Archive for the 'General Info' Category

Illinois Solar Panel Manufacturer Becomes Electric Car Manufacturer

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

2015-04-16 12.26.05

Wanxiang America Corporation is a solar manufacturer with a manufacturing facility in Rockford, Illinois. Some of the Illinois Solar School projects have solar panels manufactured in Rockford, Illinois. Wanxiang’s headquarters is in Elgin, Illinois. When I visited Wanxiang Project Manager Daniel Li recently he told me that Wanxiang had bought the Fisker Karma luxury electric plug-in hybrid car and that Wanxiang would start manufacturing the vehicles. What I found most interesting is that the top of the car is the world’s largest single piece solar glass roof panel. I did not drive the car but I did sit inside it and it is really a cool car. If anyone would like to see it and you are near Elgin, I would call Daniel and ask him if you can take a look. I would love for the car to visit a school or two in the area so that the students can see the solar panel on the roof of the car.

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The range of the the Karma Luxury Electric Vehicle is 50 miles on one charge and 250 miles on one full tank of gas.  You get the freedom to switch between plug in or fill up without “range anxiety.”  But it is the design of the car that is one of its strongest selling points.  It was named one of the “15 most beautiful cars of all time” by MSN Auto and the other 14

Fisker Karma luxury electric plug-in hybrid car

It was also named the 2009 Time Machine “Green Design 100 Award” and in 2011 Time Magazine named the car one of the 50 Best Inventions.   In 2012 Auto Motor and Sport Magazine named the Karma the “Environmental Car of the Year” and Esquire Magazine named it “Most Gorgeous Debut of the Year” and finally Automobile Magazine gave it the “Design of the Year” Award.

The 10 Campaigns Helping Save Our Planet Most

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

You are all part of the Solar Schools Initiative. Some of you are students, some are teachers, some are school administrators, some of you provide grant funds, some of you provide technical assistance to schools, some of you install solar on schools and there are a variety of other people and groups that help make this initiative work. To all of you, a web site listed the solar schools initiative as one of the top 10 Campaigns Helping Save Our Planet Most. Here is the list.

Congratulations to all of us.

– Glen Kizer

Evergreen 6 Solar Regatta

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Hi my name is Joseph and I am a teacher’s assistant for Evergreen 6. I went to Evergreen 6 last year and was part of the Northern California Solar Regatta. We started building our boat from scratch last year. We had no boat or motor. We put out a Craigslist ad asking to buy a cheap boat. We had someone respond saying we could have one for free! We got the boat within a couple of weeks of the reply and started working on it.

Paradise Blog 6 Solar Panels

We worked on our solar panels at our first meeting. We tested the five panels SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utilities District) gave us to see which four panels put out the most watts. We learned how to wire the four panels together in parallel. Someone on the regatta team had a 24 volt wheelchair motor lying around so we hooked our panels up to it and pressed the ON button. The motor didn’t spin, so already we knew that we couldn’t run a motor that used that many watts and amps.


We kept working on it and we found the right motor which was a 24 volt 350 watt motor. We had this great plan on how to mount the motor too. A small group of Solar Regatta members stayed after school on one overcast Tuesday. They drilled through the bottom of the boat and attached our motor container. It was made from an old section of a gas line, part of a wrecked semi-truck’s exhaust pipe, and half of a giant pink Easter egg (for hydrodynamics). It worked perfectly until we found out that our motor was burning up during a test run at Paradise Lake. We had to redesign our idea. One of the regatta members had the idea of coating the motor in spray able truck bed liner, that way it would be waterproof and colder.

Designing how to put the panels on the boat was another task we worked on during the first couple meetings. We came up with a simple, yet efficient way to mount our panels. They wired them all together in parallel using conduit piping. Then we mounted them on the middle of the boat. The panels weren’t able to tilt but the races were to take place around noon, therefore it wouldn’t affect our energy productivity too much.

Then we were able to get the boat painted a racing green for free. Brittany Mittag’s dad, Shawn Mittag, did body work and painted our boat for free. Then we got decals for all of our sponsors to put on our boat. We only had two test runs, one at the public pool, and one at Paradise Lake. The one at the public pool went great. Lots of people came to watch us try it out. They got to see it on the water for the first time. It went great, of course we only went the length of the pool a couple times, but still, it was awesome. Our other test run was at Paradise Lake. It was a private test where all four pilots drove it around the lake. We were able to see how fast it could really go. It was really fun to watch, the boat was turning well and it was going pretty fast too.

At last the race rolled around towards the end of May. We were ready to go with our Evergreen 6 shirts and our tents. We headed to Rancho Seco the day before the race to spend the night at the campground. We set up camp and surveyed the race location. Then we went to sleep.

The next morning was crazy. We had breakfast and the towed our boat to the race. We got there early to set up an Evergreen 6 area with our solar ovens and recycling bins. When spectators started to get there we put our boat by the entrance and talked to people about our boat and solar. We also talked to them about all the recycled materials we used making our boat.

When the races started we carried our boat down to the dock. We were in the second race for endurance. The endurance race was a thirty minute long race that went in a long oval shape. We started off great and kept up with our competition. Around the twenty minute mark, our boat started slowing down. We didn’t know what was wrong. Our boat ended losing to our opponent by about one lap even though our boat kept getting progressively slower. When we took it out of the water we could smell a burnt rubber smell. We found out that it was coming from our motor. So, we opened up the motor and found that the rubber casings around the motor wires were melted. So we asked the officials if we could change our motor and they said yes. So we changed it quickly and got back on the lake.

Paradise 6 Boat

The last two races: slalom and sprint, went by fast. We didn’t race anybody though, we were just timed. It was really windy when we raced and the wind kept pushing us to the side. It was difficult for our pilots to control the boat but we did finish.

When it was time for us to see who won, we all sat as a group and waited for the results. Evergreen 6 didn’t win any categories but we were happy with our effort. Laguna Creek won overall but, Laguna Creek was the team that we only lost to by a lap in the endurance race so we were proud.

Paradise 6 Group Shot

This year we are racing again with some new kids and some kids from last year, myself included. We are figuring out a way to tilt our panels this year. We are using the same boat as last year with some adjustments. Thanks to our sponsors last year we still have enough money to do this again. A big thanks to PG&E Solar Schools Program ( Our largest supporter financially.), Rotary of Paradise ($500 grant), SMUD (Sponsoring and organizing the event), K.G. Thompson Construction, Mittag’s Auto Body, Matthew’s Roofing, 7up/RC of Chico, Favor Software, Ace Hardware of Paradise, Abshier’s Blacksmithing, Durham Batteries Plus, Chico Paradise Recreation and Parks District, and Nick Knezic – Boat Decals.

— Greg Holman at Paradise.

Joseph Levin is a 7th grader at Paradise Intermediate School. Joseph enjoys playing baseball with his friends, riding his bike, and hanging out with his friends. He is a hard working student and athlete and doesn’t complain.

The importance of data monitoring solar school projects?

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

There are two flows connected to every solar school project.

The first flow is electricity.  Sunlight hits your solar panels and this starts a process that ends with electricity flowing into your school.

The second flow is data/information.  An on line meter records the amount of solar electricity flowing into the school.  This is valuable in a lot of classroom teaching activities because it shows the students what the flow of solar electricity looks like.  Since it is impossible to see the electricity flowing, the data reveals the profile of that flow.  It records both the amount of electricity generated and also when that electricity is generated.

Wind Data

Solar Data

For example, we all know that almost no electricity will be generated at night when the sun is not shining light on the panels, but the profile will also demonstrate how the generation of electricity is lower at the start of each day and at the end of the day.  Sunrise and sunset provide less sunlight than the middle of the day or early afternoon.  We all know these facts, but the data display proves these facts in real time and in the form of a graph.

Now another value to having on line data monitoring is that it provides all of us with a way to determine if your system is working properly.  For example:  if someone accidentally turns off your solar electricity system there will be zero data in your monitoring profile. It may also be that someone turned off your data monitoring system and maybe your solar electricity part is working perfectly.  Either way, zero data in your monitoring profile alerts us that one of your flows is not working and we can then figure out what is not working and fix it.  Without the data monitoring profile, your system could be broken without anyone knowing it.  Since nothing burns, there is no flame to see.  Since nothing turns, there is nothing to watch rotating.   There is no way to know if your system is working without looking at some form of data device.

The on line devices we require to be part of every solar school project provide both teaching tools for your classrooms and, at the same time, provide you with a device that acts as an immediate warning that something is wrong with either your electricity flow or your data monitoring.

Footnote 1: most data systems allow for an e mail to be sent to one single person if there is any problem with the flow of your data.  This means you would be notified by Email the instant your data stopped flowing or flowed in a way that is inconsistent with your systems’ past profile.  You would not be notified by Email every night when the sun sets warning you that your system was no longer generating electricity because your profile would normally not be producing electricity at night.  But if your system stops showing electricity generation at 2:00 PM, you would get an immediate Email telling you to check your system.  If you want to get this type of notification at your school and you are currently not receiving it, Email me at and I will help you set this up.

Footnote 2:  some data systems have a monthly cost.  Many data systems have no monthly cost for data monitoring.  If your school is currently paying a monthly data monitoring fee and you want to see if you have other options, Email me at and I will help you with this options.

By Glen Kizer

Help for Haiti with a Renewable Twist

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

By: Greg Holman

In light of the recent events in Haiti, there are a number of ways to support in the relief efforts. Here are two ways you, or your school can donate with a renewable/solar twist! Both of these items will not only help with the dire situation right now, but help the people of Haiti with cooking and lighting for years to come. Know that both of these organizations take donations of any amount, and have been on the ground in Haiti long before the earthquake. Sometimes, when everyone helps a little, it adds up to a lot!

Here is a summary about each opportunity:

From Kirk Weaver, Sunlight Solar:

Your students might find it interesting to find the Light Haiti Project on the Clinton Global Initiative web site – for more information. SunNight solar is the Commitment Maker for this project. We are currently in discussions with the CGI people a significant expansion of the project due to the immensely greater need now due to the earthquake.

Best regards,

From Paul Munsen, Sun Ovens International:
Sun Ovens International has been working in Haiti for the past 11 years. During that time deforestation has increased the need for an alternative to cooking with wood and charcoal. The recent earthquake has intensified the need for solar cooking and water purification. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are homeless and camps will need to be opened to provide food and shelter for Haiti’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Plans are underway to provide Sun Ovens to the IDPs in Haiti. We are partnering with the Friends of Haiti Organization (FOHO) to send as many Sun Ovens as we can to Haiti. On January 28, 2010, FOHO in partnership with Feed My Starving Children will be sending a shipping container with 270,000 meals and Sun Ovens to Port au Prince, Haiti. There is room for additional Sun Ovens to be included with this shipment and additional shipments are being planned. Donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated. Checks should be made payable to:

Friends of Haiti Organization
P. O. Box 222
Holland, OH 43528
(Please note the donation is for the Sun Oven project.)
FOHO is a 501C3 nonprofit prganization so all donations will be tax deductable. 100% of the donation will go directly to sending Sun Ovens to Haiti. No administrative expenses will be deducted. FOHO has been working in Haiti for 45 years and has sent over 1,400 Global Sun Ovens and 12 Villager Sun Ovens to Haiti.

Students at Paradise Intermediate School have purchased and used both the Sunoven and the BOGO Solar Light. These are durable products that will be an excellent source of baking and light in areas with no electricity.

Students in the Evergreen 6 program have sold items baked in ovens that were part of a Pacific Gas and Electric “Bright Ideas” grant in 2006. In addition to this revenue, they collected donations to be able to support these projects. We hope that you can too!

Hanging With Mr. Munford

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

By Alex Kizer

In Richmond, Virginia, the trees glow a particular gold in autumn. There is plenty of history and even more friendly folks. Greg Muzik, the principal of Mary Munford Elementary School, is no exception.
“I ride it to school most days,” Mr. Muzik boasts, showing off his Ego electric scooter.  Greg Muzik is a large man with a voice that contains life. “I don’t live far from the school and so it costs me about a penny a mile in electricity costs!”

For the last 7 years, Principal Muzik has followed an environmentally responsible personal life. But like all hard workers, it is difficult to separate work and private life. Mary Munford Elementary has been a solar school for a little longer than Principal Muzik has been seen buzzing through the streets on his electric scooter. “The school’s 1 kW system was an inspiration to me and the students. Frankly, I hoped it would show our young kids the viability of new energy technologies – I didn’t suspect I’d be so excited too!”

American Electric Power (AEP) donated the system to Mary Munford, hoping to create an awareness of energy issues like solar and recycling in the school. Looking at Principal Muzik’s attitude 7 years later suggests that it has been working. The school now has a PTA committee that makes energy efficiency a priority. “They worked on projects to make us more “green” before anyone started using the word “green,” said Muzik.

Not all of the Richmond School System has progressed as far and as fast as Mary Munford, however. Maryan Cammarata, a long-time Richmond resident, thinks that the energy efficiency policies of Mary Mumford have influenced her community, with more opportunity to come. “Mary Munford was the first school, for a long time, to have any recycling policy in the region,” she said. “I’ve heard about [Mary] Munford’s recycling and energy management policies for sometime now. Just look at Principal Muzik. He’s always zipping around, setting a good example for everyone.”


“I’m a big guy,” Mr. Muzik laughs, “and my weight has limited the range I can get from my scooter.” Mr. Muzik’s larger-than-life personality has definitely contributed to his standard-setting example, with students looking up to him for advice, and watching him live by the examples he preaches: “The students and I figured that the power generated by the solar array, while not much, would provide enough electricity to fuel my scooter forever.” With his good example and with new technologies on the horizon, Mr. Muzik’s next scooter should get him much farther, hopefully alongside an army of his former students, all embodying Muzik’s lessons of efficiency and excitement for life.