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Archive for the 'Illinois' Category

Peoria Academy

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

On a recent trip to Peoria, Illinois I stopped in to check on the panels at the Peoria Academy.

I love the way that Peoria Academy put their solar panels on their Outdoor Education Center.  The visibility is huge because it is in the back of the school and so visible from most classrooms.  Plus as students go to their soccer field or to the Education Center the panels are clearly visible.  The Outdoor Education Center also has a fantastic garden with lots of “sunflowers” growing and somehow that seems like the right flower to be near their solar panels.

Peoria Academy Peoria Academy Peoria Academy

Solar Panel Visibility

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

HawthornTownline Dual Language Solar PanelsFor Illinois Solar Schools the goal is visibility for the students. This is an “edge of the roof” style installation that provides both visibility and safety for the solar panels. It also takes up no ground space on the school’s campus. This is the Hawthorn Townline/Dual Language School in Vernon Hills, Illinois. Lisa Ceraulli is our primary contact there. For more information, visit our website.

The Illinois Solar Schools Program: The Inverter

Monday, March 30th, 2015

When you hear about solar electricity, most people think about the solar panels. And there will always be solar panels. But if you follow the wires leading from the solar panel they almost always lead to an inverter. The inverter in this pix is a Solectria brand inverter. The inverter converts the DC (Direct Current) electricity (like that runs into your car battery to power your car radio and air conditioning and your lights and power windows) to AC (Alternating Current) electricity (think the electricity that powers your television and the lights in your classroom). If the switch is from DC to AC, it goes through an inverter and the pix shows an inverter. If the switch is from AC to DC, it goes through a rectifier. And DC electricity is something most of you use all of the time even if you are not in a car. Your lap top and your cell phone (when it is not connected to an AC outlet) are powered by DC electricity that is stored in a battery. You plug into an outlet where AC electricity flows through the wire to a small rectifier that converts that AC electricity into the DC electricity needed to power the laptop or cell phone battery. Most devices use AC adapters that allow you to power the device on AC power but also charge the battery inside the device on DC power. Basically your cell phone and most laptops run on both AC and DC power. So in many portable devices you use every day, these inverters or rectifiers switch either AC electricity to DC electricity or DC electricity to AC electricity depending on the device you want to use and how you are using it and in many of our most popular devices like cell phones and laptops they run on AC or DC power depending on whether it is plugged into an AC outlet or not. Companies that sell these products want you to find them easy to use so they make the devices useable in any situation. (I am not saying you will be able to get cell service but your device will have power.) And some things we are starting to see a lot these days are electric car chargers. To charge an electric car you typically plug into a DC charger. This takes DC power directly into your car battery without the need to convert the DC power to AC power because batteries run on DC power. If you plug in your electric car to an AC outlet (and many cars now can), then you need a rectifier in your car to switch that AC power from your outlet to DC and the more recent electric cars are (like your cell phone) able to be charged by DC power (quickly and more efficiently) or by AC power (it takes longer because the AC power has to be rectified back to DC power when it gets into the car and some electricity gets lost in the conversion.

Illinois Solar School at Einstein Academy

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

There is a new Illinois Solar School installation at the Einstein Academy on 747 Davis Road in Elgin, Illinois.  The project was funded with a 90% cost grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Kojo Darkwa is the primary contact.

The installation consists of 4 US Multi Silicon Solar Modules and an Enphase inverter.  The panels are 250 watts each making the system a 1 kW (1,000 watts).

Illinois Einstein Academy

Illinois Einstein Academy

Illinois Einstein Academy

If you would like to see the data for the electricity generation at the Einstein Academy, the web page can be found here:

There are 75 students at the Einstein Academy.

Jefferson Middle School in Champaign Illinois Celebrates Illinois Wind School installation

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

It was 8.30 am on Earth Day and there were a bunch of students, teachers and visitors standing outside at the Jefferson Middle School all looking up at the sky. Everyone was watching their new wind turbine turning in the wind and generating clean renewable electricity. The wind school project, funded in large part by a grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation was finally up and running and working perfectly. The school also received grants from the Jefferson Middle School Green Team, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Jefferson Middle School PTSA as well as Jefferson Middle School family donations.

Facts about the turbine:

  1. The turbine has a rated capacity of 3.5 kW
  2. The turbine starts turning when the wind reaches 6.7 miles per hour (mph)
  3. The turbine weighs 363 pounds
  4. The rotor diameter is 13.4 feet
  5. The estimated annual yield is between 5,500 and 11,300 kWh

As with any project like this at a school there are a number of champions who guided the project through its various stages. For me, that champion is Geoffrey Freymuth, Jefferson Middle School Science Teacher. He led a team of Jefferson Middle School administrators, teachers and students, but he was the team leader. The Champaign School District is one of the greenest in the country and they were definitely on his team but the person who was watching over and guiding and worrying about this project was Mr Freymuth.

Wind Turbine Sign

Jefferson WInd Turbine

Jefferson WInd Turbine

Jefferson Middle School

The most interesting thing about the project for me was the qr bar code on the sign that enables anyone with a smart phone to walk up to the sign under the wind turbine and read the wind data. That was such a cool idea. I asked Mr. Freymuth why he added the qr bar code to the sign. “I kept trying to come up with something that would make our project different from the others. Then one night I remembered the qr code. There was a free app for it and we put it on the sign the next day. It was actually pretty easy.”

Let me say that the qr code may have been easy but this project took a lot of hard work from a lot of people and I want to congratulate them on their successful project.

Hawthorn District #73: Illinois Solar Schools Update

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

In our last blog we talked about how all of the Hawthorn Schools have solar electricity panels on them. Everyone in Vernon Hills, Illinois is so excited about these solar school projects that two of the schools provided us with updates.

Hawthorn Middle School South

Illinois Hawthorn Elementary South Solar Panels

According to Michael Brennan, 7th grade science teacher, “Since Middle School South’s Installation (January  18th) to March 19th, we have produced 132 kWh hours of solar energy. We have had a carbon offset of 201 lbs which is the equivalent of two trees. The science classes have begun teaching lessons on solar energy using mini Photovoltaic Cells to raise awareness on our solar panels.”

Hawthorn Aspen Elementary School

Illinois Hawthorn Aspen Elementary

From Lisa Cerauli, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, “Currently, we have the 5th grade students inform the school on our morning broadcast.  They give the monthly info to the rest of the school during their newscast.”

Every school using solar every day.