We had a meeting with Bryan Quinn to ask for implementation advice.
Question: Are there any facets to our design that need to be added to?
Response: “I would add a grounding rod, about 6 feet of copper, in order to drain off accumulated charge to minimize the attraction the structure has to lightning. Also, if the structure is hit by lightning, there is discharge path.”
Question: Can you suggest a type of charge controller?
Response: “I would suggest an mppt (maximum power point tracking) controller as opposed to a pwm one since mppt controllers are more efficient since pwm controllers just pull the voltage from the panels down to the voltage of the battery. Mppt controllers, on the other hand, adjusts the input voltage to draw the most power from the panels. However, the differences between the two controllers become more obvious as the solar array gets larger, so on a small scale like the one you’re working with, the choice does not impact the efficiency too much.”
Question: Is it feasible to put a box underneath the bench holding the batteries, charge controller, and inverter?
Response: “Putting all the electrical equipment in a box is a good idea generally speaking, although I would suggest you put vents in the box so that the hydrogen that the batteries generate doesn’t build up in the box. And since there are going to be vents in the box, you should be careful about putting the box right underneath where people are sitting, because you don’t want fumes to vent onto them.”
Question: We were thinking of putting the structure across the South lawn from Prince Frederick Hall, do you think this is an ideal place to build the solar awning?
Response: “Yes, this sounds like an ideal spot since it would be easy to angle the panels to face South and there are no large obstructions from surrounding buildings in the main directions that the sun will be coming from.”
Question: Can you suggest a material to use for the supporting structure for the panels?
Response: “I would suggest using 8020 aluminum, since it is durable and will not corrode when exposed to the elements.”
As a result of this meeting we will be taking his implementation advice into account when designing and implementing our solar awning.