that is held down by concrete blocks. For both residential and commercial, we also offer ground mount racking, which is sometimes preferred.
Our Learning Center demonstrates the effect of weather and the elements on solar systems. Customers can see how soiling can accumulate on panels based on their tilt, how they look in the spring when pollen is prevalent or with snow in the winter. The various tilts showcase how the panel can be naturally cleaned by rain or other precipitation. Visitors can also observe the effect of hail on the panels, especially in the spring and fall months. Our panels are rated to withstand up to 1″ hail hitting at 50 miles per hour. Our various racking solutions showcase the effects of wind and the system’s weight on the roof.
A variety of inverters are showcased in our Learning Center. Inverters converts the DC power generated by the solar panels into AC power used to run our homes and businesses. There are different types of inverters that can be used, depending upon site’s environment and size.
And finally, our Learning Center features the balance of systems products, which includes everything outside of the panels, inverts and racking. This includes electrical equipment, lightning arresters, combiner boxes, etc.
Our Solar Testing and Learning Center has been a success. Since its commissioning, our 50KW solar array has produced more than 190 Megawatt hours! It has shown an excellent economical return on investment, but the education, training and product showcase has exceeded the economical ROI through the relationships we have built and sustained.
Do you have any questions on solar arrays, solar energy or our Solar Testing and Learning Center? Give us a call! We’d love to have you out, give you a tour and answer any questions you might have.