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Sarah Al-Mutlaq

Member Since: May 14, 2014

Country: United States

A look into our awesome solar array and what it's doing for SparkFun.

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A fun holiday project to try for anyone looking to catch Santa on Christmas!

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Show us what you can make out of reused parts!

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RedBoard Santa Trap

December 25, 2014

A fun holiday project to try for anyone looking to catch Santa on Christmas!

Soil moisture-sensing by hacking a solar light

June 19, 2014

How to take a solar powered pathway light from a hardware store and make it into a crude soil moisture sensor.
  • I agree! And they are very easy to use and can be small and compact when combined with a small battery. The stickers have resistors included on them so really you just have to stick it and it all works!

  • During my testing, it was accurate within 5 mm if you stayed withing the 100 mm range that it says is the most optimal.

  • Each panel is 41.2 inches by 61.4 inches. If you want way more information on the panels we used click here. Hope this helps answer your questions.

  • It was made very clear to me by Xcel that our solar array couldn’t impact our peak demand unless we were drawing no energy from the grid and using only our own energy. So even though now, we could be using power from our panels (and potentially and batteries that we could incorporate in our system) they will still charge us for the total peak of what we are using, because that’s just how they do it. Yes our demand from the grid is not as high with our solar array, but no they don’t make that differentiation when billing us.

  • Yes, the solar panels hold up to hail. We do get a little hail in Colorado, but it is rare that it is very big or lasts very long in our area. Solar panels are usually talked about as fragile at this point which is true to a point, you couldn’t, for example, put them on roads and drive cars on them (though there is great fiber optic solar technology coming out that is strong enough to be used on roads which would be a great use for solar energy), but for weather purposes it holds up nice, unless you get a lot of heavy snow. Heavy snow that sits on the panels for days can crack them, and of course shoveling your panels can scrape them which decreases there efficiency, so it’s a bit of a catch 22, but usually they are at an angle such that snow can slide off easly. But back to your question! Here is a pretty cool slow motion video of a Conergy PowerPlus Solar Panel Hail Test, as you can see the panels win and the hail shatters.

  • Yes that is somewhat correct, there are many various governmental grants and rebates, ours happens to be in the form of a tax rebate on our building as an incentive to buy and use the solar array. This doesn’t mean that tax payers paid for our array, just that we pay less taxes after our first year of having them to make up the $195,000 (this has yet to happen for us but we should see it in April when tax season ends). As far as putting the money in a different investment, yes, it could and probably would be more beneficial purely from a monetary standpoint, and that is why there is the rebates and grants because solar is such a costly investment that may not even pay you back in the end as well as something else even with the current grants and rebates. So if savings and making money is purely what you are about, solar isn’t the way to go yet, commercially (there are more incentives for individuals that could make this a little bit better money wise), I would wait until solar technology gets better efficiency and the cost goes down before this becomes more of an actual viable investment as well as being good for the environment and reducing your footprint and use of grid based energy (which is mostly from coal right now).

  • You are correct, it was a typo. Thank you!

  • We are hooked up to the grid, and that is why we get incentives from Xcel, with our own battery array we would no longer be delivering our energy back to the grid and therefor not really getting the Xcel REC credits.

  • We actually have an online monitoring system through Lucid BuildingOS, and it tracks our PV input, our total energy usage, water usage, and natural gas usage, and takes measurements every few mins. We have this currently available in our front lobby for people to see, but soon we will have a site that anyone could see what is going on, so I am excited for that. We also have a company looking into our usage and once we have a good amount of data they are going to recommend action we should take to reduce our impact.

  • Here is our invderter information: Inverter model: Sunpower (ABB/Power One Trio 27.6-TL) Inverter power rating: 27.6 kW Number of inverters: 8 Total inverter power name plate capacity: 8 x 27.6 = 220.8 kW Number of strings per inverter: 7

Light up origami flowers

Sarah Al-Mutlaq 5 items

All the electronic parts needed to get you started on making you…

Soil moisture sensor parts kits

Sarah Al-Mutlaq 2 items

The soil moisture sensor is made from parts in the Sparkfun Inve…

Soil moisture sensor parts

Sarah Al-Mutlaq 12 items

The soil moisture sensor is made from parts in the Sparkfun Inve…